Welcome to the Koan of Illness Interview Series
A koan is an essentially unsolvable puzzle that leads spiritual aspirants to a deeper reality. Chronic illness is a koan and it, too, has the potential to lead us to deeper understandings. In this series we bring you the voices of people who can lead us into deeper perspectives and shed their light on this koan of illness.
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Experts speak about living with chronic illness.
This series features patients, caregivers, clinicians, spiritual teachers, and others with an integral view of chronic illness, a view that takes into account multiple elements that are part of the illness puzzle.
Join our guests to look through personal, political, spiritual, and psychological lenses into the mystery that is chronic illness.
Register now and have access to future interviews as well.
Joe is a Worldview Artist and pioneer in the emerging field of integral philosophy and spirituality. He is the author of several published books including a memoir, cultural criticism, an epic poem, and a fantasy novel. He graduated with Honors from Harvard University in comparative religion and philosophy and studied at The Divinity School at The University of Chicago and Pacific Integral/LIOS. His current projects include development of the Lingua-U metalanguage, leading the formation of an emergent integral church, and sharing his daily spiritual journey through blogs and social media.
Laurie is a patient advocate and health/science writer whose work has been published in the Boston Globe, New York Times, NPR, and other outlets. She is a lifelong patient and has written two books on chronic illness, Life Disrupted and In the Kingdom of the Sick: A Social History of Chronic Illness in America named a Booklist Editor’s Choice for Nonfiction in 2013. She teaches writing for the health sciences and writing to heal at Northeastern University and lives outside Boston, MA.
Laurie takes us through some of the thorniest issues our society faces in dealing with chronic illness and speaks of how to be well even when you cannot be physically healthy.
Carol is president of Solve ME/CFS Initiative, an organization dedicated to finding treatment and cure for a poorly understood and poorly researched illness, myalgic encephalomyelitis. Carol was recognized by O, the Oprah Magazine, as a 2017 Health Hero, a visionary who is healing bodies, minds, and communities. Carol herself was affected by the disease in the 1980s shortly after receiving her MBA from Stanford University. She has gradually improved, though she is still not cured. Carol leads us through the approaches SMCI uses to help the bodies, minds, and community of people with chronic illness.
John is the founder and CEO of Integral Recovery, author of the acclaimed Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addiction, and CEO of iAwake Technologies. Three months prior to this interview he suffered a massive heart attack. He explains how he applied his integral recovery program to his own recovery, emphasizing each of the physical, relational, spiritual, and emotional aspects of healing, and showing us how understanding our shadow, our evolutionary development, and our spiritual essence can bring us deep healing
Fran was a Roman Catholic Trappist monk for many years and also a student of Buddhism and the Hindu Advaita-Vedanta teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi. In 2010 she experienced an awakening to everpresent spacious, pure awareness and is now living a “new incarnation” as a spiritual teacher.
Since her recent coming out as transgender, she also offers encouragement and teaching to the LGBTQI community
Lynne, attorney, and author of Integral Healing, faced two dreaded diagnoses, breast cancer and lung cancer, at the same time. On top of that, she was also dealing with devastating family and work issues. Lynne shares her integral healing process and value of the many conventional, alternative, and complementary health options that contributed to her healing, both physical and emotional.
Chronic illness clinician and researcher Patricia, CEO of Albany Health Services, describes the crisis, stabilization, resolution, and integration stages of her Fennell Four Phase Treatment method. This model parallels an integral approach in its attention to interior and exterior, practical and spiritual, and social and psychological aspects of illness. Listen in as she also talks about the relationship of jazz improvisation to illness management and the importance of an existential search for meaning in the illness experience.
Corey is the managing editor of IntegralLife, where he has worked with renowned philosopher Ken Wilber for over 15 years to help support and curate the continued unfolding of integral thought and living in the world. He is responsible for managing the membership experience at Integral Life, for building the Integral Life website and for producing the majority of the media, writing, and imagery on IntegralLife.com. He and his fiancee are caregivers to his daughter Evie, who was born with a birth defect requiring a liver transplant.
Bill is a research biochemist who left the lab in pursuit of enlightenment. He has studied contemplative Christianity and Korean Zen Buddhism and is a long-time student of Ken Wilber’s integral approach to spirituality. He offers mindfulness-based coaching and teaches meditation and Centering Prayer throughout the greater Chicago area.
He is on the faculty at DePaul University where he teaches mindfulness meditation. Bill experienced an awakening to nondual awareness in 2011. He is committed to helping ordinary city dwellers awaken. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Claire, two blocks from Lake Michigan.
Jennifer is a psychotherapist and coach specializing in the intersection of chronic illness and human development. She has a masters in pastoral counseling from Loyola University and her coaching training from Integral Coaching Canada. She currently sees clients at Whole Health Chicago, an integrative health clinic known for addressing the roots of chronic illness. While grappling with her own autoimmune illness, she also cares for her three chronically ill children.
Kristin Kirk’s authentic heart-centered teaching, acuity and embodied presence reside in direct experience independent of any spiritual tradition. She experienced an initial awakening in 2003 which revealed profound healing gifts and an unusually refined awareness of subtle inner workings of consciousness. She illuminates the ineffable with stunning articulation the mind can understand and rich descriptive detail the” felt sense” can follow, along with a potent transmission that transforms your path.
Imago describes herself as a Wyrd, integral spiritual evolutionary, gardener and dancer. Sometimes she says she’s a multiplicity, because that feels most true. A longtime integralist and manager of several chronic illnesses, Imago lives in New Zealand.
She can be reached at [email protected]
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