Koshin Paley Ellison: Zen and the Art of Caregiving
In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, we meet Koshin Paley Ellison, innovative cofounder of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care and author of Wisdom’s recently published book, Wholehearted. Koshin tells us about how he was drawn both to Zen practice and caring for the dying early in life and how the AIDS epidemic, beat poets, and Zen teacher John Daido Loori had an impact on him. He shares with us moving stories of how he cared for his grandmother Mimi at the end of her life and how this relationship helped him to deeply integrate his Buddhist practice into his life. Koshin relates to us how facing our fears can help us respond to others more compassionately and how letting go of our clinging can open up new ways of being. We also learn how for Koshin, study, meditation practice, and caregiving are intimately connected to each other.
About the Interviewee
Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison, MFA, LMSW, DMIN, is an author, Zen teacher, Jungian psychotherapist, and Certified Chaplaincy Educator. Koshin co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, serving through contemplative approaches to care through education, direct service, and meditation practice. He has served as the co-director of Contemplative Care Services for the Department of Integrative Medicine and as the chaplaincy supervisor for the Pain and Palliative Care Department at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center, where he also served on the Medical Ethics Committee. He is currently on the faculty of the University of Arizona Medical School’s Center for Integrative Medicine’s Integrative Medicine Fellowship, on Faculty of the Integrative Medicine Fellowship of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, and he is a visiting professor at the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston Medical School.
Paley Ellison is a dynamic, original, and visionary leader and teacher. He is the author of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up (Wisdom Publications, 2019) as well as the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care (Wisdom Publications, 2016). His work has been featured in the New York Times, PBS, Tricycle and others.
His six years of training at the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association as well as clinical contemplative training at both Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Medical Center culminated in roles as an ACPE Certified Educator, chaplain, and Jungian psychotherapist. He began his formal Zen training in 1987, and he is a recognized Soto Zen Teacher by the American Zen Teachers Association, White Plum Asanga, and Soto Zen Buddhist Association. He serves on the Board of Directors at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, Soto Zen Buddhist Association and Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.