Dr. Pilar Jennings joins the show for a conversation about healing from psychological trauma and loss with the combined insight of Eastern and Western practices.
Pilar Jennings, PhD, is a psychoanalyst in private practice with a focus on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation. She has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004 and is a faculty member of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. Learn more about Dr. Jenning’s work at drpilarjennings.com.
Healing Trauma (Opening) – Dr. Jennings and Chris begin the conversation by discussing the importance of recognizing all forms of trauma that can impact a person and seeking the right forms of practice or support necessary to heal.
“We are all fellow travelers. We are all trying to figure how to navigate life, especially with our losses.” – Dr. Pilar Jennings
Chris speaks with Dr. David Berceli about his innovative approach to therapy for patients suffering from trauma and addiction on Ep. 42 of the Indie Spiritualist Podcast.
Learning to Listen (16:30) – Dr. Jennings discusses the eyeopening experiences she had with her first patient, which is documented in the book To Heal a Wounded Heart. She shares the lesson she learned around listening to others and finding the trust in herself in order to be of service to the young girl she was trying to help. We hear about her innovative approach to treatment and how connecting to the suffering of a Buddhist Lama was key in the patient’s therapy.
“Children are particularly impacted by adults who can be honest and direct about their own experience in a way that is not over stimulating or confusing, but really affirms that part of being a person involves suffering and involves loss and is not inherently shameful; that its just part of the human condition to love and to lose. Lama Pema was able to be very down to earth and open about his experience of losing most of his family early in life and when on to suffer, but was able to live a full life; to feel capable and to appreciate himself. He was exemplifying that we can suffer terribly and heal.” – Dr. Pilar Jennings
Psychotherapy and Buddhism (22:00) – Chris and Dr. Jennings discuss the common ground shared by Buddhism and psychotherapy.
“Both traditions have a deep respect for what we learn when we become non-judgmentally curious. In the analytic tradition, Freud described that as evenly hovering. Within Buddhism, it is sometimes described as bare attention or even mindfulness. In both traditions, practitioners are encouraged to try and let the discursive and critical part of the mind settle. Then to bring forth a part that’s receptive, curious and wanting to understand more in the spirit of feeling into more fully what we live through.” – Dr. Pilar Jennings
Living with Loss (41:50) – A central theme of To Heal a Wounded Heart is learning to deal with loss. Dr. Jennings talks about the role that loss plays in becoming a catalyst for our healing and growth.
“Loss I think is one of the most painful experiences, but also one of the most heart opening.” – Dr. Pilar Jennings