Transforming Trauma with James S. Gordon, MD, is a 10-day course that provides simple, effective, evidence-based approaches to healing. This course will show you how to move through the pain and limitations that trauma brings and find ease, wholeness, and freedom.
10 daily sessions — each of which includes a lesson and a guided exercise as well as stories, recorded group sessions, and bonus practices to try at home. In total this course offers more than 7 hours of evidence-backed, healing techniques.
Downloadable course workbook with instruction on the key course exercises as well as fill-in-the-blank clarity statements to reflect on your progress.
Mobile app access, including offline viewing, easy listening on-the-go, and screencasting to TVs.
Full access to Transforming Trauma along with 60+ courses on health, personal growth, and social impact
600+ daily practices including yoga, meditation, goal-setting, activism, and much more
Invites to all our live video calls with Commune teachers.
New courses added every month!
"Trauma can open the door to transformation. All of us can use simple self-care techniques to rebalance minds and bodies that have been disrupted and disorganized by trauma. As we come into balance, we can use our imagination and intuition, and self expression in words, drawings, and movement to reestablish broken brain connections and promote the healthy integration of thoughts and feelings. What you learn will revive functions that have been compromised: memory, focus, self-awareness, judgment, emotional intelligence, and compassion. The tools in this course will enable you to move through and beyond the trauma that we’ve all experienced and embrace the path to healing and wholeness."
Suffer from chronic stress
Struggle to trust others or feel safe in relationships
Tend to withdraw and isolate yourself
Have ongoing physical pain
Experienced a difficult, painful childhood
Are grieving a loved one or the end of a relationship
Need healthy ways to cope with the pandemic
How to reverse the psychological and physiological damage caused by trauma
The origins of your deepest wounds and how to heal them
Exercises to mobilize your imagination and fully experience your body
A path to find freedom from the past
You’ll learn an approach and techniques James S. Gordon, MD, has used for more than 50 years to reverse the damage trauma and chronic stress inflict on your mind and body.
James S. Gordon, MD, is a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, former researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, Chair of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, and a clinical professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School. He has authored or edited ten books, including Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing. In 1991, Dr. Gordon founded The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, which has become a leader in addressing population-wide psychological trauma.
We recommend setting aside about 45 minutes for each day of the course. This includes a lesson, a healing practice, and reflective time to answer questions and complete the workbook.
Lesson: Bringing Yourself Into Balance: Soft-Belly Breathing to Quiet Mind, Body, and Spirit
It’s important to understand the impact significant stress has on your body, your mind, your spirit — and how trauma alters and can damage virtually every function in your brain and body. Knowing this, you can begin to see the ways in which your body’s response to stress can continue long after the original self-preservation reaction (fight, flight, or freeze) ceases to be useful.
In this lesson, you’ll learn how you can use a simple self-care technique to balance the fight-or-flight response and come into a state of balance. This will create a foundation for more effectively using all the other self-care techniques that you’ll learn in this course.
Soft-Belly Breathing Practice
Soft belly breathing, slow, deep breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, helps to free you from the shackles of past trauma, its persistent physiological response (fast heart rate, high blood pressure, and tense muscles),and the irritability, anxiety, and fear it causes.
The Scientific Benefits of Soft-Belly Breathing
The soft-belly breathing exercise you learned in today’s practice is extraordinarily powerful medicine. In this video, James Gordon, MD, explains the scientific benefits of this practice, including its effectiveness in reducing activity in your amygdala, the fear and anger center in your brain, and increasing activity in areas of the cerebral cortex responsible for thoughtful decision making, self-awareness, and compassion.
Lesson 1: Trauma and Transformation: Finding Light in Dark Times
There is transformational power that lives within trauma. Hippocrates, the father of our Western medicine, called a “healing crisis,” a time of inflammatory aggravation which, if properly understood and treated – if embraced by us – can become a time of transformation.
This is a time of collective chaos and confusion. The threats to our health, our democracy, our economy, and our planet are calling into question our customary ways of thinking, being, and acting. This disruption opens the door to the possibility of a new order, a more integrated, more compassionate and connected way of being.
We are now living through what the ancients called “initiation.” It is the path to becoming a whole person in a changing world. This course is your invitation to embrace the healing crisis and to be transformed personally from it.
Lesson 2: Post-Traumatic Growth: The Story of Azar
In this video, James Gordon, MD, shares the story of Azar, a young girl in Gaza.
Practice: The Three Drawings Exercise
You’ll need three (3) sheets of regularly sixed 8x11 blank printer or notebook paper, with crayons, magic markers, or colored pencils to participate in this illuminating exercise.
Review: The Discovery in the Drawings
You now have the opportunity to take a look at each of your three drawings and discover what each has to offer and reveal to you in order to help you move forward and transform the trauma you may have experienced.
Sharing: Discoveries after Drawing
In this video, Tatiana shares her drawings with Dr. Gordon and discusses what she discovered about herself in the exercise.
Lesson: Moving through the Crisis
Trauma lives in our bodies. Expressing ourselves with our bodies releases the physical tension and the emotions that can be inhibiting and limiting us. Over time, it goes a long way to freeing us from trauma and its consequences.
In this video you’ll learn about the power of movement and expressive meditations and how they can break up fixed patterns of thoughts and emotions to help you move into balance, and release states of tension, anxiety, and irritability that often come when your body is responding to stress.
Practice: Shaking and Dancing Exercise
This activity can be used to move through overwhelming feelings, increase energy, and release stuck emotions. It is also good for breaking up the “freeze” response.
In this video, James Gordon, MD, guides you through your first expressive meditation of the course. At the end, students share what the experience was like for them.
Lesson: Mobilizing Our Imagination and Intuition, Consulting With Our Unconscious, Using Guided Imagery to Open the Door to Change
In this lesson, you will focus on how to move through overwhelming feelings, increase energy, and release stuck emotions. It is also good for breaking up the “freeze” response. Practice at home and see where and how it impacts your body.
The exercises today will give you a direct experience of the power of imagery to directly affect autonomic nervous system functioning.
Practice 1: Lemon Imagery Exercise
This first exercise will give you a direct experience of the power of imagery to directly affect autonomic nervous system functioning.
Practice 2: The One Person Imagery Exercise
This brief exercise is intended to give you a sense of how imagery might affect your emotional life.
Lesson: Sitting at the Feet of Our Wise Guide
Today, you’ll use imagery first to bring yourself to a safe and comfortable place. Then, you’ll create another image which will make it possible for you to consult with and receive guidance from that part of your mind that knows what is difficult or impossible for your conscious mind to access. You can think of this part of your mind as your imagination or intuition, or your unconscious.
Safe Place and Wise Guide Imagery Practice
Have your journal or a piece of paper ready to write down your experience afterwards.
Interactive Sharing: Safe Place and Wise Guide Imagery
James Gordon, MD, encourages students who participated in the Wise Guide imagery exercise to share their experiences.
Lesson: Bringing Out What’s Inside
Today’s lesson focuses on using the healing wisdom of your imagination to address problems, symptoms, and issues that are challenging you
Dialogue with a Symptom, Problem, or Issue Exercise
This practice invites you to have a written dialogue with an SPI that is of concern to you.
You will likely discover why this particular SPI is challenging you and, even more important, what you can do to address or resolve it. This may feel a little strange at first, but you’ll likely discover that the more you do it, the more easily you’ll be able to access and make good use of the wisdom that is inside you.
Materials needed to participate: Journal or notebook with a pen.
Interactive Sharing: Dialogue with a Symptom, Problem, or Issue Exercise
James Gordon, MD, talks with workshop participants about their experience with their Wise Guide.
Lesson: All Emotions Are Innocent and They Have So Much to Teach You
“Yes” and “No” are two words with enormous emotional valence and power.
Many of us here in the United States and in many other societies have been taught to be wary of our emotions. And so we’ve tended to suppress our feelings. This sometimes makes it easier to move ahead with the business of life, to get the job done. However, ignoring or suppressing our feelings interferes significantly with our ability to appreciate the richness and essence of life, even as it disrupts our physical and psychological balance.
Today is your opportunity to create a new, empowering view of your feelings, to befriend them and even embrace them as guides and teachers.
In fact, emotions aren’t the problem. Emotions are innocent. It's getting stuck in an emotion that causes us pain—resentment, depression, chronic anxiety, and agitation.
You don’t, however, have to be stuck in your emotions. You can learn to become aware of them, to relax with them, to express them, and to move through and beyond them.
This yes/no exercise will help you to become aware of and express and learn from the complex feelings that these two simple words evoke in each of us. This practice also can be a great conduit for experiencing your own power, provide an outlet to release anger, and clarify boundary issues.
Lesson: Gratitude and Laughter
Laughter can open the door to gratitude. And both laughter and gratitude are strong medicines. They help us to heal physically and psychologically. They are also powerful forces for transforming trauma.
Please have your journal or notebook close at hand for today’s practice. Dr. Gordon will be asking you to make some notes for a “gratitude journal.”
The Power of a Gratitude Practice
You’ll turn to your journal or notebook now to discover how keeping a gratitude journal is a simple, effective way to enhance gratitude and, along with it, your mood and your pleasure in the events of your daily life.
In this practice, James Gordon, MD, leads you through a simple but powerful laughing meditation.
Lesson 1: Mindful Eating & the Trauma Healing Diet
Stress and trauma affect our digestive system just as profoundly as they affect our brain. And everything that happens in your digestive tract in turn affects our mental and emotional functions. In this lesson, Dr. Gordon shares the powerful ways that food and supplements can enhance our ability to deal with life’s inevitable traumas and stresses.
Lesson 2: Healing Foods & Healthy Eating Habits
Dr. Gordon begins with a discussion of the ways different foods can reduce stress, enhance resiliency, and promote trauma-healing, and the ways they can be combined in a wide variety of healthy and tasty diets. He goes on to help you deal with the comfort food cravings that stress often produces, and provides guidance in choosing supplements that decrease stress and maximize our ability to make use of the nutrients in our foods.
Mindful Eating Practice
Dr. Gordon leads you in an exercise in “mindful eating” and explains how mindful eating can maximize the benefits of everything you eat, reduce your level of stress, and moderate your intake of food.
The Benefits of Mindful Eating
The more mindful you become, the more discriminating you'll be in what you buy, how you prepare it, how you put it together, how you spice it, how you serve it, and how you eat it—and the happier your digestive system will be with you because it will be able to more easily access nutrients from your food and use those nutrients to nourish and sustain you.
Lesson 1: Living the Transformation: Becoming Who You’re Meant to Be
On this final day of the course, you’ll put everything you learned together to create a program that will continue to meet your needs as you build the greater awareness, understanding, and resilience that will enable you to successfully meet life’s inevitable challenges.
You’ll look back at where you were at the beginning of this course, and see how it compares to where you are now, ten days later.
Lesson 2: Moving Forward: How to Use What You Learned in this Course
In this video, You’ll take a look at where you’re headed and how you can use the tools and techniques you’ve learned to get there.
Practice: Three New Drawings Exercise
Just like in Day 2 of the course, you’ll need three (3) sheets of regularly sized 8x11 blank printer or notebook paper, with crayons, magic markers, or colored pencils to participate in this exercise. This is a powerful way to recognize any shifts or changes that have occurred by you participating in this course.
Interactive Sharing: Three New Drawings Exercise
In this video, James Gordon, MD, talks with Tatiana from The Center for Mind-Body Medicine after she completes today’s exercise.
Final Video: Closing Ritual
Rituals honor and mark passages from one stage of life to another. This course closes with a ritual that helps you acknowledge what you’ve learned in this course, what you’d like to leave behind, and what insights, tools, and techniques you’d like to take with you.