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.

Ken Dychtwald: Radical Curiosity, Esalen Memories, and His Life on the Age Wave
September 6, 2023

Dr. Ken Dychtwald is best described as a visionary thinker — he’s a psychologist, a gerontologist, a masterful public speaker, and the best-selling author of more than 19 books. Ken has dedicated his life's work to understanding the implications of human potential for all people. Over the course of his career, he has become one of America’s foremost authorities on aging-related issues, shaping our understanding of lifestyle, marketing, healthcare, economics, and the workforce, all in the context of an evolving and aging society.

Ken Dychtwald is the co-Founder and CEO of Age Wave, an acclaimed think tank and consultancy focused on the global opportunities of rising longevity. His groundbreaking insights have garnered international recognition, earning him prestigious awards and accolades. In 2016 he and his wife Maddy Kent Dychtwald received the Esalen Prize for outstanding contributions to advancing human potential.

In this captivating talk recorded live at Esalen in April of 2023, Ken dives deep into his Esalen story, from the first encounter groups he ended up in as a 19 year old, to rubbing shoulders with John Lilly, Ram Dass, and Timothy Leary, to the best-selling book he would write at age 22, Body Mind. He also traces his path into the field of gerontology, and reveals some of the cosmic magic that awaits us as we embrace the power of aging.

Please note: all the of the wonderful stories and life lessons you’re about to hear, and many, many more can be found in Ken’s newly released memoir Radical Curiosity: My Life on the Age Wave. And by the way, all of Ken’s earnings from this book are being generously donated to Esalen.

Listen on Soundcloud
The Hero's Journey and Beyond: Mythologist John Bucher on the work of Joseph Campbell
August 30, 2023

John Bucher is a mythologist, storyteller, and writer based out of Hollywood, California. He serves as Executive Director for the Joseph Campbell Foundation and is an author, podcaster, and speaker. He has worked with government and cultural leaders around the world as well as organizations such as HBO, DC Comics, The History Channel, A24 Films, Atlas Obscura, and The John Maxwell Leadership Foundation. He has served as a producer, consultant, and writer for numerous film, television, and Virtual Reality projects. He is the author of six books including the best-selling Storytelling for Virtual Reality, named by BookAuthority as one of the best storytelling books of all time. He holds a PhD in Mythology and Depth Psychology and has spoken on six continents about using the power of story and myth to reframe how individuals, organizations, cultures, and nations believe and behave.

Today he explicates the work of Joseph Campbell, focusing on the Hero's Journey, Follow Your Bliss, Bill Moyers, Jung's influence on Campbell, Campbell's love for Big Sur and his special relationship with Esalen, and much more. We're joined by a special guest: Cloned Joseph Campbell, who peppers John with several incisive questions. Tons of fun, kind of uncanny, and overall quite educational.

Listen on Soundcloud
Sonya Renee Taylor: Mastering Radical Self-Love for Epic Transformation
August 11, 2023

Sonya Renee Taylor is a renowned activist, best-selling author, and celebrated thought leader whose work in racial justice, body liberation, and radical self-love has reshaped conversations around identity and healing.

At the heart of her groundbreaking book, The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love lies a transformative message that dismantles shame and oppression, offering a profound roadmap to reclaiming innate self-worth, and fostering a revolutionary connection with the world around us.

Beyond her notable talents as a poet, writer and speaker, Sonya has a rich history in advocacy and activism, which including work as a sexuality health educator, therapeutic wilderness counselor; mental health case worker; Director of Peer Education at HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive) in Washington, D.C.; and Capacity Building and Training Director at the Los Angeles-based Black AIDS Institute.

She is a great follow on social media; her series "What's up Y'all?" features Sonya riffing extemporaneously on issues of the day, including abortion, climate change, AI, white supremacy culture, the Supreme Court, and a lot more.

Above all, Sonya's journey has been marked by a dedication to reshaping narratives. Join us as we explore her journey, her insights, and her relentless pursuit of a world where self-love intersects with justice, redefining what it means to truly embrace others and ourselves.

Listen on Soundcloud
Congressman David Price: Navigating Political Conflict and Partisanship in Congress
July 27, 2023

Congressman David Price is a veteran of American politics. He served North Carolina's 4th congressional district for over three decades, retiring recently in 2022. Price was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina and a graduate of Yale University, where he received a PhD in Political Science. In Congress, he was for many years a key member of the House Appropriations Committee, well-known for being able to work both sides of the aisle. In addition, he was an early opponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and a studied adversary of media consolidation. In recent years, he worked diligently to promote parliamentary democracy in other countries.

Together we delve into the diminishing bipartisanship in the United States Congress, a topic that Price has experienced firsthand, and explore the nature of conflict and its resolution within the political landscape. We also take a deep dive into the intricacies of North Carolina's electoral politics, shedding light on how Price leveraged polling data to secure his initial victories in the 1980s. Finally, we will touch upon the ongoing battle against cynicism in politics, a struggle that the congressman has confronted throughout his career.

Listen on Soundcloud
Jenny Stefanotti: Psychedelics, Capitalism, Justice, and Progress
July 13, 2023

During the first wave of psychedelics in the 1960s, mind-altering substances played a significant role in challenging capitalist values and systems. However, in our current landscape, we are witnessing a different rollout of psychedelics, one that is predominantly medicalized and intertwined with traditional capitalist models. This raises an important question: Does this convergence of psychedelics and Western capitalism feel incongruous? And if so, what can be done about it.

Jenny Stefanotti, the Founder and Steward of Denizen, a media platform and co-learning community dedicated to systemic change, explores this question in depth with us, utilizing her backgrounds in strategy, technology, business, philanthropy, design, policy, and economics.

In this conversation, we’ll examine some models where for-profit enterprises navigate ethical considerations associated with psychedelic use, such as with companies like Journey Collab. We’ll explore whether psychedelics are by their very nature designed to be tools for social justice and instruments for political activism, and if they have a role in movements for equity and liberation, is that role undermined by the predominant mode of distribution?

Join us as we navigate the intricate terrain where psychedelics and capitalism intersect, and explore the potential dangers and opportunities that arise from this convergence.

For more thought-provoking conversations, visit Jenny and Denizen at www.becomingdenizen.com.

Listen on Soundcloud
Inner Transformation for Collective Justice: A Conversation with Rhonda Magee
June 30, 2023

Rhonda Magee is the author of the book The Inner Work of Racial Justice. She is a visionary law professor and mindfulness teacher who has dedicated her life and her work to integrating contemplative practices with issues of social justice.

In this episode, we dive deep into the idea that inner transformation can serve as a useful and effective catalyst for societal change. We discuss how mindfulness practices can support individuals in recognizing and transforming their own internalized biases — although of course, it’s no guarantee. To this point, Rhonda touches upon some of the obstacles individuals may face when engaging in the kind of inner work designed to confront privilege.

As Rhonda explores this interplay between compassion and fear, she highlights the dual nature of realizing our shared humanity — the complex emotions, the joys, and fears that arise when acknowledging our interconnectedness — as well as the internal conflicts individuals face when confronted with the need for societal change and personal discomfort.

Throughout this conversation, Rhonda emphasizes the importance of creating spaces, spaces like Esalen, where we can honestly explore and embrace our emotions. She urges us to examine this collective longing for a new way forward, one that transcends historical patterns of oppression, one that invites all individuals to a grounded and inclusive existence.

We also get into the history of the human potential movement, and talk about how the focus from individual human potential is shifting to a collective vision, and we talk about how institutions can leverage mindfulness and compassion to create more inclusive and equitable organizations.

Listen on Soundcloud

Join Rhonda Magee, Dan Siegel, Tom Little Bear Nason, and Elissa Epel for Come Together: A Festival of IntraConnectivity and Spirit July 24–28.

Learn More
East Forest on Immersive Ambient Music, Tools for Deep Introspection, AI, and Creativity
June 12, 2023

East Forest is a multidisciplinary artist, known by some for his 5-hour album Music for Mushrooms, designed to accompany a psychedelic journey. Other folks may know him from his album Ram Dass, where he created beautiful soundscapes to accompany interviews he did with Ram Dass, in fact the last known interviews ever done with Ram Dass before he passed into the next realm. Some people know him from his podcast, Ten Laws with East Forest, an extraordinary interview podcast where he talks with the likes of Duncan Trussell, Aurbrey Marcus, Danica Patrick. He has found a unique way to combine music, meditation, technology, and the experience of deep listening as a doorway, as a pathway towards acknowledging our own human essence. Its fair to say his creations are not just musical compositions; they are gateways to spiritual encounters, designed to inspire introspection.

In this episode, we dive deep into his thoughts around the creative process, and get into his early days as a musician, when he was an up and coming Brooklynite around the time of Occupy Wall Street. We speak about his success, and about how success can actually make the creative process much more difficult. We talk a little bit about generative AI and how it’s coming for musicians, the ambient musicians in particular, and what can be done about it. We of course chat about his collaboration with Ram Das and how the track Sit Around the Fire, a collaboration with Jon Hopkins, was created.

I just love this dude and his commitment to simple honesty, to discipline, to ritual, to reverence, to creativity. He’s good people and a great artist. One of my most enjoyable conversations in recent memory.

Check out his recent single, The Cosmic Dance.

Listen on Soundcloud
The Warrior Within: How Amber and Marcus Capone Help Veterans Through Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
May 11, 2023

Amber and Marcus Capone are founders of VETS solutions, a pioneering organization dedicated to supporting veterans struggling with the invisible wounds of war.

Amber and Marcus's journey began with the often difficult reality of life after Marcus's retirement from the U.S. Navy SEALs, where Amber witnessed the devastating toll that Marcus's service had taken on him, as he battled depression, anger, addiction, and an array of mental health challenges.

But when all hope seemed lost, a glimmer of possibility emerged — a potential solution that lay beyond the traditional bounds of medicine and therapy. In their quest for healing, Marcus's fellow Navy SEAL friend introduced them to Ibogaine, a psychedelic drug known for its ability to unlock deep-seated traumas and offer profound insights. While he was initially skeptical, Marcus embarked on this intense psychedelic experience, and what would become a life-altering journey, one where both Amber and Marcus would find a way forward, towards renewed clarity and purpose.

Join us as Amber and Marcus share their courageous and deeply personal account of how psychedelic-assisted therapy changed their life, and paved a path to supporting veterans through their organization, VETS solutions.

Listen on Soundcloud
Stacia Butterfield: Holotropic Breathwork's Unique Power
May 1, 2023

Stacia Butterfield is a somatic practitioner and a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator.

Stacia's journey into Holotropic breath work started in 1999. Since then, she has been on a quest to explore the wisdom of the body and the intrinsic healing orientation of the psyche. She worked with Dr. Deborah Mash at Healing Visions, an early Ibogaine clinic in the British Virgin Islands and certified as a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator in 2005. She worked closely with Stanislav Grof for over 13 years.

In this episode, we delve into Stacia's personal journey into this work, her experience with breathwork versus psychedelics, and the importance of set and setting in creating a safe and supportive environment for healing. We also discuss how she creates and uses an environment for integration after the breathwork sessions, and why Esalen, in particular, is such a significant place for integration.

Listen on Soundcloud

Stacia leads Holotropic Breathwork®: Expanded States of Consciousness as a Path to Healing and Transformation at Esalen July 3–7, 2023.

Learn More
Katy Bowman: Rethink Your Position
April 17, 2023

Katy Bowman is a bestselling author and speaker who’s revolutionizing the way that we think about movement and our need for it in today’s modern culture.

In this episode, we explore Katy's unique perspective on movement and discuss her upcoming book, Rethink Your Position. We touch on topics such as "tech neck," junk-food movement, sedentary culture, furniture-free homes, minimalist footwear, the art of long distance walking, the benefits of hanging, dynamic workstations, your "sleep shapes" and how to change them, trampolines, jumping, creating movement-positive zones for children, and more.

Check out Katy's website and her podcast, Move Your DNA.

Listen on Soundcloud

Esalen Institute is open!

However, Highway 1 south of Esalen is closed indefinitely. Don't let this stop you — there are other routes to reach us. Please review these alternate route driving directions and allow for a little extra travel time while on your transformational and healing journey.

We look forward to welcoming you to Esalen.