The ancient roots of meditation, inquiry, and therapeutic tremoring

 

If you have no patience for mindfulness and you’re too fidgety to meditate, a new approach to tackling stress has just reached the UK’s most fashionable yoga mats — and it might be for you.

The Times, Too fidgety to meditate? Try TRE — the new tension-release technique

The article makes a very good point. TRE can be very helpful for people who are fidgety and wish to release tension. And it is relatively new as a formalized approach.

At the same time, therapeutic tremoring is ancient. It’s built into us and all mammals through evolution. It allowed our ancestors to survive by giving them a way to naturally and effortlessly release tension and trauma. It goes back far beyond humanity and to our pre/non-human ancestors.

Basic meditation is ancient too. If we take it as noticing and allowing what’s happening in our sense fields, it may be a part of life for most beings and may have been for most of our human and pre/non-human ancestors. In a more formalized form, it’s found in many ancient cultures.

To a lesser degree, this is true for inquiry. At least for humans, and to some degree, it’s natural to notice what the mind does and notice some basic dynamics and patterns. And this too was developed and formalized in some ancient cultures.

The basic approaches for us to heal and discover who and what we are ancient. They have ancient roots, sometimes stretching back to pre/non-human ancestors. They are, in their essence, simple. And they bring us back to simplicity, although it’s a more informed and mature simplicity.

To go back to the news article: presenting TRE as a relaxation technique for those who are unable or unwilling to sit still in conventional meditation practice is a good selling point. But it does misrepresent meditation and, to some extent, therapeutic tremoring.

Meditation isn’t really about relaxing. (The basic approach is designed to help us notice and discovering and finding ourselves as what we already are.) It may well bring up whatever we have put a lid on in ourselves, and it’s anything but relaxing when that comes up. And although TRE practitioners (like myself) are trained to go slow with clients, it can still bring up old buried emotional material. When it happens, it’s good since it’s part of a deeper healing process. But it’s not necessarily comfortable and it’s not relaxing.

When we embark on exploring meditation, therapeutic tremoring, or something similar, it’s good if we are aware of these possibilities, that we cannot really put the lid back on when it has gone off, and decide if we are committed to going through all of this. There may be no going back.

In the big picture, all of this is good. It’s part of our healing and awakening journey.

At the same time, if a meditation- or TRE-instructor wants to be responsible, they need to inform the students about this, and perhaps also do an evaluation for trauma and adapt their approach accordingly.

Of course, for some of us, it doesn’t seem a choice. We just seem to know we have to do it. It calls us.

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