Today’s guest on Voices For Healing Talk Radio, Mark Epstein, became interested in a little remembered fact about the Buddha’s life: the Buddha’s mother died just 5 days after Buddha’s birth. Mark’s interest in personality development and curiosity about how this early trauma impacted the life of Buddha led to his book “The Trauma of Everyday Life”. This book caught my eye at a time when I was grappling with early trauma in my own life, trauma unremembered yet evidenced by thoughts, feelings, deep beliefs, and cellular memory in my body.
On the air, we had a lively discussion about things in life that are “hard to face” and how we tend to react to these things with fear, helplessness, or horror and dissociate or cut ourselves off from what we are really experiencing. These cut off emotions don’t just go away, rather they hide out below the surface of our awareness, influencing our lives in ways both large and small. When we can tolerate facing the hard to face, we become more aware, open, and freer to make responses in our daily lives.
We talked about how when we are isolated, life can seem too hard to bear. When we join in community with one or more understanding partners, we gain strength. I asked Mark how we can best support ourselves as we live with the traumas of everyday life and he had three suggestions. The first is psychotherapy, a valuable relationship so that whatever we are going through we do not have to do it alone. The second is meditation. Mindfulness and increased awareness help us to maintain perspective. And the third suggestion which I just love, is to realize that we know very little about anything. We don’t know how we will be when we face that next challenge. And that’s ok. I invite you to listen to the entire conversation and check out Mark’s book on Amazon. You can access both through the links below: