Relaxing at Home, with TRE exercises

At some point, we all live through circumstances that bring some tension into our lives. Sometimes, we go through actual traumatic events, which can leave a deeper impact on us. While it is actually possible to grow from traumatic events, it's probably more frequent to have some form of post-traumatic stress (PTS). Whatever our circumstances, some form of milder or deeper stress is almost unavoidable these days.

 

This is even truer during the past few months. Being almost constantly at home is both physically and mentally demanding. Some times, extremely demanding. I too have my ups and downs...

 

Back in 2018, however, I was lucky to have been introduced to TRE, as I was guided in an improvised group practice by 2 certified trainers in South Africa. I had never heard of it before and literally had no idea what to expect. Still, I am usually up for trying new things... and I am very glad I tried TRE.

 

 

Photo from Anatomy Trains.
Photo from Anatomy Trains.

 

 

TRE stands for Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises. It's a technique that was originally created by Dr. David Berceli. You can read more about TRE, its benefits, and available trainings in their official Trauma Prevention website. According to them: 

 

"TRE safely activates a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance."

 

"The therapeutic muscle tremors evoked by the TRE exercise process is a natural, internal, neuro-physiological response of the body to reduce its own stress and restore a sense of well-being."

 

While there is some (limited) research on the topic, I can only share my personal experience with it with you. [You can find a 'condensed explanation' of why and how TRE works hereIndeed, I am not quite sure why it works but we do know that many animals also tremor; they tremor to get rid of the tension caused by intense events. Unlike them, we tend to diminish or disregard the impact that tension can have on our bodies. We pretend it was nothing, try to get ourselves 'back together', and probably tell ourselves that if we had tremored it would have been a sign of weakness. I would like to invite you to be courageous enough to tremor!

 

A TRE session can take around 20-30 minutes (or much longer, if you wish). There isn't just one single way of doing it, and you can find multiple videos online with different variations. I did not find them all equally useful... so I am sharing some of the ones I liked best with you below. 

 

The way I learned it has 7 sections or sets of exercises, which follow very closely the method officially recommended by TRE/Berceli and show in these videos. It includes 6 preparatory exercises and then the main 'tremoring session'.

 

The preparatory exercises are meant to get your body and muscles ready for the shaking section; they are designed to fatigue your muscles (you are aiming for a 7 out 10 in your fatigue scale), so the tremoring can occur faster and more naturally. These first 6 exercises will take you about 10-15 minutes. As you become more experienced, you will learn to allow your body to start tremoring faster. 

 

The last part, which takes place on the floor (a Yoga mat or similar is recommended), can last several minutes. For a beginner, you might want to start with around 5-7 minutes. Some people can have a 1 hour session but don't even aim for that if you are just starting. Let your body guide you and tell you how much is enough. It's not a competition and your ego should 'stay at home'. 

 

 


 

Allow your body to shake in whatever way it goes. People tremor in very different ways, depending on their physiology and where you tend to store tension. You might also notice differences between each session. 

If you want to learn more, the videos above show you the whole process. 

 

One recommendation: do try to remain focused on the 'here and now', instead of allowing your mind to wonder. Look at the room, the ceiling, notice the sounds, etc. - anything that is present (avoid any thought about the future, past or daydreaming). You can feel emotional release during the tremor: a little bit is fine, but don't allow it to take over; if it does, stop the tremoring and re-focus. [1]

 

Give it a try and see how it feels.

 

During this pandemic period, I have been doing it more often. It almost seems as sometimes my body is just asking for a good shake. So I try to allow some time in the evening once in a while (when I just feel my body is asking for it), just before going to sleep, for a TRE session. My goal is to start doing it a bit more regularly, but I am still working towards that. In any case, I do feel more relaxed and less stressed after a session; I can notice this for at least a few days.

 

Maybe it can help you too! Share your impression and thoughts below.

  

 

 

[1] Important note: "TRE® is a safe and effective stress release technique for most people. The TRE process should not be used as a substitute for trauma recovery procedures of a medical or psychological nature. Individuals who have physical or psychological/psychiatric conditions that require strict regulation, individuals with fragile psychological defenses, a complex history of trauma or restricting physical or medical limitations should consult their medical practitioner or a Certified TRE Provider prior to performing these exercises." (in https://traumaprevention.com/what-is-tre/)

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Natália Leal  |  Coach & Trainer

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