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Pulling The Thread with Elise Loehnen
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Pulling The Thread with Elise Loehnen

Author: Elise Loehnen and Audacy

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45-minute conversations and investigations with today's leading thinkers, authors, experts, doctors, healers, scientists about life's biggest questions: Why do we do what we do? How can we come to know and love ourselves better? How can we come together to heal and build a better world?

159 Episodes
“There are studies showing that, once your basic needs are met, and you're not worried about losing your house, losing your health care, increases in money don't significantly increase happiness, right? So I think, you know, money helps alleviate the very real biological primitive fear of you're gonna die if you don't have shelter and food and in our society, healthcare, but when it comes to things beyond that, I think that we have been sold the lie that money creates security and it's a natural conflation because at a certain point for securing the necessities,and it makes other problems easier to solve also clearly, but emotionally, money is not the solution to an emotional problem any more than food or having a certain kind of body or being married or not married.”  So says Kara Loewentheil, author of Take Back Your Brain: How a Sexist Society Gets in Your Head—and How to Get it Out. While Kara and I went to college together, I first met her when she was gracious enough to have me on her hugely successful podcast, UnF*ck Your Brain, where I obviously fell in love with…her brain. Kara is theoretically an unlikely life coach—she graduated from Harvard Law School, litigated reproductive rights, and ran a think tank at Columbia University before deciding that she wanted to go upstream and rewire our culture’s brain instead.  Kara is fixated on what she calls the “Brain Gap” in women—the thought patterns so natural to women that keep us feeling anxious and disempowered. It’s in that “Brain Gap” that we continue to both unconsciously support and re-enact a culture that doesn’t do great things for women. My work and Kara’s work are very aligned. In fact, Take Back Your Brain: How a Sexist Society Gets in Your Head—and How to Get it Out is a cousin to On Our Best Behavior—one that’s written with actionable insights, by a life coach, for getting to the root of the problem. MORE FROM KARA LOEWENTHEIL: Take Back Your Brain: How a Sexist Society Gets in Your Head—and How to Get it Out Kara’s Website: The New School of Feminist Thought Kara’s Book Website Kara’s Podcast: UnF*ck Your Brain Follow Kara on Instagram To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“There are therapies where the person is made to relive their traumas over and over and over again. It's called flooding. And that's the one type of therapy that I do not agree with. I think it, not all the time, but it can be harmful, again, in somatic experiencing, we titrate the experience, we touch into a sensation in our bodies that have to do with the trauma, but just touch into it, and then notice the shift to a higher level of order, a higher level of coherence, a higher, greater level of flow. To go from trauma to awakening and flow is really, I think, what healing is all about." So says Peter Levine, PhD. If you’ve read or heard anything about trauma, you likely know Peter’s name, as he’s the father of Somatic Experiencing, a body-awareness approach to healing trauma that’s informed the practice of almost every trauma-worker today. Levine is a prolific writer—his international best seller, Waking the Tiger, has been translated into twenty-two languages—though much of his work has been for fellow academics and teachers. He’s just published a new book, An Autobiography of Trauma: A Healing Journey, which is highly accessible for all of us. It’s a beautiful book that recounts how he came to understand the somatic experience of trauma through an event in his own childhood—and the scientists and cultures he encountered along the way that informed what ultimately became a world-changing protocol. Today’s conversation explores all of this—including some very surprising appearances by Einstein. MORE FROM PETER LEVINE, PHD: An Autobiography of Trauma: A Healing Journey Waking the Tiger: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences Trauma & Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness Somatic Experiencing International RELATED EPISODES: PART 1: James Gordon, “TRAUMA/Tools for Transforming Trauma” Thomas Hubl: “Feeling into the Collective Presence” Gabor Maté, M.D.: “When Stress Becomes Illness” Galit Atlas, PhD: “Understanding Emotional Inheritance” Thomas Hubl: “Processing Our Collective Past” Richard Schwartz, PhD: “Recovering Every Part of Ourselves” To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“In writing my book, I wanted to bring it back to the self because being online allows us to have this inappropriate level of audacity. And I think audacity is a very beautiful thing, but it gets so inappropriate online where you can go into Elise's messages and say, “by the way, I saw you liked this, you should be liking this, prove yourself to me”-- when the same person is probably not even able to have a conversation with their own partner in their home, but they can go online and demand people to say certain things, but in your home, are you that courageous to have a difficult conversation? Are you that courageous to have that same level of audacity in your day to day life. And I just worry that we're performing this very shadowy version of ourselves, especially online, without making any kind of effort in our everyday life to cultivate a strong sense of self, where you're able to handle conflict, where you're able to express disappointment to someone face to face and have a dialogue.” So says Africa Brooke, coach and author of The Third Perspective: Brave Expression in the Age of Intolerance. I’ve been smitten with Africa for years, after I was one of the 12 million-odd people who read her Instagram manifesto, “Why I’m Leaving the Cult of Wokeness” in 2020. There, Africa gave voice to being part of a culture that was supposed to be tented around diversity and inclusion, and yet, she found herself sounding and behaving in an increasingly intolerant way, a way that resisted diversity of thought. Originally from Zimbabwe, Africa lives in the U.K. and had already amassed a following for documenting her path to sobriety online—a path that anticipated the sober curious movement that’s become more mainstream today. She’s well-versed in spotting patterns and recognizing the way culture was working both on her and in her, in ways that were separating her from herself.  I loved this conversation, a conversation I was very excited to have—it’s a vulnerable one. I’m grateful to Africa for saying what needs to be said and conscious that more of us need to join her. As she explains, people quickly finger her as far-right—and the far-right would love nothing more than to co-opt her—but she’s more of a social justice advocate than ever. She needs people in the center, and people on the left to join her in pointing out how our cancel culture is, to use her term, actually “collective sabotage.” And how we abandon our highest principles when we turn on each other so quickly and make each other “wrong.” I think this conversation speaks for itself. MORE FROM AFRICA BROOKE: The Third Perspective: Brave Expression in the Age of Intolerance “Why I’m leaving the cult of wokeness” Africa’s Website Follow Africa on Instagram Africa’s Podcast: “Beyond the Self” Loretta Ross’s Episode: “Calling in the Call-Out Culture” To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“Now the tragedy, in one sense is a tragedy, that often people only become open when they've suffered horribly when that is both the tragedy of trauma, but also the promise. It's one thing to be trauma informed. It's another thing to inform our experience of trauma with some kind of courage and some kind of hopefulness for profound change. That's what's got to happen. If that can happen, then maybe out of all this contentiousness that is present in our 21st century United States, maybe something really good can happen, but we've got to pay attention, we've got to act on it, and take responsibility.” So says Dr. James Gordon, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, former researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health and Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, and a clinical professor of psychiatry and family medicine at Georgetown Medical School. He’s also the founder and executive director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and a prolific writer on trauma. This is because he’s spent the last several decades traveling the globe and healing population-wide psychological trauma. He and 130 international faculty have brought this program to populations as diverse as refugees from wars in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Africa; firefighters and U.S. military personnel and their families; student/parent/teacher school shooting survivors; and more. I met Jim many years ago, and he’s become a constant resource for me in my own life and work, particularly because he packages so many of the exercises that work in global groups into his book Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing. We talk about some of those exercises today—soft belly breathing, shaking and dancing, drawing—along with why it’s so important to address and complete the trauma cycle in areas of crisis. This is the first part of a four-part series, and James does an excellent job of setting the stage. MORE FROM JAMES GORDON, M.D.: Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing The Center for Mind-Body Medicine Follow Jim on Instagram RELATED EPISODES: Thomas Hubl: “Feeling into the Collective Presence” Gabor Maté, M.D.: “When Stress Becomes Illness” Galit Atlas, PhD: “Understanding Emotional Inheritance” Thomas Hubl: “Processing Our Collective Past” Richard Schwartz, PhD: “Recovering Every Part of Ourselves” To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“I realized I think there's a few things that are in our heads that are so deep in the culture. One of them is the idea that being overweight is a sin. It goes right back to if you look at Pope Gregory I in the 6th century when he first formulates the seven deadly sins, gluttony is there, it's always depicted with some fat person who looks monstrous, overeating. And how do we think about sin? If being overweight is a sin, we think sin requires punishment before you get to redemption. The only forms of weight loss that we admire are where you suffer horribly, right? You think about The Biggest Loser, that horrid, disgusting game show. If you go through agony, if you starve yourself, if you do extreme forms of exercise that devastate your body, then we'll go, he suffered. We forgive you. Well done. We'll let you be thin now, right?” So says Johann Hari, author of many bestselling books—Stolen Focus, Lost Connections, and Chasing the Scream. Johann is a fellow cultural psychic and his latest book—the subject of today’s conversation—bears this out. He takes on drugs like Ozempic and Mounjaro in Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs. He also writes about his own relationship to these drugs, as Johann is taking them. His book is a subtle and sensitive navigation of what is a tightly bound convergence of health and culture—and every page of his book anticipates and precedes the conversation. (As a disclaimer, I’m in it.) We talk about all  of it in today’s conversation, along with what would have happened if a woman had written this book first. MORE FROM JOHANN HARI: Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs Johann’s Website Follow Johann on Instagram To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Hi, It’s Elise, host of Pulling the Thread. Starting next Monday, I’m doing another special series—this set is about trauma, specifically trauma and the body. You’ll hear from four important voices in the space. We’re going to start with Dr. James Gordon, who works with groups all over the world who are in crisis, helping them move their experiences through the body before it gets stuck. Next, we’ll turn to the father of Somatic Experiencing, Peter Levine, who has a new autobiography about a horrific trauma from his childhood that led him to the formation of his practice, from which we all benefit today. Next, I’m joined by my friend Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands, the creator of the somatic abolitionist movement who works with me directly to illustrate how we all carry fear. And finally, Prentis Hemphill is taking us home: Their stunning new book, What it Takes to Heal, explores finding our calcified feelings and patterns of behavior in our bodies and navigating conflict without projecting our pain. In the show notes, you’ll find related episodes from years past, including guests like Galit Atlas, Gabor Maté, Thomas Hubl, and Richard Schwartz. I’ll see you this Thursday for a regular episode—though it’s Johann Hari, so there’s nothing regular about it. RELATED EPISODES: Thomas Hubl: “Feeling into the Collective Presence” Gabor Maté, M.D.: “When Stress Becomes Illness” Galit Atlas, PhD: “Understanding Emotional Inheritance” Thomas Hubl: “Processing Our Collective Past” Richard Schwartz, PhD: “Recovering Every Part of Ourselves” To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“When we can pause for a moment and rifle through all that noise to figure out what the root of the fear is, then we can be with it in a meaningful way, rather than just let it run our lives. And a little bit of fear of death and a little bit of death anxiety is totally normal, for all of us. I mean, it's that thing inside that tells you not to keep walking when you get to the edge of a cliff, and even to like drink water, you know, hydrate, stay alive. It's in us. It's in our DNA. It's rooted in there. And so the goal is never to get over it entirely, but rather to learn from it, to be with it, to not let it run our lives, but rather to let it fuel our lives.” So says Alua Arthur, a death doula and recovering attorney who is the author of Briefly, Perfectly, Human, which is a guidebook for both how to live and also how to die. Alua is the founder of Going with Grace, a death doula training and end-of-life planning organization. In today’s conversation, we talk about what it would look like to get our death phobic culture a little closer to the end, why people fear dying, and what can be gained when we recognize the priceless gifts that come when our lives come to a close. Let’s get to our conversation. MORE FROM ALUA ARTHUR: Briefly, Perfectly, Human Follow Alua on Instagram Going with Grace Website RELATED EPISODES: B.J. Miller: “Struggle is Real—Suffering is Optional” Roshi Joan Halifax: “Standing at the Edge” Frank Oswaseski: “Accepting the Invitation” To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“But one thing the whole “Karen” thing did, which I think was very good, was that it pointed out the existence of spaces Ostensibly open to everyone, but not, and then patrolled often by white women saying you don't belong here. And she got a name, and people with that name wince and rightfully so, but without that wince-worthy kind of situation, I don't think large numbers of Americans would realize that there really is a sort of silent apartheid in our public spaces.” So says Nell Irvin Painter, who Henry Louis Gates Jr. refers to as “one of the towering Black intellects of the last century.” I first heard Nell on Scene On Radio with John Biewen in his series “Seeing White,” and have been biding my time for an opportunity to interview her ever since. I got my chance, with her latest endeavor, an essay collection called I Just Keep Talking, which is a collection of her writing from the past several decades, about art, politics, and race along with many pieces of her own art. Now retired, Nell is a New York Times bestseller and was the Edwards Professor of American History Emerita at Princeton, where she published many, many books about the evolution of Black political thought and race as a concept. She’s one of the preeminent scholars on the life of Sojourner Truth—and is working on another book about her right now—and is also the author of The History of White People. Today’s conversation touches on everything from Sojourner Truth—and how she actually never said “Ain’t I a Woman?”—to the capitalization of Black and White.  MORE FROM NELL IRVIN PAINTER: I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays The History of White People Old in Art School Nell’s Website Follow Nell on Instagram Scene On Radio: “Seeing White” To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“What is that instinct that might be asking me to do something really unadvisable or radical or leap outside the bounds of my own life? And that's the space by which I think we move forward in life. And that's the space in which I think we move forward honestly on the page and in writing. And I tell people, you know, what is it that you want to explore in your writing? Like the page is this beautiful opportunity to start taking some big risks, whether it's persona poetry, where you're literally writing in a different voice, or you're naming something that cannot be held in any other space available to you, or you're testing out just an idea that you're not ready to say out loud. The page is this really beautiful field that gives us a lot of courage to then apply that, I think, to our actual lives.” So says Joy Sullivan, the author of Instructions for Traveling West, which is a guidebook of poems for letting your life fall apart and remake itself as something new. In our conversation, Joy and I explore her early life: how she grew up in Africa, the child of medical missionaries, bound tight by evangelicalism and purity culture—and her relationship to religion and faith now that she’s left that behind. Eve is a central figure in Joy’s poetry, and you will hear why.  MORE FROM JOY SULLIVAN: Instructions for Traveling West Follow Joy on Instagram Joy’s Newsletter, “Necessary Salt” Joy’s Website To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Million Dollar Advice is a work and career advice podcast hosted by friends and colleagues Kim Lessing and Kate Arend. Together Kim and Kate run Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite Productions and are very cool and good at their jobs. Each week, they help live callers with their work-related dilemmas. Whether you have a question or you just like listening to other people’s problems, this show will change your life. If you have a problem at work or a career question big or small, write in to or leave a message on the Million Dollar Advice Hotline (888) 799-6327. Kim and Kate can’t wait to give you some Million Dollar Advice! To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“You want to find yourself? Give. We're not hungry for what we're not getting. We're hungry for what we're not giving. And then at the same time, you watch this old pattern of guarding what you have and of watching your mother take the leftovers and your mother taking leftover food and taking the piece of cake that broke in half while it was being served and taking the lesser car and taking whatever time is left for her to get her needs met. And so, you know, all truth is a paradox. And that's really what I believe is that I really, really give, but because I'm healing the codependence, I'm healing the self doubt, I'm giving from a place that is abundant because I live in gratitude. I notice how much I have been poured into, crazy love from a number of different directions. And I give that away. I don't give from my place of deprivation.” So says Anne Lamott, the eternally wise, prescient, and deeply human writer so many of us wish we could call in times of need. Anne is the author of 20 books—yes 20—including the New York Times bestsellers, Help, Thanks, Wow; Dusk, Night, Dawn; Traveling Mercies; and Bird by Bird, which is essential reading for every writer. I refer to and cite her advice all the time. Anne is also a Guggenheim Fellow. Her latest book—and the subject of today’s conversation is Somehow: Thoughts on Love that revolves around the William Blake line: We are here to learn to endure the beams of love—and how hard this is.  MORE FROM ANNE LAMOTT: Somehow: Thoughts on Love Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival & Courage Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Follow Anne on Instagram To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“From my perspective, one of the reasons we tell stories is it helps give us a sense of who we are, we use stories to affirm our identity. And that's part of the reason why we don't actually like to call them stories, because if we call them stories, and we begin to see that the self is actually rooted in construction, made up interpreted reality, it can be very threatening to us and to our sense of who would I be without this story. And so that's one of the things that I really love about this is you can begin to see that my sense of self has to change, if I'm willing to look at my stories, what is going to happen is my sense of who I am is going to change.” So says Courtney Smith, a coach, facilitator, and dear friend who is schooled and trained in many different modalities: Conscious Leadership Group, Byron Katie’s work, the Alexander Technique, and the Enneagram. She is one of my favorite thought partners because of the range of her intelligence and the structure of her mind: She was a math econ major who happens to have a J.D. from Yale and a masters in public health from NYU. Before taking a turn toward the mystical, she was a McKinsey consultant. So in short, she’s a multi-hyphenate Renaissance woman whose bookshelf looks much like mine. You might remember Courtney from our conversation on Pulling the Thread about the Enneagram—if you missed it, there’s a link in the show notes—but today, we’re going to talk about Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle: What it is, how to know when you’re in it, and how to move past it…while recognizing that you’ll be in another one soon enough. We also do a little bit of live coaching and role-playing, so you all will really get a sense of how this powerful tool works.  Meanwhile, if you want to work with me and Courtney, together, we’re hosting a workshop from May 17-19 at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina. It’s called “Choosing Wholeness Over Goodness” and will be a combination of On Our Best Behavior and Courtney’s techniques. Honestly, I can’t wait—I hope you’ll all join us. The link to sign up is also in the episode page, or the link in bio on my Instagram account, @ eliseloehnen.  MORE FROM COURTNEY SMITH: My Workshop with Courtney at AOLRC: “Choosing Wholeness Over Goodness” First Pulling the Thread episode: “The Practical Magic of the Enneagram” Courtney’s Website ALSO MENTIONED: The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leaders Elise’s Substack Newsletters: Ending the Manel The Perception (and Reality) of Scarcity Who Gets to Be an Expert? To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“I think historically we have always seen that intergenerational partnership is the way that movements grow and expand and the way people feel resilient about what they're trying to accomplish. The first defeat as a young person, when you feel your morals are on the line, your sense of justice is on the line, that is such a devastating blow and you really need people who've been doing this work for a long time to say, yeah, you're right. That's how that feels. It sucks. It hurts so bad. And this is how, when it happened to me, I got up again and I kept fighting. There is no future for progress without that kind of perspective. You need the fiery engagement of young people and you need the sense of history and the sense of perspective that older people can provide.” So says Mattie Kahn, a prolific writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and more. Mattie was also the culture director at Glamour and a staff editor at Elle. Today, she joins me to talk about her book, Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America’s Revolutions, which is a much-needed survey of young female voices who were and are often at the heart of political movements, whether it was bus boycotts, strikes at mills, or the environmental movement unfolding today. This isn’t just a book about ensuring that the names of these girls are preserved by history, though, this is an examination of why girls are frequently so central to social change, and what it is about their often-precocious voices that can capture the attention of the nation. This, of course, is a double-edged sword, as Mattie’s work explores how quickly we dump these girls, or move on, once they turn into angry women. Today, we also talk about what’s happening on campuses and what a container might look like to hold dialogue, debate, and discourse. MORE FROM MATTIE KAHN: Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America’s Revolutions Mattie’s Website Follow Mattie on Instagram To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“Part of middle life is that hopefully there's a little bit of wisdom there. And I think that is part of what we gain as we go through this journey of life is that there is wisdom that's accrued, which allows us to exist a little bit more in the complexity and nuance of things. I believe so much of this work is that we have to hold grace and compassion. And we also have to hold ownership and accountability and responsibility. And I feel that way, right? It's like, okay, if there's something that happened in our childhood or something happened in our teenage years, something that happened in our twenties, right? It's hard to process those things really early on. And especially when we're younger and really immature, because the lens is so narrow. I think as we grow and hopefully as we get wiser, that the lens opens.” So says Vienna Pharaon, a therapist whose practice centers around helping individuals—and couples—identify old patterns, patterns that often belong to the family system, that have them by the throat. And then, of course, she helps people break them and find new stories for how they show up in the world. Vienna is the host of the podcast, This Keeps Happening and the author of the national bestseller The Origins of You: How Breaking Family Patterns Can Liberate the Way We Live and Love, where she outlines the main themes that she sees in her practice. There is much in these pages to which we can all relate, as she articulates five core, original wounds that revolve around worthiness, belonging, trust, safety, and prioritization. Sound familiar?  MORE FROM VIENNA PHARAON: The Origins of You: How Breaking Family Patterns Can Liberate the Way We Live and Love Vienna’s Website Vienna’s Podcast: “This Keeps Happening” Follow Vienna on Instagram To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“It's important to realize that yes, menopause can come with symptoms, but the symptoms are not alien symptoms. We've seen them before. We've seen them at puberty. We've seen them at pregnancy, if you've been pregnant. We've been there before. And I like to say that menopause is just another tune that we learn to dance to, right? We can do it. We will navigate it. The point is let's make sure that we have the right information, that we understand how it works and that we're aware of the solutions because there are so many women who decide how to navigate menopause based on information that is not unfortunately accurate, it is not up to date. So a lot of decisions are really based on fear rather than facts and then there's regret.” So says neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi, PhD, who currently has 11 grants—including four from the NIH—to study Alzheimers, menopause, and the female brain. Dr. Mosconi is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience in Neurology and Radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), and the Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at WCM/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The program includes the Women’s Brain Initiative, the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic, and the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinical Trials Unit.  There are many things to love about Dr. Mosconi and her work—one, that she’s focused on an underserved group, i.e. women, but also because her insights dramatically expand the way we’ve been conditioned to understand these hormonal shifts in our lives. The picture she paints of the female brain is not only fascinating, but it’s inspiring: As we age and move through stages, our brains continually remodel, becoming leaner, meaner, and more empathic. The female brain is…formidable. There are also many things we can do to make these turbulent transitions slightly smoother sailing, which we dive into throughout our conversation. Let’s turn to it now. MORE FROM LISA MOSCONI, PhD: The Menopause Brain: New Science Empowers Women to Navigate the Pivotal Transition with Knowledge and Power The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power Lisa’s Website Follow Lisa on Instagram To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“Historically, there's no such thing as a pure tradition. And I also think as human beings, we transcend these religions and we transcend these cultures. And so the cherry picking is an affirmation of our transcendence. It's like, no, you are more than your religious tradition. You are more than your culture. You are more than your body. And you are also your body and your religion and your culture. Yes, yes, yes, all that. But you are also more. So I think, again, the power of the modern period is that we're all so super connected and in communication with everything that we know that, we know that in a way that we didn't know that, you know, four or five-hundred years ago.” So says Jeffrey Kripal, who holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University. Jeff is the author of many, many, many books that span a massive academic career—books on Kali, books on Gnosticism, and books on supernatural phenomena. He’s also the author of a short and immensely readable book called The Flip: Who You Really Are and Why it Matters, which is the focus of our conversation today. As an academic and historian of comparative religion, Jeff writes and speaks beautifully about the way that we’re losing our collective stories, and the way that we’re splitting ourselves apart, divided between the sciences and the humanities. In The Flip, Jeff recounts how both science and spirituality are using different languages to explain and explore the same experiences, and what emerges when “The Flip” happens, those often mystical moments when the minds of scientists across time have cracked open to see the world in a different way. I loved this book and I love Jeff’s wide-ranging and yet imminently approachable and kind mind—I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I enjoyed having it. MORE FROM JEFFREY KRIPAL: The Flip: Who You Really Are and Why it Matters The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities Jeff’s Website To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Hi, it’s Elise Loehnen, host of PULLING THE THREAD. Today, it’s just me. I’m sharing five things I’ve been thinking about a lot—from understanding how to quantify and charge for one’s time, what to consider before starting a new creative project, and the art of a gentle no. I’m also answering some of your questions—about judgment, sanity, and the etymology of “should.” THINGS I REFERENCE: “Your vibration must be higher than what you create, otherwise you cannot manage it.” “The Construct of Time” The Matter With Things, by Iain McGilchrist Practicing the Gentle No What is Intuition? MORE FROM ME: On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good My Substack Newsletter My Instagram Solo Episode 1: What We’re After Solo Episode 2: Five Things I’ve Learned This Year To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“Turquoise is looking for how do we bring back the village? How do we live in community again? Why are we living in these separate houses? We're not sharing resources. Everyone on the street has a snowblower, a lawnmower, you know, like the design isn't elegant, it's not an elegant design. And so I think the mind of yellow joins into turquoise and as it has studied systems, it contributes to that and we are looking for more holistic, elegant solutions to give birth to a new culture. It's like we can no longer continue down the path. And at turquoise, we are going to have to sacrifice for the whole.” For those of you who follow me on Instagram or read my newsletter on Substack, you’ll know that I’ve been quite obsessed with Spiral Dynamics of late, and see it as one way to explain our current cultural and political dilemmas, along with so much of our internalized anxiety. It was first developed by the late professor Clare Graves, who was a contemporary and colleague of Abraham Maslow, and then advanced by professor Don Beck, who worked on post-Apartheid South Africa with Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, and then further pushed by integral philosopher Ken Wilber. Spiral Dynamics can be heady stuff, and so I was thrilled when Nicole Churchill, a wonderfully grounded therapist and expert in Spiral Dynamics, offered to talk through the system with me for the podcast. Nicole and her husband John Churchill, who has also been a guest on Pulling the Thread, studied with Ken Wilber, and both apply it in their therapy work with both individuals and organizations. If you all end up loving Spiral Dynamics as much as I do, Nicole has offered to come back and explore how she uses it in therapy—please pass this episode on to any friends who you think might enjoy. I’m convinced that there are some keys here that can help us see the world and ourselves more clearly. In the show notes, you’ll find ways to go deeper as well.  MORE FROM NICOLE CHURCHILL: Nicole’s websites: Samadhi Institute and Karuna Mandela John Churchill’s episode on Pulling the Thread: “Our Collective Psychological Development” MORE ON SPIRAL DYNAMICS: My Substack Newsletter: “Finding Ourselves on the Spiral” Spiral Dynamics Integral, by Don Beck Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy, by Ken Wilber Spiral Dynamics, by Don Beck and Chris Cowan Trump and a Post-Truth World, by Ken Wilber To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“When I went back and looked at some of these shows that I loved, I noticed that the writer's room was all adult men with the exception of one or two episodes in Saved by the Bell's case. And I just thought, wow, it is so interesting that we talk about diversity and representation, like yes, of course, who's on the screen matters, but who's in the writer's room and who's telling the stories really matters too, because that's where stereotypes abound. Because those men were not writing Jesse Spano as an example of an actual feminist. She was written as a character from an adult male's response to like second wave feminist stereotypes. And they found that type of woman irritating, so they wrote Jessie as an irritating character. And it just was an interesting thing for me to explore the way I internalized themes from pop culture thinking about who was writing this and when did it contribute to a stereotype versus when did it communicate an authentic experience.” So says Kate Kennedy, a brilliantly astute historian of millennial culture, which she explores, in depth in One in a Millenial: On Friendship, Feelings, Fangirls, and Fitting in, a bestselling book that’s part memoir, but really a love letter and a critique of the culture so many of us grew up in. As part of my book tour I went on Kate’s podcast, Be There in Five, where I was immediately taken by her intelligence and deep, deep knowledge of the programming that shaped our consciousness, from Jessie Spano’s feminism in Saved by the Bell—and the laugh track it inspired—to the way so many women and girls were taught that our interests were dumb, shallow, and silly. Or, to use the parlance of the day: Basic. In One in a Millenial, Kennedy points to this long tradition of the veneration of action figures, Marvel, and football—and the deprecation of pretty much anything that girls and women value, whether it’s romance novels, the Spice Girls, or American Girl Dolls. While her point is not new—and certainly aligned with our summer of the Barbie movie, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé—her exploration of how it shaped her own mind in childhood, and the way she experiences herself now as a result of it, is revelatory, and something we explore in today’s conversation. MORE FROM KATE KENNEDY: One in a Millenial: On Friendship, Feelings, Fangirls, and Fitting in Be There in Five Podcast Kate’s Website Instagram: Follow Kate and Be there in Five To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“The deal is your bodies are going to change over time and people can stay attracted to somebody's body over time, even though it is unrecognizable from what it was like when they first met because that body is the home of a human they adore our attraction to a person's body can be just like superficial something like your toenails are gross, or it can be here is the human whose life I have shared in our home for all these years and like their belly and their bum and their varicose veins and their scar from the surgery that saved their life all of it is so fucking hot because this is my person.” So says Emily Nagoski, one of the most exceptional minds at work today on the science—and she would add, art—of sexual connection, intimacy, and arousal. Emily is brilliant and she’s also deeply human, using her own experiences in the world as the foundational ground for exploring relationship: This means that she’s not full of heady theory and diagnoses, but focused on what actually works to fuel desire—and bring it to fruition. She’s the author of the mega bestselling Come as You Are, as well as a book called Burnout about the stress cycle that she co-authored with her twin sister, and now she brings us Come Together: The Science (and Art!) of Creating Lasting Sexual Connections, which is the natural evolution. While Come as You Are is a primer on how we all function as sexual creatures, Come Together explores what happens when you bring that into relationship—and try to establish and maintain a connection that can endure through seasons of, well, low interest.  She is full of ideas, principles, and methods for getting it going—including a core blueprint for determining what rooms are adjacent to your desire. I loved this book, I love Emily, and I loved our conversation. MORE FROM THE EMILY NAGOSKI: Come Together: The Science (and Art!) of Creating Lasting Sexual Connections Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life Watch Emily’s TED Talk Emily’s Website Follow Emily on Instagram To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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