The Esalen Institute, commonly called Esalen, is a non-profit American retreat center and intentional community in Big Sur, California, which focuses on humanistic alternative education. The institute played a key role in the Human Potential Movement beginning in the 1960s. Its innovative use of encounter groups, a focus on the mind-body connection, and their ongoing experimentation in personal awareness introduced many ideas that later became mainstream.Esalen was founded by Stanford graduates Michael Murphy and Dick Price in 1962. Their intention was to support alternative methods for exploring human consciousness, what Aldous Huxley described as "human potentialities". Over the next few years, Esalen became the center of practices and beliefs that make up the New Age movement, from Eastern religions/philosophy, to alternative medicine and mind-body interventions, to Gestalt Practice.Price ran the institute until he was killed in a hiking accident in 1985. In 2012, the board hired professional executives to help raise money and keep the institute profitable. Until 2016, Esalen offered over 500 workshops yearly in areas including personal growth, meditation, massage, Gestalt Practice, yoga, psychology, ecology, spirituality, and organic food. in 2016, about 15,000 people attended its workshops.In February 2017, the institute was cut off when Highway 1 was closed by a mud slide on either side of the hot springs. It closed its doors, evacuated guests via helicopter, and was forced to lay off 90% of its staff through at least July, when they reopened with limited workshop offerings. It also decided to revamp its offerings to include topics more relevant to a younger generation.As of July 2017, due to the limited access resulting from the road closures, the hot springs are only open to Esalen guests.