Aaron Perry


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  • Episode 140 – Dr. James Gordon MD, Founder, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, on Trauma Healing in Ukraine
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Stewardship & Sustainability Series
Episode 140 - Dr. James Gordon MD, Founder, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, on Trauma Healing in Ukraine

[Healing Trauma at Scale] Dr. James Gordon, MD discusses the myriad ways in which The Center for Mind-Body Medicine provides people trauma healing tools and therapies at the individual, group, community, and society-wide scales. With a current emphasis on Ukraine, Dr. Gordon and The Center for Mind-Body Medicine have worked for years with traumatized veterans and civilians alike in Kosovo, Macedonia, Gaza, Israel, Haiti, the United States, and elsewhere. And, in his book Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing, Dr. Gordon presents the science of trauma-healing along with deep wisdom and expertise, giving us all hope and actionable techniques for trauma-healing in our own lives, and in communities world-wide. Chapters such as “The Biology of Trauma,” “Soft Belly: Quieting Mind, Body, and Spirit,” “Embracing Hope,” “Shaking and Dancing,” “Befriending Your Body,” “The Trauma-Healing Diet,” “Nature Heals,” “Laughter Breaks Trauma’s Spell,” “The Healing Circle,” “Gratitude Changes Everything,” “Forgiveness,” and “Love, Meaning, and Purpose” provide an indication of the holistic and hopeful framework articulated by Dr. Gordon and offered through The Center for Mind-Body Medicine.

About Trauma Healing in Ukraine

Likened to the Spanish Civil War, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has leveled violence and destruction throughout Ukraine, while Putin’s regime in Russia systematically suppresses dissent and free media, widely disseminates propaganda, and even assassinates would-be challengers by poisoning them. This summer, Dr. Gordon and his team are training 150 leaders in eight regions of Ukraine so that they can provide ongoing trauma-healing services and experiences to Ukrainians traumatized by combat, missile and artillery strikes, and the ongoing threats of escalation and even more horrific weapons deployment.

About The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

Founded by Dr. James Gordon, MD, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) provides a public health approach to transforming trauma. According to CMBM’s website, “From war to domestic violence, from public health crises to climate-related disasters, from chronic illness to the vulnerability of aging, from generational trauma to systemic racism – trauma is unavoidable. According to a 2017 report, 70% of adults surveyed across 24 countries reported having experienced a traumatic event in their lifetime. […] Trauma can increase mental distress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and other chronic conditions.” Led by CEO Dr. Gordon, and Executive Director Rosemary Lombard, CMBC works to relieve trauma and build resilience through evidence-based practices in communities world-wide.

About Dr. James Gordon, MD

Dr. James S. Gordon, MD, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, is internationally recognized for using self-awareness, self-care, and group support to heal population-wide psychological trauma. He is the author of Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing. He is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., a clinical professor at Georgetown Medical School, and was chairman (under Presidents Clinton and GW Bush) of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy.

Resources & Related Podcast Episodes



Twitter: @drjamesgordon



In USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2022/07/29/ukraine-war-children-emotional-scars/10164325002/

On Katie Couric Media: https://katiecouric.com/news/lessons-for-americans-from-ukraines-front-lines/

On Sixty Minutes: https://vimeo.com/158549497

Episode 131 – Douglas Gardner, (former) UN Resident Coordinator to Ukraine, on Healing & Hope

Episode 109 – Dr. Robert Cloninger, MD, PhD, Genetics & Psychology of Stewardship, Happiness, and Hope

Episode 99 – David Beasley, (former) Executive Director, Nobel Peace Laureate UN World Food Programme

Episode 88 – General Wesley Clark, (former) Supreme Commander, NATO Alliance, on Technology, Climate, Technology, and Leadership

Episode 50 – Dr. Anita Sanchez, on Women’s Voices, Indigenous Wisdom, Trauma Healing, and the Sacred Hoop of Life


(Automatically generated transcript for search engine optimization and reference purposes – grammatical and spelling errors may exist.)

Welcome to the YonEarth Community Podcast. I’m your host, Aaron William Perry. And today we’re visiting with leading trauma healing expert, Dr. James Gordon. Dr. Gordon, it’s a pleasure to visit with you today.

Good to be here with you. Thank you. Fresh from his most recent visit to the Ukraine, Dr. James Gordon is a Harvard educated psychiatrist and internationally recognized for using self-awareness, self-care and group support to heal population-wide psychological trauma.

He is the author of transforming trauma, the path to hope and healing. He is also the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington, D.C. and a clinical professor at Georgetown Medical School.

He was the chairman under President Clinton and George W. Bush of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Dr. Gordon, it’s such a pleasure to have this opportunity to visit with you and to hear what you’re doing in Ukraine and elsewhere around the world where we have populations afflicted by particularly acute and profound trauma.

And just to kick things off, can you give us a sense of what it is you and your team are doing in Ukraine?

Sure. Well, I founded the Center for Mind Body Medicine in 1991. And this approach of self-awareness, self-care and mutual support is when we began using in the Washington, D.C. area where we’re located, we began training people to use this approach.

And it was working well so we began to train people nationally here in the United States. And then I began to wander around 1996 if the same approach could work in some of the darkest, most challenged places on the planet.

And so I and teams, we now have, we began with no paid staff and no money. Now we have a staff of 35 here in the United States and a faculty of 150.

So I began in the beginning with just a few people to go to some of those places to Bosnia just after the date and accords, the peace accords were signed in 96.

And it became apparent while we were in Bosnia that the time to work with people who’ve been traumatized is not after the traumatic events are over, but while they’re unfolding.

Because after four years of war in Bosnia, the whole society was shattered and the rates of chronic illness of depression, alcoholism, cancer, heart disease, pains and robes were at least three times as much as they’d been before the war.

So we began to work in Kosovo during the 98-99 war. I can come back to that later, but that principle of being there when the trauma is unfolding and of bringing our work to people in those places who were committed, committed both to helping themselves and to helping the whole population, fastening the principle of our work ever since.

When the Russian invasion of Ukraine happened in February 2022, it was clear to me it was time to go. I’ve been thinking of going for several years because, as you probably know, the fighting was began in 2014.

At that point for those first eight years or so, it was pretty much confined to the eastern part of Ukraine, Russia had illegally annexed Crimea.

But once the invasion started, the whole country was feeling it. And I wanted to go and see if what we had to offer, if the model in which we would train large numbers of local people to use our work, if that could work in Ukraine.

And if we could work on a population-wide, indeed, a national level. And the time to go was when the war began. So I went there initially in March 2022, and I’ve been back altogether four times, and I’ll be going again this summer, and now we’re getting ready to roll out the training on a large scale.

It’s tremendous. And we’re currently located at the Highland Institute for the Advancement of Humanity, and of course our recent guest Douglas Gardner, who was resident on behalf of the United Nations in Ukraine for a number of years, brought you here for a few days of gatherings and talks and events.

And last night, you gave a talk to our community that was really quite enlightening and inspiring, I’d say. And during that, you shared with each of us a copy of your book, transforming trauma, the path to hope and healing. And for those of you who are viewing the podcast on camera here, I’m showing the book.

And I was struck looking at the table of contents in this book, because several of the chapter titles, I believe, are so salient, not only to healing in war-torn regions of the world, but really healing in general for all eight billion of us who, for the most part, are each dealing with some form of trauma, some trauma of one sort or another.

And I was really curious, if you might walk us through for a minute, what it is you’re unpacking in the chapter that is called the biology of trauma.

Let me start. Let me take a step back into the introduction that you made. Trauma, indeed, will come to all eight billion of us. I think there’s a false notion that trauma only happens to those other people, the people in the middle of the war in Ukraine, people with the most horrendous and abusive childhoods.

Well, those are obvious examples of trauma that come to people. But all of us, if we live long enough, we’ll experience psychological trauma. It is a part of life.

If not early in life, because of abuse or neglect or illness, poverty or violence in the neighborhood, then in young adulthood or midlife, the disappointments, that many of us have romantic disappointments, loss of grandparents and maybe loss of parents.

Yoss of our way, I wanted to do, I wanted to become a doctor, but it couldn’t happen or become an engineer and I just couldn’t do it.

Those events are traumatic. And if trauma doesn’t happen, then it certainly happens as we grow older and develop chronic and life-threatening illnesses become frail, even if we don’t have any chronic illnesses.

And of course, as we grow older, we lose our family, our friends, people die and we face our own death.

So I think it’s important for those who are watching us, for all of us to understand that this is not an anomaly that trauma comes to all of us.

The other thing that’s crucial to understand right from the beginning is that we can move through and beyond trauma.

Many people think, oh, I’ve experienced this trauma, it’s been horrible and it may indeed have been horrible, whether in a war or from childhood or an abusive relationship or violent or sexual assault, and indeed it’s horrible, and it is possible to move through and beyond the trauma.

And even to come to that place, the modern psychologists are now calling post-traumatic growth, that is to become more whole, more complete, more compassionate, more thoughtful, more embracing of the larger world around us than we ever were before the trauma happens.

And that’s an insight that Aboriginal people have, apparently had for thousands and thousands of years, that as I said, we’re now rediscovering.

Now, the program that I teach in transforming trauma is a program that individuals can use in any setting.

People are using all over the United States, been translated into a number of languages, and it’s a way of dealing with the trauma that inevitably comes, whether it’s a diagnosis of a serious illness or the loss of a relationship or the death of a family member, or indeed combat or being a civilian in the middle of the war.

And as you suggest, the beginning, it begins with saying, trauma’s a part of life, goes on to say that you can move through even the most horrendous trauma and beyond them.

And I tell some stories in the beginning of the book about people who have done exactly that and become remarkable and compassionate and big-hearted and visionary human beings.

And the method that I teach in transforming trauma that we are using in Ukraine and have used in a number of other countries as well as all over the United States is one which does begin with bringing us with hope, possibility, and the direct experience of coming into biological and psychological balance.

And so the first techniques that we teach are slow, deep breathing, as I taught last night in the talk, just sitting comfortably and people are watching us, you can do this now.

And I’m going to put my legs on the ground because it’s sitting a relaxed way. And you can close your eyes to eliminate external stimulation and let your breath deepen.

And this is a concentrated meditation. So we’re going to concentrate on the breath coming in through the nose and out through the mouth on our belly’s softening and relaxing as we exhale.

And on the word soft as we breathe in and belly as we breathe out.

Let’s just do this for a minute or so just to get a little feeling for it.

Relaxing with each exhalation, if thoughts come, let them come, notice them, let them go, gently bring your mind back to soft belly.

Okay, we can open our eyes. So we begin by teaching this and the center for mind body medicine, we’re a nonprofit and we’re an educational nonprofit.

Our work is to teach people this method that I developed that my colleagues developed with me and then to assist them and mentor and supervise them as they bring what we’ve learned, what they’ve learned from us into the ongoing work they’re doing.

As doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, community organizers, leaders of women’s groups, public officials, whatever work they’re doing.

And so we teach them to experience this relaxation themselves. And ordinarily when I teach it in one of our training programs, it’ll go on for 10 or 12 minutes.

And I’ll go through the physiology and explain how slowly breathing activates the vagus nerve, which is the antidote to the fight or flight response and the stress response.

Now, fight or flight response is perfectly normal. It’s what we need to deal with the crisis situation to either get out of there or fight the aggressor, the oppressor who’s coming at us.

And that’s fine. The problem is that after we’ve been traumatized, fight or flight continues long after the traumatic events or over or in the case of a place like Ukraine, the traumatic events keep unfolding.

So people are in a constant state of hypervigilance looking around. Their bodies are tense, heart rates up, blood pressures up.

The bloods and the big muscles of the body is if they were getting ready to get in a fight or to run.

But it’s no longer functional and it becomes dysfunctional and leads to anxiety, depression, sets the stage for heart disease, for immune disorders.

So it’s really important to begin by giving people this experience of relaxation, this antidote to fight or flight so that they can experience for themselves.

And after the first 10, 12 minutes, 80% of people and even in a war zone will notice a change. They feel calmer. The room is brighter. Their heart rate is less.

Their shoulders are more relaxed. And some gatherings outside of war zones, 90, 95% of people will notice a change.

So that change is important in itself. It’s important to be calmer. I mean, that’s good.

But beyond that, it’s important to know that you’re creating an antidote and preventing, contributing to preventing the kind of heart disease that develops if your blood pressure stays up and your heart rate stays up and your cholesterol stays up.

But it’s also crucially important for people to have the experience of doing something to help themselves.

Because when we’re traumatized, regardless of the cause, we often feel, well, I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless and hopeless.

And simply doing soft belly breathing gives some help, helps relieve tension, decreases muscle pain, lowers heart rate, makes people feel calmer.

But it also conveys hope because you have the direct experience of doing something that’s of benefit and the way our minds operate.

We know if we can do one thing to help ourselves, our mind understands that it’s possible to do many things to help ourselves.

So that’s the first technique we teach. The second is an active meditation.

There are, in the sort of canon of the world’s meditations, there are thousands of kinds of meditation, but they can be divided roughly into three groups.

Concentrated meditation, quiet, focusing on the breath, focusing on the sound, repetitive prayers or technically concentrated meditations.

Like illa-lahu illa-lah, shmaya-sroyal, hail-meray, harry-christinari-christinari, all of those are prayers, but also are concentrated meditations.

Second kind, mindfulness meditation, becoming aware of thoughts, feelings and sensations as they arise, and bringing that attitude of mindfulness into everything that we do.

The third kind, and those two kinds of quiet meditation are enormously powerful, especially in providing the antidote to fight or flight and stress, to building up parts of our brain and the frontal cortex that have been destroyed or diminished by stress, the decreasing activity and decreasing the size of a portion of the brain called the amygdala.

The amygdala and the emotional brain, responsible for fear and anger.

So there’s on a very basic biological level, this kind of concentrated meditation or mindfulness meditation helps trauma damage brains to reintegrate themselves, to rebuild themselves, to come back into balance.

Expressive meditations are really important, and they have been until very recently almost totally neglected in modern therapies for psychological trauma.

Now recent years, we’re beginning to rediscover what indigenous people have always known. Indigenous people, most parts of the world, understand that young men go off to fight a war when they come back from the war that they’re really not fit for civilized company, because not only are they in fight or flight, but they’re often have been in situations that are overwhelming and inescapable.

And so they’ve shut themselves down, and you can see it, you can see it in American vets who come back, bodies are all tense, shut in on themselves.

But in addition, there is a psychological numbing, accompanied by the output of endorphins, endogenous morphine-like substances, which noose and a withdrawal, a social withdrawal.

So this is called the freeze response, and fight or flight we’ve been paying attention to for just about a hundred years, fight or flight in humans.

Freeze response, we’ve become aware of more recently. Once again, it is potentially a life-saving response.

So I used to do a lot of farm, and I had a bunch of cats. And the cats, when they would catch a mouse, obviously being its jaws, and the mouse would be hanging there like this, and the cat would be shaking it like this, and the mouse was all limp.

And sometimes the cat, very proud of the mouse, but got bored, because the mouse wasn’t fighting back. And so the cat, you can see the cat put this limp little mousey down on the ground, and mousey went, shaker self off, run off to the mouse hole.

She went into the freeze response to protect herself, to protect her life. Otherwise the cat would have eaten her up.

But a frozen mouse, trauma frozen mouse, is not so interesting. So sometimes the mouse survives playing possum as another example.

In human beings we go into a freeze response when the trauma is overwhelming and inescapable.

So anybody who’s watching us who’s worked with severely abused and neglected kids, they are often in that kind of freeze response. I don’t know if you may have seen.

The kids are all shut down, faces are almost expressionless, it’s hard to connect with them. They’ve gone into a freeze response, because it protected them in a situation that was overwhelming. Somebody was beating them up all the time, and inescapable. They’re a little kid, they can’t be out on their own.

Same thing happens in wartime to combatants and also civilians. Same thing happens in some of these climate related disasters. People just shut down, they freeze.

I don’t know, and then often they have to be rescued, because they’re unable to get away. They can’t do anything to protect themselves from the ongoing onslaught of water or fire or whatever it is.

So we get people up, and just like Mousy, we get them shaking, and they begin to shake their bodies and let loose some of that tension.

And sometimes the emotions that have been buried to protect themselves, the freeze response protects you not only against physical onslaught, but against the emotional pain that we experience.

So some of those emotions will come up, and then we pause for a couple minutes, and then put on music that’s energizing and inspiring.

And people can read about that in transforming trauma. The scripts both for the self-beliebriving and for the shaking and dancing, and for 20 other techniques are there in the order in which we use them in our trainings.

And this is so powerful, and I want to tell those who are watching, it’s just a little story about this.

My center for mind body medicine team and I were working in Haiti, maybe eight, nine, ten months after the earthquake. We started work right after the earthquake.

But we were continuing to work, and we went to the nursing school to do a workshop with about a hundred of the nursing students.

Now during the earthquake, this is 2010 earthquake, 90 nursing students were killed, a building collapsed, and the people who were killed are 17, 18, 19-year-old girls who were nursing students.

The ones who came to the workshop, the nursing students who came, were the biological sisters and the dear friends of those 90 girls who had been killed.

And I talked to them about trauma, and I talked to them about fight or flight. We did self-beliebriving, they’re very polite, they were interested.

Then I got them up for shaking and dancing, and I got them all up, and there’s other old standing up, shaking their bodies within two minutes, half the girls are weeping.

Just tears coming down, then there’s a pause more, girls are crying. Then I put on Bob Marley’s three little birds, and the girls are dancing, the girls are crying, they’re laughing, they’re dancing.

Afterwards, I say, I always say, what was that like for you? And the girl said, this is the first time we have cried since the earthquake.

We’re nursing students, we have to be strong, we have to be strong for our little brothers and sisters, for our grandparents, and for our parents.

We’ve not allowed ourselves to cry, and it felt so good to cry, to finally let go. And we haven’t let ourselves laugh, because we’re supposed to be serious, we’re supposed to take care of other people.

And we didn’t feel what was right for us to have a good time. And it felt so great to laugh, and then one of the girls stood up, and she pointed a finger at me, and she said, and we love to dance, we’re Haitian girls, we love to dance, and we love Bob, Bob Marley.

But we are Haitian girls, and we have very good Haitian music, Jim. It’s great, she’s back to being a teenage girl again, right?

She gave me the business, and so it’s fantastic, give me Haitian music from now on, and Haiti me use Haitian music and do.

But that’s what can happen, and this is in three hours with these girls, just giving them the experience of slow, deep, soft belly breathing, and giving them the experience of an expressive meditation.

So it’s one of emphasized for people who are watching us listening to us, really bring, explore, bringing expressive meditations in your life.

They can be very helpful, not only with the kind of trauma that these girls experience, but with any of the challenges that come up in our lives.

We can let go, instead of holding on to that tension, and being in that state of either fight or flight or freeze, we can let go, we can open up, and we can kind of come back to ourselves and come back in balance.

And once we’re in psychological and physiological balance, every other aspect of trauma healing works so much better.

We think more clearly, we’re more available to our emotions. We can use our imagination.

We can use not only self-care techniques, which is primarily what I’m teaching in transforming trauma and what we’re doing at the center for my body medicine, but any kind of psychotherapy, any kind of work that one is doing, it just goes so much easier, and is so much more rewarding once we’re in balance, because we’re not distracted and anxious.

We’re even shut down, we’re available, and all of our faculties can be brought to bear.

It’s absolutely wonderful, yeah, and I love that both last night and in the book, you talk about the power of the healing circle.

And this is something we’re seeing emerge with some of our other guests on the podcast who are doing healing work in their own ways in the community’s women circles, other kind of healing circles.

Throughout this country and elsewhere, and I’m very, I’m struck, I’ve experienced myself therapy and EMDR to overcome some childhood traumas that I experienced.

And when Dr Anita Sanchez was on our podcast, we talked with her about some of the techniques and therapies that she’s experienced.

And some of this has been very effective in a solo environment or with one therapist, but what can happen in the group has a whole other magic and quality to it. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Sure, I think a group should be the experiences in groups learning in groups should be a fundamental part of treating all trauma.

And in some ways, a fundamental part of our lives, we evolved as a species in small groups. That’s built into our DNA.

And now, particularly in a country like the United States, we’ve become so fragmented. I think I mentioned last night, you read Alexis de Tocqueville on America in the middle of the 19th century.

Well, he was amazed by his all the groups that people came together and all the groups of mutual support and help and church groups and secular groups.

We don’t have so much of that anymore. That it is known to Aboriginal people and it is clear in traditional societies that when there is a serious problem, it is, yes, there can be things done individually.

But there needs to be a reestablishing, not only of internal homeostasis, internal balance, but a balance between the individual, the social, the natural and the spiritual world, and the group is the vehicle for them.

And there is a response that’s been studied some by Shelley Taylor at UCLA called the 10-in-befriend response that happens when people gather in a group.

She studied it in the females of a variety of animal species and in women. And what happens when there is stress and trauma, the fighter flight response is mitigated and mediated by a response that she called 10-in-befriend.

And that is a response that’s biological and social, biological, and in addition to putting out stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, that in that 10-in-befriend response, women, our females of species, put out estrogen, put out endorphins, put out oxytocin, the bonding hormone.

And they will gather together to take care of the more vulnerable members of the herd or of the social group of human beings.

So this is, and I’m sure, although it has not been studied, I’m sure we’ve observed the same thing in men.

So when we work with Georgetown medical students, their stress hormones, who medical students have participated in these mind body skills groups, their stress hormones don’t go up at exam time the way other students stress hormones do.

And the guys too, it’s not just the women.

So the group is really important. One of the things that happens when we’re traumatized is that parts of our brain that make it easy to connect with other people shut down.

So I’ve been in situations like in the middle of a war where people will say, I feel so alone, even though tens of thousands of people around them have suffered the same calamity.

The feeling inside, and this is biologically based, I’m alone with my pain and trauma.

And the group is a vital part of healing.

And so people come into the group, and if it’s a group, especially if it’s a group that allows people to participate as they want, that doesn’t force them to talk about trauma.

So they feel safe. We help them feel safe on a biological level with the techniques, the soft belly breathing and the shaking and dancing and we hope them to feel safe because we say we’re not going to pressure you to talk.

We’re going to go around the circle, but if you don’t want to talk to say, I pass and we’ll come back to you later.

Nobody’s going to analyze you. Nobody’s going to interpret. Nobody’s going to interrupt. Nobody’s going to try to fix you.

We’re giving you an opportunity to learn about yourself, to bring yourself into balance,

to expand your capacity, to solve problems and look at situations in a new way.

So what happens is even the most shy and fearful person, once they begin to trust the group,

they’re able to share their, they’re able to say, oh, you went through that too.

My God, I thought you were so much bigger and stronger than I was or smarter or whatever,

but you experience this too. And so everybody gets a sense that they’re, that this is not

an anomaly. This is no matter of psychopathology. This is that the response is a, of trauma is a

natural response to it, if you will, an unnatural situation, or a reasonable response to an

unreasonable kind of stress that can come to any or indeed all of us. So the group is really important.

And the other thing that’s really important is that you cannot, I mean, even if you wanted to

work with people individually, which I think obviously individual work can be very helpful,

I feel that group work ought to be part of every trauma healing program. And part of the

prevention and treatment of chronic illness as well. But beyond that, just what’s it, one of the

things is that you cannot work on large scale with individuals, even for what’s possible,

truly, or desirable. So we’re in Ukraine, we’re trying to, you know, create a program for millions

of people. Of course, it has to be with groups. Yeah. Yeah, I’d like to ask clearly the work

you and your team are doing in places afflicted by acute warfare, Bosnia, Kosovo, Gaza,

Haiti, Israel, refugees of Syria. Ukraine, there’s so much work you guys are doing there. And meanwhile,

we’re seeing through our ambassador network and others engaged in the deep healing work under

undergoing and communities all around the world, a need for more tools and resources in these

group circles. And I’m curious, in addition to getting your book, obviously, and folks can go to

cmbm.org, we’ll have all the links and the show notes to get the books. Sure.

In addition to the way you’re outlining this, are there ways organizations can connect with your

organization in order to further proliferate the framework? Yeah, absolutely. And incidentally,

the book is translated into Ukrainian and Spanish and Portuguese and a number of other languages.

So it’s available, you know, available in your bookstores or Amazon or through our website.

Please, take a look at the cmbm website, cmcharliemeri.meri.org. And we have a section on the website

for people who are interested in being trained in our model for people who are interested in

partnerships, potentially making partnerships with other groups. We do our work in Ukraine.

We’re partnering with a group called Pact and there they’ve been active in Ukraine for 40 years

and they’re working on public health in eight different regions of Ukraine. And we’re partnering

with them and we’re working through them and the people we’re training are the Ukrainians who

are part of that network. So we welcome people looking at our website and reaching out to us.

If you really want to experience what we’re about, obviously read the book, look at the

demonstrations on the website, read about our work in many places, but come to the training.

We have online trainings, a couple sequences of online trainings every year.

We’re doing training in Ukraine in person in a couple weeks. We’re starting a training

of 150 community leaders from these eight regions in Ukraine. And we welcome partnerships both

for Ukraine and one of the ways that we start programs here in the United States and other parts

of the world is somebody reaches out to us. We have a program in South Sudan, a wonderful human

rights lawyer. Anya Thao came to our training because she was overwhelmed by the level of trauma,

hundreds of thousands of people killed including members of her own family in South Sudan.

She loved our training. She felt it restored her to life. She went back. She brought our training

to a craft’s collaborative of about I think 90 women in the collaborative. She brought our

training to them. She brought me to South Sudan where I worked with some of the leaders of the

war in parties and the women, the national women’s group, trying to help people come together.

So that’s the way we began. And so we welcome people reaching out to us.

I’m looking at my notes from your talk last night, Dr. Gordon, because you had mentioned something

about the importance or the effect efficacy of crafting when especially women and folks in

communities who have experienced collective trauma gather before diving right into the

overtly healing process. This construction of crafts, this making of things, working with our

hands together in groups seems to set the stage in a way for that magical healing to occur.

Yeah, no, it’s true. And in Ukraine, what we’re seeing is there are all kinds of groups that have

come together. Some are groups of sort of activity and crafts groups for women. Some are

these sort of men gathering together to do active physical labor in their community.

So the idea in Ukraine, everybody in Ukraine recognizes that they’re all traumatized.

There’s nobody seems to have any doubt about that. So they’re open to our approach. They’re already

coming together to help one another. It’s really quite inspiring what’s happening in terms of

a whole country. So people in the far west of the country feel connected to people hundreds and

hundreds of miles away in the far east. They know people. Family members have fought on the front

there. Of somebody they went to school or college with lives in in carcade and they they live in

the far west in Levif, but they know each other and they feel what’s happening. So everybody is

affected and pretty much everybody that we’ve run across wants not only to help themselves but wants

to help other people. So that spirit of coming together for a variety of reasons is one that helps

to catalyze people coming together for the kind of healing that we’re offering. That’s absolutely

beautiful. Let me take a minute to remind our audience. This is the YonEarth Community podcast.

I’m your host Aaron William Perry and today we’re visiting the Dr. James Gordon the author of

Transforming Trauma the Path to Hope and Healing and the founder and executive director of the

Center for Mind Body Medicine. You can connect with Dr. Gordon at James Gordon MD.com. You can go to

cmdm.org as we mentioned on Twitter. You’ve got both at Mind Body Med and at Dr. James Gordon and

we’ll again we’ll include all of us in the show notes. Additionally we’re going to include links

to some video interviews with Dr. Gordon on CNN and 60 minutes and also links to articles he’s

written in USA Today and Katie Cork media. Of course, want to take a quick minute to thank our sponsors

who make our podcast series possible. This includes Chelsea Green Publishing. By the way, you can get a

35% discount on all their books and audiobooks using the code Y-O-E-3-5 and on our YonEarth

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of the others we’re collaborating with which includes Purium, Walei Waters, Earth Coast Productions,

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jars of the Walei Waters biodynamically grown hemp infused aroma therapy salts which are

very helpful for pain relief or relaxation stress relief even help folks with sleep and so on.

So those are all options and again thanks to everybody making this podcast series

possible and the work we’re doing generally at the Y-O-E-3 community. And Jim, as I’ve been

thinking today preparing for our interview at LE Wiesel’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning has

come to mind and you know I read that I went to a Jesuit high school down in Denver and at the time

in Novitiate who now is a fairly senior Jesuit leader at Georgetown, Father Mark Bosco,

was teaching theology and other things and it was in one of those classes that we read Man’s

Search for Meaning. This is about a man of course who has gone through the horrors of the Holocaust

and somehow emerged not completely shattered psychologically speaking and indeed ended up writing

a book that I understand been a beacon of hope for a lot of others out there and you know we’ve

had also on the show Dr. Robert Clawinger who’s worked in the realm of genetics and understanding

psychological profiles and why some of us are perhaps able or more inclined to be in service to

others and some may be not as much and I’m really curious both when you’re fundraising for your

organization and seeking support by the way called action people if you are able please support

Dr. Gordon’s organization you know and you’re also working internationally and it seems you know

some people care a lot and want to help others maybe it’s not a matter of concern. What’s the

difference? What’s going on there? Well let me start by saying the LE Wiesel is also an example

of survival in the midst of the Holocaust. Man’s Search for Meaning’s Victor Frankl. I give him mixed up.

Yeah I know I can understand why you would. Thank you for pointing out. That book was very important

to me as well and what Frankl said is that love even love is what brought him through this terrible

experience and a couple other things observing other people and wanting to help them. So an

interest in the world and a commitment to helping other people who were in the concentration camp

and stay in touch with that force of love. Dante said love which moves the sun and all the other

stars that’s how the divine comedy ends with that and that’s how our work begins. It really it

is a work of love but it’s a work of love and in doing this work in helping other people were

also helping ourselves. We’re feeling I mean I’m fulfilling my purpose here on this planet

by helping other people. Now it’s true that some people seem to be more predisposed to helping

other people some people are more predisposed than others and one of the fascinating things and

I talk about this in transforming trauma is that when people have been traumatized and they’re

able to move through and beyond trauma and achieve what psychologists are now calling post-traumatic

growth automatically they begin to want to help other people and we’ve seen that over and over again

not only in the therapist we train but when we do groups in the community we’re working in

in a prison in Indiana and the women and the men we’re training not only the social workers

and counselors and the correctional officers we have a separate training for the prisoners

and they’re learning how to do this work and as they begin to deal with some of the horrendous

trauma they’ve suffered they find fulfillment in helping other prisoners so these are some of these

people will tell you I’m the most selfish person on the planet but now something has shifted

and I’ve seen this over the years so I think it is possible for just about everybody to locate

that place in our hearts we are built we are you know genetically programmed to be social

to care for one another to be responsible for one another we’ve gotten out of touch with it but we

can get back in touch with that so it’s yes there are some people who are you know seem to be

born to help other people but all of us if we can get rid of some of the fears and some of the

social conditioning and some of the some of the the urges to be totally independent and strong

all the time and take care of yourself if we can move beyond through that and beyond it we discover

a far greater richness if we’re helping other people so I think that’s possible for everybody

um absolutely beautiful such a beautiful vision and understanding I want to I want to ask you a

geopolitical question and I know it’s not necessarily directly in the center of the focus of your

work but of course we’ve had Douglas Gardner on and we’ve had General Wesley Clark who of course

was the supreme commander of NATO at one point and uh this situation that we’re seeing in Ukraine

reminds many of us of the early stage aggressions we saw leading up to the second world war for

example yes and there are often many sides or perspectives in a conflict and I’ve

kept an open mind and heart speaking with those who might be a little more inclined to see

Putin’s or a nationalist Russian perspective on all of this that said from my perspective it’s

clear that we’re dealing with very dangerous and illegal aggression um you know compounded by

the dangers of modern weaponry etc and meanwhile we also have this strange ingredient in the mix

of mercenary armies like Wagner Wagner and just in the last few days boy has that taken a strange

turn and I’m just curious not to get us off track from the healing work that you’re doing

what would you make of all of this and and especially like what has happened in the last week or so

with the Wagner organization well you know I think that for me the comparison with the run up to

the second world wars very very obvious very clear and it’s painfully clear to Ukrainians

and so this feels a little like a little like the Spanish civil war to me you know we’re fascism

and democracy we’re really the just before the second world war began which is one of the reasons

it felt so important to be there to be on the side of democracy I think the uh what we’re seeing

in Russia is an almost almost total control of the population in which uh there as we’ve all seen

there’s suppression of dissent suppression of the media poisoning of political opponents

people I talk with with Russians who’ve escaped I talk with uh journalists who had to leave

Russia and they see the propaganda is all pervasive it is I mean we’ve 1984 you and you’ll have

a sense of what the Russian people are subjected to and together with the propagandaizing there is

the punishment I mean I know if you say if you call it a war rather than a whatever was something

military what was it called a special military action or something like that you might be

sent to prison for simply saying that so this tremendous fear I mean it’s the fear of

it’s it’s the fear that was there in Zara’s times with the check out with the secret police

this fear that was there in Stalinist times is back again with Putin and people who can’t take it

or leave it hundreds of thousands of people have left the country to escape being drafted being

forced to the front but also just to get out of there because there is no freedom now

the I was in Russia the only time I was in Russia I don’t be and certainly not an expert I was

there during Glossnost and I was there at a time when people were feeling a certain level of freedom

the kids were sitting on the streets of Moscow playing Beatles songs and just hanging out

and it was but also I could see fundamentalist and authoritarian elements rising and still a lot

of the country where then was in the control of oligarchs of various kinds gangsters of various

kinds so it’s a funny place I mean my ancestors of both Ukrainian and Russian I’m Jewish

my ancestors fled Ukraine in the 1890s to keep from being annihilated in the pogroms

but I think you know I don’t really quite know how to understand what’s going on now because I

don’t know enough about the internal workings but it’s you know clear reasonably clear that

that Putin was using pogosen for his own for his own ends and he thought he had control of

everything the head of the Wagner group yeah and you know I think those pictures of Putin during

the pandemic are very telling you see the picture of him at the head of a table and the next person

is 25 feet away at the other end of the table he’s living in this world and I worked

back in the days when I was a researcher at IMH I studied religious groups new religions cults

of various kinds and the same kind of authoritarian mentality was present in many of those groups

and the closed circle around the leader that just kept feeding back to him what he wanted to hear

and I think that’s been going on and in turn he is he and the closed circle are feeding the whole

population what they want them to hear so it’s a kind of echo chamber and there’s little room

for change or descent so I think to some degree Putin was taken by surprise he didn’t it didn’t occur

and you know it should have occurred to them here’s this you know power crazed guy with this

militia who’s sending tens of thousands of people to their death we know that this is maybe not

maybe it could be dangerous even to him but I think he thought at some level that he was

invulnerable that he controlled it all and this shows us and apparently according to what I’ve read

has shown the Russians he’s not invulnerable and so I don’t know what’s going to happen

I certainly don’t think Purgosan is a better alternative than Putin I mean it’s bad enough with

Putin with his finger on the nuclear button and I don’t think that that’s going to happen I don’t

think Purgosan I mean clearly Purgosan backed off and Putin backed off too and Putin is going to be

you know a bit ashamed because he’s had to back down he’s as you know he walks around bare

chested and you know I’m a tough guy but he backed down to somebody with 25,000 troops he’s got

hundreds and hundreds of thousands and he you know he said I’m gonna you know I’m gonna

I’m gonna punish him he’s a traitor and then he said no I’m giving him honesty so I don’t

know we’ll see there’s been there’s a kind of destabilization I’m hoping it will open up channels

for people to begin to look at the situation a little bit more thoughtfully to have the opportunity

to do that the maybe the repression will ease off and I admire so much those Russian dissidents

I think those people in the media the the the the why am I forgetting their name the girl what are

they call themselves the girls oh is he right yeah pussy yeah pussy yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah they’re

fantastic yes and there are other people like that in Russia too the artists and journalists and

others who were artists and journalists and others who were who were standing up but it’s getting

harder and harder it’s getting harder and harder and stand up because the penalties are so great

we just got a little bunch here in the camera nature we’re both on camera still doctor Gordon

okay great so you know I don’t know we’ll see what happens on going back to your crane and

at a couple weeks we’re doing our training program with people from these eight regions

and I hope I expect to be going back and we want to be working on a wider and we’re looking

for funding to work with veterans who’ve been disabled by the war disabled by trauma by

amputations tens of thousands of amputees we’re looking for funding to work with women and girls

who’ve been horribly traumatized so I expect to be part of that world for a long time at an

ongoing basis and I’m also interested when the time is right and going to Russia because the Russian

people living in this kind of dictatorship is definitely very bad for one’s mental health

and as people realize what’s happened you know my son when all my son was killed in this war

when people here in the United States people who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan

are wondering now why did I go what was that all about I met a when I was in Ukraine on my

actually a member first or second trip I met a German special forces officer who had served

in Afghanistan and Iraq with the NATO troops and he was training Ukrainian troops on the front line

and he and I took a there lots of long bus rides in Ukraine we took a 15 hour bus ride

from should only take about seven hours but took 15 hours from Levy back to Warsaw and we talked

and he said to me this this is why I became a soldier to fight for democracy to fight for freedom

I was betrayed in Afghanistan I was betrayed in Iraq that’s not why I signed up to do this work here

I feel that I’m helping helping people to preserve themselves to preserve democracy to preserve

a society that which people care about each other and I think that’s true that’s that’s what’s

going on and that’s what we’re contributing to with our work with trauma healing absolutely

beautiful and Dr Gordon you know thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me and with

us today I know you’ve got a busy schedule on your on your stay here in Colorado and you’ve got

another meeting to get to in a few minutes and so I want to be mindful of that and probably move

toward wrapping up but before we conclude if there’s anything else you’d like to say to our audience

anything else and I just want to once again encourage folks to get a copy of your book transforming

trauma and I got to say looking at this everybody that this is one that is useful and helpful probably

to most all of us so please do check this out thank you and yeah floor is yours well the only

thing I mean there are there are many other things I could say but what comes to my mind now

is that this process of healing trauma is important to all of us important to all of us and

looking at the places where we’ve been wounded looking at the blind spots we may have had to

we may have had to adopt we may have had to shut ourselves off from difficult parts of our lives

that the process of growth is open to everyone and that we at the center for mind body medicine were

we were a healing community and a community of healers and we welcome you to participate in our

activities we have online groups for people to come together with a sliding scale so they’re

just about anybody can afford to be part of these groups we have training programs and we’re

always looking for people to become part of the team that goes to these places around the world

people who come through our training programs and are committed to helping other people and have

the time and the skills and the willingness to do it and I want to emphasize that anyone can do

this work that my book is written so that anybody who can read a book or even listen to it you don’t

have to be able to even read to be able to use the skills to help yourself and that as you start

using these skills and others to help yourself the time may come when you feel comfortable and it

feels right and you’re not being pushy and intrusive to share them with others people you love

or people in your community and if you’re interested in doing this on a sort of larger scale and

in a more formal way or training program can equip you to do this regardless of what your background

is we’ve worked with veterans who are peer counselors for other veterans teenagers who are working

with other teenagers you don’t have to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist or social worker

we can teach you how to do this work and if you like we can teach you how to bring this work

back to your community so this is this is a I’m so glad to be with you here Aaron and to be

able to issue this invitation to your community great thank you doctor Gordon now welcome thank you

for having me thank you bye everybody the YonEarth community stewardship and sustainability

podcast series is hosted by Aaron William Perry offer thought leader and executive consultant

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