„I could feel in my body the tremendous dread”

Awaken Interviews Joan Borysenko PhD Pt 1 – God Is A Mystery

Posted on December 12, 2020 

Donna Quesada: Well then, if you don’t mind, I’ll get right into it. I was so moved by what you were saying about resilience.

So, in case our viewers haven’t seen your Ted Talk, I want to get right into it…I was so moved and you were saying how it all started with you looking at an old family portrait of relatives who must have known that they were destined for Auschwitz. And I’m sorry to switch gears in such an intense way, so quickly, but this kind of gets into an important aspect of your teaching. I would love if you would share more about that…and you noticed that they had very serious faces…and you were struck by this…and it made you wonder, How on Earth can they carry on, knowing what they must have known on some level? And so, this started a fascination with what you call resilience, in your own life. And I’m fascinated with that, too. I was wondering if you could give a little more background on that?

Joan Borysenko Ph.D: Well, first of all…the fact that it was a dozen members of my family that died in Auschwitz…I knew this intellectually, Donna. But there is a very big difference between knowing something intellectually and actually feeling it in your body…the actual emotional response to that. And I got that photo suddenly, from a relative I’d never even heard of. It just appears in my box. I took one look at it and what really got me is that it was my grandfather’s brother and his family. They hadn’t come to the United States, at that time. And they were the last of the family that was in Eastern Europe. The resemblance. The family resemblance from my grandfather…my grandfather’s brother…his children. It was so overwhelming that I just started to cry. And all of a sudden, it was as if I was there and I could feel my body…kind of the neurons…I could feel in my body the tremendous dread. And what I know as a scientist is that trauma from previous generations passes down for three or four generations. And I’d always wondered…to my psychologists, I always seemed like a trauma survivor. And I’d been working on patterns of low-resilience in myself for years. And even though I wasn’t in the direct lineage of my great uncle, my grandparents had left because of pogroms in Eastern Europe. It was so common for Jews, for example, to be rounded up, put in a barn and the whole thing set on fire.

And there was a history of that. It’s a history that gets handed down from generation to generation. And it’s not so much in the DNA itself because that doesn’t change. But whether your DNA, aspects of it, get silenced, or whether they remain active…what it tells us is that DNA does not estimate. We live in an enormous environment…our inner environment of thoughts and feelings, as well as the outer environment…our social interactions…the plants around us and how they speak…the quality of the light…the beauty.

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