Episode 36: Personal and Collective Healing in Chinese Medicine and Deep Ecology (with Leilani Wong Navar and guest interviewer Lydia Violet Harutoonian)
Our bodies are just like the rest of the living world: coursing with healing, life-affirming intelligence and capacity; and suffering the effects of being out of balance. The body is one setting for what Joanna Macy called “the three stories of our time”: Business as Usual, the Great Unraveling, and the Great Turning. We’ve explored these stories many times on this podcast. In this episode, I talk with Lydia Violet Harutoonian about how I see all three stories playing out in the landscape of the human body, and in the field of medicine.
Lydia is the founder and director of School for the Great Turning, a music maker, and a longtime, dedicated student and friend of Joanna Macy. She’s a friend, comrade, and inspiration to me. You’ll get to hear some of her potent way of articulating things during this conversation – but in this episode, I’m the guest, and she’s the interviewer. We talk about The Great Turning in relation to illness and healing, through my explorations as a Chinese Medicine practitioner and a lover of Deep Ecology.
Click Play above to hear us get into:
- how Deep Ecology and Traditional Chinese Medicine are natural companions that help us understand human beings, and the system of Life on Earth
- emotions as key to both personal health and collective well-being
- the energy it takes to repress emotions about what’s going on the world, the toll that takes on our health, and the energy that’s liberated when we acknowledge the truth about our experience
- how Qi flows through the landscape of the body like water in rivers
- what happens when we relate to our bodies with a Business as Usual mindset, how illness is like a Great Unraveling, and how the body is always moving toward a Great Turning
- the life-honoring changes happening in medicine today
- thinking about medical treatment holistically, and seeking gentler, more life-honoring choices
- plus a few approaches to well-being that are part of the Great Turning, like acupuncture, self-massage with acupressure, therapeutic movement, and caring for our microbiomes
… and have a good time talking about it all!
I love hanging out with Lydia, I love talking about this stuff, and I hope you’ll have fun listening to this one. I’d love to hear what you think, too! Please share your reflections with me by commenting on social media, or replying to my emails (you can subscribe to my twice-a-month-or-so emails at through the button at the bottom of this page).
This conversation was part of The Great Turning Summit, held online on June 17, 2023. It was such a heartening day, full of learning and music from a diverse range of activists, visionaries, artists, and elders. You can purchase access to the recordings of this event through the link below.
About the guest:
It’s me this time! Your usual host, Leilani Wong Navar. I have a clinical practice where I offer acupuncture and herbal medicine, functional medicine, and dreamwork. With groups, I facilitate the Work that Reconnects and teach practical wisdom from Chinese Medicine. Lydia and I work together at School for the Great Turning, where I serve as Assistant Director. I attended Evergreen State College, where I earned a BA with a focus on Political Economy and Holistic Health. My formal Chinese Medicine training was through the National University of Natural Medicine, where I graduated with a Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine. I was born into Chinese and Jewish families, and see myself as carrying on my Chinese ancestors’ holistic, poetic medical science, and my Jewish ancestors’ dedication to asking big questions. I’m a mom of two, and as my kids grow up, I’m excited to be getting to support their emergence into their own ideas and passions, and start to see the ways the Great Turning moves through them too.
- The Great Turning Summit Recordings
- Healing Season, the online program I’ll be hosting again in January, 2024, which is all about you understanding and taking care of yourself, especially the connections between your physical and emotional health, and being able to express your love and care for our world, guided by the wisdom of Chinese Medicine and deep ecology
- The self-acupressure point Large Intestine 4
- the book Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice: