This is my 30-day diary and testimonial of the Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and what benefits and challenges I found.
The exercises, developed by David Berceli's, are a worthwhile alternative to many costly and less-effective methods to release trauma... He developed these exercises on the basis of his experiences in a war, where he noticed how muscle tension was connected to experiencing traumatic events. This is true 21st Century psychotherapy!
It is a simple, easy and free method of releasing trauma and energy blockages.
Ok, perhaps it is not 100% free, as you will most likely have to buy his book (my copy was $17.95). I just went to You Tube and a quick search brought up video of TRE classes but not a full explanation of the exercises themselves. Although you might try finding it in a library, or request your local library to order it in.
I will also review David Berceli's book on this site sometime soon but of course I can't reveal all the exercises because it would be copyright infringement. Perhaps this account of my 30-day trial will help you decide whether to buy the book or not.
The book is: David Berceli: "The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process (Transcend Your Toughest Times)" (Namaste Publishing, Vancouver, Canada 2009)
You can follow the image link to preview the book, to read the customer reviews or to purchase from Amazon.
In addition, David Berceli has published a second book: "Trauma Releasing Exercises: TRE: A Revolutionary New Method for Stress and Trauma Recovery" (BookSurge LLC, 2005) (link below), which provides useful additional information. He has renamed the Trauma Release Process (TRP) as Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). Better name in my opinion.
Update: New Book from David Berceli:
David Berceli's own site, where he sells workshops and teacher certification, is: Traumaprevention.com and he also gives some background information on the exercises.
You can also find his company on Facebook - I have provided couple of links on the comments section below.
These are some inspirational quotes from the internet (independent sites, not directly promotional):
"I have two military sons that have served in Bosnia and Iraq. Both have returned with strong symptoms of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] but were unwilling to seek out professional psychological help. They will not discuss their war time experiences with anyone. After hearing about Dr Berceli's Trauma Release Process and learning that physical exercises were the key, not years of verbal dialogue with therapists, I immediately ordered books for my entire family. Although we have all benefited greatly from the exercises it was the psychological improvement of both military sons that was absolutely astounding. Being soldiers, they had no problem doing the exercises and both saw improvements within weeks. What a miracle! They continue to do the exercises and are amazed at the results. I can not thank Dr. Berceli enough for bringing peace back into their lives."
- Frank B. on Amazon.com
"As a clinical psychologist, I have been trained to believe that if we assist the client with changing the way that they think, they will change the way that they feel. In essence, the mind can be taught to control the stress and tension of the body. Dr. Berceli provides convincing theory to support the contention that this is not a viable first line intervention for those who have experienced significant stress or trauma. In these circumstances, the body freezes and the resulting physical tension prevents the emotional tension from being released, which maintains the negative thought patterns. Consequently, to attempt the release of physical tension by talking about it, is likely to be a very slow process. I was struck by the truth of this from my own experience with my clients who have suffered from chronic stress and/or trauma.
"Dr. Berceli's book offers a simple self-help solution. He has developed a set of physical exercises which release deep chronic tension from the body by creating a vibration in the body. I have been teaching the exercises to my clients and they are consistently reporting an increase in the relaxation response, deeper breathing, increased energy, better sleep, and significantly fewer negative thoughts. In essence, as they are thawing the physical tension, their thoughts are also thawing, thereby permitting easier access to rational thinking. They are healing their minds by first releasing the tension from their body. By using this intervention as the starting point with chronically stressed clients, I am noticing a significant decrease in the number of reported symptoms and an increase in feelings of well-being. It is a therapeutic short-cut to healing!
"Don't be fooled by the title of this book. You do not need to have experienced trauma to benefit from the technique. In fact, if you are stressed and no matter how many times you talk about it, the tension continues to be felt, these exercises are for you. In my experience, the sooner we take the time to learn and practice them, the more alive and healthier we will feel. Joan Wright, PhD Psych."
"I have the book and have done the exercises about five or six times and found them to be very releasing. I've only experienced the tremors/shaking a couple of times and found them to be minor, but worthwhile. [...]
"I've done a lot of work and releasing and getting through my PTSD years ago with meditation but was looking to supplement my meditation with something else and found that this works fine. I sleep more soundly and have more energy during the day because of it and will keep it up.
"If you read the book you will find that everybody faces trauma on a daily basis. Your birth was traumatic, your teen years and education were traumatic - life is traumatic. The American Way is to deny the trauma that we have in our lives and the more we deny our trauma or anything else, the more difficult it is to deal with it."
- Anonymous on Curezone.com.
My diary of the trial run - some of the first times I tried these exercises - can be read here:
Trial Run on David Berceli's Trauma Release Exercises
During the trial I found out that doing a quite tough pilates exercise video before the trauma release exercises helped to get better tremors. I also explained how, in the beginning, I got very few tremors and quite weak, but how with time, the tremors became better and more intense. I found that if I was too tired, the effect wasn't as good. It took me approximately 45 minutes to do the exercises, although David Berceli explained that the exercises can be compressed to 30 minutes if in a rush by shortening the 15 minute period of the last exercise.
In the article above I also briefly discuss how other physical means, i.e. exercise and diet, can affect one's stress levels and moods, and provide a link to an article which explains that the well-being of the gut is essential for a healthy mind. You can follow the link above for more information.
It has been roughly one year since I last did these exercises. I tried them out for a while and thought they were powerful, yet I ran out of time to do them. These initial trials of the exercises can be read at the link shown in the above chapter.
Today I did the exercises after work and also about half an hour after eating dinner. These are my notes from today:
Just finished doing the exercises, at 9.30pm, but was not so motivated today. And I didn't get as good tremors. But I again made the mistake of eating just before doing them, which definitely makes the exercises less enjoyable.
I feel tired again and ready for bath and bed.
- I realised during the last exercise, which is done lying on the floor for 15+ minutes, that I keep tensioning my shoulders all the time. I had to pay attention to remember to relax my shoulders, over and over again.
The tremors today were very different from before. In the beginning, when lying down doing the last exercise (no. 7), my legs were hardly shaking at all. But my head started moving (from the neck) and later the right shoulder also started 'shaking', or what actually felt more like 'pulling' from the muscles repeatedly. Then the leg tremors increased, too. It seemed, however, that even in the beginning, a small tremor of the legs (psoas-muscle?) was reflected along the spine and caused the neck to tremor.
I think it is very good to stretch after these exercises, especially if you do them so that they are hard work on your muscles - i.e. do them slowly and position yourself so that the muscles get worked more. For example: the sixth exercise is very similar to the kung fu 'horse stance' position, but supporting the back against the wall. This position is held for five minutes. One can set one's own level of difficulty, i.e. slowly moving up and down the wall will help to use different parts of the leg muscles, making the exercise easier but the hardest option, that works the muscles most, also, is to sit quite low and stay in one position. If using the latter technique, it is a good idea to stretch afterwards.
Below is a picture of exercise six:
I have heard that it is possible, through trauma release exercises, to overstimulate the root chakra. I have heard people reporting that they feel 'grounded' after doing the trauma release, which is a good sign, and thought to be linked to the root chakra opening. I haven't experienced this myself, yet, although am keen to experience it.
If one overstimulates the root chakra, however, apparently one may become too materialistic, or overtly sexual. If you are worried about these things or start feeling negative effects linked to overstimulation of the root chakra, it is probably a good idea to stop doing the exercises and to switch to a more wholistic form of exercise, which stimulates all the chakras evently. Yoga, for example, is a good choice of exercise, which can also work the psoas muscle.
In fact my mum, who is a yoga instructor, said that often her students, when doing a yoga pose which engages the psoas muscle, report emotions coming to surface. There must be some truth to the psoas-muscle being an emotional muscle, then, as suggested by BC in the comments below.
I must say that, after today, I have become more curious of the trauma release exercises. How can the psoas muscle 'vibrations' effect other muscles, such as those of the neck, without a clear 'shake' going through the whole body? Does this trauma release have something to do with the nervous system signals? Or is it simply a matter of deep muscular tension? How does trauma get stored in the muscles? Does it have something to do with cells and the cellular memory?
I should also note that today I was not concentrating at all, not doing any suggestions or mental concentration of any kind. I was listening to the radio while going through the seven trauma release exercises. So if you can't get tremors the first time, most likely it is not a question of mental focus or needing a specific mental state. It seems that what David Berceli says makes most sense: the body will release in the order that it is ready.
But being able to relax your muscles most likely plays a huge role too. If you can't relax, you might choose to do a relaxation exercise first using one of the guided visualisation cd's and then trauma release. Or you might exercise first. But don't give up if you don't get tremors the first time because my tremors were very mild before but now they are getting better and better each time. So do the exercises for, say, seven days every day, slowly and carefully and hopefully the tremors will come when your body is ready to release.
Actually, I have to make one more point: I had this idea in the beginning that this whole thing might be a hoax, because you first work the muscles and then you make them shake. I thought the trauma release exercises were perhaps just a case of tiring muscles which are not so commonly used and then experiencing tremors in certain, hard-on-the-muscle -poses. But I have given up on this idea for the simple reason that as I do more of these exercises, and the muscles get stronger, the tremors increase - they don't get less! In addition, I get tremors in muscles that have nothing to do with the exercises performed. All this makes me think how complex the human body is, and how little we know. Hopefully one day I can understand how trauma gets stored and released but until then, I'm just happy to have found this technique.
We shall see how the experiment pans out. I hope I will feel grounded and achieve even better tremors and better release.
Today I again felt like I could breathe a lot better after the trauma release exercises.
Wow. Today's trauma release exercises were a lot stronger than yesterday's. I think it helps that I am not very tired today. I got tremors in all but the second exercise. When I was lying on the floor, doing the last, and seventh exercise, the tremors moved to pretty much my whole body, including the neck, shoulders, legs, waist. I guess my hands and feet were the only things that stayed still. Sometimes the tremors felt less like shakes and more like movements of the muscles, e.g. my shoulder would subtly 'bang' against the floor or my neck would move from side to side.
It felt a little bit freaky, in fact, to have uncontrolled movements in my muscles which were not really shakes anymore. It is 7.50pm now, I was home alone, and had no music on or any other distractions.
Now, after doing the exercises I feel a little spaced out and even slightly dizzy. But again I can breathe better. So my body must be doing good things and readjusting itself through these exercises. I think I need to go out for a walk to clear my head. I wonder if tiredness will hit me again, as it has for the couple of days before, or if that was just returning-to-work-after-holidays -tiredness.
Below is a picture of exercise seven, which is the most powerful exercise. If you don't have much time, it is fine to just do this final exercise.
You lie on the floor with the soles of your feet together, your knees bent and open at the hips. The you lift your bum off the floor for one minute. Next, you relax your bum down on the floor and stay in that position for one minute. Then, with your feet still in this 'butterfly-like' position you move your knees a little closer together and hold for two minutes, while your bum is still resting on the floor. Then you move your knees closer together again, and hold for another two minutes. Finally, you put the soles of your feet against the floor, knees still bent and pointing upwards. Then you stay in this position for up to 15 minutes (or less if you don't have time) and let the tremors come.
[Update: In the beginning I was timing the minutes but then just started roughly holding each pose as I thought felt right, without timing. I only time the last 15 minutes of the exercise now, and 5 minutes for the 'horse stance' when I do it.]
8.40pm: Still not tired. I have been watching David Berceli's videos and I think what was going on in my body today was called myofascial release. Fascia, apparently, is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue that provides support for most structures in the human body, including muscle. Myofascial means 'the fibrous tissue that encloses and separates layers of muscles'.
On one South African TRE website it explains: "This amazing self-activated myofascial release occurs as a natural response of human neuro-physiology." So it seems that these movements have something to do with the central nervous system, which would definitely make sense.
On Wikipedia, under 'myofascial release' it explains that deep tissue massage attempts also to release these tensions: "The direct myofascial release (or deep tissue work) method engages the myofascial tissue "restrictive barrier" (tension). The tissue is loaded with a constant force until release occurs."
9.50pm: Well, I didn't seem to get the exhausted tiredness today that I got when doing these exercises after a workday. But I'm pretty certain I will still sleep quite well today.
11.20pm, just finished the trauma release exercises. I start enjoying them so much now that I lose the track of time. The final 15 minutes seems to go very quickly, whereas only yesterday it still seemed like a very long time.
Today I got good shakes, a bit less than yesterday, and now they were again more tremor and shake-like, and not so much 'movement' like. My right shoulder started releasing and then both simultaneously got shakes through them. It felt good. I also felt some tension pain between my right shoulder and neck and felt how there was a lot of tension there. Don't know if this is trauma-related tension, but at least partly it is lack of exercise and work-related, as I have been having a very stiff neck for some month now. I also got continuous shakes in my legs, as always.
Although the release felt very good and quite effective, I wonder why I didn't get the more dramatic movements as I got yesterday. I wasn't alone in the flat this time, my boyfriend was here, and I wonder if the body releases more freely when one is alone. The other reason could be that I was very tired today when I did the exercises and I have noticed earlier already that the tremors seem to be less strong when tired. It is as if the body is reserving energy for more vital things than trauma release.
I had to skip the exercises yesterday as I got my menses and was in pain and feeling very weak and tired. Today I felt better, although still quite tired. I just finished doing the exercises and, as expected, they were not that strong this time - because of the tiredness (I think). I got good release in the shoulders however, and developed some pain in between the right shoulder/ neck like last time.
I really enjoy the exercises these days and today I kind of felt like some happiness started rising through afterwards. I was laughing a bit and feeling quite nice. This was a subtle effect and could be my imagination but I think it has something to do with the energy flow. We will see, longer term, anyway, what effects I get.
I had to skip the exercises yesterday again, as I was feeling extremely tired. The menses this week have really brought my energies down, possibly because of the iron loss. In any case, today I stayed at work couple of hours extra and developed a headache. I came home and thought I wanted to drink a beer to relax. So I tried to do the exercises after drinking the beer. This was a mistake... however, an interesting one.
All the trauma release exercises were fine, although there were almost no tremors. During the final exercise, however, I had no tremors in the legs at all. It started in the shoulders straight away. But it was kind of like a slow-motion version of the usual shakes, very lazy movements, as if my central nervous system was affected by the alcohol and struggling to initiate the release. So I went through all the exercises but after a couple of minutes of the final exercise I had to stop because it just didn't feel right. The tremors had none of their usual vigour and energy.
Friday I did the exercises after work and they worked quite well. I got hardly any shakes in my legs and mostly in my shoulders. My hips swayed a little as well but it really seems like it is my shoulder, neck and upper back area that keeps releasing - and even more the right shoulder. I wonder if this could be related to the fact that my neck has been very stiff for quite a while now because of work.
Saturday's exercises felt like they were going a bit deeper, I got some deep minor trembling. I would lie still for a while and then suddenly get a burst of fast shakes, mostly in my shoulders. Deep breathing helps to bring nice shakes as well but being able to relax well is key. I keep having to remind myself to keep different muscles relaxed, which improves the tremors.
Did the trauma release exercises around midday, while listening to drum&bass. Sometimes I feel as if the body almost shakes to the rhythm of the music! But I think I am just imagining that. But I got lots of very fast, almost violent shakes today, mostly in my shoulders but also a little more this time on my legs and hips.
I wonder if it is somehow the subconscious mind shaking the body. Because the subconscious mind enables the muscles for you to breathe even without thinking about it. The subconscious also moves your legs when you walk. Is it possible that it also 'knows' how to release trauma, and thus shakes the right muscles? I think it is possible, even though it seems like a bit of a crazy thought. Well, I don't know how this works in reality.
I took a nap afterwards and almost couldn't wake up. I felt absolutely exhausted. But I got up and went out for a walk and quickly woke up. But generally I think the trauma release exercises are better done before bedtime. And I think I may need a bit more sleep these days than normal, since I've been doing them. Not sure, might also just have to do with iron loss and the menses.
I did Monday's exercises after work and got extremely tired afterwards. Also during the day I was feeling like I had been 'hit by a bus', meaning, that all my muscles felt worn out. I think when you get stronger tremors you may use a lot of muscles you never previously used.
Monday night I had another nightmare... it seems that I have been having more nightmares since doing these exercises. [I don't normally have nightmares.] I guess that could be a sign of 'traumas' or tension being unlodged and removed.
Tuesday: It seems that each trauma release exercise session is different! Today I got very deep feeling shakes, with my neck arching. I managed to remember to relax my shoulders and neck and as a result, got kind of 'shock-like' or cramp-like shakes. I would lie still for some seconds and then get series of fast, deep tremors. Then deep breathe and lie still again, and again a set of tremors. My neck started aching at some point but the ache finished by the time 15 minutes (of the last exercise) was up. My right shoulder got some attention again but mainly it was my lower back shaking this time, as well as my legs - I got some different types of shakes in my legs and hips as well.
I felt a bit spaced out and dizzy afterwards again. But not that long.
I've been getting sore muscles from the deep tremors that I have been experiencing and decided to take Wednesday off from doing the trauma release to let my body and mind recoup. It is funny, I can just lie on the ground and relax while my body does all the exercising for me!
Now it's Thursday evening. The trauma release exercises today continued vibrating along the spine, and what felt like very deep tremors. I again found that the better I could relax my muscles the better the tremors worked. My head tilted back as my neck arched and lower back got some rapid vibrations. It felt a bit uncomfortable for the neck, slightly painful, but the pain went as soon as I relaxed myself again.
Regarding the tiredness, though... I recommend doing the exercises in the evening before bedtime, because as I am writing this, I'm starting to feel very tired... It's 9.30pm and I'm ready for bath and bed.
I decided to take Friday off as well. I think I may start doing the exercises every other day.
Saturday: I was feeling nice kinds of energy movements in my body and I thought I should just let my body rework the energies in peace, so I skipped the trauma release exercises again.
Sunday: Did all seven trauma release exercises at 6pm, got less tremors than usual initially but then quite powerful movements and shakes affecting the stomach muscles (tremors at the lower back), legs and hips, and the neck. Both shoulders got their attention as well, as usual. After the exercises my legs were hurting already, and during the exercises I had to take breaks and breathe because my stomach muscles were getting worked so much!
Monday: I started getting strong shakes already at the beginning of the last trauma release exercise. Normally the first two minutes are non-shaking but this time as soon as I lay on the floor and took the first position, the tremors started. It is starting to feel quite hard work to do the final exercise because it works my muscles so much.
Tuesday: I enjoyed the trauma release exercises today, quite good tremors, working the stomach muscles again but the focus of the tremors changing around enough not to be too tiring.
I got David Berceli's latest book, Trauma Releasing Exercises, today. So far I've only read his older book: "The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process".
This is the moment in this specific health challenge that I start getting bored with doing the trauma release exercises. It's not that I think they don't work - I'm quite confident that they do work in fact - it's just that in every challenge there comes a point when the excitement of the new fades and you get bored and it becomes more difficult to continue. Once you get through that phase, however, you can get into the phase where it becomes routine, and not difficult at all. That's when you start being able to reap most benefits, because you learn to easily repeat the routine every time without even thinking too much about it... I hope I will reach this point during the 30 days - and I should do - but only if I find a good practical time of the day to do them.
Right now it seems to make sense to me do the trauma release exercises in the morning, when rested. I'm sure they work fine whenever you manage to get tremors, even if you're doing them tired in the evening after work.
I think I definitely have some trauma/ tension lodged in my upper body, because when I did the fifth exercise, which is done standing up and shakes your upper body, I started feeling a little emotional today. Nothing major, but since I was more rested and able to feel my body more I noticed it. I think feeling a bit 'raw and sensitive' is a good description for this feeling.
And I felt stressed out this morning but now I feel completely fine, more balanced and actually I also have a slight buzzing sensation in my chest and upper arms - again, this description was used by another commenter below. I notice it more now.
I definitely feel that something in my upper body is being slowly released and it makes me very happy, because I have long felt a kind of blockage in the middle of my rib cage. Or actually, I think it is pretty much where the solar plexus is. And maybe the whole chest area as well. Another sign of this release is the fact that I can always breathe deeper after doing the trauma release exercises, even right at the beginning. This is becoming very interesting now but I wonder if 30 days will be enough to release everything.
[Later note: I don't think 30 days was enough although I got clear benefits and also some realisations about past hurts - this was possibly to do with the fact that I was reading a lot about trauma as well during this time. I seemed to get more benefits when doing the exercises more regularly, but when I started to do the exercises less and less regularly, the psychological benefits also became less pronounced.]
If I had done the trauma release exercises when tired, I probably wouldn't have noticed any of this. I might try from now on to TRE exercise in the mornings, before going to work. This might be difficult, however, because I find it really hard to motivate myself to exercise in the mornings during weekdays. But I feel that it would be very good if I could do that.
I got shakes with every exercise this time, and one could say that each trauma release exercise started giving slightly different feelings in my body. I had deep tremors at the lower back again and it feels quite tough to do the exercises when that happens. Not emotionally, just physically, because it works the stomach muscles so much. I tried to turn on my side and the tremors continued, so that might be a solution. But the tremors became different so I kept doing a combination of both. Generally I just take it and work the muscles, stopping for a bit and taking a deep breath in between.
Funny thing is that the tremors during the last exercise kind of stopped just before 15 minutes was up and my timer starting playing - as if the body is getting used to the timing. It is a similar thing as waking up in the morning just some two minutes before the alarm clock, if you have regular sleeping times (this has been happening to me recently also).
[Update: This seems to happen sometimes to me with the exercises. Even recently after a long pause between doing the exercises, I did just the last exercise and when the tremors stopped I sat up and felt a kind of subtle lightness and joy wash over me, and a few seconds later the 15-minute alarm went off.]
The trauma release exercises seem to be different every day. And the tremors seem to get faster and smaller in movement as time goes by. It feels like a deeper release. Today I got lots of the back-arching tremors that tension all your muscles - and I also got these in my neck and even the head. It felt good, as if there was something that needed releasing stuck in the head/ heart area, at the centre of the body.
I was talking to a friend of mine about these exercises and she mentioned that she read a book many years back, which was called something similar to "Body Memory". She said that the book was about how traumatic experiences and feelings get caught in the body and force the body into a certain pattern of behaviour which causes injuries etc. Sounds like something interesting to read which might help to understand how and why these exercises work the way they do - what actually happens in the body during the trauma release exercises?
Following the lead, I found two books that - on a quick glance - looked like possibly interesting reads:
"Freedom from Body Memory" by Jonathan A. Tripodi and
"The Body Remembers" by Babette Rothschild
Thursday: I woke up at 6am, almost three hours before I have to leave for work. I would have plenty of time to do the TRE exercises this morning but I decided against it because my back muscles feel quite sore. I think I should start doing some stretching after the trauma release exercises.
I also became a raw foodist again today, although not 100% and not for a specific duration. I will try to be high raw for a longer period of time now [didn't work]. You can follow this diary here: 2013 Raw Food Diet
TRE today was the most powerful one yet - my whole body was trembling and moving in spasms. Again, not frightening at all because I could stop it at any point I liked. In fact I had to get up and pick up a parcel in the middle of the last exercise, but it was fine and I could resume the trembling afterwards with no problems.
It seems the trembles are different each time! It is unbelievable in how many different ways the body can tremble. Now I got some very deep trembles along my spine, some movements as if something was being pushed up long my spine, and spasmodic movements towards the end as well. My neck was releasing quite a bit and in the end I thought the heavy feeling I often have around my solar plexus/ heart chakra started feeling better. It's not fully gone, yet, though.
This is also the sixth day on the raw food diet, and feeling good. You can read the diary at the link above.
I am also starting an experiment on grounding today, as my earthing sheet just arrived! There seem to be a lot of quite amazing claims about grounding - and it seems to have a lot of scientific backing. It is meant to improve your sleep, get rid of pain and chronic inflammation, relax you, give you energy, cure jetlag, and undo harmful effects of electrical equipment. I'm curious to see what the effects are on me.
A variety of good tremors today - mostly the spine releasing.
I feel that the grounding sheet is a useful combination with trauma release exercises as grounding is meant to activate the parasympathetic nervous system - i.e. deactivate the fight-or-flight -mode (stress-mode) and induce relaxation and calm brain states.
It's been almost a week since I last did the trauma release exercises. The raw food diet experiment is taking a lot of my time, especially since at the beginning of the diet the detox phase can make you need more sleep.
I lately always feel a bit spaced out after the trauma release exercises, like now, as I've just completed them. I got all kinds of tremors this time, some very gentle ones, some deep stomach-muscle crunching tremors of the spine, at points my shoulders would tension and my head would shake, etc. Some of the exercises are quite hard work these days but it got easier towards the end.
I have also felt some 'cracks' in my bones recently, as if some bones are 'loosening' slightly but in a good way, like they fell into their right places. Not during the exercises, though, just at random times. I don't know if this has to do with the trauma release exercises, the raw food diet, or the grounding. In any case I like it. [Update: Normally this happens when I've eaten raw foods for some length of time.]
Ever since I got the grounding sheets I've been sleeping deeper and having many more and much more vivid dreams than usual. It may be that it has something to do with the trauma release exercises but it seems to be because of the grounding sheets.
I wonder how long you have to be doing the TRE before you start feeling different in the everyday life? I don't think I do yet, apart from the focusing and relaxing influence for some hours after the exercises themselves. It seems like lots is happening but then again, it could be just tremors and nothing else. I think I should read more about the body memory to understand this better. In any case, it may be that I will continue this experiment beyond the 30 days, if I don't feel like I reach a conclusion within that time or if it feels as if my body has more releasing to do.
If you have a good experience with trauma release exercises and/ or grounding, please let me know, I'd be very interested to hear!
[Update: I think that in my case, especially since I don't suffer from any severe trauma, the benefits of the trauma release process are quite gradual, and - just like with herbal healing, the raw food diet or yoga - the benefits increase over time, and regular practice is important to bring them on. Though the changes can even be hard to notice if you are not paying enough attention - due to their gradual nature - I believe that these changes are of a 'deep' nature and able to create lasting change in one's understanding of oneself and life.]
It's been a week since I last did the exercises, because I have been busy with the raw food diet, and also tired from detoxifying and sleeping a lot.
Somehow it feels good to do the TRE exercises after a longer break, however. It is as if the body would have had more time to continue the work and adjust to the new state. I felt the release was especially good today, even though I did the exercises at the end of the day, after work.
But the release felt somehow unfinished, although I can again breathe better now, straight after finishing. I feel that there is some kind of energy release connected to these exercises, it doesn't feel purely physical. My guess would be that it has something to do with the energy body surrounding and incorporating the physical body. It doesn't feel like just straight-forward exercise, it feels like energies are somehow moving or being released as well.
Now, some 5-10 minutes after doing the trauma release exercises I start feeling very sleepy again.
The trauma release exercises today felt really good, enjoyable. I tried to resist exaggerating the movements and to keep them to a minimum, lying still and waiting for the body's next impulse. Generally the movements were more gentle today, with a rapid burst of shaking 'energy' following.
I feel a blockage at the bottom of the ribcage in the front, and instinctively rested my hands on top of this point - I only noticed later that I was doing it. Normally I lay my arms and hands on the sides when doing these exercises. I don't know if the blockage is slowly being released or not, I hope so, although I also feel that it may require some mental work - many imbalances in the body start in the mind. This was also shown in the very interesting documentary movie I watched yesterday, called "The Sacred Science" (which was about Amazonian shamans' healing methods on Americans). It is pretty close to being the location of the solar plexus - I wonder if that is what it is - an energy blockage in the solar plexus?
[Later update: I think this description is showing that I am becoming more in touch with my body's feelings and the felt sense. During my visit to a Traditional Chinese Doctor later, I discussed this feeling with her and she seemed to agree that it was a sign of weak stomach energy. She gave me some herbs to strengthen it and advised to massage the 'stomach chakra' (between the bottom of the rib cage and the belly button) 100 times each day.]
The whole trauma release exercise process so far for me has felt quite gentle. I have had no huge breakthroughs or sudden feelings of release but at the same time something is clearly happening in my body as it's going through these movements and as the shakes change to a different type every time. I want to continue doing the trauma release exercises probably beyond the 30 days, until I feel that the tremors either stop or I feel that some release is achieved. Or if I feel that I reach a plateau and nothing new is happening anymore. As for now, I enjoy the trauma release exercises, although I am doing them only about once a week now.
I am also now doing part two of the 2013 raw food diet, whose diary can be read here: "2013 Raw Food Diary - Weeks 1-3". Today is day 5 of the diet.
I went running today for 10-15 minutes in the park, and did the trauma release exercises straight after. I didn't get as good tremors as when I was doing them more regularly. I guess my body has to get used to releasing again. I did get some deep tremors along the spine again and my legs kept shaking too. I felt a little relief at some points and I could breathe better again during the exercises.
I also realised that possibly my spine is shaking so much because I had a medical procedure as a two-year old child where a bone marrow sample was taken from my spine. My dad recalls the 'operation' as having been quite horrible to watch. So perhaps that's why my spine keeps releasing - from this potentially traumatic event in my childhood? I didn't really think about the connection at all until a couple days ago.
I am currently reading a book which is very interesting, and explains a lot about how and why the trauma release exercises work the way they do. This book is 'Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences' by Peter A Levine (I have provided a summary here). (Follow the link above to read the full book summary/ review on this site.)
I am very impressed by this book already, although I have only read to page 37 so far.
I also finished reading David Berceli's second book, as well as "The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment" by Babette Rothschild. Although both are useful books, I was not nearly as impressed by the trauma theory of either, as I was with "Waking the Tiger".
Of course David Berceli's book gets my highest recommendation purely because of the practical exercises introduced there. Both of David Berceli's books provide anecdotal information, as well as instructions for the very useful exercises, but what is missing is a proper explanation of why the trauma release exercises work. "The Body Remembers" fills in some gaps in understanding the body's relation to trauma, but speaks from a point of view of a psychologist to another, and is, in my view, still limited in its understanding of trauma-body-work. Some of the case studies in this book are fascinating, however.
By contrast, 'Waking the Tiger' by Peter A. Levine was a real eye-opener and highly recommended reading to anyone with an interest in these matters.
Update: New Book from Peter A. Levine:
Although I didn't do the exercises today, I started getting the trauma release shakes spontaneously!
This also happened some days before when I had been exercising and was doing stretches on the floor, and assumed the last pose of the TRE exercises just to relax on the floor. And I started getting the shakes so I let them come!
However, today's experience was a little more interesting, below is a copy from my explanation in the Live Green Juice Fast Diary (I am currently on Day 3 of the fast).
I got my menses (period) yesterday and started feeling in pain. I initially found relief from using grounding sheets and mats as well as vitex oil but since at some point I stopped grounding for too long and let the pain get worse these methods got less effective. It is like toothache, if you don't tackle it early enough, it is hard to make even painkillers work after that...
I went straight back to bed with the same two grounding methods, and kept taking deep breaths through my nose of the vitex essential oil as well. These methods seemed to help, but nevertheless the pain slowly got worse and worse. I would get waves of worsening pain and some relief in between. [...]
I felt like I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to take a pain killer, as I would have probably reacted badly to it because of the juice fast. And I didn't want to stop the juice fast. I had a second grounding mousemat from Groundology - a much wider one - so I put that behind my back and wrapped it around the sides of my belly. All the while keeping my feet on the grounding sheet and the smaller mousemat on top of my belly. I put vitex berry oil on my belly and the soles of my feet and kept breathing it in so much that I started feeling quite dizzy, even though I was lying down. This organic essential oil from Living Libations is very strong, and it worries me sometimes that I am overdosing on it - but it helps with the pain so I keep doing it.
The pain got quite bad before it started going away. I was completely pale, feeling nauseated, and suffering with the ache.
Then I started concentrating on the pain, as many people say it helps. I used the Hawaiian ho'oponopono method of 'I love you' mantra on the pain, all the while trying to focus on the feelings arising in my body on the background of the pain and also focusing deeper into the pain itself and trying to identify where it originated from. I got all sorts of insights from this.
Sometimes it felt like the pain was all originating from a feeling in a specific part of my lower back, and sometimes the feeling shifted to the heart chakra area. This focusing on the "felt sense" is something I learned from the 'Waking the Tiger' -book, although I had already started getting an inclination of it from doing the ho'oponopono. I got many pictures, words and feelings arising in my body as I was doing this. And I noticed my conscious mind trying to start finding out what the meaning of all these sensations were but I reminded myself to let go and concentrate on the felt sense of the body instead.
And while I was doing this, I started getting trauma release shakes spontaneously! I could have easily stopped them but I let them come - again as a result of the understanding I got from the above book. My head started shaking, my shoulders - especially the right one - and my hands. My hands would even shake in a way that would actually massage my belly as I was already holding my hands on top of the belly anyway! And this started actually helping with the pain a lot! Although the delayed help from the grounding and the vitex would have contributed also.Then I folded my legs in the position of the last trauma release exercise, keeping my feet on the grounding sheet - my belly still wrapped in grounding mousemats - and the tremors spread to my hips and legs. All this greatly helped to dissipate the pain and also because of the fact that it was taking my mind off the pain.
While all the felt sense exercise was feeling good and moved the pain around, I was feeling very exhausted and it was becoming very difficult to keep my focus on the pain. I just wanted to sleep and be pain free. That's why the trauma release shakes (TRE) were a very welcome distraction - and pain relief. And after a long time - perhaps an hour or more - the tremors stopped.It seems like the combination of training my body with the trauma release exercises, using the ho'oponopono, reading about the felt sense and heeding the advice to focus on the pain actually all together managed to trigger the body's natural healing abilities in this situation.
Does this mean that my menstrual pain is trauma-related? I don't know, probably. But there are many types of trauma, some are strictly physical trauma on the body like injuries, and some involve mental and perhaps even spiritual injuries.
Why did trauma release help with the pain? It is possible that the body experienced the current pain as a traumatic situation and shook it out. Or it is possible that some form of deeper healing was occurring. In any case I was quite amazed by this. [...]
This whole morning episode went on for many hours, and I finally managed to fall asleep.
5pm: I finally got out of bed, pain free, and took a very hot bath.
To read the full explanation, follow the link above this quote.
I will continue with the proper exercises soon, perhaps tomorrow, and after I reach 30 days (5 days to go) I think I will continue doing just the last exercise, which takes about 15 minutes on its own, to save time.
Update: I later found out that juice fasting efficiently eliminates menstrual pains: diary here: Hormone Diet - Part 4
I am currently on holiday in Finland, spending time in my childhood areas and with my family.
I had a quiet moment in the day today to do the trauma release exercises, which felt good. Felt like my body really needed it, since I haven't done the TRE exercises for a long time. I felt a little anxious before and the trauma release exercises helped.
I stayed in the standing position longer than usual, where the back is slightly bent backwards and hands on the waist, head positioned to look straight forward. I took 10 breaths looking forward, 10 turning my head to the right, 10 turning it to the left, then repeated the whole series, and then another 10 looking forward. This is much more than what David Berceli calls for in the book. But the tremors in the upper body, neck and head felt good so I thought it was fine to continue a bit longer. My stomach was also tremoring in this position.
During the last exercise, lying down on my back, I got tremors in the lower back as usual, deep, fast tremors that feel like they originate in the spine. My stomach muscles tense and my spine arches forward and starts tremoring in this position. Now I even felt my head lifting a little bit so I lifted my head up more, so that my chin was close to my chest. This helped spread the tremors from the spine into my upper back, neck and head. The tremors then alternated between deep spine tremors and more relaxed leg, hip and shoulder tremors.
After the exercises I felt very good, though the chest still feels a bit heavy but I also felt some of the chest, throat and neck area tension release. I will still need to do more but at least the tremors have moved on again now, it feels. Some progress.
[Update: The Chinese Doctor says that where air goes, energy follows.]
Sometimes I get quite tired after the trauma release exercises, however, like today... I had to take a nap.
I have also noticed recently that if I talk about hurtful topics from the past, I start tremoring if I let myself. These tremors/ shakes are always easy to stop but the key is to be able to let oneself release this energy whenever possible.
[Update: I have also noticed afterwards that almost every time I see someone talk about a traffic accident or a robbery they experienced in the past, they start acting more tense than usual and even a little shaky. I think I have learned to recognise trauma in other people from experiencing this in myself.]
I feel that the trauma release exercises are very useful for me, and a very important tool to get to know myself better and to feel at peace and let go of negative habits and thoughts, as well as limiting beliefs and behaviours.
23rd November 2013, Day 27
Long time since I did these last time. Somehow this kind of cyclical way of doing things feels natural and beneficial, however. As if the gap in the exercises would allow the body and spirit to adjust, process, and complete the work triggered by the exercises.
I felt good, more clear and central after the trauma release exercises, as usual. I feel more calm. They don't wake you up as such as I felt a bit drowsy before and still feel that way. But they balance your energies, somehow, it seems. Also I get the same feeling where my surroundings seem a bit brighter, as I've got before from doing different (vibration-raising) things. I think this is my personal experience of vibrating at a little higher frequency than usual. (Your experience of this might be entirely different.)
Tremors were similar to before, with some very 'fine', small but fast tremors appearing at the lower back and thighs.
I can feel the TRE are a powerful and very beneficial to me and I want to make (a short version of) them a part of my morning or evening ritual everyday. They make me feel good so they enhance the quality of my life. And if deep trauma gets released at the same time - good. However, I can't say from my own experience whether this happens or not.
Yoga affects inner organs through stretching, alignment, energies and breath, whereas exercise in general improves oxygen intake and gets energies moving, as well as both of these obviously strengthening the muscles to hold everything in the body in right places. TRE, I feel, achieves many of these same benefits but differently. The shaking must move energies, lymph, etc., and deep breathing can be combined to these exercises quite easily... TRE to complement yoga and exercise, however, not to replace (!), as all these are differently effective.
The body's and mind's process of change and healing is a gradual and gentle process, and it is also like peeling the layers of an onion. I now have more patience for the process than I did before. Before I was yo-yoing between extreme diets and fairly unhealthy living - and wanted to see what would happen in a month, a week, two weeks, three months, etc. and I did get many good results in a short time - which you can read about on the diaries on this website - but I got impatient as not everything got healed in these short trials. And because the lifestyle and diet changes I did were so extreme, I would always end up falling back to not-very-healthy lifestyles.
So now I am sticking to a very gradual process of self-improvement, with a view of taking small steps and making them permanent life changes.
I have been going to a Chinese Doctor, who does acupuncture, a little massage, and gives me dietary advice and herbs.
I am trying to do less left-brain stuff because I love learning, reading, listening to lectures, etc. and with the website writing and doing architecture for living, there naturally seems to be very little time for the right brain. This puts the nervous system out of balance.
So now I try to stay away from the computer at weekends and to do self-reflection, meditation, walks/ running outdoors, guided relaxation, cooking, etc. during the weekends instead. I am planning to spend plenty of time on inspiring/ creative projects and self-coaching, where I write about my aspirations and dreams and make overcoming life challenges into theoretical projects - to be put to practice once I've made each thought/ plan clear on paper first. This is my process of living my life much better, nurturing my subconscious mind, learning to enjoy life without spending much money or drinking alcohol. I feel these are true enjoyments I have been missing out on for a very long time. I have now learned to appreciate them as doing them makes me feel good and balanced and it's inspiring and good for the energies/ spirit.
(Also there was one time I did the TRE which I didn't record here - day 28.)
Day 29, 8th February 2014, Saturday
Three months later...
I haven't forgotten about trauma release! I still love it. I've just been preoccupied with other things, like diet. My latest diet experiment was the low-carb caveman diet, and I have also been seeing the Traditional Chinese Doctor, and written a report here.
Today the trauma release shakes were as usual, apart from the fact that I got face movements! The muscles around my eyes would contract and around my nose. I was rhythmically making funny faces. Weird. Probably very good muscle exercise and release though! Even if there was no trauma release involved I think these exercises would be worthwhile for the massage and muscle work they achieve. Even the inner organs get a massage and the Chi energy surely gets good movement.
Again, I do believe that there is some clear energy aspect to these exercises, which is probably trauma and anxiety releasing, and if you suffer from PTSD, anxiety, stress, etc. I would suggest you try these... and also see the testimonials on You Tube, and read Waking Tiger. The reason I believe that the exercises do something good on a mental and energy level is because I feel so calm after doing the exercises. And today I also thought I could feel energy movements in my body while doing the exercises.
9th February 2014
Last day of trauma release exercises was quite typical, similar tremors as usual, quite powerful, but I could again feel the 'anxious, nervous energy' move to the top of my chest and arms first, before they started shaking. This was interesting.
I went running this morning and afterwards as I was lying on the floor, the hand I hurt last week when I was trying to run for the train and fell over, started shaking. Then the tremors spread to my shoulders. This was another example of the tremors starting spontaneously, without doing the TRE exercises.
I couldn't do two of the exercises today because I have had slight backache so I have to be careful with it. I left out the exercise where you lean forward, as well as the one where you prop your hands on the floor.
I will continue with the exercises but recognise that the main reason I stopped doing them was because they took too much time. So from now on I will mostly just do the last 20-minute exercise on its own, or in combination with the 5 min 'horse stance' exercise. I won't write regular updates here but whenever I get new realizations/ progress, I will write an update.
In conclusion, these exercises make me feel very good, and it does seem that they release stress and provoke some kind of reflective understanding of past problems weighing on the mind, to allow them to have less hold on the mind. The benefits seem to become clearer over time and also the tremors may not work in the beginning. I think 30-days is a good length of time to experiment with the exercises to understand their full power. The rest of the conclusions I have made from this experiment are sprinkled in the diary text.
A free journal on TRE exercises by Terry Wood can be downloaded here. This book link was provided to me by a reader, who has compiled his own 4-year experience of doing TRE into a book of 137 pages.
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