Have you heard people talking about Tre? I have. So I invited Tre teacher, Sylvia Tillmann to explain.
How are you post-pandemic? Well, not so post.
I spoke with friends the other day about how we were – and still are – coping with a global pandemic, a couple of lockdowns and the ups and downs of life.
We are a mixed bunch of people between the ages of 50 and 70.
Some people have dogs and enjoyed the company and the daily walks – at least something was dragging them out – some people are very much into gardening, others kept sane by swimming in the sea all year round. I noticed that nobody in this group complained about this era and the ‘new normal’; in fact, we all welcomed the more reflective mode, fewer commitments and concentrating on what was really important in life.
As for myself, I reassessed my life and reorganised my career during the first lockdown. With a business background and on furlough, I was grateful for the time I was given to take stock.
First I enrolled in various business courses, but then I asked myself: ‘What does the world really need? Surely not another business guru!’
I concluded that we all need laughter, optimism, community and a robust immune system – and I trained as a Laughter Yoga Leader.
That was fun and being interested in alternative health, positive psychology and what makes us tick, I found it amazing to see how much research has been carried out on the benefits of laughter.
I loved it, but I wanted to take it further.
Having listened to many lectures, presentations and discussions on trauma – after all, we had all just experienced a collective trauma, I rediscovered TRE.
What is TRE? I hear you ask.
TRE (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises by Dr David Berceli) is a somatic stress management tool I had experienced once, about ten years ago.
I honestly can’t remember if I didn’t get it at the time or if I totally dismissed it because ‘I had never experienced trauma’ – or so I thought!
Now I was convinced that TRE could be an amazing self-help tool to support anybody who’s struggling – psychologically or physically.
I decided to go for it.
This training took everything I had learned before to a whole new level. My go-to modality had always been talking therapies, I had counselling sessions myself and then completed the foundation training as I wanted to train as a bereavement counsellor.
Learning TRE addressed everything I missed when working cognitively. The mind is super busy, the thoughts are going round and round and … well, at least for me, it didn’t help me massively.
Why not give our busy minds a rest and concentrate on the body?
And that’s exactly what TRE enables us to do. Practising TRE means – literally – to shake off tension and stress.
To shake it off? Really? How does it work?
The easiest way to explain TRE’s principle is by watching a dog.
Yes, please bear with me …
A dog who experiences a stressful situation immediately shakes off the excess stress after this encounter and then happily gets on with life.
Animals do it automatically, but people have un-learned this process, although we are genetically encoded to tremor – and it would be so good for us.
That’s where TRE comes in, as it activates our stress release mechanism.
Over the course of the training, I also learned that trauma isn’t just big T trauma, i.e. the truly awful things that can happen. The simple fact that we are human beings means that we all experience trauma to some degree – think of family/relationship issues, work/money stress, health scares/illness, divorce or death etc.
This time I really got it. TRE is making so much sense because mind and body are intrinsically linked, so let’s include the body.
Let’s explore it in a bit more detail: When we experience stress, we mobilise energy to defend and protect ourselves, which is helpful. But if we want to run or fight and we can’t, that energy doesn’t get used up and stays inside of us.
The result is that we stay on high alert, i.e. high on adrenaline and cortisol, always expecting danger, constantly ready to fight or flight – we might have sleep issues, psychosomatic pain or avoid certain situations that caused this response.
This is exhausting and only when we are able to complete the cycle, i.e. use up the excess energy, the body can find its equilibrium again.
By practising TRE in a safe and controlled manner, this energy can be accessed and discharged.
How to practise TRE?
TRE starts with six warm-up exercises to fatigue the muscles and prepares the body to tremor. This is followed by a grounding exercise and then the actual TRE process. By lying on a mat, feet sole-to-sole, knees out, the tremors emerge. Your brain might perceive it as unusual, if not weird, but for the body, it feels quite natural. Afterwards, participants report a deep relaxation.
How does it make me feel?
I’ve been practising TRE for well over a year now and it only takes about ten minutes a day. I credit TRE with becoming more resilient – I’m just so grateful for having TRE during the pandemic – and also with the disappearance of my lower back and hip pain.
Over the last few years, I struggled with pain and sometimes it was so bad that I thought I have to stop playing tennis – which I love – and wondered if I need a hip replacement.
TRE helped me to shake off that tension in my back and hips – I don’t know what I was holding on to, and I don’t need to know; that’s the beauty of TRE, there’s no need to verbalise anything.
Curious to find out more? Check out Sylvia’s website on www.tremendousTRE.co.uk. She runs regular TRE courses, mainly online, so you can stay in the comfort of your own home.