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  • Ashley Brown

What is TRE®?

I get this question, A lot! I too didn't really know what TRE was until I graduated from my first yoga teacher training and actually attended my first TRE workshop. I was drawn in to the idea of releasing tension especially in the PSOAS. At the time, I was teaching dancers who were having serious PSOAS and hip flexor problems and thought I could learn something and bring it back to them. I later learned this is a self-help technique to physically release stress, tension and trauma and not to be taught without certification (and for good reason).

So I paused and found a teacher (who would end up being my trainer) and had an interesting first TRE workshop. After the workshop with a buzzing sensation throughout my whole body and was fully aware and connected to my body. As a dancer you are trained to be aware of the whole body at once, but that doesn't mean it's always connected.

Let's continue shall we?


How did TRE® come about?

TRE stands for Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises and it was developed by Dr. David Berceli who has worked over the past two decades in war torn countries. He noticed that the one on one sessions of psychotherapy were not enough to help heal the deep imprints of trauma in the soldiers and the civilians. He observed two major things. One was our innate ability to protect ourselves in the form of muscular contractions when our fight or flight response is triggered. Two was the natural shaking mechanism that occurs either in the situation or soon after. This natural shaking is the bodies way to bring the nervous system back into homeostasis (a neutral state).


When did we learn how to NOT shake?

If shaking is natural, when did we learn or unlearn how to NOT shake? This unlearned behavior is not unique in our American Western society, but is a global phenomena of social conditioning. Tremoring may seem like an illness, disease, nerves, or literally being scared. So how do we allow ourselves to tap back into our natural state of self-regulation?

With the use of TRE and a lot of compassion.

As one begins the practice of TRE it can feel like a battle of mind over body, "Am I really doing this? Am I really shaking? Am I doing it right?" Remember to start slowly and with the help of a certified facilitator to guide you the first few sessions to get the hang of the process. Soon it will become apart of your healing toolkit in addition to all of the other tools and assistance you might be receiving from others to guide you to a more whole human being.


So What is it???

TRE is a series of 7 simple exercises that Dr. David Berceli developed to activate the self-induced therapeutic tremors, via the PSOAS muscle, to help release held contractions in the body from tension, stress, or life long trauma. By working with a certified TRE facilitator the first few sessions if the experience is overwhelming you'll learn how to slow down and stop the tremors. This is self-regulation.

The TRE process is NOT in place of psychiatric assistance, as a provider I am just guiding the practitioner through the physical expressions in the form of contractions and releases. TRE is a great tool to use in conjunction with psychiatry as well as other physical and wellness modalities.


Why would I want to practice TRE?

This practice was designed for releasing held contractions in the body. Sometimes these muscular contractions show up as body pains, injuries, post surgery stiffness, daily stress, or it is from a lifetime of trauma.

Short story time:

When I was 11/12 years old I was in my first or second serious summer dance camp. We were dancing 9-5pm 5 days a week doing many different dance styles and rigorous rehearsal schedule. In class, on around the second week in, I was doing a turn across the floor and my back spasmed. I was bedridden for 3 days unable to walk or breath deeply. From then on and throughout my dance career, I continued to have back pain. The back pain could have been a mix from both the dancing as well as my childhood trauma. Since starting the practice of TRE, I have not had a serious back injury. I also have felt MORE present in my body and able to process overwhelming life experiences with the use of TRE.

Some students notice the benefits of TRE by less chronic pain, better sleep, more alertness or energy, and full body presence. These are just some of the many benefits of TRE as it is continuing to be studied on Parkinson's, MS, traumatic brain injury, soldiers, and more. Here is a link to the specific studies through the TRE website.


It's all experiential.

I can talk till the cows come home about TRE, trauma and the effects on our body, but it truly is an experiential process. We sometimes need to get out of our heads and into our bodies. Really deeply within our bodies and feel the process with full awareness.

This practice is not to intentionally reawaken the trauma to feel the pain (cathartically), but to meet the point of being comfortably uncomfortable and not to the point of being overwhelmed. We meet that "edge" spot and we leave it for another day. That is Self-Regulation within TRE.

The TRE practice not only helps release held patterns, but allows us to regain self-regulation and self-control. If this sounds like an experience and possibly another tool for your self-care toolkit I am hosting a 4-week series. This series really allows for you, the practitioner, to obtain the practice in your body as it then becomes a natural part of your bodies response to stress, tension and trauma.

To find out more about the 4-week series click here!

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