Live Interactive Online

Memoir as Medicine

A Healing Writing Workshop with Dr. Lissa Rankin and Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Every hard thing that's ever happened to you is memoir-making material." 

Join Lissa Rankin MD and guests for eight 2 hour live Zoom calls over eight weeks starting June 6th. 2022 for our healing writing workshop Memoir as Medicine. All sessions will be recorded and are available within 24 hours.

None of us would ever wish for heart-wrenching traumatic experiences so we'd have material for writing kick-ass memoirs. 

But if you're a human on Planet Earth right now, that means you've experienced trauma, and we can either get crushed by our traumas or we can choose to turn it into art as part of our medical and therapeutic treatment. All of our traumas are memoir-making material, and it's incredibly healing when we can alchemize our shit into gold. 

Usually, when we tell our painful stories in our own families, we're met with blame, shame, defensiveness, denial, gaslighting, delusion, attack, magical thinking, or spiritual bypassing, rather than the unconditional acceptance, love, and validation that helps us heal.

But if we write our memoir stories and have our heart-breaking and heart-opening stories witnessed, attuned to, mirrored, validated, co-regulated and even celebrated in safe brave spaces with other memoir writers, healing happens- Every. Single. Time. 

The best writing happens when we liberate the muse to transform our stories of pain into beautiful art- and then share our stories in ways that heal not only ourselves, but others.

If you and your muse are already working on your memoir- or you're thinking about getting started join Lissa Rankin, MD and guest faculty Nancy Slonim Aronie, Lissa's literary agent Michele Martin, and Sounds True editor Jennifer Brown for an 8 week Zoom class Memoir As Medicine.

We'll be using as our text for this class Lissa's first teacher at Esalen Institute Nancy Slonim Aronie's new book Memoir As Medicine and working through some of the creative prompts in the book. 

I would add that having your story safely and accurately attuned to, mirrored, witnessed, validated, co-regulated, and even celebrated by other memoir writers can offer the kind of relational healing people needed for those whose parents didn't adequately attune, mirror, witness, validate or co-regulate when things got hard growing up. 

Knowing you have a safe brave space to tell your story also makes for magnificently authentic memoir writing! As Nancy says, "I started the Chilmark Writing Workshop after I had been to writing groups that destroyed me and everyone else in the room. I learned early on that Creativity requires safety." We will create that safety, so your muse can create something spectacular!

"Everyone has a story to tell and telling it is important. Sharing 'this is who I am, these are the things that shaped me, this is where I am now' allows a kind of magic and healing to happen." -Nancy Slonim Aronie, author of Memoir As Medicine

Lissa knows personally how transformational that kind of safety can be for the creative process. Lissa had never written a book when she first took Nancy's Writing From The Heart workshop at Esalen in 2007, right after her father died, she had a baby, and she quit her job as a doctor in the wake of her Perfect Storm (aka memoir-making material.) 

And after that workshop, her first memoir flew out of her. Nancy and the community of other memoir writers opened up her writing voice, and although that first book didn't get published (Lissa had no "platform" at the time), she's published seven books since then, including two memoirs.

Owning, writing, and transforming your own story from pain into magnificence is worth doing purely for medicinal purposes, regardless of whether anybody else ever reads your writing. But some trauma survivors feel passionate about sharing the lessons they've learned from their memoir-making material and have a bee in their bonnets about helping others who are still in hell when they've been to hell and made it back with holy grails of wisdom.  

Because of that healing impulse to alchemize one's pain into medicine for others, Lissa will also briefly discuss the business of publishing with regards to memoir writing, for anyone interested in learning the nuts and bolts of what that takes.

"If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone." -Alan Watts

The Workshop Program

Eight LIVE 2-hour Zoom Sessions with Lissa & Guest Faculty

Session One
Monday, June 6th. 2022
9:00 am - 11:00 am Pacific Time
Creativity & The Muse Require Safety
-with Lissa & Nancy Slonim Aronie

Session Two
Monday, June 13th. 2022
9:00 am - 11:00 am Pacific Time
The Muse, The Critic, & Hurt Creative Parts: Internal Family Systems (IFS) & Memoir Writing- with Lissa
Session Three
Monday, June 20th. 2022
9:00 am- 11:00 am Pacific Time
The Hero's/ Heroine's Journey: Turning Your Sob Story Into A Transformation Story- with Lissa
Session Four
Monday, June 27th. 2022
9:00 am - 11:00 am Pacific Time
Structuring Your Memoir: Which Parts Do I Write?
- with Lissa
Session Five
Tuesday, July 5th. 2022
9:00 am - 11:00 am Pacific Time
You Can't Always Be The Good Guy/Girl In Your Memoir
- with Lissa
Session Six
Monday, July 11th. 2022
9:00 am - 11:00 am Pacific Time
 Everything Can Be Milked As A Memoir Metaphor
- with Lissa
Session Seven
Monday, July 18th. 2022
9:00 am - 11:00 am Pacific Time
The Nuts & Bolts Of Publishing Memoirs - with Lissa, Michele Martin
Session Eight
Monday, July. 25th 2022
9:00 am - 11:00 am Pacific Time
Rewriting Your Story of Self Into A Healing Story - with Lissa
and Jennifer Yvette Brown
Memoir as Medicine Manual
A companion workbook

Guest Faculty

Nancy Slonim Aronie

Nancy Slonim Aronie

Writing workshops and lectures at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Omega Institute, Rowe Conference Center, Esalen, Wain-Wright House and The Open Center in New York City.
Nancy Slonim Aronie has been a commentator for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She was a Visiting Writer at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, wrote a monthly column in McCall’s magazine and was the recipient of the Eye of The Beholder Artist in Residence award at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Nancy won teacher of the year award for all three years she taught at Harvard University for Robert Coles.

She gives writing workshops and lectures at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Omega Institute, Rowe Conference Center, Esalen, Wain-Wright House and The Open Center in New York City. She teaches at Harvard University.
Michele Martin
Literary Agent

Michele Martin

Michele Martin has been a publishing executive for many years holding positions as Associate Publisher and Publisher at major publishing houses such as Random House, Doubleday and Simon & Schuster. 
She founded her literary agency, MDM Management, fifteen years ago, specializing in personal development and business books. Among her many clients are New York Times Bestselling authors Lissa Rankin, MD and Gabrielle Bernstein.
 Jennifer Yvette Brown
Executive Editor at Sounds True

 Jennifer Yvette Brown

Jennifer Yvette Brown is an executive publisher at leading publishing house Sounds True.
Jennifer Yvette Brown is the Executive Editor at Sounds True, Inc. In her 17 years in trade non-fiction publishing she has worked with bestselling authors such as Ram Dass, Lissa Rankin, MD, Judith Orloff, MD, and Wim “The Iceman” Hof to bring forward their most transformative content. A writer, artist, musician, and avid sky-gazer, she lives and works in Colorado. 

She is also responsible for publishing Lissa's recent book Sacred Medicine. She has a Master of Arts in Buddhist studies from Naropa and a BA in Buddhist studies and Tibetan Language.

About Lissa

Lissa Rankin, MD believes that writing and healing can be intimately related and teaches writing workshops infused with trauma healing and spiritual healing, both in person and virtually. Lissa agrees with Nancy Aronie that trauma is memoir-making material, and we can alchemize our pain into the most beautiful story-telling when we feel safe for the muse to come out to play, in a community of other writers who also feel safe and can help us hold our story while we rewrite it as art. 

Lissa has been writing since kindergarten and was offered her first book deal when she was 12, which she turned down, since they were her private stories. She was a creative writing major at Duke University and wrote her first fiction book as her thesis on African American women's literature while in college. Throughout her medical training while becoming an OB/GYN, she wrote stories inspired by her patients and used writing to heal the moral injury she felt while working within a corrupt medical system. 

When she quit her job as a doctor in 2007, she finally succumbed to her lifelong desire to be a career writer. Her first book Broken, a memoir about her journey through the wounded health care system, never got published because she didn't have an audience. So at the urging of her literary agent, in 2009, Lissa began blogging and publishing The Daily Flame, a daily email love letter from your "Inner Pilot Light" to your wounded parts, based on the healing model Internal Family Systems (IFS), a trauma healing spiritual path which Lissa incorporates into all the healing and writing workshops she facilitates. 

Because her blog and Daily Flame emails quickly garnered a large readership, she was able to publish her first book in 2010 and has been blessed to have her last 7 books published. Her third book, the New York Times bestseller Mind Over Medicine, has sold over 300,000 copies in 28 languages. 

In addition to putting in her 100,000 hours and writing every day, in 2012, Lissa founded the Whole Health Medicine Institute, where she and a team of luminary faculty train physicians and other health care providers about “Whole Health” and the “6 Steps to Healing Yourself.” 

Lissa has starred in two National Public Television specials, her TEDx talks have been viewed over 5 million times, and she leads workshops, both online and at retreat centers like Esalen, 1440, Omega, and Kripalu. 

Her latest health equity project is non-profit work committed to democratizing trauma healing and spiritual healing while eliminating the public health epidemic of loneliness, bringing Sacred Medicine out of its current status as a luxury good to anyone who needs it and is open to it, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or gender identity. 

Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter Mira, who is also a writer, and her puppy Gaia, who would tell great stories if only she knew how.

Memoir As Medicine Workshop 

Frequently Asked Questions:
Do you offer stipends?
If the cost of this program presents a financial hardship then we hope you will contact us for other options. Please write to
How do I contact customer service?
Please contact us by sending an email to
What kind of technology will I need in order to participate?
All you’ll need is a computer or a smartphone and internet access in order to participate. All live calls will be on Zoom.
What if I can't attend a session when it takes place ? 
All sessions are recorded so if you can't attend the live session you'll be able to soak up the juicy teachings, healing intentions, and spiritual energy of this course at any time it’s convenient for you.
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