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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.

Bill Donius: Thought Revolution
January 19, 2023

Bill Donius is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Thought Revolution. In this book, Donius explains the science behind non-dominant handwriting and teaches how to incorporate this powerful technique into your personal life. Through the simple process of non-dominant hand writing, you can discover how to connect more fully with your subconscious right brain, unlocking hidden talents, reducing stress, and even healing from trauma. This episode is a bit different, in that we feature a process that Bill goes through with a Voices of Esalen listener, oncology nurse and meditation teacher Nicole Longbine.

Bill is also a member of the Esalen Board of Trustees. He spent 30 years in corporate America in a number of industries, including health care, television production, and banking. He rose through the ranks to become chairman and CEO of Pulaski Bank in St Louis, growing it eight-fold to $1.4 billion in assets. He serves on a number of boards including the St. Louis Art Museum, Maryville University, and Venture Cafe, and served a two-year term on the U.S. Federal Reserve Board as a banker appointee.

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Join Donius at Esalen May 5–7, 2023 for Meet Your Better Half: Unlock Your Right Brain.

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Sam's Top 6 Favorite Things of 2022
December 27, 2022

Voices of Esalen host Sam Stern runs through his top six favorite things of 2022, including cloning his own voice, messing around with the bizarre world of ChatGPT, microdosing things other than psychedelics, intentionally being different in order to gain an outsize advantage, and being intentional and resourceful in finding new music to revitalize your soul and spirit.

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Adam Bramlage: Microdosing 101
November 30, 2022

Adam Bramlage is Founder and CEO of Flow State Micro, a functional mushroom company and microdosing education platform. Adam has helped hundreds of people, from professional athletes to people suffering from addiction and depression, achieve results through microdosing in his private practice. This interview gives the basics of microdosing; it's a great primer for anyone just at the beginning of their journey.

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Join us online on January 14, when Adam will co-lead Microdosing: The Safe, Surprising and Emerging Psychedelic Frontier, a day-long workshop with psychedelic pioneer and the father of modern microdosing, Dr. James Fadiman, PhD, live from Esalen and guest faculty Connor Murray, PhD, and Rachael Henrichsen, MA.

As you’ll see from this interview, Adam is very skilled at delivering information designed to make any microdosing experience smart, secure, and safe. And Dr. James Fadiman is simply an Esalen treasure. He was a guest on Voices of Esalen in an episode called A Psychedelic History Lesson. Dr. Fadiman was also one of the very first workshop leaders at Esalen — he helped lead a workshop in 1962 entitled Drug Induced Mysticism and he’s been a meaningful figure at Esalen ever since.

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Louie Schwartzberg: Gratitude Revealed
November 23, 2022

Louie Schwartzberg is the filmmaker behind Fantastic Fungi — he's back now with a follow up film: Gratitude Revealed. Louie has created and worked on a score of films in his life, including his own features like Mysteries of the Unseen World and Wings of Life, as well as the Netflix series Moving Art. Over the process of his career, it's fair to say that he’s revolutionized the field of time-lapse photography. Louie has also been a contributing cinematographer or visual effects artist to many idiosyncratic Hollywood movies, including Men in Black 2, Erin Brockovich, Vice Versa, The Heavenly Kid, Xanadu, Altered States, and the 1982 masterpiece Koyanisqatsi. His inventive TED talks have garnered more than 60 million views. Together we talked about how he balances a love of documentary footage shot in the wild with his continuing dedication to time-lapse footage that's shot in studio, how he sees making work as a spiritual practice, how social justice photography gave him his start in film, what Los Angeles was like in the early 1970’s, why he split town after graduation from UCLA and moved to a tiny town in Northern California, where he started retrofitting 35mm movie cameras to enable them to take high-resolution time-lapse photos. Louie also talks about how he lent his own take on psychedelic iconography to the film Altered States in the early stages of a film career that has always existed in a fiercely independent realm. And I couldn't let him leave without talking a bit about how Esalen continues to inspire a sense of wonder in him.

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Chef Elle Simone on Cuisine and America's Culture: How Flavor Shapes a Nation
November 11, 2022

Chef Elle Simone is a well-known American chef, culinary producer, test cook, and food stylist. In 2013, after realizing that women and persons of color were underrepresented among chefs, she founded SheChef, a mentoring and networking organization for women of color in the culinary field. She can be seen on PBS on America’s Test Kitchen and is the first African American woman to appear as a regular host on that show. Chef Elle is also a survivor of ovarian cancer and shows up as an activist and representative in that space.

Chef Elle is interviewed by S. Rae Peoples, Associate Director of
Diversity & Inclusion Education at Tufts University. She has over 25 years of experience serving in leadership roles that revolve around social justice in the arts, education, political, and nonprofit sectors. She advises organizations on how best to create internal conditions that allow equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice to flourish. Her opinions and writings have been featured in The Washington Post, Oakland Post, BlogHer, and YFS Magazine. S. Rae is currently rooted in motherhood, love, and community in Somerville, MA.

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Esselen Tribe of Monterey County in Dialogue with Esalen Institute
November 1, 2022

Today we’re sharing a conversation that took place in October, 2022, between members of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County and the Esalen Institute. Representing the Esselen tribe are Jana Nason and Stephen Vicente Arevalo.

Jana Nason is an Esselen and Rumsen descendant, and an enrolled tribal member of the ETMC. She is the nonprofit secretary, and serves on the Tribal Council as Tribal Administrator and Secretary, Publications Chair, and Cultural Resource Committee member. She also manages the Cultural Archeological Monitoring program and serves her Tribe in that capacity. She is dedicated to education, and protecting and preserving the cultural heritage and ancestral sacred sites.

Stephen Arevalo is an Esselen and Rumsen descendant. He currently serves on the ETMC Tribal Council as well on the Cultural Resource Committee. Stephen serves his Tribe on many levels and is a tribal cultural archeological monitor. He is deeply passionate about his ancestry and has started a language re-learning class for tribal members. He is an educational speaker, and an active community member.

Representing Esalen Institute is Douglas Drummond. Douglas serves as the Director for Healing Arts and Somatics and the Director of Community Alliance at Esalen Institute. He is also faculty. Douglas is originally from Aotearoa New Zealand and now makes his home in Big Sur, California in Esselen Territory, with his family.

Learn more about the Esselen Tribe at www.esselentribe.org/.

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Tim McKee on White Men's Role in Racial Justice
October 24, 2022

Tim McKee is publisher at North Atlantic Books, an educational non-profit publishing house that collaborates with partners to develop cross-cultural perspectives; nurture holistic views of art, science, the humanities, and healing; and seed personal and global transformation by publishing work on the relationship of body, spirit, and nature.

Tim is interviewed today by S. Rae Peoples, Associate Director of Diversity & Inclusion Education at Tufts University. She has over 25 years of experience serving in leadership roles that revolve around social justice in the arts, education, political, and non-profit sectors. Her expertise lies in advising organizations on how best to create internal conditions that allow equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice to flourish. Her opinions and writings have been featured in The Washington Post, Oakland Post, BlogHer, and YFS Magazine. A native of California with a Midwest upbringing, S. Rae is currently rooted in motherhood, love, and community in Somerville, MA.

To ground this interview, S. Rae People’s writes: “The conversation with Tim McKee, publisher for North Atlantic Books, is of unique importance particularly for white men who want to engage in the collective work toward racial justice. Both candid and coming from a seat of compassion, the conversation explores the distinct role and responsibilities white men have in moving the needle forward on racial justice — given their location within a racialized society where they are beneficiaries given the fact that they are both white and male."

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Encore Presentation: Michael Pollan at Esalen Psychedelic Integration Conference, 2019
October 6, 2022

Michael Pollan is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, including 2018’s How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. This tome has become a four-part Netflix show, also entitled “How to Change Your Mind.” In this encore presentation of his keynote presentation at the 2019 Psychedelic Integration Conference at Esalen Institute, Pollan gives a great speech touching upon the pervasiveness of the human tendency to want to change consciousness, the ways that noetic understanding can add to healing on the psychedelic journey, the radical ways that plants can change us and change consciousness, and the ways that he remains a skeptic to some of the more grandiose claims of the psychedelic movement. A must-listen for fans and for newbies alike.

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Mirrored Fatality: Non-Binary Kapampangan-Pilipinx and Pakistani-Muslim Duo on Healing Noise Punk
September 23, 2022

✧༺mirrored fatality is the nonbinary Kapampangan-Pilipinx and Pakistani-Muslim performance art duo of Mango and Samar, artists in residence at Esalen during the summer of 2021. Together we discuss the difference between non-binary and trans, how they share their rituals, altars, and medicine through DIT (Do It Together) experimental and healing noise punk, why punk as a genre is their musical choice, how fashion can be weaponized, why farming is a huge part of their lives and creative practice, how capitalism functions as the backdrop for their world, what an anti-imperialist education would look like, what they love about one another, how to educate, how they might react when they are misgendered, what they hope for Esalen's future, and much more.

We play selections of several of their songs throughout this episode. To support Mango and Samar, head to their bandcamp and check out their music.

In their words: "mirrored fatality’s performance activism allows them a safe space to release their bubbling, fermenting primal rage rooted in the settler colonialism, transphobia, racism, xenophobia, and intergenerational ancestral trauma they experience daily as nonbinary people of color. mirrored fatality’s intentions for their art is for Queer Trans Black Indigenous People of Color to embody their rage, disrupt the silence and isolation from existing in a white supremacist capitalistic apocalyptic world, and harness collective care, catharsis, and holistic healing. Join them in imagining the future we’ve been fighting for and experience mirrored fatality’s reflections to witness our highest, truest selves."

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Brian Pace & Neşe Devenot: Right-Wing Psychedelia, or, Lucy in the Sky With Nazis
September 12, 2022

Dr. Brian Pace is a lecturer who teaches Psychedelic Studies at Ohio State University. He is trained as an evolutionary ecologist, specializing in phytochemistry, ethnobotany, and ecophysiology. He believes in grassroots drug decriminalization efforts and hopes to find alternative policies to the imperial drug war. For more than a decade, Brian has worked on agroecology and climate change.

Dr. Nese Devenot is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Institute for Research in Sensing (or IRiS) at the University of Cincinnati; an Affiliate Scholar at the Center for Psychedelic Drug Research & Education at Ohio State University; and the Medicine, Society & Culture Research Fellow with Psymposia. She also researches and teaches bioethical approaches to psychedelic medicine. She was a Research Fellow with the New York University Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study, where she participated in the first qualitative study of patient experiences.

Dr. Pace and Dr. Devenot are authors of a paper entitled “Right-Wing Psychedelia: Case Studies in Cultural Plasticity and Political Pluripotency,” a piece they created to rebut the common cultural assumption that psychedelics have the potential to improve society because of inherent characteristics that tend to point their users to a liberal, free-thinking ideology.

In the discussion that follows, they suggest that psychedelics are non-specific amplifiers of their set and setting, which, they take pains to remind me, is within the capitalist realm, and that contrary to the de facto cultural credo, conservative, hierarchy-based ideologies are quite able to withstand the face melting effects of a few hits of LSD. They speak about many cases where psychedelic users either remained authoritarian in their views or became conservatively radicalized after taking psychedelics. We also get into conservative thought leaders who happen to be psychedelic cheerleaders, like Jordan Peterson, as well as the moneyed individuals who are central players in the corporate psychedelic world, like Peter Thiel and Rebecca Mercer. I have taken the liberty of importing some clips that I found on YouTube of these famous folks up for discussion, in the hopes of better illustrating the points being made. Hope you enjoy.

More information akin to this can be found at psymposia.com.

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Esalen is open and accessible from the north.

Highway 1 south of Esalen remains closed.