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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:
James Fadiman: a Psychedelic History Lesson
October 23, 2020

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
Tiffany Yu: Diversability
October 16, 2020

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
Raafi Rivero: Unarmed
October 9, 2020

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.

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Karena Montag and Claire Whitmer: Racial Justice and Collective Liberation
October 2, 2020

Karena Montag and Claire Whitmer are the co-founders of Stronghold, an organization that stewards sustainable shifts in systems and cultures towards equity and liberation through strategic consulting and restorative practices.

Karena Montag has worked at the intersection of mental health and social justice for nearly twenty years in multi-stressed communities, with an emphasis in the past ten on the impact of harm, accountability, and restorative practices in carceral settings.

Karena, a Black woman, is a founding member of and serves on the Leadership Team for the Transformative Prison workgroup (TPW), a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations that believes in the transformative and healing power of in-prison programs to break isolation, share ideas, and build political power.

Claire Whitmer is a racial justice trainer and facilitator, and as a white, cis woman, Claire has been (un)learning and working in the field of racial justice for over a decade. Claire lives her commitment to collective liberation by supporting white-led organizations and communities to explore their privilege, power & unexamined racism.

Her facilitation emphasizes the personal and collective work of cultivating antiracist consciousness and leveraging unearned white privilege in service of greater dignity and safety for people of color.

Visit them on the web at http://www.wearestronghold.org

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Charles Eisenstein: The Coronation
September 25, 2020

Charles Eisenstein is an American intellectual and author of the books Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, as well as recently the essay "The Coronation," which deals with America’s societal and governmental response to the coronavirus.

Much of Charles Eisenstein’s work deals with his thesis that global culture is immersed in a destructive story of separation - and part of his mission is to present an alternative path of interbeing. We spoke in late June of 2020 about his essay, The Coronation, which is available at his website, charleseisenstein.org.

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Jasmine Star Horan on Experimental Early Childhood Education at Esalen
September 18, 2020

Jasmine Star Horan is the author of The Gazebo Learning Project: A Legacy of Experiential & Experimental Early Childhood Education at Esalen. The Gazebo School is a somewhat legendary institution, encapsulated with the Esalen institute, founded in the mid-1970's by Janet Lederman, one of the early outdoor preschools.

Jasmine Horan was born at Esalen - she is the daughter of foundational massage teacher Peggy Horan and sister of Lucia Horan, noted 5 Rhythms teacher. Jasmine attended the Gazebo preschool as a child, where she grew up in an environment where the opportunity for free play and free choice was constant. Child-centered learning was encouraged through an exploratory and inquiry-based environment.

The Gazebo Park, located on the north side of the Esalen Institute, is an outdoor classroom with very few toys or play structures with prescribed uses, though the park overflows with abundant gardens, animals, plants, trees, a pony shed, a greenhouse, Pottyville, snacks, cubbies, first-aid material and more.

During our conversation, Jasmine describes her journey in documenting the cultural legacy of a unique school that has touched so many lives.

Go to Silver Peak press.com to buy your copy of The Gazebo Learning Project: A Legacy of Experiential & Experimental Early Childhood Education at Esalen, and learn the history and pedagogy of this unique school.

Listen on Soundcloud
Justin Michael Williams: Stay Woke
September 11, 2020

Justin Michael Williams is an author, activist, meditation teacher and musician. His book Stay Woke established him as a pioneering millennial voice for diversity and inclusion in wellness. His work has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Grammy.com, Yoga Journal, Billboard, Wanderlust, and South by Southwest.

Justin was the artist in residence at Esalen during the month of July. He shared his thoughts with us on racism, healing, virtue signaling, men's eating disorders, Eckhart Tolle, the decolonization of wellness practices, and more.

Listen on Soundcloud
Kat Vellos: We Should Get Together
August 20, 2020

Kat Vellos is an author, speaker, a user experience designer, coach, facilitator, and founder of Bay Area Black Designers, Silicon Valley’s largest unofficial employee resource for Black design talent. Her new book, We Should Get Together, is a meditation on adult friendships and how to meaningfully cultivate them.

Kat spoke about her work, her writing, and about racism in contemporary society. She recommended a host of actionable steps that would-be allies can take to be part of the solution.

Find her on the web at http://www.katvellos.com and read her powerful essay, "How to Help your Black and non-Black Friends Right Now".

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Dr. Biko Gray on Race, Subjectivity, and the Politics of Identity
August 14, 2020

Dr. Biko Gray is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Syracuse University whose work and research focuses primarily on the connection between race, subjectivity, religion, and embodiment.

Dr. Gray is currently working on a book that explores how contemporary racial justice movements, like Black Lives Matter, demonstrate new ways of theorizing the connection between embodiment, religion, and subjectivity.

Together we discussed white guilt, anti-Black violence, how corporations co-opt diversity and anti-racism, what an equitable Esalen may look like, how scholarships function, tokenism, Hegel, subjectivity, and much more. He's amazing, and this episode is a must-listen.

Listen on Soundcloud
Nkechi Deanna Njaka, MSc. : Race in the Wellness Space and the Dating White Podcast
August 7, 2020

Nkechi Deanna Njaka - @ndnlifestylist - is a neuroscientist, meditation teacher, modern dancer, multi-disciplinary artist, and the co-host of the podcast "Dating White," where she and her co-host, sex and dating coach @myishabattle, speak about being women of color and their nuanced experiences in interracial dating.

Nkechi is 2017 YBCA Truth Fellow, and an upcoming 2020 Kennedy Center Artist in Residence whose practice is a vehicle for radical presence and progressive wellness. She speaks about her experience of race growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Minnesota, what it's like to be a woman of color in the space of wellness, and how her podcast is a lens to speak about larger issues of race and racism in today's America.

Visit her at her website http://www.nkechinjaka.com.

Listen on Soundcloud

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Travel advisory: a detour is required if you are driving north to reach Esalen.