by Jojo Furnival
The words ‘traumatic’ and ‘traumatised’ are used casually now in everyday speech, e.g. ‘There were no dark chocolate biscuits in the meeting room today, it was fairly traumatic’.
But what actually is trauma?
According to current research on trauma, people can be traumatised by any event they perceive (consciously or unconsciously) to be life-threatening. Age, life experience and constitution are of course all factors in this. Thunder or shouting, for instance, are rarely life-threatening, but when it comes to trauma, the critical factor is the perception of threat and the incapacity to deal with it. As a result, even an imaginary event can be interpreted as life-threatening.
Symptoms of trauma vary from more immediate manifestations such as amnesia or panic attacks, to seemingly unrelated ailments like chronic pain and asthma that may develop over time.
The likelihood is that the majority of us have suffered some sort of trauma, whether it be related to addiction, burnout, a relationship, or something else entirely, and TRE is one way to heal this trauma.
TRE stands for Tension/Trauma Releasing Exercises. They help individuals to release stress or tension as a result of difficult life circumstances, immediate or prolonged stressful situations, or traumatic life experiences. Consisting of six simple exercises, TRE evokes a muscular shaking process in the body.
The exercises elicit this shaking, or neurogenic tremors, in a controlled and sustained manner. When evoked in this way, this shaking begins to release deep chronic muscular tension held within the body. They come from the center of gravity of the body (S3), which is protected by the psoas muscles. When shaking is evoked at this powerful center of the body, it reverberates throughout the entire body, traveling along the spine, releasing deep chronic tension from the sacrum to the cranium. When tension is released anywhere in the body, the brain registers a reduction in pain signals and produces new hormones for relaxation and comfort. Often, this release of tension is much like receiving an internal massage.
At New Life Foundation, we currently have two qualified TRE practitioners: Our Intake Therapist Madelaine and Core Energetics Therapist Fernando. Madelaine holds TRE group classes twice a week.
While she was a volunteer at New Life in June and July, Carolina, also a qualified TRE practitioner, assisted with Madelaine’s classes. Carolina’s TRE journey began in 2009 when she was enrolled in body psychotherapy training in Core Energetics in her hometown of Brasilia, Brazil. Someone mentioned to her that David Berceli, the founder of TRE, was doing a weekend training course in town, and so Carolina signed up.
‘It made sense straight away, the whole theory behind it, the need to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system’, recalls Carolina. There are two states that our bodies need to function: fight or flight (sympathetic), and rest and digest (parasympathetic). We tend to experience life in one state or another, but as we allow the shaking to happen in TRE, we’re able to balance these two functions’.
Carolina continues, ‘Personally, TRE has helped me to feel more grounded and to be less reactive in everyday life. Other people who took the training with me saw an improvement in their chronic muscle pain and even with panic attacks, but it’s really important when practising TRE that you let the practitioner know if you have any special conditions (such as anxiety disorders, PTSD, physical limitations etc.), as the way that you self-regulate while doing the exercises may have to be slightly different to the rest of the group’.
If you’d like more information, there’s a video explaining TRE in more detail accessible via the D-drive on our shared computers here at New Life, or you can find out more at the TRE For All website.