Expansion and Freedom


2016 September 15: The Aware Project San Diego is excited to host Ellen Watson as our September speaker. She will be speaking about her long term relationship with MAPS as a founding member, the nature of the research she did in the 80’s & 90’s, and her time at Esalen with Terence McKenna, Dr. Stan Grof and others.

ABOUT ELLEN "One of my mentors and teachers, Terence McKenna, taught me to embrace my fears, to dance with my fears, to inquire of my fears, to make friends with fear, and allow them to melt away into the expansiveness of acceptance and surrender. Having a schizophrenic mother and her bi-polar sister as my early teachers, along with my beloved Granny, I needed all the paradigmatic shifts possible in order to surf life’s waves well. Aside from the bizarre and tragic behaviors of Mama and Aunt Helen, LOVE prevailed.

My relationship choices and their assorted endings, eventually sent me to Esalen Institute, Big Sur, in the early 80’s. As fortune would have it, on campus as scholar in residence was Stanislav Grof, MD; Stan, invited to Esalen to continue his research using psychedelics for Healing Traumas and Spiritual Emergence. Based on global research on non-ordinary states of consciousness, Stan and Christina were developing Holotropic Breathwork and, Gabrielle Roth returned regularly, as she developed The 5 Rhythms™, a Galactically Transformative Moving Meditation Practice.

Ash John Caitlin

Expansion and Freedom visited me those first hours, days, weeks, months and years at Esalen…and continues through to this day. It was at Esalen, in my early days, there, that I was introduced to MDMA, then to Psycillibyn, then Ayahausca, then LSD, Mescaline, and DMT. So fortunate was I to have skilled sitters, facilitators, visionary artists, psychologists, seekers of the mysteries all gathered at Esalen, sharing themselves and their work with ME. Answers to my life long quest to know, to understand, to gain insight into my family members travails, and my own….under the skilled, compassionate, fierce and loving guidance of a selection of remarkable people, I began a daily death rebirth cycle that has fed me for now over 35 years.

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a scholar in residence at Esalen in the 80’s shared with me that the MDMA experience is what monks sit for years and years in meditation hoping to attain…a Oneness with self, other and all of Creation.

I bow to the Power of Psychedelics in informing and transforming my life."