My review of book “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel A. van der Kolk

body keeps the score

It was a late July day and the clocks were striking noon again and again. That was the right time of summer – sun was high, waters deep and warm. Ripened wild raspberries and blueberries were abundant in the forests. The labyrinths of cemented sidewalks and melting asphalts of overcrowded cities were leading to suffering those who did not find a way out and flee. Therefore, I got a ride to a faraway town on countryside and settled down for few days with my friends.

I had no expectations for my visit, so we just sat in the garden and talked for hours. Made some lunch and talked more. In the summer the twilight dwells almost till midnight and by the time it started to get dark, our stories got deeper and shadier as well. Facing the statistics of trauma in everyday so-called normal lives we had a lot of stories to get into.  A lot of my friends are fixing their anxieties, depressions and other conditions, and going through various therapies as well as books.

Everyone can be traumatized

So, the remaining days I spent reading a book from my friend’s library – The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel A. van der Kolk. That was an antipode to the chill lounging around the garden; eating sour cherries from the trees and sipping the occasional bottle of beer. The opening passage of the book is inviting yet frightening: “Trauma happens to us, our friends, our families, and our neighbors. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child; one in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body; and one in three couples engages in physical violence. A quarter of us grew up with alcoholic relatives, and one out of eight witnessed their mother being beaten or hit.”

The statistics in our post-soviet corner is as gloomy as that. That is to say, if not worse. Both World Wars stomped back and forth over this tiny piece of land. All our grandparents were involved in war and our parents grew up under occupation. We were thrown in the beautiful capitalism and globalization as if nothing had happened. Indeed, a lot did happen but not enough was shared and understood.

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Review of book “The Art Of Disappearing” by Ajahn Brahm

the art of disappearing - Buddhism meditation practice

Once one a forum thread there was a person asking a monastic whether he shouldn’t have read a book called The Art of Disappearing: Buddha’s Path to Lasting Joy written by Ajahn Brahm. The reader was looking for inspiration but now felt even more depressed and hopeless. The kind monk replied that Ajahn Brahm and also other masters have two kinds of talks and books – the ones that make you feel good and confident and the other ones – which are straight to the point and harder to digest. This book was of the second kind.

Interesting enough that it was a perfect sales pitch for me – a book that someone maybe should not have read. Surprising enough but it turned out it is an exciting book because it is so true, and it contradicts almost every aspect of average western consumerist life. I read the book as a tragicomedy, saving myself from immediate panic that happened to the guy in the forum. Applying aspects of comedy could be seen also as a kind and caring way, how to approach my own life, which for the most part has been driven 180 degree the opposite direction from what Ajahn Brahm describes as a way leading to happiness.

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