Healing Trauma through the Body

By Gabriela De Golia, Awaken Everyday Blog Editor

“I am often asked, ‘aren’t we all trauma survivors?’ My answer is yes. And all our traumas are recorded by the nervous system.”

A Master Teacher at Copper Beech Institute who works as a somatic practitioner and contemplative practice facilitator, Sandrine Harris works at the nexus of healing, movement, and the body. A trauma survivor herself, Sandrine trained as a dancer from a young age, and then went on to study and become certified in several modalities for working with the mind and body together. She brings a rare physicality to her teachings.

“One’s practice is a process of continuously unfurling, of opening the pathways to learn more about oneself and find a deeper understanding of our own difficulties and joys,” she reflects.

“Coming from a movement background, I am interested in exploring this through the body. I simultaneously look at habits in the mind and body, working with every level of who we are -- psychologically, emotionally, and physically -- through mindful movement and trauma-informed mindfulness meditation.”

Sandrine teaching a movement-based practice

Sandrine teaching a movement-based practice

Sandrine’s work has touched the lives of many, including individuals from vulnerable communities. From young survivors of sex trafficking to those in recovery, her unique offerings and expertise have helped numerous individuals continue to heal from their traumas and given them tools to transform their lives for the better.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without Sandrine in my life. She opened up doors I didn’t know existed, like being OK with myself, knowing I’m worth it, that my past doesn’t define me, and that there are healthy ways to handle stressors,” shared a former resident of Hanson House, a residential treatment center for women in recovery.

Participants of Sandrine’s Men’s Trauma Group who were recently released from incarceration and are navigating recovery

Participants of Sandrine’s Men’s Trauma Group who were recently released from incarceration and are navigating recovery

Sandrine’s teachings are not done in a one-size-fits-all model. Instead, she caters her offerings to the people she’s interacting with and the particular bodies and traumas they’re working with.

“No matter who is in the room,” shares Sandrine, “or what the setting is, I’m bringing tools to tailor my teaching experience to the people I’m working with. We’re all going through the same human experience of suffering, and I’m interested in using several modalities to improve well-being and resiliency.”

Not only has Sandrine transformed the lives of many through her work, she regularly shares how grateful she is for doing community outreach work through Copper Beech Institute.

“Copper Beech Institute is a space in which I can offer of myself and grow within myself. I am always learning in the room, even if I am facilitating. We all learn from each other, and opening to new possibilities through the presence of others sharing this path, makes me forever a student. I learn immensely when I facilitate.”

Women from Hanson House practicing movement exercises outdoors

Women from Hanson House practicing movement exercises outdoors

Sandrine also finds Copper Beech Institute’s approach to be very special in how it intentionally engages with marginalized communities through outreach programs.

“It is so heartening that, through Copper Beech Institute, there’s the possibility of really sharing time with people who could use mindfulness skills due to their struggles,” said Sandrine. “Being given the opportunity to work with vulnerable populations through the Institute has busted my heart wide open, in a good way.”

“Going into vulnerable communities is different from the rest of my teaching; it’s so heart-driven and tender, and I feel truly of service when I am often meeting individuals at one of the most difficult moments of their lives. These are people I’d never meet otherwise, yet here we are sharing this precious human experience in a very real, gritty way. I’m glad Copper Beech Institute enables us to be in that space together.”

Awaken Everyday Blog
Writing to inspire mindfulness, contemplation and wholesome living, by Copper Beech master teachers, students and contributors.

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