I went to an interesting talk last week called the "Trauma of Everyday Life" by Mark Epstein, America's renowned psychiatrist, author and Buddhist teacher. Many things he said deeply resonated with me and I wanted to share it here with you. The talk was given in advance of his upcoming book (Aug 2013) on the subject.It's not what happens that's important, its how you relate to it.- Mark Epstein
(Bear in mind that I can only describe my takeaways below. They will surely fall short of the full wisdom Mark taught).
From Mark's perspective everything is "relational" from the moment we are born. Interconnectedness is inherent in all of us. For example, we instinctively love our caretaker as infants. But our survival instinct, coupled with the pitfalls we face as we grow, prematurely strengthen our ego and isolate us from others.
Traumatic events, big and small, do not pass without a trace but hide themselves in our "implicit memory".They then manifest themselves sporadically throughout our lives. You could link almost all your grief, anger, remorse, fears, etc. to the overactive ego we so persistently cultivate throughout our lives. Always eager to react, never properly attend to how we take in the experience.
However Mark teaches that we can surrender back to that "open-eye capacity" for love we had from the beginning. It is our birthright. A way of healing involves transferring our "implicit memories" to "explicit memories" in order to give it a form, a name or a concept.
This helps contextualize the causes behind all our feelings, thoughts and actions, make them "relational" once again, and pierce through the delusion that they belong to some part of a "permanent self". Mindfulness meditation (or "spy consciousness" as Mark refers to it) is a particularly useful practice to develop oneself in this way.
Thanks for reading,
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