THE ESALEN catalogue is the best way to find out what the institute has to offer. You can acquire one by telephoning (408) 667-3000 or by writing to the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, Calif. 93920. A section in the front of the catalogue called "Ways of Being at Esalen" explains the options, from a visit to the hot springs (free to local residents between 1 and 5 a.m. weekdays) to a residency program that can cost several thousand dollars.
There are monthlong programs, work-study programs, wilderness programs, continuing education courses for nurses and doctors, and invitational conferences to bring together experts in a given field.
The most common introductions to Esalen:
"Experiencing Esalen." This weekend seminar (Friday afternoon to Sunday noon) is designed for the uninitiated. An individual selects from a smorgasbord of self-awareness workshops that can include sensory awareness, gestalt practice, group process, guided fantasy, meditation and massage.
The price is $270, which includes a simple but attractive all-wood room--no telephone, no TV, some antique furniture, linens, wildflowers, private bath. Some rooms have patios and ocean views. You can hear the waves crash from anywhere on the property. The price includes all meals from Friday night dinner to Sunday brunch. The food is delicious, wholesome, heavy on fresh vegetables and whole-grain breads. A dinner meat entree or breakfast egg dish is usually offered in addition to vegetarian choices. Food is served buffet style, with plenty to go around, in a friendly lodge dining room. At dinner time there is a beer-and-wine bar.