Trauma does not just happen to a few unlucky people; it is the bedrock of our psychology. Death and illness touch us all, but even the everyday sufferings of loneliness and fear are traumatic. In The Trauma of Everyday Life renowned psychiatrist and author of Thoughts Without a Thinker, Mark Epstein uncovers the transformational potential of trauma, revealing how it can be used for the mind's own development. Western psychology teaches that if we understand the cause of trauma, we might move past it while many drawn to Eastern practices see meditation as a means of rising above, or distancing themselves from, their most difficult emotions. Both, Epstein argues, fail to recognize that trauma is an indivisible part of life and can be used as a lever for growth and an ever-deeper understanding of change. When we regard trauma with this perspective, understanding that suffering is universal and without logic, our pain connects us to the world on a more fundamental level. The way out of pain is through it.
Epstein’s discovery begins in his analysis of the life of Buddha, looking to how the death of his mother informed his path and teachings. The Buddha’s spiritual journey can be read as an expression of primitive agony grounded in childhood trauma. Yet the Buddha’s story is only one of many in The Trauma of Everyday Life. Here, Epstein looks to his own experience, that of his patients, and of the many fellow sojourners and teachers he encounters as a psychiatrist and Buddhist. They are alike only in that they share in trauma, large and small, as all of us do. Epstein finds throughout that trauma, if it doesn’t destroy us, wakes us up to both our minds’ own capacity and to the suffering of others. It makes us more human, caring, and wise. It can be our greatest teacher, our freedom itself, and it is available to all of us.
©2013 Mark Epstein, M.D. (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC
If you must read one book on pain, suffering ..etc then let it be this one ...
But let me first clarify that this is a Buddhist book filled with the teachings of the Buddha ...it is also filled with information about the life of the Buddha, but that usually comes with a purpose ...
I cannot praise this book enough ... as it helped me finally OPEN my eyes to reality instead of dreaming away with all the self-help junk i have read throughout the years ..
An insightful ... sobering ... well written book
note: i didn't like the narration at all ...
I plan on reading more from Mark Epstein, but I doubt I'll ever read anything narrated by Walter Dixon.
The message of the book sometimes and somehow overcame the Evelyn Wood speed reading disciple's performance. Maybe it was electronically sped up? It's ironic that such a book that's somewhat about slowing down to reflect, was performed so speedily.
Folks with an interest in a psychoanalysis of the Buddha.
Nothing. It is just a subject I have no interest in. I feel The title, and representation of the book was misleading.
His reading had a sense of urgency to it. Sounded as though he was time limited.
I would definitely cut all the analysis.
I've had this book on my list to read ever since hearing it praised in 10 % Happier. I've recently been going through quite a personal ordeal, so it seemed a good time to step back into thinking about Buddhism in hopes it could give me insight into my own situation. I figured if it helped Dan Harris so much, it certainly couldn't hurt me.
The Trauma of Everyday Life is a wonderful step into the notion that combines psychiatry and Buddhism. Mark Epstein is a psychiatrist known for using Buddhist practices in treating his patients, and this book served as a good overview of how the two intertwine. Epstein gives examples of different "traumas" some of his patients experienced, and then references one of the Buddha's teachings that applied to that circumstance. There is quite a bit of retelling of stories from the Buddha's life and what they taught the people of his time, but Epstein always ties it back into our modern lives. The biggest focus is the concept of, "The only way out is through." It is only by allowing ourselves to experience our emotions, no matter how unpleasant, that we can overcome them.
This book is full of really wonderful quotes, several of which I wrote down to help me remember. I thought they would be worth sharing, so here goes:
"Enlightenment does not mean getting rid of anything. It means changing one's frame of reference so that all things become enlightening."
"When we stop distancing ourselves from the pain in the world, our own or others, we create the possibility of a new experience, one that often surprises because of how much joy, connection, or relief it yields. Destruction may continue, but humanity shines through."
"Awakening does not mean a change in difficulty, it means a change in how those difficulties are met."
I highly enjoyed this book. The more I delve into Buddhism, the more respect I have for the concepts it teaches. I am a much more confident person having learned just what I have in the past 6 months, and this book certainly helped me on that path. I would caution that this probably wouldn't be the best book for a complete newcomer to Buddhism - maybe read one of the other books I've read this year first - but this will absolutely help to show how practical a Buddhist frame of mind can be when it comes to our emotional lives. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
The content of the book was great. Nice combination of the history of the Buddha, and modern examples of his teachings through Epstein's work and personal experiences. But it is a LOT to absorb, and coupled with the speed reading narrator, it was personally too hard to keep up. Probably better to read the actual book where you have time to highlight passages, take notes, etc.
I enjoyed learning more about the Buddha and how his life experiences influenced his teachings
He just read way too fast, with no pauses. A lot of the content here is kind of complex, and when you read it so fast it is hard to process.
There was a lot of technical terms and definitions. Would have been nice to slow the pace down and not dump so much information in every passage. Maybe go back more, revisit earlier topics. Or not try to cover so much information in one book?
I will certainly check out more of Epstein's work, but not if it is narrated by Walter Dixon
What kind of speed record was this narrator trying to set? There's no way this book can be absorbed at that rate. I had no speed controls so constantly had to rewind to catch all of what was being said.
I love audiobooks but the narrator's monotone voice was very difficult to listen to. The content while informative is hard to follow the way it is described. I could only force myself to get through half of the book before I abandoned it.
to include more religious perspectives
no, not at all
While the philosophy is interesting and is applicable for therapists to use in their work, it wasn't for me seeking inspiration.
I heard the author on a New York radio show and he sounded interesting--unfortunately the book was not.
It is a book about Buddhism. I thought it would be more practical having heard him speak on the radio.
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