Jonathan Kirkendall

Programs Committee Chair

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When we’re depressed, we’re afraid we’ll never feel good again. When we’re anxious, every breath invites fear. Fear closes us down and keeps us stuck. Fear paralyzes us. When we’re unhappy at work, fear traps us. When our heart is broken, fear makes us think we’ll always be alone.

Jonathan has known fear. The youngest son of American parents, he grew up in Beirut and Tehran. He’s lived through air raids, forced evacuations, and revolutions. A bomb went off in their apartment building when he was in first grade, and when he was in fifth grade, his dad was kidnapped. During the Revolution in Iran, they watched from their house as tanks rumbled down the road to fire into the demonstrators who had gathered in the streets.

After receiving a degree in Philosophy and Italian at Wake Forest University, he moved to DC. During those years of living in an anarchist collective and working with homeless families, his life changed. One day he was a whole and healthy 25-year-old with his life ahead of him, and the next day he was in the ICU unit with several broken bones, the result of a mugging gone very wrong.

And on that day, his relationship with fear, anxiety, and pain changed forever and an intensely personal and practical journey began — a continuing journey of working with fear instead of closing down to it.

Jonathan started therapy and liked it so much, that he went to Naropa University’s counseling program and became a therapist. He began to practice meditation and now, more than twenty years later, he teaches it as often as he can. He knows what it’s like to live with pain and anxiety, and he has learned what brings relief and peace.

That’s his story. Jonathan is not afraid of depression, broken hearts, bad careers, or personal trauma. And he loves working with others until they are not afraid, either.