Spring Summer 2023
Legendary “gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson was known for many things: a propensity for absorbing illegal substances, a love of guns and hanging out with the Hell’s Angels. Who would hire someone like that to be the caretaker of an oceanfront estate in Big Sur? Therein lies a tale worthy of Thompson’s beloved New Journalism.
The property that Thompson oversaw in the early 1960s eventually became the Esalen Institute, the legendary retreat associated with LSD experimentation and the birthplace of the Human Potential Movement, pulling together many of the threads that formed the 1960s counterculture. Esalen was founded on the belief that we can unlock hidden potential in our lives through meditation, experiential education, and lots of nudity. They hosted revolutionary thinkers like Buckminster Fuller, Aldous Huxley, Abraham Maslow, and, of course, Timothy Leary. Exploring all aspects of the mind-body experience naturally led them to athletics, so they created the Esalen Sports Center. Here they studied the meditative aspects of athletics, what we now call the flow state or being in the zone.