Writing on the Big Sur Coast with Laura & Evelyn

April 18-22, 2022

Unraveling the Mother Knot: Writing as a Pathway to Explore and Heal That Primal Bond

Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California

Come write your heart out at one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. Join master teacher Laura Davis and a vibrant, supportive writing community at the Esalen Institute on the wild Pacific cliffs of Big Sur, California.

The bond between mothers and their children—whether severed, fraught, intact or cherished—is one of the most complex, significant relationships we have in life. Whether you’re a mother, a daughter or a son, this transformative writing workshop will utilize creative exercises, guided meditation, and evocative writing prompts to lead you to a deeper understanding of this most primal of relationships.

Shared story and deep listening will be our gateway to celebrate, grieve, and reconcile our relationships with our mothers—or our mothering. In our days together, we’ll explore how bonds with our mothers and children change across the lifecycle, identify moments those relationships changed irrevocably, unravel the costs and benefits of caregiving, and learn how storytelling can evoke emotion, clarity, healing, and insight. You’ll learn to “find the story beneath the story,” why writers need to “slow down where it hurts,” and the secret of crafting tales rooted in the immediacy of the moment.

As we alternate periods of writing with listening to each other from a place of deep acceptance, you’ll benefit from the strength of a supportive writing circle, witness the healing power of language, and experience the transformation that occurs when we tell true stories and are deeply heard. Open to anyone willing to use words to explore the mother bond and their creativity in a safe, confidential community: mothers, daughters, mother-daughter pairs, and sons. Emerging and seasoned writers are welcome to attend.


Is This Retreat For Me?

You are cordially invited to embark on a 2-week transformative journey and healing vacation that you will never forget.

This retreat is for people who want to use writing as a tool for self-knowledge, growth, and deepening awareness. The focus will be on personal storytelling in a safe supportive circle.

This workshop will not be a critique group for polishing finished pieces. Rather, we will alternate periods of writing with listening to each other-not from a place of judgment or analysis-but from a place of focused attention and deep acceptance.

You will walk away from this workshop with a substantial body of writing, as well as many essential skills and exercises for generating evocative, powerful, vivid stories about your life.

The Wonders of Esalen: Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Four hours south of San Francisco, three hours south of San Jose, the Esalen Institute is a rocky paradise perched directly on cliffs overlooking the crashing, wild Pacific Ocean.  Esalen encompasses 120  acres carved out of fertile ground full of lush gardens and pathways that weave between mountains and ocean. the property.

The world-famous Esalen baths are fed by natural hot springs that fill the baths with healing water year-round. And people have come from around the world to bathe in their healing, transformative, deeply relaxing waters.

Cost and Accommodations: Esalen fees cover tuition, food, and lodging and vary according to accommodations. To learn about costs and available accommodations, click here.

Learn more details about the trip here.

Teachers and Guides

Laura Davis

Writing Workshop Instructor:

Laura Davis is the author of seven non-fiction books, including The Courage to Heal, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be and I Thought We'd Never Speak Again. Laura's groundbreaking books have sold more than 1.8 million copies around the world. Laura has also worked as a columnist, talk show host, radio reporter, radio producer, blogger, editor, and speaker.

Laura's newest book, The Burning Light of Two Stars: A Mother-Daughter Story, her first memoir, tells the story of her dramatic and tumultuous relationship with her mother from the time of Laura's birth until her mother's death. You can read the first five chapters for free here.

She is a cancer survivor, the mother of three, the grandmother of three, and has buried both her parents. In other words, she is a well-seasoned human being.

Evelyn Hall

Guest Lecturer Evelyn Hall:

Evelyn brings more than 30 years experience to her work with individuals, couples, and groups. With her unique blend of counseling, hypnosis, healing touch, movement meditation, aromatherapy and flower essences, she has helped thousands of people find healing in body, mind and soul. She is a master hypnotherapist and also has certifications in clinical, medical and behavioral hypnosis, NLP, and is an essential oils and flower essence practitioner.

Inclusions & Travel

What's included:

  • Room, board and three delicious meals a day.
  • All writing instruction for a life-changing retreat
  • The services of your capable, compassionate leader.
  • 24-hour access to the world-famous Esalen baths
  • Stunning gardens to wander in
  • Incredible vistas of the wild Pacific coast
  • An outdoor swimming pool
  • Access to the Esalen art barn and special all-community classes
  • An amazing community that will lead to deep connections and new friends.

What's not included:

  • Transportation to and from the Esalen Institute.
  • Travel and Covid  insurance to protect your investment in this retreat. (To be purchased on your own).


Arrival and Departure Times: Information about arrival and departure times can be found here.

Please arrange your travel so you can be at the retreat for the entire time.

Flying in?

Esalen is approximately three hours from San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 2 and a half hours from San Jose Airport (SJC), and an hour and 15 minutes from Monterey Airport (MRY).

Need More Travel Info?

For all other information about getting to the Esalen Institute, you can find all the relevant information on their website.



Esalen fees cover tuition, food and lodging and vary according to accommodations. If you want your choice of rooms, it's good to register early.

To learn about costs and available accommodations, click here.


Esalen Cancellation Policies can be viewed here.

Esalen's FAQ webpage:  https://www.esalen.org/visit/faq


Important information: The following link has important up to date information on COVID-19, arrival and departure times, along with other critical information. All guests will receive a confirmation email and a pre-arrival email with even more detail.

You can learn about Esalen’s Covid-19 Policies here.


Schedule a Free initial 15-minute phone consultation.