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Voices of Esalen: Fall 2020

Justin Michael Williams: Stay Woke

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,, 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.

Released September 11, 2020. Length: 50:58.

Voices of Esalen · Justin Michael Williams: Stay Woke

Kat Vellos: We Should Get Together

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 and read her powerful essay, "How to Help your Black and non-Black Friends Right Now".

Released August 20, 2020. Length: 39:52.

Voices of Esalen · Kat Vellos: We Should Get Together

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

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.

Released August 14, 2020. Length: 59:58.

Voices of Esalen · Dr. Biko Gray on Race, Subjectivity, and the Politics of Identity

Nkechi Deanna Njaka, MSc. : Race in the Wellness Space and the Dating White Podcast

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

Released August 7, 2020. Length: 45:36.

Voices of Esalen · Nkechi Deanna Njaka, MSc. : Race in the Wellness Space and the Dating White Podcast

Eldra Jackson III on Prison, Toxic Masculinity, and Healing Trauma

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.

Released July 31, 2020. Length: 40:08.

Voices of Esalen · Eldra Jackson III on Prison, Toxic Masculinity, and Healing Trauma

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

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.

Released July 23, 2020. Length: 49:44.

Voices of Esalen · Dr. Stephen Finley on Religious Fervor, Racial Injustice, and the Paranormal

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

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,, at which she is also available for any follow up questions or comments.

Released July 17, 2020. Length: 30:52.

Voices of Esalen · Dr. Kamilah Majied on Privilege, Human Potential, and Contemplative Practices

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

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 to find the donation link, and help more people have access to psychedelic medicine in a sustainable way.

Released July 10, 2020. Length: 42:08.

Voices of Esalen · Dr. Mellody Hayes: On Love, Racism, and Psychedelic Medicine


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