Let’s face it. Stress is part of life, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
What matters is our perspective and how we deal with stress and especially how we nurture ourselves back to stability and grace when stress or even trauma do occur.
Why is it that certain people thrive in highly stressful situations while others shut down during situations that aren’t nearly as demanding?
Part of the reason most are aware of, is that we have complex emotional and psychological programming that determine to some degree how we will react to and cope with stress and tension.
One aspect that is often overlooked has to do with understanding an inbuilt mechanism within all mammals that’s designed to release tension and stress without conscious effort.
Wait a minute… We have a mechanism that will release our tension and stress without our effort?!
Although this technique isn’t a magic pill in the least and does require some effort and discipline to tremor when you feel the need, the tremors will work in their own miraculous way once activated!
In this article, I will go over what these tremors are, and how they were discovered, some profound transformations people and communities around the world have gone through as a result of utilizing the tremors, everyday benefits, and where to go to learn in depth about activating them.
In closing, I will also put forward some of the implications of these discoveries about how we can foster greater global peace and racial and cultural reconciliation.
What Are Neurogenic Tremors & TRE?
Neurogenic tremors are found in all mammals. They are an inbuilt physiological response to release stress, tension, and trauma. Similar to how we have an inbuilt response to clench and tighten, protecting ourselves from injury and trauma, we also have a way to let go and release this tension.
David Berceli, a Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Field Traumatologist, and Clinical Social Worker (PhD), has discovered a way to activate natural neurogenic tremors in the body using a simple set of exercises he called TRE or Tension/Trauma Releasing Exercises.
David discovered this while working in war torn areas around the world noticing that no matter how accustomed to the environment of war him and his colleagues were, they would always react in a precise manner to the sound of explosions, that is, clenching inwards into a ball, thereby protecting the head and vital organs from damage!
The Exercises stress a core group of muscles, and when the muscles begin to get fatigued, they start to tremble. After the series of mild muscle stressing exercises, people who are practicing lay on their backs and hold a position that causes more shaking until the tremors will naturally remain activated for a duration that is comfortable.
Unwinding The Knots In Our Muscles & Fascia
The psoas muscles are responsible for putting us into our contracted and self protective posture, which I mentioned above. The psoas connects to all five lumbar vertebrae of the spine and connect the back with the legs and spine, and If they are chronically tight, it can cause a whole host of dysfunction in our bodies if left unresolved.
When neurogenic tremors have been activated, the self intelligence of the whole organism starts a process of restoring balance and relaxation to the body.
The tremors are actually our muscles contracting and relaxing in order to produce different rhythms that manifest as a small vibration all the way to quivering and shaking, or even swaying or undulations of the body. These have the effect of relaxing the deep tension in our muscles, realigning our fascia and also creating better symmetry in our musculo-skeletal system. The contraction of the psoas can now be loosened up, and our posture “reassembled”.
The tremors resolve problems that can’t be reached using massage alone, which makes sense why there are an increasing number of massage therapists and other bodywork practitioners also utilizing TRE with their clients.
Healing Through The Mind Or Healing Through The Body?
“Let the body speak it’s mind” -Peter Levine, author, Waking The Tiger, Healing Trauma
In some modalities and healing circles, there is an idea that we can eliminate and overcome tension by using the mind.
While mind-originated healing is very effective in certain situations, if there is a great deal of tension in the body, it won’t be accessible even with the greatest mental effort because the pattern of tension originates from the brain stem.
It isn’t impossible to override the brain stem and basic vital process as I outlined about Wim Hof accessing his Vagus Nerve in my previous article here, however, it is important to discern what we can approach using our conscious/subconscious mind and the areas we need to apply body practices and exercises to access a deeper levels of our physiology.
The nature of our humanness is a paradox. Not only is the mind in the body but the body is in the mind. Memories are stored in our brain as much as our experiences are registered in our bodies. This is a good example of the the principles explained in the works of professor Karl Pribram and David Bohm, who’s findings reflect a holographic model of physics and physiology.
Countless demonstrations have shown that when constriction resolves itself in the body, emotions that are inextricably woven into that pattern of tension are brought to the surface for healing and integration.
Profound Results From Multiple Countries Speak For Themselves
All around the world people in careers who are susceptible to trauma on a daily basis have been utilizing TRE with great results.
Especially in certain fields of work, real life and vicarious trauma can accumulate and cause problems overtime. Many firefighters, paramedics, police, military personnel and even therapists have learned the exercises and now have this tool they can use to release tension and stress which maintains their resilience.
David Berceli has traveled all over the world to work with communities who have experienced severe trauma. Some examples are: after the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and more recently in Turkey to aid refugees.
What we should take note of here is that there are a countless number of professions and life situations where it could be very beneficial to discharge accumulated stress and tension.
The Positive Effects TRE Has Brought To Everyday People
Beyond the healing of trauma that TRE has demonstrated, many martial artists, athletes, body builders and yogic practitioners use TRE to loosen up and integrate after training. There is also a new offshoot of TRE for yoga enthusiasts called Neurogenic Yoga.
Here are some of the positive benefits many have noted after starting to practice the exercises:
- Increased flexibility and athletic potential
- More energy
- Better body posture and symmetry
- Improved quality of sleep and digestion
- Healing of emotional and psychological wounds
- Decreased tension and muscle stiffness
A Vision Of Global Peace, Cultural & Racial Reconciliation
“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”
When looking at the world, the effect tension and stress has on us as a global family is very apparent. It could be said that the charge and energy behind global and interpersonal conflict is one and the same. When a society doesn’t have a way to process stress and trauma, and it continues to build up, this trauma will inevitably effect that nations relations and diplomacy. After all, each country is made up of millions of individuals who are basically the same on a biological level and who’s behavior will change once enough trauma has accumulated without it’s proper release.
Many modalities and systems have arisen that aim to help address conflict and disputes between people and communities around the world. A few of these are NVC (Non Violent Communication), Restorative Justice, Deep Democracy, and consensus.
I believe these and other methods offer the ability to make progress in healing relations between parties and reaching a respect for each others viewpoints. One of the challenges is that sometimes resolving conflict through verbal means can only go so far. When the underlying emotional charge is still locked in the body from stress and trauma, it will continue to influence how the individuals are able to negotiate and reach a common understanding.
In some cases, TRE could be a very synergistic fit for conflict resolution methods because the root cause which is stored as a trigger and emotion in the body can be transformed thereby allowing the participants to reach a state of calm and relaxation which would allow forgiveness to take place, and with great skill, even racial and cultural reconciliation using a means and structure like NVC to resolve the underlying conflict after the groups have gone through the tremoring process.
The only way the world will experience peace is when people experience peace in themselves, and TRE is a way that could help us to access this state of being. A big shift is possible when we have tools to use so that trauma and stress don’t accumulate any longer, either that be in our personal lives, institutions, or larger communities.
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**Read This Before You Try The Activation Exercises!
TRE is very safe for most people and can be practiced by those from all walks of life however certain individuals need to exercise caution in using TRE such as those with physical limitations or taking psychiatric or prescribed medications. Make sure you fully understand how the tremors will affect you. Don’t hesitate to consult a certified practitioner to ask questions or try a session to see how you feel.
Want to try TRE on your own or with a practitioner?
A great facilitator in the Vancouver, British Columbia area is Desmond Williams. He is a very attuned and grounded practitioner who is skilled at guiding TRE sessions.
If you are one to dive right in and you would like to try out the exercises for yourself (taking into account the considerations I mentioned above), there are great resources for you to learn about TRE and start tremoring!
Before attending David Berceli’s seminar in British Columbia this fall, I had bought his book “The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process” and had used it to tremor several times since 2011.
There are books, DVD’s (hard copy and digital download) and pamphlets available with instructions on how to activate the tremors at http://traumaprevention.com
The website also has an international list of trained TRE facilitators.
For those who may want an even gentler way to release stress, trauma, and tension, Somatic Experiencing pioneered by Peter Levine is a great alternative that works using similar principles.
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