Transformation Teaching

The Koan of Illness

A Journey of Healing and Growth

If you or a loved one suffer from a chronic illness, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we look at illness as a growth path instead of a prison sentence, a healing journey instead of series of losses, and an opportunity for awakening beyond the confines of body and mind. Our current offerings are described below. I hope you join us on this journey.

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New Book!

The Koan of Illness: An Integral Approach

Dr. Lynn Royster Fuentes

Using the comprehensive integral maps of philosopher Ken Wilber, himself a person with long-term chronic illness, the author describes effective ways to frame and clarify the realities of living with chronic illness and then shows us how to work with these maps to improve each area of this life, from managing personal disempowerment and trauma, to handling relationship changes, to negotiating social attitudes, to shifting interior values and beliefs.

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Upcoming Course!

The Koan of Illness 4:

Illness as a Springboard for Personal Growth

June 27, 2023

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Upcoming Sessions

Each of our live, 6-week, and stand alone courses addresses a part of the illness experience and is designed both for people suffering from chronic illness and caregivers. You can begin with any of the courses, pick and choose, or do them all (discounts and scholarships available).

June 27 2023

Chronic illness brings changes and challenges to every relationship – your partner, children, parents, employer, friends, and even yourself. Your relationships can fracture or deepen depending on how you integrate illness into them.

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September 2023

Illness or caregiving can be part of your spiritual practice and path. Using the Integral map, we’ll use the very difficulties that illness magnifies as the place to bring our attention and our practice.

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November 2023

It’s time to take all that you’ve learned and apply it to your life, implementing your own integral life practice that includes all the dimensions of your own being as well as the collective experience.

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I had the privilege of being a guest on the Deep Transformation Podcast discussing the unwanted challenge of chronic illness and the spiritual perspectives for patients, caregivers, family, and friends. It was a deeply meaningful conversation that shed light on the emotional, mental, and spiritual journey that chronic illness brings.

From exploring the all-consuming challenge of chronic illness and the need for a village to support patients to discussing takeaways from my new book, 'The Koan of Chronic Illness: An Integral Approach' to, we covered a range of topics that offered insights and hope for those affected by chronic illness - Including the importance of self-care, the crucial role of support groups, the medical system's need for reform, and the transformative power of chronic illness.

Chronic illness is not just a physical burden, but also an emotional and spiritual one. It’s an opportunity for growth and a path to deeper understanding. Let's continue to raise awareness and support those who are navigating this challenging journey.

Listen to part 1 here:


For more information about the Koan of Illness approach, see:

Lynn's new book here: The Koan of Chronic Illness: An Integral Approach.

Videos here from recent conferences.

A video interview here with Sebastian Siegelproducer/director of Grace and Grit, a beautiful film about dealing with illness which livestreamed on June 4, 2021.

What Is The Koan of Illness?

In Zen Buddhism, a koan is a question designed to put you in touch with the limitations of your thinking mind and provoke a deeper awareness. You cannot solve a koan using your usual methods. Instead, you must allow it to solve you.

Living with chronic illness, no matter if it is yours or a loved one’s, is a unique koan, one that is not understood by the rest of the world – a world that often feels uncaring and unsupportive and moving far too quickly to notice what you’re living, day-to-day.

On the illness journey, you are forced to deal with different perceptions of the illness experience and the meaning of suffering and to navigate many difficult feelings such as sadness, anger, and guilt. You have little to no assistance to guide you through the unique stresses and trauma that chronic illness brings into your relationship with yourself, the people in your life, and the rest of the world


managing a life within the constraints that illness brings can be:

  • A growth path instead of something to endure
  • A healing journey instead of a series of losses
  • An opportunity for awakening beyond the confines of body and mind

None of this happens magically or spontaneously. You need frameworks, practice, and support.

In the Koan of Illness, you will find support, guidance, and community. Using the Integral Model – a comprehensive, holistic, practical, philosophical, and spiritual map – we will help you to:

  • Increase your capacity to manage illness
  • Heal from the trauma it causes
  • Improve the quality of your relationships
  • Use illness as a springboard to personal growth
  • Deepen your spirituality
  • Find a community of depth and support

The Koan Of Illness series

The Koan of Illness 1: Empowering Yourself

Does the complexity of chronic illness management overwhelm you? Do you struggle to navigate the paperwork, the emotions, the lifestyle changes that illness brings?

Everyone who deals with illness, whether patient, caregiver, provider, or administrator, deals with a complex mixture of personal, technical, institutional, and spiritual issues.

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The Koan of Illness Part 2: Healing the Trauma

When you learn that illness is a part of your life and likely to be for some time, it is often a traumatic event. You may begin with denial and move through other stages such as anger or grief. You find that illness touches every aspect of your life – from your physical existence to your spirituality. Often it creates havoc with your relationships , your self-esteem, and your beliefs...

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The Koan of Illness Part 3: Healing Your Relationships

Chronic illness brings changes and challenges to every relationship – your partner, children, parents, employer, friends, and even yourself. Your relationships can fracture or deepen depending on how you integrate illness into them.

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The Koan of Illness Part 4: Illness as a Springboard for Personal Growth

Chronic illness can seem like a prison sentence, isolating you from life and taking away opportunities you might have had. However, illness is as valid a life path as any other, and, often, people with illness are able to use that difficulty to deepen their personal growth.  In this course, we use the integral map to look at the process of individual growth...

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The Koan of Illness Part 5: Chronic Illness and Spirituality

How does one find spirit in the midst of pain and loss? How can illness offer opportunities for spiritual growth? In this course, we use the integral map to look at the spiritual aspects of illness and explore how illness offers a path to awakening and an opportunity to develop spiritual intelligence.

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The Koan of Illness Part 6: Integration: A New Vision for Healing

How can I create a personal plan for growth in the midst of the complexity that is illness and personal development?

How can I relate to the systems in which I have to operate?

What are my Koans?

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Illness may be a tragedy, but it also holds gifts for those who are willing to look for them.

“I learned so much about how I have needlessly struggled; how I have learned to overcome the challenges and how there are new and exciting possibilities for where to go from here.”

— Imago Inocente

Join us to investigate these and other questions that arise out of the illness experience.

In this series, we use a comprehensive practical, philosophical, and spiritual map – the integral map – to increase our capacity to manage illness, to heal from the traumas it causes, to improve our relationships, to use illness as a springboard to personal growth, and to deepen our spirituality. In the first course, we look at how illness can be so disempowering and how we might take back some of our lost power. In later courses, we look at healing our emotional pain and our relationships and at using our experience to lead us to higher levels of personal and spiritual growth.

As our gift to you, leave your name and email to receive the free ebook, The Koan of Illness: How to Use Illness as a Springboard to Spiritual Transformation. This 22-page ebook takes you through the stages of grief that accompany a diagnosis, as well as suggestions for how to work with them.

(También disponible en español)

Chronic Illness as a Pathway for Personal and Spiritual Growth



And Lynn – simply wow! Thanks for being such a pioneer and putting such an educational and heart-full class together for our benefit. I will read and re-read your handouts as I continue to live with this chronic illness. Your work is a blessing and a deep comfort to me. It is good to be understood and to have partners on this journey. So thank you for showing up on my computer – I will never forget you!

Liz Taylor

As a person struggling with a chronic condition, I find the world isn’t often interested in hearing about my challenges when they come back again and again. But being able to hear from, respond to and talk live with others who share that experience gave me a sense of being seen and heard in such a healing way. Never have I felt so connected to so many new friends in such a deep and meaningful way.


Lynn has created a way of seeing our experience of illness that empowers and enlivens. Being part of her course let’s me know I’m part of a greater whole where my challenges are shared. I can feel connected, seen and heard. Even the difficult stuff is allowed.


I can’t count the blessings and benefits these courses have been for me. When I was first looking for a sponsor in AA, it was suggested that I look for a man “that had something I wanted”. Don’t worry, I have a sponsor – but that’s the feel I get from you.

You have a wonderful presence – kind, wise and humble. I’m not the best book learner/reader – I’m more experiential. This has been a great experience in learning Integral theory and practice.

Thank you! Deep bow of gratitude.

Susan Schuurmans

The course has prodded me out of my comfort zones, humbled me when I see the challenges others face, invited me into a valuable self-assessing of myself, and challenged me to engage once again with the Integral model, this time grittily working on my understanding of myself and where I can grow into further ways to work with great consciousness with this dis-ease. Lynn teaches from a place of being a person still learning after all these years in the territory of illness and caretaking and shares as a companion on this challenging journey how she finds the perspective of Integral is useful when living with illness.


This course is wonderfully thought provoking and has so many valuable tools I hope to keep revisiting it again and again to further contemplate all that you have given us.

Lynn Christine Fuentes, PhD.

Founded and administered a university program for students with chronic illness, created and taught a university course on chronic illness, served for several years on the board of a national illness organization, and has been a caregiver herself for several decades. Lynn has degrees in political science, communication, law, and conflict management. Her Ph.D. was based in Integral Theory which informs this unique approach to illness management.

More about Lynn

Participate or learn more:

Discussion Group:  Join us here for Zoom discussions on topics related to illness as a growth path

Facebook: Join the conversation about illness and transformation here.

Interviews:  Listen to experts with an integral perspective on chronic illness.  Click here.

Resources and Readings:  Writings and resources for chronic illness management.  Click here.

Integral Life:  Watch a video describing an integral way to look at illness:


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