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Make Room for All Your Feelings

An Interview with Mark Epstein

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There’s one spot in the middle. Everything turns around it. by Betsy Walton

Psychiatrist Mark Epstein says that traumatic stress is the very texture of our lives. Accepting that fact, he says, allows us to lean in to our suffering and emerge as more complete people through that experience.Epstein’s most recent book is The Trauma of Everyday Life. We spoke with him about the everyday nature of trauma, the strategies people use to avoid it, and how, if approached with an open heart and mind, trauma can be our greatest teacher.S&H: Tell me about the “trauma of everyday life.”Mark Epstein: The basic thing is that you can’t be in a human body without being confronted periodically with death, illness, tragedy, and chaotic things happening that you can’t control. For all of our best efforts to live a life that we do control—and we’ve made great strides over the past 1,000 years or so—it’s really not possible. Accidents continue to happen, pipes burst or leak, ticks carry Lyme disease, the airplane sits on the runway for an hour with the air conditioning turned off, and our children get teased in their schools. It’s nonstop. So there’s this constant element of trauma in life where …

Sam Mowe is the editor at the Garrison Institute, a nonprofit in New York that supports those who practice contemplation to catalyze personal and social transformation.

About the Author

Sam Mowe is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. His interviews have also appeared in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and The Sun. He is also the editor of Lineages, a publication of the Garrison Institute. Sam is a regular contributor to Spirituality & Health. 

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