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Processing “Trauma”

Processing “Trauma”

My name is: Dr. Pedram Shojai.

My docuseries is called: Trauma: Heal Your Past, Transform Your Life.

You can watch it on: My relatively new streaming service, whole.tv! The live event ended in early March, but you can actually check it out with a free trial here. 

My background before making this series was: Big question! Before I was even a doctor, I was a Taoist monk. I found that path in my early 20s, while I was in pre-medical studies at UCLA. But after I’d done that for a time, and traveled and absorbed the work, I realized healing was still my purpose even though I’d strayed from that trajectory. I came home and got my doctorate degree in Oriental Medicine, then I owned and operated a string of clinics in LA. Working within the confines and limitations of Western healthcare, I felt like I wasn’t actually fulfilling my purpose. It didn’t sit right. 

I figured out what I needed to do, and I started making films. I could disseminate cutting-edge, life-saving, healing information that people could afford to receive. I’ve also written several best-selling books, for the same reason. To me, this was the equalizer I’d been looking for. After making three films and writing books, I started producing docuseries that were really targeted–about healing our gut microbiomes, healing exhaustion, etc. That’s when I had the idea to create whole.tv because it could not only house the series and documentaries I was making, but those of other renowned healers and medical minds.

I was inspired to create it when: Ironically, I started making Trauma with my filmmaking partner, Nick Polizzi, long before the pandemic. As healers, we’d come across plenty of patients and clients who—for psychological or, as we learned, actually physical reasons—weren’t capable of following the healing protocols given to them to get better. 

And one of the most common culprits was buried, unhealed trauma—undischarged energy that had been not only preventing them from healing, but compounding the issues to make them feel worse. We knew we had the trauma-informed care workers in our professional networks and that we shouldn’t take that for granted.

When the pandemic hit in the middle of filming, we were even more convinced that this was the docuseries we needed to be making. Everybody lost their coping mechanisms, right? And even people who had managed to convince themselves that they didn’t have unhealed trauma, or who thought that trauma was only when “really bad stuff” happened to a person (like war or rape) and that their stuff wasn’t that bad…well, COVID-19 changed all that. The restrictions and the financial insecurity and the loss of life and the close quarters; it all made everybody’s trauma come front and center from wherever it had been hiding.

The series is about: The insidious pathways that unhealed trauma travels through our emotional, physical and interpersonal (societal) lives, such that, until we address and metabolize our pain, we’re not in control of our own lives. 

It’s something I think about a lot, because that’s what originally inspired me to write and create The Urban Monk; I wanted to help people get back in the driver’s seat of their own lives. 

And when we go through traumas, which everyone does, and don’t heal from them, which most people don’t, we’re really being ruled and guided by the ghosts of incomplete experiences. 

The most unexpected takeaway is: This is a tough one to answer, but, I think, for me, the biggest takeaway was that the body doesn’t really distinguish between “minor” and “major”—or big T and little t trauma. We experience trauma as a shock to the system, no matter the size of it. 

Really, what ends up making the difference in how we proceed with our lives after trauma is our level of resilience when the traumatic event occurred. And the reason for that is it determines how prepared we are to face it and process it. If that preparation is low, we end up developing harmful coping mechanisms called survival patterns. That’s where that expression, “survival can be a real killer,” comes from. It’s what we do to ourselves after not having the space or the capability to work through a trauma that ends up hurting us the most. 

The series is a game changer because: More than 50 of the top thought-leaders and trauma-healers across modalities—using Indigenous healing and endocrinology, neurology and herbalism, or psychotherapy and disaster management—share everything they know about emotional, physical and societal trauma.

What’s truly amazing is that almost every speaker has their own trauma story, a painful place they came from that made them want to be a healer and that taught them what works and what doesn’t, so they could approach their patients and clients authentically.  

My hope is that viewers will: Understand how connected the seemingly separate parts of their pain are. Emotional pain causes physical pain, and physical pain leads to emotional pain, as well. Not to mention that we’re all swimming in the atmospheric pain of a wounded society that doesn’t care for all of its denizens equally; that pain is connected to us all, too. 

Understanding and de-stigmatizing mental health is so important right now because: One of the biggest roadblocks to emotional and physical healing is denial of the need for healing.

We really have such a false collective understanding of what constitutes trauma. And if we don’t know to call something “trauma,” then we end up thinking that pain, tension and suffering are natural states of being. 

They’re not. For so many people, a lot of their personalities are a trauma response and not a choice they made about who they wanted to be. 

And if more people start to understand that and truly believe it, we’ll start to see less large-scale suffering in society because we’ll have less hurt people hurting people, and more healed people healing people. 

One tool that’s been helpful to me personally during this difficult time is: Trying to picture how someone else might be reacting from their own trauma. 

One, it helps me contextualize my own trauma sometimes and think about how I have behavior that’s a trauma reaction, also.

Two, it helps me come at other people with pure love rather than ego. I’ve found that knowing that we all have trauma makes love and grace a much more beneficial option than defensiveness and self-protection. 

My next film/series might be: The Great Heist in June 2021—all about how to understand money and spring the trap, and then we have another 10-part series on conscious parenting coming this fall.

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