Without Esalen, there would be no Somatics field. There would be something like body-oriented psychotherapy, but there would not be the situation of these works within the larger shared spiritual and social visions.
From the outset in 1963, Michael Murphy has invited those who would be pioneers in this movement to Esalen where they and their students would interact and find out about approaches of which they had been unaware. Charlotte Selver, whose radical Sensory Awareness work became the very foundation of Somatics was the first to give a public seminar at Esalen. She was soon followed by Moshe Feldenkrais, Alexander Lowen, Ida Rolf, Ilana Rubenfeld, Judith Aston, Fritz Smith, and on. The very ambience of Esalen, and Michael's commitment to prohibit any charismatic leader from "seizing the flag" promoted the kind of informal interaction that eventually generated a broader community of understanding. These teachers were also in line with the broad vision he expresses in his magnum opus The Future of the Body which articulates the untold promises of bodily potentials contained within evolution, waiting for methods of cultivation.
In 1987, as part of what has eventually come to be known as Esalen's Center for Theory and Research, Michael Murphy invited me to gather small groups of scholars, scientists, and practitionersof transformative body practices for week-long seminars where we would exchange our various works and reflective on their significance. Our aims have been to refine such practices; to articulate how they relate to our understanding of spirituality, education, and community-building; and what helpful reciprocities are possible between these studies and the biomedical sciences. Over the nearly 25 years these seminars have been held, we have had dialogues among many of the leading innovators in the field. We have also had fruitful dialogues with biomedical researchers, spiritual teachers, phenomenologists, psychologists, and social scientists.We have addressed some of the major issues of the world that relate to our work of nurturing the importance of the body: political and personal violence; racism; degradation of the environment.
The most recent seminar in this series was on the relation between Somatics and Ecoactivism: designed to explore the interface between Somatics and the various communities that are working to foster ecological awareness and sustainability.