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.

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.

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Eldra Jackson III on Prison, Toxic Masculinity, and Healing Trauma
July 31, 2020

Eldra Jackson III is the co-Executive Director of Inside Circle, a support group that helps incarcerated men heal trauma and take responsibility for their choices. Eldra was featured in The Work, a 2017 documentary film taking place within New Folsom Prison in California, which follows a group healing intensive between members of the public and incarcerated men.

It's a remarkable project, one of the best non-fiction films of the last five years, and winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize in 2018.

Eldra spent 24 years as an inmate at New Folsom Prison, where he found Inside Circle and began a personal journey of self-awareness and transformation that not only led to being granted freedom from a life sentence, but also to a current leadership role within the organization.

He is a living example of successful rehabilitation and re-entry, and his current life’s work – as a facilitator, trainer and mentor – includes actively supporting others, both within and outside of prison, in overcoming their limiting beliefs.

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Dr. Stephen Finley on Religious Fervor, Racial Injustice, and the Paranormal
July 23, 2020

Dr. Stephen Finley, associate professor at Louisiana State University, where he teaches a host of courses that center around African American religious thought and culture, including Black Religion and Film, Race in the Age of Obama, and Black Intellectual Thought.

He is the co-editor of There is a Mystery: Esotericism, Gnosticism, and Mysticism in African American Religious Experience and the author of In and Out of this World: Material and Extraterrestrial Bodies in the Nation of Islam, and together we discussed the pitfalls of diversity, including the very real risks of tokenization, UFOs and their relation to African American culture, and the history of racial terror.

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Dr. Kamilah Majied on Privilege, Human Potential, and Contemplative Practices
July 17, 2020

Dr. Kamilah Majied is a mental health therapist, professor, and internationally engaged consultant on social justice and inclusive contemplative pedagogy. The practice of Buddhism spurred a curiosity for Dr. Majied about the causes of unhappiness, particularly unhappiness as created by social oppression.

A professor of social work, she is skilled in using Buddhist and contemplative practices to help people heal from racism, sexism, homophobia, and other types of oppression to reclaim joy in their lives.

Together we spoke about privilege and some of the limitations it imposes, the various blind spots built into the human potential movement, some of the impediments to apprehending privilege, and how not to get stuck in guilt and shame while grappling with the challenge of confronting racism.

No part of this broadcast can be duplicated or distributed without the written permission of Dr. Kamilah Majied. If you wish to make a gratitude offering for Dr. Majied's talk, please do so via her paypal or venmo accounts which can be accessed via her email address, kamilahmajied@yahoo.com, at which she is also available for any follow up questions or comments.

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Dr. Mellody Hayes: On Love, Racism, and Psychedelic Medicine
July 10, 2020

Dr. Mellody Hayes is a physician, writer, speaker, spiritual teacher and the Executive Director of Ceremony Health, a faith-based psychedelic healing center. Dr. Hayes was treated medically with psychedelic medicine for physician burnout, which made her aware of the power of psychedelics.

She is graduate of Harvard University and UCSF Medical School and Anesthesiology Residency, a John Kenneth Galbraith Scholar, and a Voices of Our Nation Alumni.

Together we discussed her path, her dreams for the future, diversity within the psychedelic community, whether psychedelics can cure racism, and the enduring power of community and love.

If you are able, please make a donation to support Dr. Hayes’ good work at Ceremony Health. You can go to ceremonyhealth.org to find the donation link, and help more people have access to psychedelic medicine in a sustainable way.

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Ashanti Branch: Behind the Mask
June 26, 2020

Ashanti Branch, M.Ed, was born and raised by a single mother on welfare in Oakland, California. He took the road less traveled to get out of the ghetto and attended one of California’s premier engineering colleges, California Polytechnic - San Luis Obispo, where he studied Civil Engineering and worked as a construction project manager. But after tutoring struggling students and realizing his true passion was teaching, Mr. Branch changed careers.

In 2004, as a first-year teacher, Ashanti started The Ever Forward Club to provide a support group for African American and Latino males who were not achieving to the level of their potential. Since then, The Ever Forward Club has grown to serve both young men and women and become a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The Ever Forward Club has helped 100% of its members graduate high school and 93% of them have gone on to attend college.

With over 19 years mentoring youth and 10 of those years as a math teacher educating inner city youth, Ashanti was awarded with a Fulbright Exchange Fellowship to India, a Rotary Club Cultural Ambassadorial Fellowship to Mexico and a 2010 Teacher of the Year Award from the Alameda-Contra Costa County Math Educators.

Today he spoke to Esalen’s Greg Archer about his life, what it has been like to be a black male in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, and the 100K Mask challenge.

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Emily Silverman on The Nocturnists: Stories from a Pandemic
May 29, 2020

Dr. Emily Silverman is a physician located in San Francisco. She is also the host of the Nocturnists, a podcast dedicated to the project of humanizing health care professionals.

We talked about the new tactic of storytelling she’s employed for this season of the Nocturnists, which entails curating audio diaries sent in by more than 250 health care workers around the country, as they report their own personal accounts of dealing with the pandemic.

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Adam Smiley Poswolsky: Putting Friendship and Connection Before Technology
May 22, 2020

Adam Smiley Poswolsky, bestselling author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough and The Breakthrough Speaker, speaks widely about millennials, employee engagement, and intergenerational collaboration.

His writing has been published in The Washington Post, Fast Company, Time, and Business Insider, and his work has been featured in USA Today, Mashable, Forbes, VICE, CNN, CNBC, Cosmopolitan, and the World Economic Forum, among others.

Poswolsky is well known for his thinking around responsible and balanced engagement with technology, and together we discussed how amidst the current crisis that has displaced many workers from their regular offices and placed them in front of their own computers and screens for longer periods of time, one can craft their own balanced way of interacting with tech, and with people.

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Dr. Richard Schwartz: Internal Family Systems
May 15, 2020

Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., is the founder of Internal Family Systems, a unique and astoundingly effective modality of psychotherapy that focuses on the various parts within a person. Internal Family Systems, or IFS, views multiplicity of mind as our natural state and our “parts” as sub-personalities that may be healed and transformed by bringing the Self into its rightful role as leader of the internal system.

In this interview, he guides Sam through some transformational trauma work.

Look for upcoming workshops with Richard Schwartz.

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Stanislav Grof in 1985: Transpersonal Psychology and Quantum Physics
May 8, 2020

Archive Edition: Today we're pleased to bring you an interview conducted on August 5th, 1985, with the godfather of psychedelic psychotherapy, Stanislav Grof. At this point, Grof had been a scholar-in-residence at Esalen for more than ten years.

The interview was conducted at Esalen by a young Perry Holloman, now a well-known figure at Esalen himself, having become over the course of his career an accomplished bodyworker and beloved Gestalt therapist.

During this recording, he and Stan investigate the emergent tendencies of transpersonal psychology, and the context from which they emerged out of Abraham Maslow's and Tony Suttich's Humanistic psychology, touching upon the non-ordinary states of consciousness which Grof is known for as well as Jungian archetypes and the concept of synchronicity.

They also go into the profound connection between Freudianism and Newtonian thinking, and chat about how new discoveries in quantum physics have affected most other scientific disciplines, including psychology. It’s a superb discussion conducted by two very smart people.

By its end, if you're listening closely, you will have an enhanced understanding of why transpersonal psychology became an appropriate container for psychedelic psychotherapy - and indeed any therapy that seeks to go beyond personal biography and delve into the realm of the spiritual and the mystic.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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