Imagine if your body was able to heal itself. TRE is just that. A simple set of exercises that allow you to heal the nervous system (and deal with stress), release tension, feel more alive and restore your posture.
What is TRE?
TRE stands for Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises. It was devised by David Berceli, an expert in trauma, body work and conflict resolution. He spent a lot of time working in war zones across the World and came across a lot of traumatised people. He realised that there weren’t enough therapists to go around and set out to devise a system that could be easily learned & practised by individuals without the need for therapy. As a body worker he understood that it was possible to work through the body rather than the mind to heal trauma. TRE was born.
Even though it was born out of trauma, TRE can be used by anyone to wake up the body, release deeply held tension, boost balance and well-being.
How does it work?
My sister has a Jack Russell called Jake. Eighteen months ago he was attacked by another dog and ended up at the vet, quite badly injured. He shook for almost a week after the attack. Then the shakes stopped and, other than a few stitches, he was pretty much back to normal.
After a distressing event, it’s natural for our body to shake.
Tremors are turned on by the more primitive part of our brain as a way to allow the nervous system to discharge and reset itself. The problem comes when we inhibit this process. Tremors are very often seen as weakness or a sign of illness – in the same way as we suppress crying, we suppress natural shaking. So our nervous system doesn’t get a chance to down-regulate and we can become stuck in defensive patterns of behaviour associated with our natural instincts of fight, flight and freeze. This can have a huge impact on our physical and mental health. And it doesn’t have to be just a one time traumatic event. The same can be true of extended periods of stress.
What is the TRE process?
In a TRE session you complete seven simple physical exercises that are designed to mildly fatigue and stretch certain muscles. These exercises induce the body’s natural tremors. You are then encouraged to let the tremors develop and move through the body. This is achieved safely and slowly, and you have the opportunity to stop and start the process whenever you like. It takes about an hour. There is a period of relaxation at the end.
What does it feel like?
Most people find it deeply relaxing. Speaking for myself, it’s weird too, lying on the floor and letting your body shake – sometimes just the legs, other times moving into the arms and hands, or diaphragm. I recall a moment on my 3rd or 4th shake when my brain relaxed and said, ok body, over to you. And it was this amazing feeling of witnessing the body take over and realising that we spend so much time trying to control everything with our heads when the body has all this wonderful innate wisdom.
Shaking has not only restored balance to my body and even altered its shape by releasing tension. It has also made me feel more alive, more comfortable in my body and much more connected to myself.
What are the benefits?
TRE can help with trauma resolution, PTSD, stress related conditions, depression, chronic pain, addiction, chronic conditions, back, shoulder and neck pain, insomnia, digestive issues such as IBS, breathing dysfunction, uncontrolled emotions, and a host of other conditions.
TRE is a body based practice so there is no need to talk about past events or understand triggers to behaviour
It is also a wonderful way to wake up your body if you’re feeling disconnected from life. It can develop creativity, a sense of play and adventure and a new relationship with your body.
How often should I practice it?
After a few guided sessions you can safely practise TRE on your own at home. Two or three times a week would be great, although it’s also something to have in your toolbox to use when you need it. Slow, persistent practice is recommended with TRE – move at a pace that is safe and manageable.
Where can I try it?
I run group sessions via Zoom, one or two Monday evenings a month – details can be found here. Some people prefer to do one or two 1-2-1 sessions before they join a group and I’m always happy to accommodate that, either online or in-person. Private sessions cost £50 for 90 minutes (up to 2 people) – please email to book (firstname.lastname@example.org). I also run in person introductory sessions regularly.
Can anyone do it?
TRE is not recommended during pregnancy nor if you have certain mental health conditions. Physical issues such as lower back problems or injuries may be an issue – if you have any concerns, please get in touch.
For more information including videos showing what’s involved in the practice visit traumaprevention.com.