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)":
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.
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 benefitted 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 repeately. 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.
Update: New Book from David Berceli:
How to Control Anger/ Cures for Moodiness
Whole Body Trauma Healing
Book Summary of Brain Allergies by William Philpott
Natural health remedies for: stress, PTSD, menstrual cramps, fatigue, nightmares, moodiness, anxiety, nervousness, pain, mental health problems.
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