Biology of Trauma® Podcast
With Dr. Aimie Apigian MD, MS, MPH
Episode 70

A Blueprint for Healing: Lessons from a Pioneer in Mind-Body Medicine

“People who are dealing with stored trauma are often so shut down. I think long term the consequences of the freeze response and the consequences of being in situations that are overwhelming and inescapable are often enough repeated. Or they’re prolonged over a period of time that causes a freeze response which can have the most serious biological consequence. Partly, because it's so disabling, and it removes us from the capacity to feel. When it's prolonged over time it shuts us off from life, our own life, and the life all around us.”
~ Dr. James Gordon

A Blueprint for Healing: Lessons from a Pioneer in Mind-Body Medicine

Stored trauma impacts both the mind and body, intertwining our psychology and biology. 

This is why I emphasize the need for an integrated approach for trauma. Addressing only one aspect of stored trauma will not lead to complete transformation. 

I always say trauma work is like pulling weeds! If you don’t get to the root cause, these things will continue to be distressing. 

This journey requires a comprehensive program that involves the integration of the mind and body.


The Spectrum of Healing

I describe a sort of spectrum for working to heal our stored trauma. To understand where to go to feel safe is to know where you are within this spectrum.

This ranges from merely “getting by” to the possibility of profound transformation and feeling secure in your own body for once. 

At the transformative end of the spectrum, the healing journey enables individuals to become better, kinder, more balanced, and healthier than they have ever been. This happens both physically and mentally.

However, this level of transformation does not occur by chance. 

It takes intentional effort and a comprehensive approach that addresses three essential elements: our bodies, our thoughts/beliefs, and our biology.

Below are some topics I cover in this podcast episode with Dr. James Gordon. An integrated approach to this spectrum of the trauma healing journey.  


The Three Elements: Our bodies, beliefs and biology. 

1. Body: Somatic Work

One element is the body, which I refer to as “somatic work.” 

This involves connecting with and feeling the body, rather than living solely in the mind. 

By integrating somatic practices with parts work, individuals can access and process the physical manifestations of trauma stored in their bodies. 

They first have to feel safe enough to do so. 


2. Beliefs: Parts Work

Another element pertains to thoughts and beliefs, which Dr. James Gordon and I address in the above podcast through internal family systems and parts work. 

This approach recognizes the different “parts” within an individual and aims to create harmony and integration among them.

I often use a bus analogy to explain parts work, where each part is like a passenger on the bus. The bus represents the whole self, while each passenger/part has its own role and purpose in the journey. 

There are protector parts that try to keep the bus safe by avoiding perceived dangers, firefighter parts that try to put out emotional fires, and manager parts that try to keep everything organized and running smoothly (and others).

We get to create a seat on our bus for all our parts.  We become the leader rather than letting any one of them drive our bus.  

By understanding each part’s role, we can support each part, learn to communicate and negotiate with each parts and experience internal peace.  

3. Biology: Stored Trauma in our Bodies

The element I focus most of my work on is biology, as stored trauma profoundly impacts our body’s physiology. 

Dr. Gordon and I explain that even with extensive somatic and parts work, individuals may reach a ceiling in their healing journey if they do not address the biological aspects of trauma. 

What’s more, addressing biology can open up greater capacity for somatic and parts work. The body will become more available and less reactive as we safely guide it through this new territory. 


The Three P’s: A Framework for Effective Trauma Healing

I introduce the concept of the “three P’s” of an essential framework for a comprehensive trauma healing approach:

1. Practical

The healing process must be practical, translating into tangible applications in daily life. It cannot remain solely theoretical or studied; it must be lived and experienced.


2. Personal

Every individual has a unique biology, epigenetics, and life experiences. 

A one-size-fits-all template will not be effective. The healing approach must be personalized to each person’s specific needs and responses to be impactful. 


3. EmPowering

Trauma often leaves individuals feeling powerless and victimized.

A comprehensive healing program must be empowering. This enables individuals to take ownership and control over their bodies, experiences, and healing journeys!


The Wisdom of Dr. James Gordon: A Pioneer in Mind-Body Medicine

Dr. James Gordon, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, shares his insights on the biological and psychological impacts of stored trauma. 

He describes the image of individuals “tied in knots,” physically, emotionally, and socially uncomfortable, responding in ways that feel alien and overwhelming.

I think we can all relate to this feeling. So how do we feel a little less like a tied knot? 


The Freeze Response: A Biological Consequence of Stored Trauma

Dr. Gordon identifies the freeze response as one of the most severe biological consequences of stored trauma in our bodies.

This response is a protective mechanism on that bus in overwhelming and seemingly inescapable situations.

When prolonged, this response can be disabling. It can disconnect individuals from their capacity to feel and connect with healing resources.


The Power of Community in Healing our Stored Trauma 

Both Dr. Gordon and I emphasize the importance of community in the healing process. 

Dr. Gordon highlights the indigenous understanding of stored trauma as a universal human experience. He states this is where healing occurs; through shared experiences and connections within a group.

We all love to feel validated in our experiences. 

In his own work, Dr. Gordon facilitates group sessions that allow individuals to recognize that they are not alone in their experiences, fostering a sense of relatability, connection and safety. 


Transformation: The Possibility Beyond Healing

Dr. Gordon shares inspiring stories of individuals who have experienced profound transformation after discovering stored trauma in their bodies. 

These stories illustrate the possibility of not only reducing symptoms and feeling stronger in your body. 

They also illustrate experiencing a level of personal growth, meaning, and purpose that may have seemed unimaginable before recognizing the root cause of these issues.


The Key Principles of this Podcast

1. Realizing Our Innate Potential

Dr. Gordon believes that each individual possesses enormous potential to understand, help themselves, and connect with others. 

His approach aims to provide tools for individuals to realize this potential. Through this, others have also achieved balance, discovered their true selves, and found greater meaning and purpose in their lives.


2. Healing Through Helping Others

A central theme in Dr. Gordon’s work is the idea that healing occurs not only through receiving support but also through providing it. 

As individuals share their learned techniques and experiences with others, they continue their healing process. This mutual support creates a healing community that fosters wholeness for both the helpers and the helped.


3. Beginning with Self-Care

Equally as important, Dr. Gordon also emphasizes the importance of beginning the healing journey with self-care. 

In his trainings, the first five days are dedicated solely to teaching individuals self-care techniques. This allows them to experience the benefits and challenges firsthand before sharing the practices with others.


The Transformative Power of Integrative Trauma Healing

Dr. Gordon’s insights, and mine, highlight the transformative potential of an integrative, holistic approach to trauma healing. 

By addressing the mind, body, and biology simultaneously, individuals can go so much further than just coping with stored trauma. They can achieve a level of personal growth, balance, and wholeness that may have seemed unattainable before.

This journey requires intentionality, practical application, personalization, and a sense of empowerment. 

It also benefits greatly from the support and connection of a healing community. Shared experiences and mutual understanding foster a deeper sense of relatability and purpose.

Ultimately, the holistic path to healing trauma as our biology offers the possibility of becoming not just empowered but transformed – to a kinder, more balanced, and healthier version of oneself. With a renewed sense of meaning and contribution to the world.

Human beings have an innate capacity for growth and transformation, even in the face of the most profound experiences. 

Individuals can embark on a journey that transcends symptom reduction and leads to a profound sense of wholeness and purpose. They can do this by embracing integrative, evidence-based approaches that honor the mind-body connection and the power of community.

Where can you find this? In my Foundational Journey course, I teach the basics to these essential steps to gain the resiliency to explore things on a deeper level. 

In summary, the key principles of a holistic approach to trauma healing include:

  1. Integration of mind, body, and biology
  2. Practical, personalized, and empowering techniques
  3. The healing power of community and shared experiences
  4. Realization of innate potential for self-understanding and connection
  5. Healing through helping others and mutual support
  6. Prioritizing self-care and embodied practices
  7. Embracing the possibility of profound personal transformation


By embracing these principles, individuals can embark on a journey that alleviates the symptoms of trauma as it becomes our biology. Additionally, this unlocks ones full potential for growth, meaning, and contribution to the world around them.

Human beings are resilient, and the capacity for transformation exists within each of us. 

With intentionality, support, and a holistic approach, the path towards healing can lead to a profound sense of wholeness and purpose. Transforming trauma into a catalyst for personal growth and a positive impact.

As always, to your health and healing, 

Dr. Aimie

Here’s what you will learn:

  • What are the Three P’s of Trauma Healing
  • What kind of foundation do we need to create? 
  • What we will experience if we work on healing ourselves first
  • How does realizing trauma is a Universal Experience help us with our healing
  • How does the work we are doing create the possibility of Transformation and Post-Traumatic Growth
  • Why we need to be intentional in our own healing
  • How trauma can give us a greater purpose

Helpful Links:

  • Dr. James Gordon’s websiteDr. Gordon’s website shares some thought-provoking perspectives on mind-body health and provides a variety of resources that some people may find helpful. However, I will advise verifying any medical or treatment claims with your own physician. 
  • Foundational Journey I view mind-body connections and mindfulness as important aspects of health and well-being. Developing self-awareness, managing stress, and cultivating presence can lay a strong foundation for all and you can start here!

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By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having.  This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Trauma Healing Accelerated, any guests or contributors to The Biology of Trauma® podcast, or any employees, associates, or affiliates of Trauma Healing Accelerated be responsible for damages arising from the use of the podcast.