Shachar Erez (Part 1) – Coping with the Horrors of War: An Israeli Therapist Shares the Agony, Grief & Uncertainty of Wartime, Insights on Alleviating Trauma, and the Grace of Integral-Spiritual Practice

Shachar Erez Israel-Hamas War Integral Practice Spiritual Practice

Shachar Erez, longtime spiritual practitioner and integrally informed therapist in Israel, opens his heart, sharing his pain and overwhelming grief since the outbreak of war with Hamas and revealing another dimension of what’s going on than what we see in the news. It is a profound experience listening to a sensitive, compassionate person openly, honestly, courageously sharing what it feels like to be living with his family under threat of extreme violence, struggling to accept humanity as it is, working to help survivors reframe trauma to prevent PTSD, all amidst utter uncertainty as to the future of Israel and its people. Universal questions are raised: How to remain human in wartime? How is an ethical, spiritual, peaceful person to cope? Is there any hope for peace between Palestine and Israel? And, we are all broken—how do we accept the brokenness and continue to function?

The sustaining power of an integral-spiritual practice is clear—it is practice (intense workouts and meditation especially) that gets Shachar through and able to muster up the energy to help others, which in turn is so helpful to him. Shachar marvels at how sitting in the therapist’s chair allows him to embrace all that he hears—all the realities, all the horrors—when if he heard it on the news, he couldn’t take it. As a therapist, Shachar is very much thinking ahead to the near unimaginable challenge of helping all the people who are hurt by this war, in Gaza and in Israel, after the fighting stops. “How do you find a shrink for 12 million people?” he asks, adding, “This should be an awakening all over the Western world—people should not be living in fear like this in 2023.” Recorded November 1, 2023. 

“I feel I’ve been practicing my whole life for this moment.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 1

  • Introducing Shachar Erez, integrally informed Israeli therapist specializing in helping couples fall back in love (01:16)
  • Roger’s hope that this podcast can in some way help allay the extreme partisanship and anti-Semitism arising as a result of Israel’s war with Hamas (04:07)
  • Describing murder, kidnapping, funerals brings Shachar to tears (05:22)
  • John’s early experiences gaining an understanding of Israel and the Jewish people (06:10)
  • How can a man with spiritual values like Shachar get through this time of war and acute stress? (09:23)
  • The first week just doing small things to keep functioning, then being there for others, working out, doing Integral practices, is what’s getting Shachar through at this point (11:50)
  • The blessing is a knowing at a deep level that everything is “okay” despite the horror and the brokenness (12:52)
  • Struggling to find the “other” inside himself, in this case the ability to commit horrific acts, as part of his spiritual practice (13:29)
  • The Nova music festival massacre, and working to prevent PTSD later by remembering, telling the story, and reframing terror into resourcefulness (14:16)
  • A therapist’s ability to contain the realities they hear, and the idea of being a sin-eater, eating people’s pain (17:21)
  • Telling the story, as an Israeli to Americans, Shachar’s heart is torn open—he is usually more of a “tough guy” (18:53)
  • We are all broken: how do we accept the brokenness and continue to function? (20:49)
  • Shachar feels he’s been practicing his whole life for this moment (23:15)
  • There’s something magic that happens when you’re willing to be with others in their pain (24:40)
  • Agony, openness, and the deep knowing that everything is okay, even though everything is broken and could get a lot worse (30:33)

Resources & References – Part 1

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Shachar Erez Israel-Hamas War Integral Practice Spiritual Practice

Shachar Erez is a marriage and family therapist living and working in Israel. On good days, he helps couples fall in love again. He’s integrally informed. And trauma informed. And has been practicing an integral practice for many years. Shachar is married to Judy and father to three beautiful kids.

Since the horrors that happened in Israel and the war that is still raging, he feels like he’s been practicing all his life for this moment. 

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

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