Ashanti Branch: Behind the Mask
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.
Released June 26, 2020. Length: 58:24.
Emily Silverman on The Nocturnists: Stories from a Pandemic
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.
Released May 29, 2020. Length: 58:24.
Adam Smiley Poswolsky: Putting Friendship and Connection Before Technology
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.
Released May 22, 2020. Length: 30:40.
Dr. Richard Schwartz: Internal Family Systems
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.
Released May 15, 2020. Length: 53:20.
Look for upcoming workshops with Richard Schwartz.
Stanislav Grof in 1985: Transpersonal Psychology and Quantum Physics
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 your'e 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.
Released May 8, 2020. Length: 50:32.
Johnsmith: The Song Inside
Johnsmith is an acclaimed folk singer and songwriter, as well as a longtime teacher of songwriting at the Esalen Institute, where he’s helped thousands of students across the years to access their creativity and their personal depths to manifest meaningful and joyful work. In an interview we recorded in early March 2020, B.P., (Before Pandemic), we chatted about his past, his process, what songs are the hardest for him to write, and how inner work changed him.
Released April 30, 2020. Length: 50:41.
Look for upcoming workshops with Johnsmith.
Lucia Horan: The 5 Rhythms of the Pandemic
Lucia Horan was born and raised at Esalen Institute. She grew up dancing with Gabrielle Roth, founder of the 5 Rhythms method. Lucia is an international teacher of 5 Rhythms and insight meditation, and leads and co-leads groups in the fields of Buddhist meditation, yoga, trauma, addiction, grief, women’s power, Motion Theater, and wild dolphins. Today, she spoke about how the coronavirus is changing our lives, and how we can most skillfully dance with our new reality.
Released April 24, 2020. Length: 36:40.
Look for upcoming workshops with Lucia Horan.
Peter Bregman: Have the Difficult Conversation, Lead with Emotional Courage
Peter Bregman coaches CEOs and senior leaders in many of the world’s premier organizations. Ranked as a top 30 thought leader by Thinkers 50 Radar and selected as one of the top 8 thought leaders in leadership, he's also the best-selling author of Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work. He is also a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, and his articles and commentary appear frequently in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Psychology Today, Forbes, The Financial Times, PBS, ABC, CNN and NPR. In a conversation that occurred several months ago at the Esalen Institute, before the global pandemic foisted itself upon us, we discussed authenticity in leadership, the real meaning of emotional courage, how to skillfully engage in the difficult conversations, why asking for feedback helps to build internal strength, and how to minimize the gap between what we want and what we do.
Released April 17, 2020. Length: 35:16.
Look for upcoming workshops with Peter Bregman.
Dr. Rick Hanson: Inner Peacefulness and Positive Neuroplasticity in the Time of Coronavirus
Dr. Rick Hanson is a psychologist, best-selling author, and the co-founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. The subtitle of one of his books, Budha’s Brain is "The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom," - and that speaks volumes about Rick’s purpose as a clinician and teacher: to show clients effective ways to light up the brain circuits that relieve worry and stress, in order to promote positive relationships and inner peace. Recently, he’s developed the online course Positive Neuroplasticity Training to teach general methods of self-directed brain change. He is a wise teacher and a great resource at this time. Visit his site www.rickhanson.net, and check out the many free resources available there.
Released April 10, 2020. Length: 30:56.
Look for upcoming workshops with Rick Hanson.
Dr. Shauna Shapiro on Calm and Clarity in the Time of Coronavirus
Dr. Shauna Shapiro is a clinical psychologist, professor, and best-selling author, most recently of the book Good Morning, I Love You: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity, and Joy. We wanted to hear Shauna's perspective this April, 2020, amidst the global pandemic of the Coronavirus, in hopes that she could offer both perspective and actionable practices to help all of us cope, and achieve some calm and clarity.
Released April 3, 2020. Length: 37:52.
Look for upcoming workshops with Shauna Shapiro.
Janet Stone: How to Find Peace and Strength in the Time of Coronavirus
Janet Stone is a yoga and meditation teacher with a global following. We spoke on March 23, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently dominating the news and changing most our lives. Our intention was to give Janet space to offer actionable advice on how to be calmer and more grounded in the face of the unknown.
Released March 24, 2020. Length: 31:28.
Look for upcoming workshops with Janet Stone.
Voices of Esalen Archive Edition
Ram Dass's 1987 Lecture at Esalen: "The Compassionate Heart"
Ram Dass speaks at the Esalen Institute on October 18th, 1987. Ram Dass was born Richard Alpert in 1931. Initially famous for being part of the Timothy Leary-led LSD revolution at Harvard in the early 1960’s, he was also well known for his book Be Here Now, a kind of illustrated counter-cultural Bible written in 1971 which drew upon many of the transformative experiences he'd undergone during his spiritual travels in India.
Ram Dass was also known for his kindness, his leadership, and the inventive foundations he started: notably, the SEVA foundation, which he speaks about in depth in this lecture - it was created in 1978 with the intention of helping to alleviate blindness in India, Nepal, and other developing countries. He also created the Dying project in 1986, aligned around the concept of a conscious shifting into another realm.
He was an important speaker and teacher at Esalen, famous for his ability to speak extemporaneously with great wisdom, humor and compassion.
In 2013, Ram Dass released a memoir, Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart. In an interview about the book, he said, "Now, I’m in my 80s ... Now, I am aging. I am approaching death. I’m getting closer to the end. Now, I really am ready to face the music all around me." Ram Dass died December 22nd, 2019, leaving a kind, wild, compassionate, and fruitful legacy.
Released March 2, 2020. Length: 58:00.
Katie Hafner: Truth in Memoir
Katie Hafner is the author of the memoir Mother, Daughter, Me, the unsettling true story of how she and her daughter took in her estranged mother for a year. She is also an accomplished journalist, having written for the New York Times since 1991, as well as for Newsweek, Esquire, Wired, and the New Republic. We talked about how her background in journalism aided her in writing a difficult memoir, and what it’s like to grapple with the truth in these disparate genres. We also went back and forth about our favorite memoirs and the writers behind them - you may want to take some notes, you’re sure to pick a few gems.
Released February 19, 2020. Length: 28:04.
Look for upcoming workshops with Katie Hafner.
Zak Dychtwald on Young China: The Restless Generation
Zak Dychtwald is the author of "Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World." Zak, a second-generation Esalen thought leader, came to Big Sur as part of Esalen's Conversations on the Edge Series, where we bring together leading experts and visiting teachers to explore a pressing issue of our time. Zak is a leading expert on youth culture in China. Together we discussed many aspects of Chinese millennials, including common misconceptions on either side, how the project of childhood functions in China, how the Chinese real estate market is propped up in many ways by the marriage market, what it’s like to be young and gay in China, Chinese hip-hop, censorship, internet, the culture of dissent, how Chinese millennials have redefined the marketplace internationally, who their sports heroes are, why Steph Curry is a more relatable NBA hero than Lebron, what Chinese millennials might think of their United States counterparts, and what the next hundred years may bring for us all.
Released February 10, 2020. Length: 57:49.
Chungliang "Al" Huang: Tai Chi Master and Esalen Legacy Holder
Chungliang Al Huang is a tai chi master, writer, philosopher, dancer, and one of the most important and enduring teachers in Esalen’s history. Born in Shanghai, China, Huang moved to the United States to study architecture and cultural anthropology. In Los Angeles, he fell into a career as a professional dancer through a chance meeting with Sammy Davis Jr. In the mid 1960’s, Huang became a close collaborator with the philosopher Alan Watts, who would introduce him to the Esalen Institute. He soon became a beloved teacher at Esalen, known for his tai chi teachings on the deck of the Esalen pool, as well as his collaborations with Watts, mythologist Joseph Campbell, Huston Smith, Gregory Bateson, Laura Huxley, Carl Rogers, and more. Huang is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, Director of the Hong Kong Dance Company, and author of 18 books. At age 82, he continues to teach Tai Chi every year at Esalen on the pool deck which bears his name.
Released February 3, 2020. Length: 44:19.
Look for upcoming workshops with Chungliang Al Huang.
Cassandra Vieten: The Art and Science of Transformation
Cassandra Vieten is a senior fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, as well as the Executive Director of the John W. Brick Foundation, and Scholar-in-Residence at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at the University of California, San Diego. She is a psychologist, mind-body medicine researcher, author of numerous articles in scientific journals, and an internationally recognized keynote speaker. Cassandra came to Esalen to teach about the art and science of transformation. She is dedicated to helping others consider how peak experiences, extraordinary moments, and awe stimulate growth. Dr. Vieten lectures widely about the transformative potential of pain: how sometimes hitting bottom can help us shake free from periods of inertia. In this wide-ranging discussion, we also touched upon the importance of a holistic approach to psychotherapy, how to engage in productive argumentation in order to persuade others to change their consciousness, and how to create a realistic yet aspirational vision for the future.
Released January 24, 2020. Length: 56:09.
Look for upcoming workshops with Cassandra Vieten.
Lisa Littlebird: Rise Up Singing
Lisa Littlebird is a singer, composer, writer, voice coach, and visionary, as well as the former executive director of the Denver Women’s Chorus and the founder of the Wholehearted Chorus, a heart-led, joy-based community chorus, open to all voices on the central coast of California. During our conversation at Esalen Institute, we talked about how she is able to invite singers of ALL abilities to explore the full potential of their voice. She views group singing as a transformational personal practice and a healing art, and this comes through in the sincerity of her work, and in the pureness of her voice. This episode is laced with beautiful bits of live singing from Lisa's workshops and from her chorus's performances.
Released January 9, 2020. Length: 45:32.
Look for upcoming workshops with Lisa Littlebird.