psychoPEDIA: Inside the Outpost

The Stanford Inn

In Elizabeth Gilbert's autobiography Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert eats, turns a pinched starved-look into voluptuousness. She turns a desire to experience the divine into some intense physical discomfort - verging on torture and finally seeks love in Bali with guidance from a guru and someone with whom to make sweaty sex.

I am not so sure that it’s about a destination for people who need so much from the outside. The Stanford Inn is a gorgeous, leisurely 3-hour drive from San Francisco. At the Stanford Inn, folks tend to congregate around the roaring fireplace on the way to or from a sumptuous organic breakfast - when you start talking about their stay, they use the language of experiencing insight of some sort. Some report epiphanies. Those who went there just to kick back, take a hike, eat, watch a movie with someone they care about, or just have a place that allows their pets - these are the people who will at the end of their stay say they had a wonderful experience; and they look almost confused. It is a certain something they are not used to articulating. Food – Fantasist! Spa – wondrous! But it was something intangible; it is that their time here was meaningful beyond, R&R. For this reason, they will return – and plan to return more often even though they live at such a great distance. Something happened here, for them. They didn't try to do or be anything. It sneaked up on them like the one too many martinis.

And one day I found out what it is… That's the effect of the Ley line - it innervates; it accentuates; it eases. It is like grease. Whatever is going on it facilitates. If you hate someone or something, you might experience intense loathing - that is, the loathing will intensify and that can lead to a release - break through, followed by acceptance and peace. If you have been looking for meaning, you might experience that all is meaningful: just laying back in bed and staring at the redwood beam on the ceiling is filled with meaning. If you feel shattered, you might suddenly realize that each shard is a part of a beautiful whole, you - and you get to see the process that the shattered feeling leads to the realization of true wholeness. That's Ley line energy. You don't have to paddle up the estuary, though that option is open to you and enhances the experience. The energy is "grace of the earth" (the planet's grace). But paddling in the silence, with the sound of a harbor seal breaching to look at the canoe - this, too, can provide an added experience of oneness - of connectedness, of MEANINGFULNESS. It is full of meanings. It is all expression of consciousness.

Wait, about Ley Lines! Sounds a little "aura'ish"! Well, I don't know what they are other than what I have read. They seem to be lines of earth energy. They form a grid much like the lines of longitude and latitude - they are the energy meridians of the planet. Animals like to hang out along this swath of energy and trees grow along it, too. The energy swath is dynamic - moving like a flag looked upon from above, waving in the wind. The flag's edge is only 1/32 of an inch. The width of the field is 30 or more feet.

Is it possible to have Eat, Pray Love without Trader Joe's? The Stanford Inn has created an organic sustainable garden and use much of the produce, fruit and herbs in their Raven's dining room. The garden is an expression of love of life. They do not try to spray life away: rather they provide habitats for the coast's animals - allocate some produce to gophers. The love is in the gourmet but nurturing (nutritious) food. The dining room itself is vegan at night and mostly at breakfast. They love animals (not in a carnal sense) and thus the restaurant is an extension of that - and in so being the Ravens' is about eating and loving. Their idea of inn-keeping is to provide perfected service, renowned food, and celebrated gardens - without the disharmonies of pesticides, herbicides and death to create meat. They are troubled by the inherent torture to calves and goat kids as a result of dairy practices but still serve dairy calling themselves a "nexus of change" from the animal/cruelty based lifestyle to one that is animal friendly and plant based - to be more specific – whole food/plant based. But this aint info you get without digging for it. Nothing is pushed at you. There is no preaching. There are opportunities for their guests to open, to experience - and they step out of the way: they don't lecture.

You can rejoice in the environment: love the land and the waterways, they provide access for guests by canoe and bicycles. We can get on the back roads and on to the River and experience the beauty: to get to know it, without billboards or other encroachments of civilization. The physical aspect of love - they accentuate the natural - rooms are mostly paneled in wood. Colors are earthy and even the textures are paid attention to – it should all pamper without impingement. This is a country inn (four diamond at that), they are not some city-enclave on the North Coast. Wood burning fireplaces are themselves romantic, is the ocean in the distance, the archetypal small town.

If a guest wants - if they feel like it they may "practice" or receive "practice" - they may do yoga, canoe or kayak, just wander through the gardens - this is all practice, receive a massage (benefit from the practice of others). When you eat you might get into the nature of what it is you are eating - an expression of mindfulness. Or you might just dig being away…

~Bruce Stewart

First photo by Librarian In Black via Flickr
Second photo by Cindy R via Flickr
Third photo by JH Decker via ePodunk
Fourth through sixth, and tenth photo, courtesy of The Stanford Inn
Seventh photo by CB Castro via Flickr
Eighth photo, courtesy of Ravens' Restaurant
Ninth photo by Judy and Paul via Flickr

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