Merlina the cat moves to release tension

 

This beatiful cat feels some stress when her person breathes as she does in this video, and Merlina moves to release tension.

She reacts to her distress through wriggling and stretching, and it also helps her release some of the tension she creates in herself when she hears the breathing sound. Based on experience, the next step for her is to either leave or bite her person.

There are many ways we can release tension. We can cry, scream, tremble, shake, sing, and move and stretch as in the video. For us humans, even talking about it can help.

Exploring this is a part of TRE — Tension & Trauma Release Exercises, which uses the natural trembling mechanism in it body to release tension.

Trauma and awakening

 

These days, there seems to more awareness of the different connections between trauma and awakening.

There are people more experienced with this than me. But I have some experience in working with people with trauma and from exploring the connections between trauma and awakening in my own life, so I’ll say a few words about it here.

What are some types of trauma?

Trauma comes in different forms. Acute trauma is what most of us think of when we hear the word – from violence, catastrophes, war, loss. There is trauma from witnessing others experience and living with trauma. There is developmental trauma which comes from being in an ongoing challenging situation, often in childhood.

We can also expand the definition and say that any emotional issue is a form of trauma, and any belief and identification is a form of trauma. It comes from and – depending on how we relate to it – may create more trauma.

What is trauma?

It’s often explained as how our system deals with a scary and overwhelming experience we feel we cannot deal with. The basic elements of trauma are strong stressful beliefs and identities and corresponding muscle contractions (to hold the beliefs and identities in place). And trauma behavior span a wide range including anger, anxiety, hopelessness, and compulsions and addictions.

What role does trauma play before awakening?

Trauma can be part of our drive for healing and awakening. We may wish for healing and/or awakening to find relief from the pain of trauma. Whether we chose mainly a healing or awakening path, or a combination, depends on our inclinations and what we have available.

If we already are on an awakening path, it can be very helpful to include an emphasis on emotional healing.

If we are on an exclusive healing path and are happy with it, there is not really any need to include an emphasis on awakening. Although some of the tools for awakening can help deepen the healing, and glimpses and tastes of awakening can certainly help with the healing.

What about trauma following – or within – awakening?

Awakening involves an opening of our heart and mind – and even the body. And at some point, this can include an opening to whatever unprocessed emotional material is in us.

This often happens in smaller doses and over time. We have emotional issues triggered, are unable to ignore it as before, and have to find a way to relate to what comes up that’s healing in itself and allows what surfaces to find healing.

Sometimes – and perhaps especially if there is stronger trauma in the system – it happens in a more dramatic way. When this happens, it can feel confusing, overwhelming, and unbearable. (We can see this as a certain type of dark night in the awakening process.)

How do we deal with overwhelming trauma?

The best is to get help from someone experienced in working with trauma. Find someone you trust, are comfortable with, and respect where you are and don’t push you. If the person also understands awakening, then it’s even better.

The main guideline is patience, kindness, working with the body, and using nature.

I have written other articles on this topic so won’t go into it too much here.

How do healing and awakening go together?

Emotional healing helps living from the awakening. The fewer and lighter emotional issues, the less likely we are to be hijacked back into separation consciousness when they are triggered. (Although if it happens, it shows us what’s left in us to explore and find healing for.)

Awakening gives a new context for healing emotional issues. The healing can go deeper and the process may be a little easier.

What are some tools that invite in both healing and awakening?

There are several. Some of the ones I have found helpful – and that I keep mentioning here – are different forms of inquiry like The Work, Living Inquiries, and the Big Mind process. Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). Heart-centered practices like ho’oponopono, tonglen, and Metta. And energy work like Vortex Healing.

Note: As usual, take anything you read – anywhere – with a pinch of salt. It may be different for you.

Photo by Adrien Aletti on Unsplash

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Supporting the natural healing and awakening process

 

Most approaches to healing and awakening support the natural processes of healing and awakening that seem inherent to us and life.

What are some of the characteristics of the natural healing and awakening process?

For healing emotional issues, one essential is to be brutally honest about our stressful and emotional-issue creating thoughts. Is it really true? What’s the grain of truth in it? What’s more true than the initial thought? Another is to meet the feelings, allow them, perhaps befriend them, perhaps notice them as physical sensations.

For awakening, the essence is perhaps to notice that all content of experience comes and goes, and yet something doesn’t come and go. What experiences happens within and as doesn’t come and go. Perhaps that’s more what we are than any content of experience – like this human self, or any me or I?

These processes often happen organically, although it can take time and the process can get stuck for a while. That’s why some people have developed more structured ways to support these processes.

If the structured approaches are done with sincerity and under guidance of someone with experience, skills, insights, and experience in working through things on their own, then they often work. (If we try to “push” our system to conform to whatever ideas we have about healing or awakening, it can – in the worst case – create more emotional issues and stronger separation consciousness.)

In general, structural approaches to emotional healing mimic the natural processes of a mind that’s already relatively healed – and one that operates from some sincerity, clarity, insight, and experience – when it relates to and invites in healing for parts of itself.

For awakening, they mimic the processes of an already mostly awake mind to awaken less awake parts of itself.

Here are a few examples:

Emotional healing often involves a shift in how we relate to ourselves and the world. It involves coming to terms with, find peace with, and befriending different aspects of reality. Inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries) helps us see through stressful beliefs and consciously be a little more aligned with reality. Heart-centered practices like all-inclusive gratitude practices helps us reorient and befriend. Therapeutic tremoring (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises) releases tension out of the body which makes befriending a little easier. Inquiry practices (Big Mind process, Headless experiments) that gives us a glimpse of what we are also invites a shift and reorientation in how we relate to the different aspects of reality.

Emotional healing also involves finding healing for specific emotional issues, and much of what I wrote in the previous section also applies here. Emotional issues are held in place by – among other things – beliefs and identifications, and inquiry can help us see through these. Heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’oponopono) can help us shift out of the fear-based core of many emotional issues. Therapeutic tremoring helps release the tension out of the body that otherwise fuels emotional issues and stress. Noticing what we are (Big Mind, Headless experiments) can support emotional issues in resolving within this new context.

Awakening is a natural process, although one that doesn’t come to conscious fruition in most people’s lives. It’s supported by most of the traditional spiritual practices. Basic meditation (notice + allow) helps us notice what we are, and helps what we are notice itself. Heart-centered approaches helps us reorient in the way we naturally do in the context of awakening. Inquiry helps us see what’s already more true for us and align more consciously with reality. Inquiry practices like the Big Mind process and Headless experiments gives us a taste of what we are, helps what we are notice itself, and help us explore how to live from this context.

Since divine or energy healing is the approach I mostly explore these days, I’ll say a few words about it separately, and focusing on Vortex Healing which I am most familiar with:

Vortex Healing (VH) also supports the natural healing and awakening processes. Although it’s one of the approaches I have found that’s the most versatile and powerful, and I know very well it works from many experiences channeling for others and receiving, I still don’t have a clear sense of exactly how it works apart from the basics. It uses divine energy and consciousness to invite the body and mind to heal, and to remove energetic structures that allows the divine to temporarily and locally take itself to be separate – and this opens for awakening.

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How do we find peace?

 

There are many ways to find peace. Here are some approaches I have found helpful.

We can create a certain life. A life that feels right, nurturing, and meaningful. A life where we have nurturing relationships. Meaningful work and activities. A life aligned with our values and what’s important to us. A part of this is to heal and mend – as far as possible – any challenging relationships.

We can invite in healing. We can invite in healing for parts of us not in peace. We can invite in healing for trauma and emotional issues.

We can reorient. We can learn to befriend our experience as it is, including the experience of lack of peace (!). In this process, we also learn to befriend (more of) the world as it is.

We can find ourselves (more) as our human wholeness. As we find ourselves as the wholeness of who we are as a human being, there is a sense of groundedness and peace even as life and thoughts and emotions goes on. This is an ongoing process, perhaps including body-centered mindfulness and projection work, and the peace is of a different kind.

We can explore our need for peace. If we feel a neediness around peace, what’s going on? Do we have stressful beliefs about living without peace? Do we have identities rubbing up against the reality of sometimes lack of peace? Is there a trauma or emotional issue telling us we need peace? Examining this and find some resolution for whatever may be behind a need for peace can, in itself, help us find more peace.

It’s stressful to feel we need peace and fight with a world that doesn’t always give us the conditions we may think we need for peace. And it is, perhaps ironically, more peaceful to find peace with life as it is.

We can live with (more) integrity. Living with integrity gives us a sense of peace, even when life is challenging. Living with integrity means to clarify and follow what’s important to us, and to live with some sincerity and honesty – especially towards ourselves.

We can follow our own inner guidance. Following our inner guidance – in smaller and bigger things – connects us with an inner quiet and peace, even when life is stormy. We can learn to follow our inner guidance through experience. And it’s also helpful to notice when we connect with our inner guidance and don’t follow it, and examine what fears and stressful beliefs in us made it difficult for us to follow it.

We can connect with the larger whole. This larger whole comes in three related forms. One is the larger whole of who we are as a human being (mentioned above). Another is the larger whole of the Earth and the universe. We can connect with this through Earth-centered practices, the Universe Story, and more. The third is what we are.

We can explore and get to know what we are. What we are is what our experience happens within and as. As we learn to find ourselves as that, there is a different kind of peace. The peace of being like the sky that clouds, storms, clear weather and anything else passes through.

Each of these is an ongoing process and exploration. It’s not a place we arrive at for good and don’t have to pay attention to again.

The kind of peace we find in each of these ways is somewhat different. In a sense, they complement each other.

As for how to find these types of peace, there are many approaches and I’ll mention a few here.

To heal, I have found parts (subpersonality) work, inquiry, heart-centered practices, TRE, Vortex Healing and more to be helpful. To reorient, I have found ho’oponopno, tonglen, and all-inclusive gratitude practice to be helpful. To find myself as my human wholeness, I have found body-centered mindfulness (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema) and projection work (inquiry, shadow work) helpful. To explore any neediness around peace, I have found inquiry to be helpful. To live more with integrity, it’s helpful to explore what in me (usually a fear, stressful belief, trauma) takes me away from living with integrity in any specific situation. To follow my inner guidance, it’s helpful to practice in smaller situations and likewise explore what in me (fears etc.) takes me away from it. To connect with the larger whole of the Earth and Universe, it’s helpful to use the Practices to Reconnect (Joanna Macy), Universe Story, and similar approaches. To explore what we are, I have found Headless experiments, Living Inquiries, and the Big Mind process to be helpful.

Photo: Flowers from Zürich ca. 2013.

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.

Therapeutic tremoring is not enough in itself

 

I love therapeutic tremoring. It’s as natural as it can be. It reminds me that I am a mammal and am part of nature. It allows the inherent wisdom in my system to take over and I (the conscious me) can take the back seat. It allows deep tension to release out of my body. It tones and relaxes the tissues of my body. It frees up energy from being bound up in contracting muscles.

And yet, it’s not sufficient in itself. For mammals in the wild, it may be and probably often is sufficient. But it doesn’t seem sufficient for us mammals called humans who live in a (often pretty screwed up) culture and were not taught or encouraged to naturally use therapeutic tremoring from early childhood on.

We need to also approach it from the mind side. Tension is created by stressful beliefs and identifications. Releasing tension out of the body certainly improves our well being and how our body functions, and it can even lessen the stress connected with these beliefs and identifications. But it doesn’t resolve the causes of the tension and underlying stress in our life and body.

To do that, we need to bring the stressful stories we have about ourselves, the world, and certain situations into awareness. We need to find them, investigate them, and through that allow them to find a resolution. We can do this on our own, with friends or confidantes, with a therapist, and through a range of different modalities.

How do we (re)learn therapeutic tremoring? The approach I am most familiar with, and find very helpful, is Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE).

And what modalities can we use to help resolve the causes of stress and tension? We have to find one or more that works for us (that we like, resonate with, and get results from), and it helps to have a good guide, at least at first. Again, for me, inquiry complements therapeutic tremoring very well. As do energy healing (Vortex Healing) and heart-centered practices.

Note: Some call this neurogenic tremoring, and that’s accurate although a little too broad. There are many types of neurogenic tremors (for instance shivering to warm up our tissue and body). Therapeutic tremoring is the tremoring built into our body through evolution specifically to release tension and stress, including tension and stress from traumatic experiences.

Conversely, tremoring is a little too specific! When the body releases tension in this way, it can do a lot more than just tremble. We may stretch (often on one side of the body, and then symmetrically on the other side), make sounds, cry, laugh, and so on.

How I bring therapeutic trembling into daily life

 

I thought I would write a few words about how I bring therapeutic trembling (tremoring) into my daily life.

First, I should say that I learned Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) several years ago and am a certified practitioner. That means I have done the full sequence of TRE exercises many times, and still do now and then. What I am going to write about is not meant as a replacement for doing these exercises. Even after doing this for several years, I find that when I do the full set of exercises the sessions go deeper.

That said, I also find it very helpful to do a bit of spontaneous trembling at times through the day. I may sit in a chair and allow my upper body to shake and tremble. I may stand and allow my whole body to shake, tremble, and bounce. I sometimes lie down (on the floor or a bed) and tremble in the usual TRE floor position (sometimes also while watching a movie or listening to a podcast or audiobook).

When I do this, I intentionally start the trembling (I tense some muscles and intentionally tremble) and then allow my body to take over. It’s a bit like starting a motor. From there on, there is a mix of intentionally bringing the trembling to different areas of the body (again, through tensing certain muscles) and allowing the body to respond and take over. Relatively quickly, the two – intention and allowing the body to take over – become one.

I should also mention that I write about trembling (or tremoring) since that’s the usual TRE language. But what happens is often more than that. Our system releases tension and that can happen through spontaneous stretching (often first on one side and then symmetrically on the other), bouncing, laughing, crying, voice and more.

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All-inclusive practices for healing and awakening

 
Another revisit: I tend to be drawn to practices that invite in healing and awakening. It seems a more efficient approach since my time and energy is limited. And the two go hand in hand, one supports the other. I also tend to be drawn to practices that are all-inclusive in different ways. Here are some examples:

All-inclusive gratitude practice. Write a (daily) list of things in your life you are easily grateful for, or not, and start each sentence with: I am grateful for… This opens the mind for that possibility, and there is a natural curiosity for what there may be to be grateful for in situations we don’t particularly like or enjoy. (See the book “Make Miracles in Forty Days”.)

Ho’oponopono and tonglen. Helps me change my relationship to myself, others, situations, and life in general. It helps me befriend reality and life. Nothing is left out.

Notice and allow. Notice what’s here in experience, whatever it is (sensations, thoughts, sounds, smells, taste), allow it as it is, notice it’s already allowed as is, and rest with it. (Natural rest, shikantaza, just sitting.)

Inquire into anything. Any stressful belief or identity. Anything you are curious about. Anything that seems real. Anything that seems solid and substantial. (I tend to use The Work, Living Inquiries, or the Big Mind process.)

And a couple of other approaches that also have their way of being all-inclusive

Vortex Healing can be used for emotional issues, identifications, physical issues, relationships, situations, and places. As a practitioner, it works for healing and awakening. (And is the most effective approach to both I have found so far, although I still value and use the other approaches mentioned here and some more.)

Therapeutic tremoring (TRE) can be used to release any tension and trauma out of the body. Over time, this can have profound effects for our well-being and healing.

Why am I drawn to these all-inclusive practices? Mainly because reality is one. So it makes sense to find some gratitude to all experiences, or shift my relationship to everything (befriending), or inquire into any stressful belief, or question anything that seems real and true, or notice and rest with whatever experience is here whatever it may be. Note: See other articles on this site for more detailed descriptions of these practices, or do an online search.

Inquiry, TRE, Vortex Healing etc. vs talk therapy

 

Talk therapy can be helpful in some situations, depending on the client, issue, therapist, and timing. In the best case, it can give us some sense of being seen and understood. That what we experience is normal. And it can give us some helpful insights and pointers.

For me, I generally find other approaches far more helpful.

In my case, it’s the ones I tend to write about here: Ho’oponopno to change my relationship to myself, others, a situation, or the world. Tonglen for the same. Inquiry for releasing beliefs (The Work) or charges out of an issue (Living Inquiries). Therapeutic trembling to release tension and trauma out of the body, and even out of specific issues (TRE). Vortex Healing for a current situation, emotional issues or identifications, and even for physical issues. All supported by training a more stable attention (samatha), and also noticing and allowing what’s here (Natural Rest, Shikantaza).

And for me, all of that supported by nature. A relatively healthy diet. Some physical activity. Nurturing of nurturing relationships and activities. And whatever else seems helpful.

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Chronic fatigue and therapeutic tremoring

 

From my own experience and that of others, it seems that therapeutic tremoring (TRE) can be very helpful for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Since it releases tension out of the system, it can help improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and lead to more comfort and well being in general.

Equally important, therapeutic trembling may allow energy tied up in tension to release and thus become available to the (other) needs of the system.

Both help with everyday functioning and both may support the system in healing itself.

There are some TRE precautions for people with CFS. Mainly, do the tremoring for only short periods at first, and follow the signals of your system. As your system gets more familiar with it, and you get more familiar with how it responds, you can increase the frequency and length of the tremoring sessions.

Several notes:

I use the word “system” here instead of body, mind, or even bodymind. I could say “bodymind system” since I am referring to the whole of the human being, body, mind, and all. When I use the word “tension” that similarly refer to tension as having body and mind components.

When I say “trembling” or “tremoring” it’s a lot more than just trembling. It can be any kind of movement (autonomous, not created through intention) including “butterflying” of the legs, slow rhythmical movements, shaking, subtle vibrations, stretching, jumping, sounds and more. All ways the bodymind – outside of our conscious awareness and intention – invites tension to release when it’s allowed and invited to do so.

And when I put TRE in parenthesis after “therapeutic trembling” it’s because TRE – Tension and Trauma Release Exercises – is perhaps the simplest way to allow therapeutic trembling to happen for us modern people. Therapeutic trembling is built into us through evolution, but in our modern culture, we have learned to suppress it. We may have learned it’s a sign of weakness, or embarrassing, or that it means we are out of control (and that’s bad), or we don’t understand what it’s for, or we just have a general suspicion of the inherent wisdom of the body, or we simply think there is no inherent wisdom in the body. For whatever reason, we have learned to suppress it, so we need to unlearn and allow the trembling to happen. And TRE is a good tool for just that.

Also, I should say that although it seems that therapeutic trembling can significantly help people with CFS, the extent will vary between people. It does require sticking to it for a long period of time, over months and years (although the progress will be noticeable from early on). And the underlying medical conditions may vary between people since CFS is an exclusion diagnosis.

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Therapeutic trembling: sitting, standing, horizontal

 

From the beginning, I enjoyed exploring therapeutic trembling in different positions. They each allow different things to happen.

When I sit, it frees my upper body to move, tremble, and shake. (Often the shoulders.)

When I lie down, it frees up my legs and pelvis to shake. This can also move up the body.

And when I stand free from a wall, the movements move unhindered through my whole body and especially vertically.

I should mention that when I say “therapeutic trembling” it’s, in my case, in the context of Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). That’s how I learned it and what I still use to guide the process.

 

TRE helped me go from back pain to a healthy back

 

I have had scoliosis in my lower back since my teens. And I used to have periods of very strong back pain. I would typically wake up in the morning, perhaps every few months, and be unable to move for the rest of the day.

Some years ago, I discovered therapeutic tremoring. It’s the tremoring that our body initiates on it’s own, and most of us are familiar with it through seeing it in other mammals. For instance, dogs may tremble after stress. They shake out the stress after the stressful situation is over. It’s something that all mammals do and it’s built into us through evolution.

The reason most of us humans do not do it, especially in our modern culture, is that we have learned – from an early age – to stop it whenever it is about to start. We don’t understand it, or think it’s a sign of weakness. So we have learned to prevent it from happening.

Therapeutic trembling one of the greatest gifts given to us by evolution and our ancestors. It’s a mechanism that releases both physical and mental stress and tension. And it gives us a chance to get back to a healthy and balanced state, both in our body and mind.

Since we have learned to stop it, we need and initial structure to allow the body to tremble again. And TRE – Tension and Trauma Release Exercises – provides just such a structure. It’s a set of simple exercises which initiates and allows the therapeutic trembling.

When I started with TRE some years ago, my back was initially very sore. All the tense muscles there received a good massage and I experienced it as soreness for a while. Then, as much of the tension was released and the muscles (and fascia) returned to a more healthy state, the soreness went away and so did the recurrent back pain. Now, my lower back feels amazingly healthy and supple.

As with anything else I write about here, please contact me for more information – including who to contact if you would like to try these approaches out for yourself.

Why do these approaches work on so many issues?

 

When I talk about the approaches I use to healing and awakening, I am often aware that it sometimes can sound too good to be true. They seem to work on a wide range of issues and work pretty well – at least if used with skill and over some time.

So why do they work on such a wide range of issues? The simple answer is that they tend to address underlying issues and dynamics. They go below the surface, so they work on a wide range of surface manifestations.

And are they too good to be true? Yes and no. As mentioned above, they tend to work well if used with skill and over time. But it does take work. And if an issue is entrenched, it can take time to clear it.

Here are some examples:

TRE – Tension & Trauma Release Exercises. Therapeutic trembling releases tension out of the body and mind, and that has a wide range of effects. It tends to reduce anxiety, depression, and compulsions. It improves sleep. It can give us a different and more healthy experience of ourselves and the world, and improve our relationship to ourselves, others, and the world.

Inquiry. In inquiry, we examine our beliefs and identifications. Since we often have a layer of beliefs and identifications on top of how we perceive ourselves, others, and life, we can address just about any issue with inquiry. Inquiry can help us release whatever charge is there in our experience of anything. And that means that this too can reduce anxiety, depression, compulsions, and more, especially in relation to something specific.

Vortex Healing. Any issue has a consciousness and energy side. Inquiry tends to approach something from the consciousness side and has an effect on the energy side. Vortex Healing approaches it from the energy side and has an effect on the consciousness side. Vortex Healing can work on emotional or physical issues, relationships, and situations. The deeper reason is that Vortex Healing is divine energy guided by divine consciousness, and since everything is already the divine, only the divine can allow for a deep and thorough healing and clearing of something.

Heart approaches. Ho’oponopono, tonglen, heart prayer, and all-inclusive gratitude practices tend to change our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world. This can be deeply healing and also aligns us with awakening.

My inclination is to seek out approaches that are effective and multi-purpose. Approaches that can be used to work on a wide range of issues, and also invite in healing, awakening, and embodiment. The ones I have mentioned above are among the most powerful I have found so far. (TRE tends to work mostly on healing, although it’s an excellent way to support embodiment of whatever awakening is here.)

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Talking about the healing modalities I use

 

It can be challenging to talk about healing modalities that are quite different from what most people are familiar with.

Most of the approaches I use fall into this category:

Breema bodywork looks similar to Thai massage or partner yoga, but the experience of and intention behind is markedly different. It’s deeply nourishing and helps us find ourselves as the fullness and wholeness that’s always here and always healthy, even as our body and mind may have ailments.

Inquiry can look similar to cognitive therapy, but it goes far deeper is far more all-inclusive than typical cognitive therapy. Living Inquiries is an exploration of how our mind creates its own experiences, including the stressful and painful ones. We get to explore the basic building blocks (images, words, sensations), and through separating and spending time with each one, it’s difficult for the mind to put it together again in a believable way. We also go back in time to the origins and roots of the issue, and we look at the different branches holding it in place.

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) involves trembling and shaking, rocking and stretching, and sometimes also sounds. This is something we are all familiar with, but in TRE these all happen spontaneously and are initiated and guided by the body. We are just along for the ride. (Although we can stop it at any time, if we wish.) There is also a deepening, and a deep relaxation and sense of nourishment that happens as we do TRE regularly over time.

Vortex Healing may look similar to energy healing modalities such as Reiki, acupuncture, or chigong. It’s true it’s an energy healing modality, and yet it’s different to most other approaches in that it uses divine energy guided by divine intelligence. This is the intelligence of life or Spirit itself, so it already knows the problems and the way out of them. As a practitioner, I use my intention to support the healing, I partially guide and partially am guided through the healing session, and I allow my system to be used as a channel for the energy needed for the healing. Where other modalities often work more in a general way, Vortex Healing is especially effective when we work on very specific issues – sometimes the more specific and detailed the better. As a practitioner, Vortex Healing also speeds up and guides my own awakening and embodiment process. It’s very much an intimate partnership with the divine.

And, of course, most people are interested in if and how they can be helped, not the specific modalities. The modalities are just tools. While it’s easy to become fascinated with the tools as a practitioner, clients have a different priority. And rightly so. They are interested in what can be done for them. Can you help me with what I need help with?

In my experience, any issue can be helped by using these tools: Physical and mental health. Psychological and behavioral issues. Relationships. Awakening and embodiment. If there is a problem, there is a way out of it. And as usual, the degree we can be helped depends on many factors, mainly the willingness for change and the energy and time put into it.

Samuel Bercholz: A guided tour of hell

 

I went to an excellent talk with Samuel Bercholz and Pema Namdol Thaye at the Asian Art Museum earlier today. They are the author and artist of A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir. I can highly recommend the book. (Samuel Bercholz also happens to be the founder of the Shambala publishing company. I must have read hundreds of their books.)

A few things about hell. It’s created by our own mind, and more specifically by our beliefs and identifications. Beliefs and identifications are at odds with reality, and create unease and sometimes suffering. This hell is with us as long as we have these beliefs and identifications, whether in this human life or between incarnations. We create our own hell.

What’s the remedy? It’s partly to heal our very human trauma and wounds. And more to the point, to heal our relationship with our experience. To befriend our experience, independent of it’s content. To find kindness and even love for it. And to recognize our experience as awakeness and even love. And this goes for all of our experience, including other people, the world, ourselves, different parts of ourselves, and our own discomfort, pain, and suffering.

My own experience with hellish states. It’s a good reminder for myself. As I have written about before, I have gone through a difficult few years. Following a nondual opening that lasted a few months, I was plunged into chronic fatigue (CFS) and later PTSD. Adyashanti talks about how an awakening or opening can “take the lid” off anything suppressed or avoided in our mind, and that’s what happened to me. There was no chance of holding it back or pushing it away.

A huge amount of unprocessed material surfaced over the following months and years, and it led to PTSD and several months where I hardly slept and all I could do was walk in the woods in Ski, Norway. (While listening to the audio version of the dark night chapter of Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill and Adyashanti talking about the dark night and other topics.) Fortunately, I had some guidance by someone who had gone through it himself and understood (Barry Snyder) and I also did The Work and found TRE, both of which helped me tremendously.

And still, a great part of this process was something I just had to ride out. Practices and healings helped in taking the edge off some of it, but the vast bulk of it just had to live its own life and was something I had to find a way to live with, even if it often felt indescribably unbearable and overwhelming.

As so many describe, it has gradually tapered off although I still feel I am in it to some extent. I am very grateful for having found Vortex Healing which has been and is a great support for me in the healing and continued awakening process.

Note: As I wrote the section above, I was aware that this is a good example of hellish states but not a good example of how we can work with it. The unprocessed material that surfaces is something I have worked with extensively and continue to work on healing and clearing – mainly through inquiry (Living Inquiries, The Work), TRE, resting with it, and – these days – Vortex Healing. As the intensity has gradually decreased, it’s easier for me to work on it.

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TRE for muscle pain

 

In the context of therapeutic trembling, the body releases tension and trauma whether we think it belongs to the mind or the body. The body doesn’t really differentiate between the two.

I was recently reminded of how valuable TRE can be for releasing physical trauma. I pulled some muscles in the lower back a few days ago, and have done TRE daily since.

When done gently and after the acute phase is over, therapeutic tremoring can heal and release the injury more quickly, and it feels very soothing.

It would be interesting to do a research project on using TRE for these types of injuries.

Note: Therapeutic trembling is the natural trembling mechanism in all mammals. In our modern western culture, we are often trained to think that this trembling is a sign of weakness or that we are out of control, or we don’t understand what it does, so we learn to suppress it. At first, we often need something more structured to allow it to operate again. And Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) is one way for us to find our way back to this natural trembling mechanism.

Testimonial: Alexsandra

 

I found Per’s guidance on my TRE (Trauma Release Exercises) journey very helpful. Until Per was there to answer my questions, I didn’t realize how many little questions came up while doing TRE on my own. Per was thoughtful, patient and spoke from his educational background, which goes far beyond TRE. If you are unsure about the next step for yourself on your healing journey, I recommend booking a session with Per for guidance.

– Alexsandra Burt, Hawaii

The approaches I find especially helpful, their unique contributions, and how they work together

 

I have found a few approaches especially helpful to me: Breema, inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), and Vortex Healing. I am also certified in Breema, Living Inquiries, TRE, and Vortex Healing.

It doesn’t mean that I think these are the best approaches out there in any general sense, or that they are right for everyone in all situations (they obviously are not). But they are the ones I am most familiar with, and they do work well for me.

Here are some of the unique contributions of each, and some of the ways I notice they are in mutual support of each other.

Breema. Receiving and giving Breema gives a deep sense of nurturing and wholeness. We find the health that’s always here, and within which conventional illness and health exist. As a practitioner, it also helps me explore the wholeness of who I am as a human being, what it all happens within and as (presence, awakeness), and how to shift back into noticing and living from that noticing. In general, Breema has a full and nurturing quality.

TRE. TRE helps me release tension out of the muscles, and that reduces anxiety, depression, and compulsions. It helps the body and mind heal and operate from a more healthy and dynamic state. It can also help us be less afraid of trauma since we know there is a through it to health.

Living inquiries. Living Inquiries helps release the charge out of charged thoughts (fears, identities, compulsions). Through exploring how thoughts (images, words) and sensations combine, and how thoughts give meaning to sensations, and sensations give charge and substance to thought, the association between these loses its strength. Sensations are more easily recognized as sensations and thoughts as thoughts. The sense of substance and reality of fears, identities, and compulsions is reduced or falls away more thoroughly. This form of inquiry also gives a variety of insights, both into general dynamics and patterns of the mind, and into specific issues (e.g. their roots, how they relate to early experiences and identities).

Vortex Healing. Vortex Healing can be used for general or very specific issues, from energizing or healing physical issues to working on specific traumas or identities.

Mutualities. There is a great deal of mutualities between these.

Breema offers an important sense of nourishment and wholeness.

TRE releases the charge out of anxiety, depression, and compulsions (especially when used over time). TRE can also bring up emotions or memories which then can be explored in inquiry or Vortex Healing.

Living Inquiries can bring insight into issues and identities, and help us recognize the healing qualities of presence and resting with (and as) any content of experience.

Vortex Healing can be used on body contractions identified through TRE or Living Inquiries, or any issues or identities that surface through the other approaches.

Very simplified, I find that Breema offers nourishment and a sense of wholeness. TRE releases tension deeply and quite thoroughly (over time). Living Inquiries offers insights and takes a sense of substance and solidity out of stressful patterns, thoughts, and identities. And Vortex Healing can work on just about any issue and identity.

Healing and awakening. Each of these approaches also acknowledges the connection between healing (as who we are) and awakening (as what we are). They each support healing and awakening in their own way.

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Testimonials

 

A selection of testimonials from clients.

 

Inquiry

 

Hi Per, I just wanted to say thank you for everything. Thank you for the difference you made my life and my recovery. I will never forget you. You were one of the greatest and most influential. You always thought of me and kept me calm when I wanted to jump out of my skin and run for the border.

– Thank you, keep in touch. Breana K.

 

After months of you guiding me through the Living Inquiries, TRE and Breema I notice I am able to continue to embrace experience as it unfolds in a curious and loving way. You first provided me with a wonderfully balanced foundation and then allowed space for me to experientially learn how to continue to provide it for myself. Your intuitive  presence helped me enter places and memories I was too scared to be with on my own. Places I thought would follow me forever. Now I continue to sit in experience, pleasant or not and provide myself with the same nurturing patience you shared with me over the months. Thank you for sharing your gift with me.

– Kindly, Brittney C.

 

Thank you for facilitating inquiry with me with such exquisite skill, precision, and gentleness. I was often surprised at what came up in sessions, but no matter what it was, you provided a space of complete acceptance and deep respect. I felt held, and safe to unfold layers of painful stories that have been with me for years.

As a result, I would leave each time feeling lighter and more alive. I also gained confidence in my ability to sit with any feeling that might arise, which in turn has greatly reduced the compulsions that used to rule my life. I am feeling more and more free as a result of working with you, and for this I am truly grateful.

You have a profound gift for this work. Thank you for sharing it with me, and I hope many more can receive the gift of this powerfully transformative work as well.

– With deep gratitude, Ara Jo

 

Vortex Healing

 

Foxy Muffin had lost all signs of happiness and vitality over the past 6 months. I often thought of plans for her last days and when would be the right time to end her life so she would not suffer.  Per asked if he could do a Vortex  Healing session for her and I agreed hoping for any positive change. I was not expecting to see the energy and excitement that appeared the same day.  Over the past few weeks I’ve seen the happy, playful, and fun little Pomeranian that I knew was there all along. Foxy eats better, her tail is high in the air and she appears to have experienced a healing of sorts.  I can see a difference with every session Per does for her.

– Paul C., Rancho Mirage, CA

 

I asked Per to do a Vortex Healing series with me on long-standing chronic pain in my abdomen.  I felt immediate relief after the session.  Although the pain returned for a short period of time after the first session, within a week, the pain never returned.  More than that, the series of sessions appeared to have opened up some deep emotional/energetic blockages for me that were associated with this pain.  It feels as though energy moves much more freely up and down my spine now.  I highly recommend Per to anyone with such blockages.  I don’t know exactly how Vortex Healing works, but it does!

– Scott K., Palm Springs, CA

 

I just wanted to thank you for the great vortex healing sessions you have given me so far. I have experienced many different healing modalities in the past but nothing comes close to the vortex sessions with you. I found myself having big changes in one session that would normally take many sessions in any other healing work. I also thought your ability to tune in and fine tune so to speak what was going on for me was very helpful. Your natural ability as a healer is clear to me and I look forward to working with you again in the near future.

– Mike C., Palm Desert, CA

 

Our cat Cosmos struggles with anxiety. After two sessions with Per, everyone in the family noticed a difference. Now she sleeps next to her sister on the bed, whereas before they wouldn’t go near each other!

– Tom. A, Eugene, OR

 

Breema

 

I wanted to say thank you for the Breema sessions. You bring calming and sweet energy to your work. In my personal experience Breema seems very sensual, as well as loving. What a great way to help heal humanity.

– Barbara R., Eugene, OR

 

I so appreciate your Breema sessions! You are able to create a wonderful atmosphere of nurturing, comfort and something more that I find hard to define! Afterwards, I always feel renewed, relaxed and rebalanced. And it’s all so effortless on my part! Thank you for sharing this healing gift with me.

– Phyllis L, Eugene, OR

 

Thank you for your Breema sessions.  No matter what my state of mind going into them, I often find myself feeling present, relaxed and back in balance afterwards.  I especially appreciate your professional and focused approach, which has me feel at ease, trusting and open to the process.  I look forward to doing more Breema with you and have no doubt that what you are offering is a great gift!

– Robin R., Eugene, OR

 

A quick note to most deeply thank you for the wonderful relaxation you allowed for during the Breema session. This week is packed for me but I am wondering if you might consider giving me another round next week. Can I drop off some greens from my garden for you guys?

– Stephanie C., Eugene, OR

 

You are a gifted Breema practitioner.  Your presence and support gave me the feeling of deep peace, as if the whole of the universe were still.  It was so wonderfully relaxing!

– Tiffany M., Eugene, OR

 

Dear Per,

Thanks so much for letting me experience Breema. I had no previous exposure to the practice and came eager to see if it might help relieve my chronic problems with emotional anxiety and back stiffness.

Generally I have a hard time keeping my mind focused and not wandering off into distraction, which is very frustrating. I found the gentle, rhythmic motions of Breema helped me keep my attention on my breath without drifting away (except the couple of times I was so relaxed I dozed off!).

I felt you were transmitting peace into me, sending a peaceful signal directly to the core of my being. A kind of floaty and ethereal sensation—very nice. I definitely felt mentally and emotionally calmed, and at the same time I came away from each session also feeling enlivened and much more present in my body, more attuned to the moment.

I appreciate the special accommodations you made for my back problem by using knee pillows and adding an extra stretch at the end of the session. My back is bothering me a lot less in the mornings now, which I attribute to the Breema treatments.

Your firm gentleness, your strong hands, your accepting and caring approach, all helped me let go and relax. I found you to be very warm, respectful, unobtrusive, and caring. I especially appreciated your nonjudgmental attitude about my size and weight, something I’ve learned can’t always be expected.

Thanks very much.

– Sally S., Eugene, OR

 

I really appreciated the Breema experience.  You have opened whole new possibilities for me in terms of healing and questioning my current world view.

– Molly M., Eugene, OR

 

Per’s gentle, rhythmic movements using Breema techniques, gradually shifted my awareness from my physical body to the wider world of nature.  My ability to hear grew more acute and my sense of smell returned, something I had lost over the course of the last five years, as the movements progressed [As the movements progressed, my ability to hear grew more acute and my sense of smell returned.]  Each new movement seemed to shift me internally and in so doing, stretch my consciousness externally.  Per’s sensitivity, openness to where I was energetically, and his deep sense of caring for all of life, made the experience profoundly harmonizing for me.  I highly recommend P. as a Breema practitioner. His work facilitated me in shifting my awareness of pain, as I have experienced it in my body, into a new state of awareness of what it means to be well and at peace.  Thank you P. for sharing your gifts!!!

– Molly M. , Eugene, OR

 

The Breema session you provided for me was profoundly relaxing.  The experience has stayed with me.  I would recommend you and Breema to anyone!  Thanks and Be Well.  It’s a good service you are providing in the world.

– Jon B., Eugene, OR

 

Dear Per,

I want to let you know how much I appreciate attending Breema sessions with you. I find it an exquisitely relaxing experience. Without fail my mind and body fall into a quiet stillness, a stillness in which the Breema spontaneously unfolds. I find that we are together participating in that stillness. As the receiver of Breema my part is

a very restful one, and I find that that rest deepens over the course of the session. By the end I am often in a state in which the ‘I’ has disappeared, and what remains is a sublimely refreshing peace. Thank you so much for facilitating this meditative art.

– Best, Damien P., Eugene, OR

 

Per’s strong and earthy touch, coupled with his calm presence and innate healing ability, radiate gentle warmth, wisdom, and loving-kindness. He moves deftly and gracefully through the sequences, and his work brings me to a place of deep meditation. Important insights often result. He is well-studied in the field of esoteric arts, and in his humility and graciousness is always curious to hear about my experiences and to offer his own suggestions and insights.

Here is an excerpt from my journal about a particularly transformative session I had with Per:

“…I felt his hands molding and shaping me as if I were clay, and I realized that that’s how Life is…Life, or Soul, is constantly molding and shaping us. And so often, we are resistant until we learn to love and accept what is happening…He put his hands over my eyes, and I saw only darkness and quit breathing. It was if I, for some moments, had died. I opened my eyes onto the light from the windows and returned with gratitude to life and to living. In the session, I took increasingly deep, and deeper, breaths. I felt my heart beating strongly in my naval point, bringing life energy into my lower chakras.

…Allow beauty and goodness to come and to flow into you. And, it’ll be coming next by way of the lower chakras. I began coughing. I coughed up the limiting belief that I’d been carrying in my shoulders, mainly~~that I must do it all alone, in order to survive. The belief I replaced it with is, living can be a true joy. Accept the goodness and the bounty of the earth, and with gratitude and thanks accept her gifts to you in whatever form they take.

– Rachael W. , Eugene, OR

Dark nights of the soul & trauma

 

There are different varieties of dark nights in a spiritual process. In some ways, there are as many varieties as there are dark nights since each one is somewhat unique.

Still, there seems to be some general categories or facets of dark nights. One category or facet is a dryness or lack of meaning and enthusiasm. Another is an experience of loss of God’s presence or an expansive state. And one is where the lid is taken off of our unprocessed stuff and it emerges to heal and be recognized as spirit itself.

I imagine that each dark night is really an adaption to a new emerging phase, and it’s difficult to the extent we struggle against it and try to hold onto beliefs and identities not compatible with this new phase.

The type where the lid is taken off our unprocessed stuff is especially interesting to me. It seems that it’s mainly connected with trauma. A lifetime of trauma surfaces to be seen, felt, loved, healed, and for spirit to recognize it as itself. And it’s not only one lifetime of trauma, but several. Trauma from our ancestors is passed on through the generations (behavior and epigenetics) and our culture. Trauma may even be passed on from past lives. No wonder such a process can be intense and feel unbearable.

I find it helpful to think of it in a trauma perspective. It makes it more grounded and concrete and points to some ways we can work on it and ease some of the pain inherent in it.

It does seem that the process needs to run its course and lives its own life. And it also seems that we can work on certain elements of what’s happening and make the process a little easier on ourselves.

I have found the following helpful for myself:

Therapeutic tremoring (TRE) to release tension and trauma out of the body.

Inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries) to support release of beliefs and identifications. (These create a struggle with what’s happening, and they are also what hold trauma in place.)

Natural rest. Notice and allow.

Heart centered practices. Ho’oponopono. Tonglen. Metta. Towards myself, suffering parts of myself, and others.

Service and work, as I am able to. (There has been times when all I could do was survive, and other times when service and work has been possible and very helpful for my own process.)

Body-inclusive practices such as Breema, yoga, tai chi, and chi gong.

Nature. Good diet. Herbal medicine. Supportive friends. Gentle exercise.

Understanding of the process. Guidance from someone who has gone through it themselves.

More recently, I have found Vortex Healing to be helpful for me in this process and in general.

Why does the trauma surface in this way, and sometimes in such a dramatic fashion? To me, it seems that life is impatient in clearing us and making us better vessels for whatever awakening is here. Any trauma in our system will prevent a deepening and stable awakening, and an expression of the clarity and love that’s recognized in the awakening. It’s also a very humbling process, which means that identifications are stripped off and we become a little more aligned with reality.

Note: When I wrote “categories or facets of dark nights” it’s because these characteristics sometimes seem to appear one at a time (categories) and sometimes several at once (facets).

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What is self-regulation?

 

Self-regulation is often mentioned these days in mindfulness related contexts.

What does it mean?

For me, it means to go off auto-pilot, to intentionally do something different than our habitual response. These habitual responses are often rooted in wounding, trauma, identifications, and painful beliefs, and the outcome of these responses tend to reflect their origin. (Acting on pain and wounding tends to create more pain and wounding.)

How do we self-regulate?

We self-regulate by noticing what’s happening in us, by noticing any reactions, contractions, emotions and so on that come up. Then, by relating to it intentionally. Often with presence, kindness, love, patience, holding/noticing space, and so on. This helps the old habitual responses lose their steam, and it creates a new pattern. It’s the seed of a new habitual response.

Example #1 – hurt & left out. Say a feeling of hurt and being left out comes up. My habitual response may be to eat comfort food, watch a movie, talk with a friend, distract myself in any number of ways. In this case, none of these are terrible, but they also don’t help me shift how I relate to this hurt and feeling of being left out. These parts of me remain unloved, unfelt, unexamined.

When I instead meet them with presence, kindness, love, and curiosity, it not only shifts the habitual response (reducing the charge of the old response and creating a new), these parts of me receive what they really want which is presence, love, patience, and understanding.

Example #2 – TRE. Another example is self-regulation in TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises). Here, the body’s natural trembling/releasing mechanism releases tension, which in turn may trigger old memories and traumas. Self-regulation again means presence, kindness, and curiosity. And this takes the form of noticing and allowing sensations and imaginations, doing TRE for quite short periods so less is released at a time and there is less chance of overwhelm (and re-traumatizing), and taking a break as soon as we notice discomfort and signs of overwhelm (stretch out the legs, walk around, drink some water, talk with someone, squeeze someone’s hand etc.).

Example #3 – anger. Another example is when I get frustrated, worked up, or angry. I notice. Recognize what’s happening. And may do any number of things to help self-regulate: Recognize that behind the anger and frustration is fear. Jump up and down and shake my arms and hands. Breathe deeply and consciously. Go for a walk. Amplify and release. (Amplify the anger and frustration for 10 seconds, release, let go, and breathe for 10 seconds, repeat a few times.) Identify and feel the physical sensations, setting imagination (mental images, words) aside for a while. Do EFT/TFT tapping. After I feel more present again, I can more easily see what the kind and sane response to the (previously triggering) situation is and do that – or do nothing if that seems more appropriate.

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Animation: Tension and Trauma Release Exercises

 

A simple and relatively good introduction to the theory behind Tension and Trauma Release Exercises. (Of course, dinosaurs didn’t live at the same time as humans….!)

I posted this on Facebook and was asked if not physical exercises like dance and cycling would have similar benefits. Here is what I answered:

Dance and cycling reduces stress and tension and can obviously be very beneficial. In my experience, TRE goes much deeper. It uproots chronic tension and bodily contractions which are a component of anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction and more.

Testimonial

 
Hi P., I just wanted to say thank you for everything. Thank you for the difference you made my life and my recovery. I will never forget you. You were one of the greatest and most influential. You always thought of me and kept me calm when I wanted to jump out of my skin and run for the border.
Thank you,
Keep in touch.

– Breana K.
A testimonial from a client 🙂

TRE and Living Inquiries

 

Some ways TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises) and the Living Inquiries are mutually supportive:

  • Natural Rest is great to combine with TRE. During a TRE session, notice what’s happening. Feel sensations and notice they are sensations. Look at images and notice they are images. Hear (or look at) words and notice they are sounds (images).
  • During therapeutic tremoring I can bring a stressful situation, trauma, addiction, body contraction, or something else to mind. This can help release tension out of it.
  • Therapeutic tremoring can bring material to the surface we can then take to inquiry. Some of what surfaces through therapeutic tremoring may be difficult to access through the Living Inquiries alone.
  • During a TRE session, it’s possible to do a simple inquiry. Whatever is here – a sensation, image, words – I can feel it / look at it, stay with it for a while, and ask a simple question. For instance, is it the actual past? Is it the actual future? Is it in itself a threat? (I do this minimally, but it can be helpful.)

Why no music during TRE?

 

In most cases, there is no music during a TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises) session.

For me, it feels intuitively right with silence during more formal TRE sessions. Why is that?

The music may not fit what comes up for each person, or what “needs” to come up.

Music preferences are very individual. Whatever music played will be liked by some and disliked by others. Occasionally, with more experienced people, this can be interesting. Whatever comes up in relation to the music can be included in the session. For beginners, it may be better with no music.

Any music can be distracting from feeling sensations, looking at mental images, and hearing words.

If I do it on my own, I may do it while music is playing or even while watching a movie. I do it in just about any situation, if it feels right.

Retraining the nervous system

 

People from all cultures and ages have known the benefits of inviting our system to release and relax. It’s built into us to seek various ways of releasing stress and tension, and find a deeper relaxation. What I am writing about in this post is not new in its essence, although the language obvious reflects my own time and culture. (I am sure what I write here will seem hopelessly outdated in a few decades, or perhaps even sooner.)

We have known for a while about the sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of the nervous system. The sympathetic is the flight, fight, and freeze response. And the parasympathetic is responsible for digesting, restoring, and allow for healing.

Both are essential for our survival. The flight/fight/freeze response is vital for us in situations that threatens our survival or well being. And the “resting and digesting” allows for healing and restoring.

At the same time, if the flight/fight/freeze (FFF) response becomes chronic, it’s not good. If it’s chronically on alert, as if a threat can be around any corner, it adversely impacts our well being and health. It reduces our ability to fight off disease, restore, and heal.

And the FFF response is chronic for many of us today. It becomes chronic through chronic stress, and through trauma – whether from one or a few major traumatic events or built up from many smaller traumatic events.

So what can we do?

There are the usual ways to relax.

Go for a walk. Move. Be in nature. Garden. Walk barefoot in nature.

Eat nourishing food. Drink plenty of water.

Do yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema etc.

Nurture nourishing relationships. (With yourself, your body, your heart, your belly, your mind, friends, family, partner, children, nature, society, past and future generations, the universe, life.)

Create a stable and nurturing life situation. (To the extent possible.)

There is Natural Rest, and various forms of mindfulness and meditation. These typically have relaxation – of body and mind – as a side-effect, and this can become a new habit. There is also the possibility of recognizing what we are, which opens for an even deeper relaxation.

There is also inquiry, which can help us see through (dismantle) stressful beliefs and identifications. Again, this can lead to a deeper mind-body relaxation.

In addition, some of these approaches specifically reprogram the stimuli-response patterns that create stress.

There is a stimuli – in the form of images, words, smells, sounds, movement, and sensations – and a response. When the nervous system is “on edge”, and the sympathetic branch is chronically activated, some or many of the stimuli we experience daily can trigger a FFF response, even they are not really a threat. They are perceived as a threat, at some level in us, so our nervous system respond as if they are an actual threat, even if a more relaxed and calm response would be more appropriate (in a conventional sense) and helpful.

These stimuli are, as mentioned above, images, words, smells, sounds, movement, and sensations. It can be a reaction to sound, which can lead to misophonia. It can be a reaction to smell, for instance chemical sensitivity. It can be a reaction to sight or mental images. It can be a reaction to heard or imagined words. It can be a reaction to sensations, especially when these appear combined with certain images and words.

It can be a reaction to images, words, and sensations making up (apparently) traumatic or stressful stories and identities.

It can even be a reaction to heat or cold (over sensitivity to heat or cold), the sensations of physical exertion (often a part of CFS), or the sensations of fatigue or brain fog (another part of CFS).

Here are a couple of ways to intentionally reprogram how our nervous system responds to various stimuli.

When you notice a stimuli that typically trigger a FFF response (unease, stress, tension, discomfort), intentionally notice and allow the stimuli and response. Feel the sensations, allow them as they are. Find love for them. Rest with them. (This is an intentional and specific use of Natural Rest.)

Explore the situation – the stimuli and response – through inquiry. Look at images and words. Feel sensations. Can you find a threat? A deficient (or inflated) self? A command to X? Through doing this, we get to see how our mind creates a sense of threat, or someone threatened, or a self that needs to be fought or protected, or a command to stay safe etc. This allows the charge to soften or go out of it. We more easily recognize words as words, images as images, and sensations as sensations. The stimuli trigger another response than the old FFF response. It can be met with a deeper relaxation and calmness, and even welcome and kindness. What we thought were there are revealed to not be there, at least not as we initially thought it was there.

A third approach is to invite tension to release out from the body, even chronic tension stores in muscles and fascia, for instance through therapeutic tremors (TRE). This releases the overall tension/stress level in the nervous system, so it’s less on high alert, less jumpy, less likely to “over react” to stimuli.

So we can find ways to relax, which can be very helpful. We can release chronic tension out of our bodies so it’s less on high alert, and less likely to respond with FFF. (TRE, therapeutic tremors.) We can intentionally reprogram our nervous system to respond differently and in a more relaxed way to stimuli. (Intentional use of Natural Rest, inquiries such as the Living Inquiries.)

I like the stimulus-response way of looking at this. It’s simple. Relatively easy to understand. It ties into science.

And it works for a wide range of different situations – from looking at sights (eyes) or mental images (memories, future, present), hearing or imagining words, hearing or imagining sounds, feeling or imagining sensations.

For instance, one way to understand trauma is to see that it’s created by words, images, and sensations “stuck together” so the images and words seem charged, real and solid. The sensations lend charge, and a sense of reality and solidity to the associated images and words. One example is mages of being bullied at school connected mentally with sensations in throat, belly, and face, and words such as “I am a victim”, “I am unlovable”, “they don’t like me”. The nervous system responds to these images, words, and sensations as if they are a threat, and go into high alert. By looking at the images, recognizing them as images, and seeing that they are not a threat, the nervous system responds with relaxation to the same images. The same goes for the words. And by feeling the sensations, recognizing them as sensations, and seeing that the sensations are not a threat, the nervous system shifts its response to these sensations from FFF to relaxation.

The same happens for fear of the future, any perceived threat, any sense of a deficient self, and even compulsions.

And the same pattern is there for sensitivity to just about anything: Sound, chemicals, food, heat and more.

In the case of chronic fatigue, which I am familiar with, there may be sensitivity and over-reaction to physical exertion, heat, fatigue, and brain fog. Or rather, the sensations, images, and words created by my mind which makes up my experience of physical exertion, heat, fatigue, and brain fog. My nervous system goes into FFF as a response to these stimuli, and this response can be retrained to be a response of relaxation. I am not saying that’s the whole answer to taking care of CFS. At the same time, it may be a significant portion of the answer, along with taking care of any medical issues (in my case, B12 deficiency, epstein-barr virus, two pneumonia viruses, an auto-immune disease, and lyme…!), strengthening the systems through adaptogens (herbs), a good diet, movement, fresh air, nature and more.

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TRE and back pain

 

Therapeutic tremors – the ones all mammals have after stress or shock, and is initiated through the Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) – heal the organism, and doesn’t seem to differentiate between body and mind. The healing happens wherever it’s needed.

One healing that happened early on for me was my lower back. I have scoliosis (still there), and used to have days where my back seized up and I stayed in bed for half a day or a full day to recover.

During the first few weeks of doing TRE, I had periods of soreness in the lower back, and trusted that it was part of the healing process. (While I also monitored it, and adjusted the frequency and length of my TRE sessions, so it wouldn’t get too uncomfortable.) After some weeks, or perhaps months, I noticed that the muscles in my lower back felt much softer and healthier, and it has continued to be that way.

There are still areas of chronic tension in my body, most notably in my shoulders. The shaking goes up there, as it has for a while, but I have – for whatever reason – taken that process a bit slower.

 

Revisiting trauma in a healing way

 

If we revisit a trauma without enough skill, it can easily be retraumatizing. That’s why most of us are reluctant to revisit traumas, even for a while after we have learned and developed sufficient skills. There is a wisdom there too, since it’s often helpful to revisit traumas in smaller portions. There is a wisdom and kindness in wanting to do it slow, in hesitation, and even in resistance. Resistance can be an expression of wisdom and kindness.

In Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) we start with very short sessions, especially if we know or suspect there is a good deal of trauma in the system. (Which there is for many, or even most (?) of us.) We may shake for 1-5 minutes for the first few sessions, to see how the system responds and to get familiar with the experience and process. Then, we may expand to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and even longer. Also, at first, we do it with just allowing and noticing, and perhaps feeling the sensations. Then, again as we get more familiar with it, we can bring something moderately stressful or traumatic to mind while trembling. And with time, even something more traumatic, as it feels comfortable. Always keeping in mind the comfort, checking to see if we are comfortable physically and emotionally, and taking a break if any discomfort feels a bit much.

With Living Inquiries, we may start with a boomerang instead of looking directly at the traumatic situation. Or we may start with something current for the first one or two sessions so the client gets familiar with the process, and then go back in time to earlier traumatic experiences. Some more experienced facilitators may also go directly to these without much warm up time.

During TRE, physical tension is gradually released out of the body, including chronic tension associated with – and fueling – trauma. There is usually no need to re-experience anything, although emotions or images may come up. Unfelt emotions come to be felt, sometimes with associated images.

In a Living Inquiry session, revisiting the trauma is made easier through looking at images, words, and sensations separately. That’s also where the healing is. We separate out the three, look at each one at a time, and perhaps ask some simple questions to easier see what’s actually there.

From the TRE perspective, we can say that revisiting trauma through talking about it often can be retraumatizing, and perhaps not so helpful. It’s easier and more effective to release the associated tension through the body, and then add the mind component later as needed.

Similarly, revisiting trauma by “looking at velcro”, which is what most talk therapies do, can be retraumatizing. Instead, in Living Inquiries, we separate out the images, words, and sensations making up the experience, and look at each one at a time, which is much gentler.

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Trauma and police brutality

 

There has been many stories of police brutality in the US recently, and it’s clearly a serious problem.

I can’t help wondering if it’s partly related to trauma. Many police officers have experienced trauma, either from specific instances or accumulated over time. And trauma leads people to act in a reactive way, from fear, sometimes with violence, and out of proportion with what seems appropriate to the situation. And that’s what we are seeing from the many reports of police officers abusing their power, using excessive force, and even killing unarmed people.

One remedy is to offer trauma education and healing modalities in the police departments across the US. I know this is partly done, although it often happens in a police culture that doesn’t take trauma seriously, so this may not be the whole solution but it can’t hurt.

One possibility is to make Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) mandatory once or twice a week, for even just half an hour. That would make a tangible difference, independent of how seriously they otherwise take trauma. With the support of current research on TRE and trauma, it may be possible to start this in one or a few sympathetic police departments, and it may then spread.

Another aspect of this is the militarization of the police, although I assume that’s more connected political and financial interests (including profits for those selling the equipment).

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TRE trembling and other types of trembling

 

After starting with Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), I have been curious about various forms of trembling.

There seems to be a few different types:

(a) Trembling from muscle fatigue. After exercise, physical exertion.

(b) Trembling to produce heat. Shivering from cold.

(c) Trembling after orgasm. Some report this.

(d) Trembling to release tension and trauma. Following a traumatic event (hunted by a predator, car accident), childbirth, and also the TRE exercises.

The muscle fatigue trembling seems relatively simple, and localized to the fatigued muscles.

Trembling to produce heat also seems relatively simple, and partly localized (for instance to the jaw) and partly general and involving the whole body.

Trembling after sex and/or orgasm may be a way for the system to release an “overload” from the stimulation of sex and orgasm. In some cases, this could be related to earlier sex related trauma, although that’s just a possibility.

Trembling from TRE seems different. It varies in frequency. It moves to different – and eventually just about all – areas of the body. It sometimes includes rhythmic movements of limbs (butterflying of the legs, shaking of hands etc.). It includes stretching. It seems to be guided by an inherent intelligence of the body, moving to where it’s needed and perhaps also at the frequency most needed. It seems to be much more about restoring the system to health (psychically and mentally).

David Berceli, the originator of TRE, uses the term neurogenic tremors for the TRE tremors. Neurogenic means initiated/guided by the nervous system, but all of these forms for tremblings seem to be initiated and guided by the nervous system. Using the word exclusively for the TRE type trembling doesn’t quite make sense to me. (I have to admit that I have used the word in that way in previous posts, because others do, and I have done so against my better judgment.) Some call it therapeutic trembling, which makes better sense.

It would be very interesting to know more about how these different forms of trembling are initiated, which parts of the nervous system is involved, and perhaps also which parts of the brain are involved in the different forms of trembling.

Immediate results vs ongoing practice

 

Maybe I am naive, but I often judge practices by their immediate results. If they don’t offer any, I tend to move on to something else.

It may be that I, in some cases, am missing out of longer term benefits. But I prefer to move on if I don’t see relatively quick results. There are enough practices that do offer immediate results, along with longer term deepening and more thorough shifts.

If I stayed with everything I tried that didn’t offer immediate results, it’s likely that I would stay with much that didn’t give longer term results either. Many of these are likely to be practices that, for one reason or another, are not compatible with where I am at in my process.

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) is a good example of a practice that offers immediate results and a longer term deepening. During and following a TRE session, I often feel deeply relaxed and alert. And there is also a deepening over time. Tension is gradually released, over weeks, months, and years of ongoing practice. After all, it does take time to release a lifetime of built-up tension. It would be too much to release all at once. Better to take it slowly.

The same goes for heart centered practices, inquiry, and a body centered practice such as Breema. All offer immediate results, and an ongoing deepening over time through ongoing exploration and practice.

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Free to go into and out of trauma, and velcro

 

In a TRE workshop with David Berceli, he mentioned that he was less fearful of being traumatized because he knows he can come out of it (using TRE). He is more free to go into and out of trauma, just like mammals in the wild. (They seem to be quite free to go into and out of trauma.)

He is probably also less likely to be severely traumatized since his baseline tension level is low due to doing TRE for several years or even decades. That may also be part of the reduced fear of being traumatized.

I see something similar with identifications (or velcro, hangups, wounds). As I am more familiar with resting with them, and asking simple questions about what comes up, they feel less threatening when they do come up. I know they are not as true, real, or solid as they may first appear.

I have also looked at some (not all) of my fears about them coming up, and what I fear it means when they do. (There is still more for me to look at here.)

In any case, as we become more familiar with releasing tension and trauma through neurogenic tremors (TRE), and resting with and looking at velcro, something shifts. The trauma and velcro seems less threatening. There is something we can do when it’s here.

We know it’s not as solid, or permanent, as it may initially seem.

TRE combined with Natural Rest, triggering & inquiry

 

I am exploring combining Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) with Natural Rest, triggering, and inquiry.

One is to combine natural rest with the sessions. Notice and allow. Notice sensations. Images. Words. Sounds. Allow it all. See how it is to allow it. Notice it’s already allowed. (By awareness, mind, life.) Notice how it is to shift from thinking to noticing. Notice even the thoughts that seems the most intimate, the most like “you”. See how it is to allow them too.

Another is to trigger stressful images (memories, situations) within natural rest, and while trembling. This may help release tension around this issue. It can be something stressful. A regret. Trauma. A compulsion. A time you wanted to …. (smoke, drink, use drugs). Or anything else. Bring the image to mind. Notice. Allow. Rest with it.

Yet another is to take time to look at images and words, and feel sensations. (a) Look at the image. Notice the texture. Colors. Shapes. Lines. Notice it as an image. See it up in front of you. (b1) Look at the word. Look at the letters. The spaces in between and around the letters. (b2) Listen to the words. Listen to the sounds. Say them in silence or out loud. Listen to it as sounds. (c) Feel the sensations. See how it is to be curious about it. Give it full permission to be there. Take time to feel it. Notice the space around the sensations. Notice the space within the sensations.

Following the TRE session, we can take what surfaced (if anything) to inquiry. It’s also possible to do it during the TRE session, by occasionally and briefly ask simple questions about what’s here. Is that image me, the one who is worthless? Is that image of my mother my actual mother? Are those words angry? Are they me, the one who is angry? Does that sensation mean that something terrible is going to happen? (Or is happening, or did happen.) This requires some familiarity with one or more forms of inquiry, and also self-facilitation.

I have for a while brought some principles from Breema into TRE. Find a way to do it that’s comfortable. So you could do it forever. (Body Comfortable) Notice the support from the floor. (Mutual support.) Relax. Allow the body to do it on it’s own. (No extra.)

It’s also possible to do it the other way. While resting with what’s here, I can invite in trembling. Or I can even invite in trembling during inquiry. It’s all an exploration to see what happens, and what seems to work for me in the situation I am in.

What the different approaches do

 

Some things I notice about some of the approaches I am familiar with:

Tension and Trauma Release (TRE). What it does. TRE does something very simple. It releases tension from the body, through neurogenic tremors. This, in turn, helps release contractions and the “fuel” for anxiety, depression, frozenness, reactivity, anger, cravings, addictions, and more. We also learn to trust the innate wisdom of the body, since the release is guided by the nervous system and the body. (And we see that it works, and the intelligence behind it.) What it doesn’t do. It doesn’t address what creates this tension in the first place. It doesn’t address how we perceive the world. (Only indirectly does it address this, since a more relaxed body invites the mind to follow.)

Natural Rest. Natural rest is resting with what’s here, as it is. Notice. Allow. Notice it’s already allowed. This brings us more consciously in line with how it already is. Mind (awareness, life) already allows what’s here, as it is. It invites a shift from thinking to noticing. And a shift from identifying with (and being caught by) thought, to identifying with what experience happens within and as. (The ground, or even “ground of being”.) Natural rest is also a form of love.

Living Inquiries. Living Inquiries helps us see how the mind creates its own experience. It helps us see how sensations seem connected to images and words, creating charge and a sense of solidity and reality to the conglomerate of sensations, images and words. That’s how identification is created, and also a sense of threat, or a deficient self, or compulsions. Through the Living Inquiries, we get to see images as images, words as words, and feel sensations as sensations, and the charge softens or falls away.

Stable attention. Training a more stable attention benefits everything else on this list, and just about anything in our lives. Most simply, we can train a more stable attention by bringing attention to the breath – for instance stomach and/or chest, or the nose, or the tip of the nose. Here, we also get to see how attention is easily drawn to stories we hold as true, and the grace that allows us to notice and bring attention back to the object, for instance the breath.

Love. Meeting what’s here with love is a very significant shift for most of us. We are trained to want some experiences to go away, so we try to push them away, reject them, ignore them, distract ourselves from them. We struggle with and bully some of our own experiences. We are doing this towards ourselves. And that creates a sense of split, discomfort, and unease. (Which in turn may fuel this struggle.) When we instead do the opposite and meet what’s here with love – including the struggle itself, we may notice that a large part of the discomfort was in the struggle.

This is similar to natural rest, although with a slightly different emphasis or flavor. It may also make inquiry and stable attention easier. Most importantly, it’s a shift out of the inner division and into – most consistently – meeting any experience with love, and sensation, any image, any word. And when we don’t, when it’s too difficult, it’s an invitation to instead try something else, for instance meeting the resistance with love, or even shift into natural rest, or inquiry, or take a break and come back to it later.

Meeting what’s here with love is befriending ourselves. It’s befriending our experience, as it is here and now, which is what we are. (Can I find myself outside of this field of experience, as it is here and now?) It’s aligning more consciously with what we already are.

As a support in meeting what’s here with love, we can explore ho’oponopono, tonglen, loving kindness, holding Satsang with what’s here, or any number of other heart-centered practices.

TRE and fatigue

 

There may be many reasons for chronic fatigue (or not), and many ways through it.

For me, Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) is one.

I assume that chronic tension binds energy that otherwise could be used for healing and living life. And it may also block energy flow, in a more eastern view, with a similar result.

At the very least, it certainly takes a lot of energy to hold tension in the body. (As it does to hold beliefs, identifications, and velcro. This is what creates the mental and physical tension, which is why natural rest and inquiry is apart of this exploration for me. I want to go to the root of what’s happening, and TRE alone doesn’t do that.)

When I do TRE, I feel relaxed, whole, and more myself. And as I do it over time, chunks of tension soften and gradually release, starting from the legs and hips and moving up the body.

For me, now, the main tension sits in my shoulders, and that’s also where – in my throat – I notice a consistent body contraction. My hip area and lower back feels much more soft and open, and it seems that it’s largely due to the TRE.

Touch

 

Touch can be very comforting. We all (almost all?) know that from personal experience.

Touch – with presence and kindness – can not only support healing of emotions and the mind, but also physical healing.

This touch can be from an animal, another human, or even from ourselves in a pinch.

I was reminded the comfort of touch today during my first experience with oral surgery. It was a bit stressful, and I noticed my breath got deeper during the most intense phases. The nurse probably noticed the same, and put her hand on my shoulder during those times. It was very comforting, and my body and breath relaxed. It almost seemed that the body responded on its own, without going much through the conscious mind.

I have experienced and seen the same during TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises) sessions. Here too, the body seems to relax when touched by someone else. Often, it’s just a hold on the shoulder or the feet. And the touch-relaxation connection seems to largely go outside of the conscious mind.

It’s similar with Breema. Here, the touch is deeply nurturing, and allows me – whether I am a practitioner or recipient – to find a deep sense of full, healing wholeness. A wholeness of myself and existence. This touch is guided by Breema’s Nine Principles, which – I assume – is an important reason why it’s so powerful.

Touch conveys our mental and physical state, and the recipient picks this up. That’s another thing I have noticed through Breema. Sometimes, almost any touch can feel welcome. And almost always, I definitely prefer touch that comes from a sense of presence, kindness, and a grounded, relaxed wholeness.

Taking care of more aspects of our health and well-being

 

There has been an odd myth in modern western culture that said that we cannot take care of certain aspects of our own health through our lifestyle.

Fortunately, that’s changing, and it has been for a while.

We know that by acting healthy, we can maintain good health into old age. (Staying physically and mentally active, and perhaps even doing forms of yoga, meditation and inquiry.)

We know that by exercising our eyes, we can maintain good eye health or sometimes even reverse eye problems. (I used glasses from my teens. Started eye exercises in my mid-twenties. After a few weeks went back to the eye doctor who said my vision was good and I was in no need to glasses. And when I asked, she said that poor vision can’t be reversed….! My vision went from mildly near sighted – 0.75 to normal.) See f.ex. Natural Vision Improvement by Janet Goodrich.

We know that the mind can be trained. We can train a more stable attention. We can find kindness and love towards ourselves and others. We can even recognize our “true nature” (the layers of it). And all of this can be invited in and made into new habits. See f.ex. shamata (stable attention), ho’oponopono, loving kindness/metta, tonglen, holding satsang with parts of ourselves (kindness, love), and forms of insight meditation and inquiry (recognizing the dynamics of the mind and our human nature, and our true nature).

We know that by making a few relatively simple changes, we can maintain health free from (most or all) infections diseases, and many other diseases. See f.ex. K.P. Khalsa (my herbalist).

We know that by making similar simple changes, we can prevent and even reverse tooth and gum problems. See f.ex. How I healed my Teeth Eating Sugar by Joey Lott. (I am just starting this now.)

We know that tension and trauma can be released in a simple and natural way. (Neurogenic tremors, Tension & Trauma Release Exercises.)

We know that the source of stress and distress, and even trauma, can be recognized and even undone through inquiry. See f.ex. The Work and the Living Inquiries.

There is a lot more here, and it keeps being further explored, adapted to our current modern culture, and widely available. Some of it – such as the effects of some types of meditation – is gaining increasing attention through research.

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Chronic fatigue and TRE

 

I have chronic fatigue (whatever that is) and have been doing TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises) for a while.

Many have reported good success in healing from fatigue using TRE, and it’s perhaps not so surprising.

Neurogenic tremors allow the body to release tension and trauma (physically and emotionally), and this – in turn – releases and makes available the energy and resources previously tied up in maintaining the tension and trauma.

I have found other things helpful too:

Inquiry into my thoughts about the symptoms (labels, what they mean) and any stressful stories, including the most basic ones.

Loving kindness. Meeting what’s here – including the symptoms and my reactions to it – with love.

Gratitude. All-inclusive gratitude practice. I am grateful for…… and include anything in your life, what’s easy to feel grateful for and what it’s more challenging to find gratitude for.

Natural rest. Allowing what’s here – this field of experience – as it is. Noticing it’s already allowed as it is. Spending time with this, now and then through the day.

Feeling sensations as sensations, especially any sensations associated with the fatigue. (The sensations interpreted as fatigue, brain fog, resistance, fear, sadness etc.) This can be made easier through inquiry into words and images associated with these sensations.

Following my guidance and my heart. Inquiring into the way my mind stops itself from living this. Following my guidance even if there is fear. (Feeling off track can be draining.)

A good – and not very strict – diet, consisting mainly of simple and ordinary foods, similar to that our ancestors would have eaten. (Not much processed food, or sugar, dairy or wheat.) Drinking plenty of water. (Mostly in the form of herbal and spice teas, enough to keep the urine light colored or clear.)

Spending time in nature. Find your spot. Go for walks. Sit and rest. Soak it in. Allow nature to gently work on you. Walk barefoot.

Strength training, although not in excess.

Herbs. (Eleuthero, rhodiola, chulen, Stangelands Urtete etc.)

Engaging in nourishing activities and relationships. Dropping, as far as possible, draining activities and social engagement.

Stepping stones to what’s more natural

 

Many practices I have explored seem to function as stepping stones to what’s more natural. They take me from a disconnected and fragmented state to what’s simpler and more natural. And that includes meditation, yoga (tai chi, chi gong, Breema), inquiry, prayer, loving kindness, gratitude, precepts and shaking (TRE, spontaneous movement, dance), and a variety of other practices.

The mental body is the newest in our human evolution, so it is perhaps natural that it’s been emphasized during the last few thousand years at least. This has led to a temporary over-emphasizing of role of the mental faculties (they are important, but function best in service to the heart), the appearance of our thoughts as more real and solid than they are, and identification with and as thought. So many or most of the practices developed over this time period are aimed at remedy and balance this. They are medicines for a temporary over-emphasis of the mental body. They are a bridge from this to seeing what’s already here, and a simpler and more natural way of being and living.

Some examples:

Precepts highlight what in us – usually fears, shoulds and beliefs – that prevent us from living with a natural and simple kindness towards ourselves and others. As with the other practices, it can feel a bit artificial at first, and then it shifts into a more natural and free living from kindness.

Natural meditation (Shikantaza) is what’s already here, although attention may be drawn to the complexities and drama of the mental and emotional bodies. It’s also how the mind naturally is when it’s less identified.

Yoga helps us connect more consciously with the body and movement, and allows us to experience ourselves as the body-mind whole. The whole is already here, although it’s not always noticed. And an experience of it can be cultivated through various movement practices.

Prayer is a giving of ourselves to God, an offering of our human self to Spirit. Again, it’s already that way, and this helps us notice it. It’s also how we naturally live when mind is less identified.

Loving kindness is again what’s here when mind is less identified. There is a natural and simple love and kindness for whatever is here in myself, others and the world. It’s what I am and life is.

Gratitude is similar. It’s what’s naturally here when mind is less identified. This may be a gratitude for what it’s easy to find gratitude for (friends, family, health, shelter, good food), and also for life itself as it shows up, with warts and calamities and all.

Inquiry is an examination of our thoughts and how it relates to emotions, sensations and our lives. Again, when mind is less identified it is naturally curious and attentive of these dynamics.

Shaking is what any mammal does to relieve stress and tension. It allows the body and mind to restore itself to a more healthy state.

With all of these, it can feel a bit artificial at first. We learn a form and a method, apply it, and it can feel clumsy. It also brings up what’s in us that prevents us from living it in a natural and simple form, it brings us face to face with identifications, wounds, fears, shoulds and more. And over time, as these soften, are held in love, and are seen through, the natural way of living this is gradually revealed. Form gives way to a very natural and simple way of living. These practices is a bridge from a temporary over-emphasizing of the mental body, with accompanying identifications, to a more simple and less identified way of being and living. Read More