trauma releasing exercises: shake it off naturally

Ahead of his trauma releasing exercises (TRE) workshops at triyoga Camden in March, Steve Haines shares some insights into TRE and what to expect: 

Bodies are amazing. Consciousness is a remarkable gift. There is, however, the enduring mystery as to how body and mind work together to enable us to sense and know and act in the world. Far too often it is hard work to feel and we can easily get overwhelmed by the challenges of living.

Tension and trauma releasing exercises (TRE®) is a novel paradigm to support embodiment and feelings of safety. The essence of TRE is that shaking enhances the experience of being present and connected.

TRE is an innovative series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. The exercises safely activate a natural reflex mechanism of shaking that eases muscular tension and wakes up the body. When we skilfully connect to the world of inner feelings inside of all us, it allows us to feel connected to others, to nature and to the wonder of being in the world.

TRE is based on the fundamental idea, backed by research, that stress, tension and trauma is both psychological and physical. The tremors generated in TRE generally feel pleasant and soothing. After doing TRE, many people report feelings of peace and well-being. TRE has helped hundreds of thousands of people globally.

TRE is designed to be a self-help tool that can be learned in a group setting. Once learned TRE can be used independently as needed throughout one’s life, thereby continuously supporting and promoting personal health and wellness. With practice it become easy to elicit a natural tremor response that organically leads the individual to deeper feelings and sensations in their body.

Trauma can be defined as anything that overwhelms our ability to cope. The most basic question your brain is trying to answer is ‘Am I Safe?’. TRE engages primitive reflexes that evolved to reset the body after protective responses of ‘fight-or-flight’ or ‘freeze’ have been triggered. Unfortunately these defence reactions can hijack the function of the whole person and limit our health if not discharged.

In all of us there is a remarkable ability to react to danger, and, importantly, to recover and be more resilient once the danger has passed. David Berceli, the founder of TRE, is fond of saying that without the ability to discharge stress, tension and trauma patterns we would not have survived as a human species. Shaking is a natural mechanism that helps reboot stuck defence patterns in old parts of the nervous system.

There are three main things going on when you learn TRE:

One, there is basic education as to how trauma works and that it always involves action patterns in the body. We teach that people are not ‘mad, bad or broken’ when they are overwhelmed by anxiety and pain. Understanding how primitive protective reflexes work is a very powerful tool for change.

Two, TRE is wonderful training in mind-body interaction. We explore how to relate to intense feelings in a grounded and self-regulated way. We explore how to release tension and feel more connected. A consistent theme is the metaphor of ‘waking the body up’ to support feelings of ease and joy. There is deep acknowledgement of dissociative states and sometimes the need for a long, slow journey to embodied safety.

Three, you shake, a lot! We teach how to turn on and turn of tremors in the body. Shaking is a novel and interesting stimulus to the body-mind. It’s quite wonderful to let primitive reflexes run your body, to let you heal you. In the right context the feelings generated by shaking can be a powerful stimulus to a stuck organism. New stimuli, approached with safety and curiosity, can support learning and growth in our flexible, adaptive body.

TRE can be a powerful adjunct to an existing yoga practice or meditation practice. All you need is a body and some curiosity. It is a self-help tool that is simple to learn for people who are stuck in persistent pain, tiredness or anxiety and depression. Give it a chance and it will deepen and add to your skills to meet the puzzle of being aware and in a body.

Here’s what Steve’s students had to say: 

“Great presenter. I liked that the course was interactive, interesting, fun and affordable.” – Julie Walters, occupational therapist 

“The atmosphere of safety and an allowing attitude was superb.” – Lotta Kupiainen, yoga instructor

“Steve is quite calming and I felt safe and supported in the tremoring. No questions felt silly to ask. The science given was interesting without being confusing.” – Laura Sanders, children’s social worker

To experience TRE for yourself, join Steve for his TRE introductory day at triyoga Camden on Thursday 14th March 2019. For a more in-depth exploration, he is running a three-day workshop 25th – 27th March 2019. Click here for full details.

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