A few weeks ago, I was asked to talk about how to release tension and trauma from the body with TRE® (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises) as a part of self-care education for a local Children's Advocacy Center. This was being offered as a part of staff development day, and for board members, volunteers, educators, forensic interviewers, and staff.
Before I led the group through TRE®, the group was learning about "Presenting for Impact," strategies and best practices for presenting in front of people. For most people, public speaking is uncomfortable but with practice, it does become easier. The presenter leading this session did a great job sharing how to make a bigger impact with our speeches, from catchy headlines to using examples to teach a new concept or personal stories that people can relate to that demonstrate the main points. It was a power-packed and super informative session. My favorite part was how she used funny videos to show the group what not to do.
She also touched on how it "feels" to have to stand and speak in front of a group or in front of a camera and how our bodies react when under stress. How we respond to stress can influence our ability to present clearly (words, tone, body language) in front of other people. This was a perfect lead into my presentation about our bodies and how our nervous system is set up to handle stress. Over lunch, I asked people to share what they do now to relieve stress and what they do for self-care to manage the daily stress of life.
When introducing TRE®, I also explained that many of the practices that we engage in for self-care and stress relief often don't help with the chronic stress and old trauma because it has become a chronic tension and habitual muscular holding pattern in the body.
Most adults are high functioning under a lot of stress. In our culture, stress is a way of life. A little stress can be helpful but with too much, it becomes toxic. Most still manage to function because we have become accustomed to soldiering on at the expense of failing to notice the signs in the body asking for more time to rest.
As I led the group through the seven yoga stretches that activate the natural tremoring process safely, participants slowly started to feel more grounded and aware of how they were holding tension in their bodies and a few mentioned noticing how disconnected they felt from their bodies.
At the end of the session, after the group experienced a short period of active tremoring, a few shared that they had never felt so relaxed and that this was their first experience really listening to their bodies. Some expressed feeling like they would after a deep tissue massage, very relaxed and even ready to take a nap.
The session wrapped up with me sharing some guidelines to continue practicing this powerful self-help tool safely at home. I reminded the group that TRE® can both work as a tool to help with day-to-day stress and also help them to release old trauma from the body. That it takes time to navigate in the beginning and learn careful self-regulation (staying grounded and aware) until they become comfortable with the tremoring. When it comes to TRE®, less is more and taking breaks from the tremors is just as important as the tremors. This was something that they understood better after they had experienced the tremors.
The difference between TRE® and other self-care modalities is that TRE® is a bottom-up approach that works with our autonomic nervous system, unlike yoga, mindfulness, therapy, exercise, etc. Those self-care modalities are directed by our consciousness, while the tremors start in the nervous system and go where tension is being held in the body and ready to be released. TRE® actually complements and enhances other healing modalities very nicely.
This week, I experienced another reminder of why I love and appreciate the power of TRE®. I stubbed my toe very badly. I even thought I had broken it. After screaming out in pain, I limped to a chair and sat down to take a few deep breaths. After about a minute, my body started to shake.
The pain had sent hormones into my body to help with the pain and now, as I was calming down, the body wanted to get rid of the excess tension and hormones from my nervous system by shaking. Knowing what I know now - it actually made me smile. After assessing my injury, I laid down on the floor and let my body tremor for a few minutes until I felt calm again. I did not break my toe but it was black and blue and forced me to limp around for 5 days. I am slowly getting better now and just now getting back to my workout routine.
This is how the tremors are meant to help our bodies. When the traumatic event or stressful episode is over, your body wants to come back into balance. In the past, I might have tried to stop the shaking, possibly making the recovery period longer. But now that TRE® is a part of my self-care routine, I use it as a part of my workouts and as a tension prevention tool.
Because of the regular practice of this self-help tool, consistency has created a new healthy habit, that creates real connection and change in the body and mind.
If you are looking for a way to supplement your healing practice or stress relief, I want to encourage you to give TRE® at try. I offer online TRE® sessions, either single sessions or 3-session bundle, to help you get started in a safe and supportive way, especially if you have childhood trauma. And if you are in Portland, Oregon, next month, I will be offering a 3 session group class at Studio PDX. Let me know if you would like to join me!
Ready to start your healing journey? Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, I can help! Just follow (this link) or call 619-889-6366 to reserve a one-hour coaching session with me ($175). Let me help you understand the impact of trauma and how to start your healing journey. You deserve it! Reserve your spot NOW!
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