I am no expert on the Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), but I thought I would nevertheless say a few words about it.
Main points. TRE are simple exercises designed to invite the natural trembling and shaking mechanism of the body. This in turn helps release stored and chronic tension, including from deep (e.g. psoas) and smaller (e.g. along the spine) muscles otherwise not so easily reached. It brings about an immediate experience of relaxation and well-being, and a longer term healing and reorganization at all levels – mental, emotional and physical. The organism shakes out tension and trauma, and shakes itself into a more healthy, relaxed, resilient and natural state.
What’s happening for me. I began with TRE about six months ago. In the beginning, the shaking was mostly in my legs, then including my hips, then my lower back, then my shoulders, and it’s now moving up to the neck and head area. I am still holding back a bit there, but there is gradually a more free shaking even in the neck and head area. There has been a unfreezing/thawing at both physical and emotional levels, with periods of laughter, crying, anger, regrets and much more, all as part of a natural healing and reorganization process. The shaking became quite easily accessible after just a few weeks, and I do it against a wall, lying down, sitting or standing. When I notice it wants to happen, I allow it unless there is a temporary reason not to (even then I may allow some gentle shaking, for instance in the legs).
Practical pointers. When I shake, I find a way to do it that is as relaxed and comfortable as possible. I may listen to a podcast or just notice what’s happening and being with the experience. Sometimes, I bring a stressful situation/thought to mind and shake, inviting the tension around it to release. I find that shaking with my back against the wall helps me get in touch with my strength, while shaking while lying on my back helps relaxation. I have also experienced how touch can aid the process, either through a deepening comfort and relaxation, or through inviting the shaking to move into new areas of the body (although I tend to trust it will do it on its own and in its own time).
Tension, blood flow, sensations and thoughts. David Berceli talks about something that makes a great deal of sense to me: When there is tension in the body, there is reduced blood flow which in turn gives fewer bodily sensations, and this makes it easier for attention to get caught up in the content of stories. We go “up in the head” as some say, or may even space out. As this tension is released, there is an increase in blood flow and sensations, and this makes it easier for our attention to anchor itself in the body. There is a sense of relaxed fullness, here and now.
Fuel symptoms. Berceli also talks about how a lowering of the chronic tension level of the body tends to alleviate or eliminate a range of symptoms, and this too makes a great deal of sense to me. The stored or chronic tension of the body functions as “fuel” for a range of symptoms, including anxiety, obsessions, defensiveness, anger, over eating, procrastination, disassociation and so on. As the tension level is reduced, these symptoms tend to be less strong as well – they may even fall away.
Go into and release tension and trauma. Our body is designed to easily go into stress and trauma, and also to easily release this and even grown and learn from the experience (post-traumatic growth). If we are not familiar with how to release tension and trauma – through for instance neurogenic tremors – we naturally avoid and fear situations that may trigger stress, tension and trauma. And yet, as we get familiar with how to release and get to trust the process, we are willing to and may even look forward to going into these same situations, if it is unavoidable or serves a purpose – for instance helping others. We know how to release it, so it’s OK or even more than OK as we may well learn and grow from the experience.
Natural intelligence of the body. The tremors – type and location – is guided by the organism. I notice for myself that there is an intelligence in how the shaking changes and unfolds over time – within a session and over sessions. And as I continue to watch this, there is a deepening trust in the body. It guides the process. It knows how to righten itself. My job is just to allow it to happen, and perhaps – for the sake of learning and being a student of the organism – watch with curiosity and interest.
Inherent, available and free. There are several reasons why I am drawn to TRE and neurogenic tremors. Here are a few of them: Neurogenic tremors are inherent in our organism and they and the intelligence behind the process has evolved through millions and billions of years of evolution. Neurogenic tremors are available at any time, and especially so after they have been released from the lid of cultural expectations and our own beliefs about tremors. It’s 100% natural and free. And it’s a joy to share it with others and watch them unthaw and come alive – as I do.
Fellowship with animals and all life. Through the neurogenic tremors, I experience a deep connection with this organism, fellow animals (who also shake), innumerable generations of ancestors through which neurogenic tremors and the intelligence guiding the process has evolved, and all life and the Earth as a whole. As my organism finds a more natural state, a deepening sense of trust and belonging is naturally revealed.
Shaking outside of TRE. Shaking happens in a range of natural settings. Animals naturally shake and release tension after a stressful event. And we do it after an accident, child birth, or any other stressful event. We may have been taught to not shake (from adopting beliefs about it), but the tendency and impulse to shake is there. Nervous movements may also be an expression of that same impulse to shake out tension. Shaking is also known from religious or spiritual settings, including kriyas in yoga and the shaking of the Shakers and Quakers. Again, this may be a way to release tension and heal and reorganize the organism at several levels.
Resources. For more on TRE, see David Berceli’s book The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process: Transcend Your Toughest Times, the Trauma Prevention website, and David Berceli’s YouTube channel.
Something on kriyas. The following are a few quotes on that one special case of shaking called kriyas. Their function is the same as for all neurogenic tremors, to release energy and bring about healing and reorganization.
Shaking can be described in easy terms as the nervous system repairing itself. You might remind students that when your body begins to shake it’s a GOOD thing, your confirmation that the Yoga is working! http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/yoga-forum/212593-shaking.html
What are kriyas?
Kriyas, literally ”activities”, are spontaneous movements that occur after kundalini awakening. These include bodily activities such as trembling, shaking and spontaneous yoga postures; vocal activities such as yelling, or spontaneous chanting and mental activities such as visions. These kriyas eliminate the blocks to kundalini rising within the spine or central channel. http://www.ilovemyculture.com/kriyas.htm
A short while later, I began to experience little muscle twitches all over my body. These were painless but also worrisome to me. They occurred sporadically throughout the day and night. Soon after this development, the twitches became outright muscle contractions. These were deep and achy. [….]
In order for high vibration energy to flow smoothly through our systems, we need to be enlarged and unobstructed. This expansion and clearing takes place on many levels: physically, mentally, psychologically, emotionally.
The activated Kundalini produces kriyas when it comes up against inner blockage. This blockage may be in the form of stored physical or emotional trauma, limiting beliefs and attitudes, or psychic debris from collective toxins, past lives, astral dimensions, and other arcane sources.
The externally evident kriyas, visible as uncontrolled movements of the body, signify a great inner healing process. It’s unnecessary for us to be consciously aware of the exact nature of our blockages. As the shakti engages these blockages, it works to dissolve them.
While this dissolution is occurring, lots of previously frozen, unconscious material becomes available to us. This may arise as thoughts, physical sensations, or emotions. At this stage, we often feel physically sick and emotionally unstable. Without warning or apparent provocation, we plunge into fits of rage or chasms of grief or despair.
These erratic and overwhelming feelings are simply ancient energies which were locked within us. As the shakti empties us of these trapped energies, we temporarily relive them. This also happens on the physical level. Old injuries and illnesses are temporarily re-experienced. Although it can be painful and difficult to tolerate these physical and emotional states, they are not harmful.
release: release stored/chronic tension, including from deep and/or smaller muscles
heal: heal at any/all levels – mental, emotional, physical
reorganize: reorganize at all levels – mental, emotional, physical
resilience: flow of stress/trauma and release of stress/trauma + post-traumatic growth
what’s happening for me
started in legs and hips, then moved up, included shoulders/neck
unthawing at a physical and emotional level – laughter, crying, regrets etc. (healing, reorganizing)
now, whole body (still hold back a bit in the neck/head area), more fluid, easily accessible – do it at wall, lying down, sitting, standing, notice it wants to happen on its own so allow it when appropriate
either relax, or can bring stressful situation to mind, then shake, help release tension around it
– against wall, in touch with power
– on the floor, relaxing
– touch – can help relax + ease the path for the shaking
release of tension/trauma
blood flow: tension = reduced blood flow = fever sensations = caught up in thoughts – o – release tension/trauma = increased blood flow = more sensations = more in touch with body
energy: takes energy to hold tension, made available when released
fuel symptoms: also, stored tension/trauma acts as “fuel” for symptoms (reactive, anxiety, quick to anger, obsessive, disassociated etc.), so when released the symptoms are reduced or go away
resilience: when low tension/trauma baseline + know can release new tension/trauma, then less afraid to go into it, resilience (evolution built into us mechanisms for stress/trauma and release of stress/trauma + posttraumatic growth)
natural intelligence of the body/organism
guides the process, just watch
shaking outside of TRE
animals – e.g. polar bear video
shock – accidents, after child birth
nervous movements – precursor to fuller release through shaking, stopped before goes that far (beliefs about shaking)
yoga – kriyas
religious – shakers, quakers etc.
- releasing tension/trauma
- reliving emotions/memories/beliefs from when it first happened, wasn’t released back then
- releasing tension
- sometimes release of emotions/memories/beliefs from back then – surfacing to be seen, felt, loved, released
- and also digesting, learning from it, restructuring – sobering process
- back to wall – more in touch with my power
- laying down – more letting go
- something surface or is brought to mind – from past, future, present, something stressful, unresolved
- stay with it, shake – release tension around it
- can also happen in “following life”, process work etc.
- goes both ways – (a) TRE may release energies/emotions/memories/beliefs to be seen, felt, loved, and (b) something may surface that TRE can help release – help release the tension/stress behind it
- energy made available
- a great deal of energy is “stored” or used to maintain chronic tension, stored trauma
- through shaking, released, made available
- may be experiened as “other” at first, perhaps even interpreted as undesired/unpleasant – for instance as a strong energy keeping me awake at night
- then, part of “me”, the wholeness/fullness of who i am
- different forms of shaking outside of TRE
- yoga, meditation – shaking, movements, energy meet/release blocks – kriyas
- after accidents, trauma – shake to release tension, stress, trauma
- nervous shaking of the leg etc. – beginning of neurogenic tremors
- perhaps even shaking in religious context – quakers, shakers, charismatic groups etc.
- all may be various forms of the body releasing tension, blocks etc
- db – ok to go into trauma, b/c know how to release it, not afraid to go into it
- what’s been happening for me
- started in legs/hips – felt stiff, especially tail bone, now soft and smooth in whole hip area
- then started shaking in upper body, shoulders – released great deal of energy and emotions, didn’t sleep for several days
- a lot of regret surfacing, opportunities i let go of
- unthawing frozen areas, hibernation
- laughter, crying, sadness, anger etc. – whole spectrum of emotions surfacing at different times
- digesting, learning, restructuring – new ways of being