30. Finding Zen: Your Actions Are Your True Belongings with Koshin Paley Ellison

Today's guest on The Big Silence is Koshin Paley Ellison. He has devoted his life to the study and application of psychotherapy and Buddhism. He's an author, a practicing monk, and the co-founder, alongside his husband, of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

Connecting on our Ukrainian roots, and shared resulting generational trauma (like we heard about last week with Minaa B.), Koshin highlights the other, more positive side of the same coin – epigenetic courage. It’s a great way to flip the narrative, that we may experience pain, at times in part, at the hands of, or alongside, someone we love – but that the strength within that same person, which was passed onto us, has a hand in our ability to overcome it all.

Putting a poetic spin on the thought-feeling-action matrix, Koshin explains that the brain’s main job is to interpret – that if you’re in a negative headspace, you will end up interpreting things in the same way you have been interpreting them thus far. He offers an easy question-asking practice to help us move into positive spirals and avoid the false promises of negative thinking.

We also chat about his new book, coming out in November, called Untangled, how his grandma inspired his healing center and what’s practiced there, and welcome in some familiar conversational themes – trauma and death, to get a monk’s point of view on these complex realities. Similarly, and as you might expect, his meditation advice hits a little different toward the end of our conversation. 

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