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Voices of Esalen Podcast

Our podcast showcases in-depth interviews with the dynamic teachers and thinkers who are part of Esalen Institute. Hosted by Sam Stern, a former Esalen student and current staff member, the podcasts have featured engaging conversations with authors Cheryl Strayed and Michael Pollan, innovators Stan Grof and Dr. Mark Hyman, teachers Byron Katie, Mark Coleman and Jean Houston, Esalen co-founder Michael Murphy, and many more.

These podcasts are made possible in part by the support of Esalen donors and are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Listen to the latest episodes here, and subscribe to Voices of Esalen on Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Latest Episode:
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Deborah Medow on Massage, Magic, and Mischief: Fifty Years at Esalen
December 11, 2020
0:55:38

Deborah Medow is an Esalen legend. She came to Big Sur and the Esalen Institute in the late 1960’s, and found it so much to her liking that she never left. Deborah was an early acolyte of Dick Price, who encouraged her to become one of Esalen’s first yoga teachers.

Deborah found her home as a massage therapist, where, as part of an early crew that featured trailblazers like Peggy Horan, Brita Ostrom, and Vicki Topp, she helped to develop and shepherd a school of touch that would influence practitioners around the world.

Through more than 50 years of service to Esalen, Deborah has been a beloved community member, teacher, and leader - insightful and intelligent, curious and kind, hilarious and unapologetically unique.

Our interview begins in Indiana, where she grew up, and it ends with an incantation, featuring her famous rattle.

Listen on Soundcloud
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Matthew Ingram: How the Counterculture Invented Wellness
December 4, 2020
0:47:04

Matthew Ingram is the author of Retreat: How the Counterculture Invented Wellness. His book is a primer covering the historical unfolding of a host of topics including Allen Ginsberg, Stanislav Grof, LSD psychotherapy, the Prague Spring, psychoanalysis, Freudian Marxism, ego dissolution, the CIA's MK ULTRA program, Tom Wolfe, Libertarians, cultural revolt, and more.

Listen on Soundcloud
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Maija West: The True Meaning of Thanksgiving
November 26, 2020
0:25:28

Maija West is the CEO and a Founding Board Member of the Healing and Reconciliation Institute, which weaves together opportunities to take responsibility for historical and ongoing traumas to invoke a shared humanity.

On the occasion of Thanksgiving, Esalen’s Christine Chen spoke to West, a trusted educator and facilitator who often speaks on behalf of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, to offer perspectives on the story of Thanksgiving, as well as sharing guidance about learning and allyship with coastal tribal communities in and around Esalen Institute.

Esalen Institute is in a long-term, ongoing educational process in partnership with the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County and its representatives. This interview was conceived and explored with the permission, support, and guidance of Tribal Chairman, Tom “Little Bear” Nason.

Listen on Soundcloud
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Fred Dust: Making Conversation
November 20, 2020
0:41:16

Fred Dust is a former Global Managing Partner at the acclaimed international design firm IDEO, where he worked with leaders and change agents to unlock the creative potential of business, government, education, and philanthropic organizations.

Fred has worked with the US Agency for International Development, the US Office of Personnel Management, and the US Social Security Administration to create citizen-centered strategies and the structures to implement them.

He’s also collaborated closely with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies to improve the impact and reach of their programs.

Fred is on the Board of Trustees for the Sundance Institute, on the Board of Directors for NPR, and is Chair of the board of Parsons School of Design.

His new book is Making Conversation, a primer for creating effective strategies that yield creative and pleasurable conversations.

Listen on Soundcloud
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Terence McKenna's 1992 Talk at Esalen: Politics and Ethos (Part Two)
November 13, 2020
1:00:08

This two-part Archive Edition of Voices of Esalen features a talk by the inimitable Terence McKenna, delivered at Esalen in August 1992. For those not familiar with his work, McKenna was the ultimate psychedelic intellectual: an acclaimed ethnobotanist, mystic, and hyper-articulate lecturer, he spoke and wrote fluently about a variety of subjects, including entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, semiotics, technology, futurism, environmentalism, and human consciousness, to name only a few.

His rambling brand of wisdom is admittedly sometimes challenging to decrypt, yet his admirers find that a McKenna lecture is always worth the time, and that the wisdom of the words, even those which defy rational understanding, can be absorbed almost osmotically.

Some of McKenna's notable books include The Invisible Landscape, True Hallucinations, and The Archaic Revival; his brother Dennis McKenna penned a notable memoir of their life together, entitled The Brotherhood of The Screaming Abyss. McKenna enjoyed a long and extraordinarily close association with Esalen and with Big Sur; before his death on April 3rd, 2000, he had been scholar in residence many times and delivered scores of talks which are housed in the Esalen archives.

“Politics and Ethos” covers a lot of ground (typical for McKenna), including psychedelic ontologies, modernity, language, reason, religion, freedom, nostalgia and more. Tune into the nasal-voiced genius. Take the ride.

Listen on Soundcloud
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Abraham Maslow's 1966 Lecture at Esalen: Motivations of Self-Actualized People
November 6, 2020
0:55:44

This archival talk was delivered at the Esalen institute in September of 1966 by famed American psychologist Abraham Maslow, best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated around the idea that the most basic or pressing needs, like food, safety and security, must first be satisfied in order to address needs such as love and belonging, esteem, and finally, self-actualization.

Maslow and his school of humanistic psychology was extraordinarily important for Esalen’s development in its early years. Maslow's curiosity about the psychological development of basically normal and healthy individuals in part formed the foundational approach of Michael Murphy and Dick Price’s programming for Esalen.

In this speech, Maslow expounds upon what he calls B values, short for Being-values, among them goodness, beauty, uniqueness, Justice, simplicity, and richness. He also explores motivations, metapathologies, and truth.

Listen on Soundcloud
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Terence McKenna's 1992 Talk at Esalen: Politics and Ethos (Part One)
November 6, 2020
0:41:12

This two-part Archive Edition of Voices of Esalen features a talk by the inimitable Terence McKenna, delivered at Esalen in August 1992. For those not familiar with his work, McKenna was the ultimate psychedelic intellectual: an acclaimed ethnobotanist, mystic, and hyper-articulate lecturer, he spoke and wrote fluently about a variety of subjects, including entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, semiotics, technology, futurism, environmentalism, and human consciousness, to name only a few.

His rambling brand of wisdom is admittedly sometimes challenging to decrypt, yet his admirers find that a McKenna lecture is always worth the time, and that the wisdom of the words, even those which defy rational understanding, can be absorbed almost osmotically.

Some of McKenna's notable books include The Invisible Landscape, True Hallucinations, and The Archaic Revival; his brother Dennis McKenna penned a notable memoir of their life together, entitled The Brotherhood of The Screaming Abyss. McKenna enjoyed a long and extraordinarily close association with Esalen and with Big Sur; before his death on April 3rd, 2000, he had been scholar in residence many times and delivered scores of talks which are housed in the Esalen archives.

“Politics and Ethos” covers a lot of ground (typical for McKenna), including psychedelic ontologies, modernity, language, reason, religion, freedom, nostalgia and more. Tune into the nasal-voiced genius. Take the ride.

Listen on Soundcloud
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James Fadiman: a Psychedelic History Lesson
October 23, 2020
0:43:00

James Fadiman is known as the author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide and as one of America's most well-known proponents of microdosing.

While a Harvard undergrad, he was the "teacher's pet" of Ram Dass, then known as Richard Alpert; as a graduate student at Stanford University, he became a research assistant at Myron Stolaroff's famed International Foundation for Advanced Study, an early non-profit situated in Menlo Park that guided the uninitatited into the psychedelic experience and studied the outcomes.

Fadiman was also one of the first teachers at the Esalen Institute, beginning in the fall of 1962 with the workshop "The Expanding Vision," co-taught with Willis Harman. He has continued a lifelong association with Esalen and with psychedelics, and has appeared in countless films as an authority on such matters, including 2013’s "Science and Sacraments" and 2009’s "Inside LSD."

Other books authored by Fadiman include Be Love Now, Essential Sufism, and The Other Side of Haight. Together we explored microdosing, the mystical experience, the Human Potential Movement, his friendship with the Merry Pranksters, and more.

Listen on Soundcloud
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Tiffany Yu: Diversability
October 16, 2020
1:01:32

Tiffany Yu is an entrepreneur, disability advocate, and CEO and founder of Diversability, an organization that aims to rebrand disability through community. She is also the founder of the Awesome Foundation Disability Chapter, which sources monthly micro-grants for disability projects.

Tiffany serves on the San Francisco Mayor’s Disability Council, appointed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed in 2019 and was named one of the 100 most influential Asian Americans in 2017. She has been featured in Marie Claire, Forbes, The Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal, and has spoken at the world economic forum in Davos, at TedX, and Harvard.

In this interview, she spoke about disability and identity, inclusion and empowerment, visibility and disability, semantics and their function within the context of social justice, PFJ (Play Fun Joy), dating, and how disability has begun to function within the wellness space.

Listen on Soundcloud
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Raafi Rivero: Unarmed
October 9, 2020
1:02:56

Raafi Rivero is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and artist and is the creator of Unarmed, a series of printed basketball jerseys designed to commemorate victims of racist police violence. Rivero installs large-scale versions of the jerseys in urban areas, so as to honor those who have been slain, and to create awareness around ongoing violence perpetrated against people of color in America.

In this two-part interview, the first recorded two weeks after the killing of George Floyd, the second several months later, the day that a verdict came back regarding the police officers charged in the Breonna Taylor case, we spoke about the complexity of racial identities, Raafi's artistic pain and process, and friendships that cross racial boundaries.

Learn more about Unarmed at www.unarmed.co

Watch Raafi's short film about Unarmed.

Listen on Soundcloud

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