Shachar Erez (Part 2) – 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. 

People should not be living in fear like this in 2023.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • What is Israel to do in this situation? (02:04)
  • Israel is inevitably dropping to lower developmental stages—to hope there would be no vengeance is naive (03:40)
  • How to understand a level of motivation where you sacrifice your own people? (06:49)
  • There’s no more left wing in Israel—what’s the future of this place? (07:49)
  • Why Shachar left progressive Berkeley and returned to Israel (10:53)
  • Can peace happen? The Palestinians have been taught to hate, but John reminds us how the U.S. and Germany, the U.S. and Japan, were reconciled very quickly after WWII (13:30)
  • The most important practice now: high intensity workouts (17:45)
  • If numb, do something small to regain functionality and motivation (18:21)
  • Other helpful practices: talking to people, meditation, volunteering & helping others (19:41)
  • In trauma, you always feel like you are alone, but Israelis are good at coming together socially if not politically (21:25)
  • In the midst of trauma and hatred, human kindness is healing (22:43)
  • What can we who are not near the battle do to help? Stay open to the suffering, to the questions, and avoid dogmatic certainty (23:27)
  • What would be the most humane response? Holding compassion but holding strength (26:35)
  • This should be an awakening all over the Western world – there’s something that needs to be realigned: people should not be living in fear like this in 2023 (27:31)
  • What is the right response ethically, practically? (29:16)
  • How to remain human? Being with our experience, open to the feelings of others, accepting our humanity (31:38)

Resources & References – Part 2

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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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