The information in this section has been included to help you get a better feel for what TRE is and how it works. These are the questions I am asked most often by people who are considering learning TRE. I hope they answer your queries too, but if not, please contact me and I’ll do my best to resolve your queries.
TRE – Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises – are simple physical exercises that help the body to release deep patterns of stress, tension and trauma held in the muscles.
By stretching and fatiguing various muscles, the exercises induce natural tremors and help the body remember how to ‘shake’ off accumulated stress and trauma. This natural shaking/vibrating mechanism calms the nervous system and helps return the body to a state of balance.
TRE is a completely natural self-healing process that helps to reduce the effects of chronic stress, tension and unresolved trauma.
TRE has been shown to deliver a wide range of benefits. Different people report different benefits at different times, but you can expect to experience some or all of the following :
In my own life, I use TRE in all sorts of situations. Sometimes I start my day with a TRE session and this helps me to ground and focus for the rest of my day. Sometimes I shake before a client session or other meeting so that I can get rid of whatever’s been on my mind. I also tremor when I notice I’m feeling particularly anxious or ‘wired’ and this helps me come back to myself and feel calmer and more peaceful. Sometimes I tremor just before I sleep which really helps to have a solid night’s sleep.
Regardless of when, though, any TRE session usually leaves me feeling calmer and more grounded and able to face the world with a clearer head. Sometimes it’s a huge relief to shift whatever emotions have been bubbling up in my subconscious and at others I just feel soothed and looked after.
We are all exposed to a range of stressful experiences every day. Stress doesn’t just come from ‘big’ and obvious stressors like violence, crime, death, natural disasters and war. Stressful events can include seemingly ‘smaller’ things like the frustration of the painfully slowly moving traffic on the way to work, the anxiety triggered by a difficult conversation with a boss or colleague, the daily grind of complex negotiations with a recalcitrant teenager (or parent!) or simply the feeling of overwhelm that bubbles up every time you look at the to-do list that just won’t complete itself.
Each time we encounter one of these or any other of a myriad of other potential stressors, our bodies react physiologically. Most of the time, we’re not even aware of all the things that are happening in our bodies. The truth is, though, that for most of us, our fight / flight / freeze response is triggered multiple times a day, even on what we think is a pretty ‘average’ day.
This in itself is still not necessarily a major problem. The real problems start to happen when we don’t turn OFF the stress response. Years of social conditioning have steered us away from the vital discharge phase of a stressful experience, often because we think the tremoring and shaking that usually marks the release of stress makes us look weak, silly or out of control.
Instead, we hold on to all the adrenaline and cortisol and other stress hormones that are released when we experience stressful activities and thoughts. Our unconscious mind thinks we are continuously in danger so it produces more hormones and continues to hold a brace position against the ‘evil’ that is ‘attacking’ us. Over time, we start experiencing real physical and/or mental discomfort without understanding how these are connected to our stress or why they suddenly occur. We think we just have headaches or backaches or stomach problems or high blood pressure or disease or anxiety or depression (this list could go on and on)… what’s really happening, though, is that the continual flood of stress hormones is changing our body chemistry. The residue from trauma and stress accumulates in our bodies and literally makes us sick.
TRE helps because it reminds the body how to discharge the effects of stress and trauma. The simple exercises developed by Dr David Berceli access our unconscious brains and were specifically designed to activate involuntary shaking in the muscles. These neurogenic tremors release deeply held stress and tension and allow the autonomic nervous system to move from fight or flight or freeze to a rest and digest state in which our bodies can heal. Creating this space for rest and healing has a positive impact on many aspects of our lives and improves overall levels of health and happiness.
The short answer to this question is anyone and everyone. TRE has been shown to improve the lives of people all around the world, regardless of their age, occupation, income, nationality, race or any other demographic variables or physical capabilities. The truth is, all humans experience stress to some extent or another which means all humans could do with a helping hand navigating through stressful experiences.
As the benefits of TRE become more widely known, TRE is being adopted as a stress management tool for front line first responders like police officers, military staff, fire fighters and medical personnel. It is also being used in corporate environments to improve staff resilience and among athletes to improve performance and recovery in sport.
TRE can help anyone who experiences any kind of stressful situation or experience.
Have you ever noticed how your hands shake or your knees ‘knock’ just before you give a speech? Or been involved in an accident and noticed that your body started shaking involuntarily afterwards? The shaking that you experienced is a completely natural phenomenon and is ‘officially’ known as neurogenic tremors.
All mammals experience neurogenic tremors. Tremors help the central nervous system discharge excessive nervous tension from the body. For some people, tremors can be very ‘active’ or ‘large’. For others, they can feel like milder, finer vibrations. Sometimes people experience tremors as bouncing, rocking, vibrating, swaying or stretching movements.
If you’re attending your first session with me, come prepared to chat first. I’ll explain what TRE is all about, where it came from and why and how it helps people all over the world. You’ll get a chance to ask any questions you have before diving into the exercises.
We’ll also do an initial health check so that I get a clearer idea of what’s going on with you physically and mentally. If you’re receiving any kind of professional treatment, it’s best to let your doctor or therapist know in advance that you’re planing to do TRE. If necessary and as long as you’re ok with it, I can check in with other treatment providers before your session to make sure that everyone’s on the same page. TRE integrates well with other mental and/or physical treatment modalities and there aren’t usually any issues with other types of treatment.
Once all the formalities are out of the way, we’ll work through the TRE exercises. Each session is geared entirely to your pace and comfort levels and there’s no pressure to do anything that doesn’t feel right for you. As we work through the exercises, I’ll explain which body parts each targets so you understand exactly what’s going on. I’ll explain what self-regulation is and we’ll talk about the different reactions you may notice in your body. You’ll practice stopping and starting the tremors so you’re confident you’re in control the whole way through. At the end of the session, you’ll get to have a short rest, a bit like shavasana (corpse pose) at the end of a yoga class.
The probably annoying but unfortunately truthful answer to this question is ‘It depends’! Many factors can influence what happens during a TRE session. The important thing to know, regardless of what actually does take place, is that your body knows exactly what it needs to do, when to do it and how to do it. TRE is safe, natural, harmless and instinctive.
For those of you for whom this answer is somewhat inadequate, here are some common trends. When you do TRE, you may notice:
I could go on… the point, however, is that it really doesn’t matter what your body does. There’s no wrong or right. Everyone has their own tremor pattern and experience. As a recovering perfectionist myself, I know how hard it will be for some of you to read that there is no ‘right’ way to tremor.
Doing TRE helps your body to do exactly what it needs. It’s ok – actually, it’s essential – for your mind to take a back seat and simply enjoy the process. Your body knows, even if your mind battles to accept and allow that!
You can learn TRE in person or online using tools like Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts. You can also learn TRE using resources available from this store.
If you’re new to TRE, however, I recommend that you do at least your first few sessions with a trained instructor, preferably face to face. Once you’ve mastered the basics, especially how to self-regulate, you can consider experimenting with virtual and physical group and individual sessions so you can figure out what your ideal TRE recipe is. It’s different for everyone – and that’s ok.
I first learned by watching a video on my own at home. While this gave me the gist of the exercises, I had a far richer experience of tremoring when I attended a trainer-led group session and then my first course with real, physical, in-the-flesh humans. My knowledge and understanding of the TRE process grew by leaps and bounds when I worked one on one with my supervisor during my certification process.
Having tried several approaches, I believe that sharing the experience with another human or group adds much value to the experience. While I now tremor regularly on my own, I really enjoy opportunities where I can tremor with a group or with a buddy, whether we’re online or in the same physical space. My clients also enjoy being able to combine a home practice with group tremor sessions.
The beauty of TRE is that it can be learned by anyone and done anywhere so the answer to this question is mostly yes. Most people can practice safely on their own, provided they have learnt and can apply the principles of self-regulation.
Many people find they really enjoy tremoring in a group in addition to practicing on their own. You may find that a combination of individual and group tremors works better for you than just tremoring alone. The best way to figure it out is to experiment, have fun and try different approaches!
If you have experienced severe trauma, know you have PTSD or are navigating a particularly emotional period, I would strongly advise you to work with an experienced practitioner until you and your trainer feel comfortable and confident that it’s safe for you to practice on your own.
TRE should never be seen as a substitute for professional advice or support. TRE can, however, be safely used with and indeed often enhances other therapeutic approaches.
As a human race, we have generally become pretty good at repressing, burying or hiding from our emotions. The truth is, we don’t ever really escape them, even though we think we do. The emotions we think we’ve escaped are often buried in our fascia. When we do TRE, one of the things that happens is that we release tension from deep within our muscles. This can shake up the emotions that are buried deep too, which leads to various forms of emotional release during or after TRE sessions.
If you think this may be uncomfortable or unpleasant or too intense to manage on your own, I highly recommend that you find someone who’s trained to teach you TRE within a coaching or therapy session. You could also ask a buddy who’s been doing TRE for a while to be with you while you tremor.
Because we’re all different and have experienced different levels and kinds of stress in our lives, the answer to this really depends on your individual make up. The key factor to consider is how you feel when you’re doing TRE and what your body tells you it needs.
Once you’ve become familiar with the TRE exercises and process, and are comfortable with your TRE practice, you can probably aim to do the exercises 3-4 times a week for about 15 minutes a session. Some days you might find you’re able and want to do more and on other days 5 or 10 minutes may be enough. Just as our days and bodies and lives are different every day, so too can be our TRE practice.
The creator of TRE exercises, Dr David Berceli, has a comprehensive website that provides background information, testimonials and all sorts of fascinating examples of where and how TRE is being used internationally to improve health and wellbeing. His site is well worth a visit.