Explore our Wonderstruck Podcast catalog, with top experts and experiencers in each episode delving into a new topic.

EP. 018

Healer, author and world-renowned qigong master Robert Peng traces his singular journey and shares stories about the teacher that changed his life. Recovering from a childhood illness during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Peng started apprenticing with a legendary monk named Xiao Yao. Having witnessed and learned from his master’s extraordinary, and seemingly supernatural powers, Peng himself developed his own remarkable capabilities, feats of strength and healing which many would consider impossible. He did it, he says, by cultivating his qi. In a revealing conversation recorded last summer at Wonderstruck’s Symposium on Wisdom and Pedagogy in Guainville, France, host Elizabeth Rovere sat down with Peng to explore what qi really is, what it has to do with the energy centers of Chinese Medicine, and how we can cultivate our own.

EP. 017

Emma Mumford is the best-selling author of Hurt, Healing, Healed, and Spiritual Queen, and host of Spiritual Queen’s Badass Podcast. There, she covers topics like manifestation, out of body experiences, The Law of Attraction and processing trauma. Emma’s own spiritual awakening came as a surprise. She had found professional success after years of personal struggle, becoming a popular couponing advocate and presenter in the UK. Nevertheless, she still suffered from depression and anxiety. A moment of surrender changed Emma’s life. “I remember looking out the window and saying, ‘Universe, help me.’ And that was it,” Emma tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere. As Emma let go of control and led more from her heart, she opened up to newfound teachings, therapy, and self-help tools. She began tapping into deep personal wells of agency and creativity, working through childhood trauma, developing her intuition and, ultimately, drawing upon her learnings to help others find happiness. “When you find yourself in the trenches of life,” Emma says. “There is a purpose to that. You may not know it at that time, you may not know what abundance or happiness or joy awaits you.”

EP. 016

What do you want? Who are you bound to? Who are you, really? And what will you do when faced with difficult decisions? These are some of the questions at the heart of religion and tragedy, dramas about extreme situations, impossible choices, and their consequences. William Robert, a professor of religion at Syracuse University, studies religion by studying tragedies, since both ask the same kinds of big questions about being human: questions about love and connection, about purpose and passion, about morality and mortality. And they’re persistent questions that don’t have final answers. In performance-based classes and workshops, and in print, William uses tragic dramas to rethink how religion works, what it does, and why it matters. His most recent book, Unbridled: Studying Religion in Performance, won the American Academy of Religion’s Religion and the Arts Book Award. On this episode of Wonderstruck, William and host Elizabeth Rovere discuss performance and pedagogy as practices of wonder that generate learning. Using teaching methods that draw upon embodied participation, earnest curiosity, props and disarming playfulness, William breaks down the barriers of academia to reach new and transformative conclusions. “When we’re using our bodies, we are inevitably thinking and feeling together,” he says. “The intellectual and the affective and the corporeal dimensions are all mixed together. And that’s much more powerful than just the intellect.”

EP. 015

Seeking relief from her migraine headaches, Dr. Sue Morter turned to meditation. As a new meditator, 24 years ago, she sat down to meditate as part of a group. As she followed along chanting a mantra, her mind was stilled and she was instantaneously transported into a higher state of consciousness, that she explains “was completely altered from where we operate on a daily basis.” Dr. Sue shares with Wonderderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere, “I could see 360 degrees…I could see in every direction simultaneously…I was a ray of light. And I had always been there. I knew instantly that this was the truth of who I was. ” Her life’s work has evolved from this formative moment and the multi-dimensional experiences and understandings she continues to access as she works to embody this greater truth of who we are, teaching it and sharing it with others through her Energy Codes coursework, BodyAwake Yoga, Spiritual B.E.S.T. (Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique) and as a best-selling author. Dr. Sue is a transformational leader, teaching us how we’re contributing to the expansion of human consciousness as “we’re waking to the truth of why we’re here and what we’re capable of.”

EP. 014

Nicole Baden’s life in Zen began with a crisis. She was 17, overwhelmed and felt she may not survive. With help from her father, and her own intuition, Nicole looked for relief in the form of her 18th birthday gift: a trip to a Zen meditation retreat. Hoping to quiet her existential dread, what Nicole took away from that trip was even greater. It set her on a path that would entirely change her concept of self, and the way she’d experience being in the world. Now known as Tatsudo Nicole Baden Roshi, she is a Dharma Successor of Zentatsu Richard Baker Roshi, and director and a resident teacher at the Zen Buddhist Center Schwarzwald in Germany—the very same place she arrived as a frightened teen many years ago. The way Nicole teaches about Zen clarifies, demystifies and prescribes ways for her students to change their own paths by practicing meditation. “You can start sitting at home in homeopathic doses,” she tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere. “If you start introducing bodily stillness into your daily life, that would be a really good start.” Beginning next year, Nicole intends to do more teaching in the United States, online and in-person, expanding the offerings at Dharma Sangha’s Crestone Mountain Zen Center in Crestone, Colorado, where she serves as Assistant Abbot.

EP. 013

In 1950, a 19-year-old Stanford University sophomore named Michael Murphy had a serendipitous encounter that changed his life. Murphy had prepared to sit through more of his pre-med coursework. Instead, he wound up in a lecture hall where the great religions scholar and professor Frederic Spiegelberg delivered a message that shook Murphy to his core, altering his ambitions, his career trajectory and his spiritual outlook. “Walking out of there, one sentence kept going through my head,” Murphy, now 93, shares with Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere, “It was like an obsessional thought: you will never be the same, you will never be the same.” Spiegelberg’s influence set Murphy on a path that would lead him to turn a sacred plot of land on the Northern California coast into a cliffside hub for the study and practice of human potential. Co-founded with Richard Price in 1962, Esalen Institute has left an indelible mark on countless individuals and on a broader culture of seekers and scholars. Wonderstruck’s second season kicks off with a story only Michael Murphy can tell, about Esalen’s wild evolution and impact, guarding it against drug dealers and cults, and a lifetime, says Murphy, of moving “into this greater life that’s pressing to be born in us all.”

EP. 012

Doctor John Douillard is one of the world’s foremost natural health experts and a leading voice in the fields of Ayurveda and sports medicine. As a certified ayurvedic practitioner, John draws from ancient Indian medical knowledge and cutting edge medical research to treat the ailments of the modern world. A prolific author, podcaster and YouTube presence, millions of viewers have watched John’s videos about topics like sleep improvement, brain detoxing, healthy aging, and longevity. On Wonderstruck’s Season 1 finale, John shares his most powerful teaching. He reveals how he eliminated fatigue and found a source of “jet fuel” in his own body. And he opens up about why getting older means embracing the spiritual world in deeper ways, and the connection he’s found between wonder and inner strength. “The whole idea of exploring inner space is such a road less traveled,” John tells host Elizabeth Rovere. “But it’s so full of wonder and awe and joy. Sitting down and meditating and breathing can change your life, and give you an experience of life that is so joyful and so fulfilled that you become what I call ‘weather proofed.’ You know: you’re not happy only when good things happen, and you’re not sad only when bad things happen. You experience them, but you’re weather proofed from letting them change who you are. Nothing has the power to change who we are.”

EP. 011

Visionary creator of communities and author of the book Belong, Radha Agrawal is the co-founder and CEO of Daybreaker, a one of a kind wellness movement and gathering of sunrise dancers that has held extraordinary events on five continents—for almost half a million people, including Oprah—over the course of the last ten years. While integrating music, movement and community, all in a substance-free, sun up setting, Radha has developed powerful, transformative ideas about moving past judgment towards a place of wonder and embracing dance as means to radical healing. “It sweeps you out of your head into this sort of spiritual realm,” Radha tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere. “It’s unlike any other experience I’ve ever felt.”

EP. 010

Focusing on esoteric rituals, gender and bodies in Hindu traditions, Sravana Borkataky-Varma is a research fellow at Harvard Divinity School, an instructional assistant professor of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Houston, and sits on the Board of Trustees at Esalen Institute. From early childhood, Sravana experienced both clairvoyance and clairaudience. She sees and hears things others cannot perceive. At eight years old, mindful of these gifts, she began her initiation into Tantra and practices Hindu Śākta (Goddess) Tantra to this day. “Somehow, for a very complex history, Tantra gets understood in the context of sex,” Sravana tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere. “The culture absorbed it in a tiny little sliver.” By pushing back against this misperception, Sravana articulates a much richer narrative about what tantra really is—and why it matters.

EP. 009

In Father Tiso’s second Wonderstruck sit down with host, Elizabeth Rovere, he reveals more about his Himalayan adventure and gets personal about his own experiences with wonder and awe. From visions of Jesus Christ, to encountering holy visitors in his dreams, Father Tiso shares how his own spiritual practices, and his pursuit of wisdom, prepare him to embody and understand different levels of consciousness across life and death, even soothing cancer patients with visualization and guided meditation. “I have used meditation on a number of occasions with people who are dying,” Father Tiso says. “It does seem to help people connect with the inner structure, their own subtle body, to be strong in the face of death–not just stoically strong, but deeply, spiritually strong to reach the point of luminosity and gratitude.

Listen to Our Trailer

Welcome to Wonderstruck (Trailer)