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TRE, Trauma and Your Nervous System

TRE, Trauma and Your Nervous System.


Did you know that shaking or neurogenic (originating in the nervous system) tremoring has been noted in all mammals as a natural bodily response to stress. Once thought to be a symptom of stress, this response has now been shown to be your bodies way to calm the nervous system. By utilising excess stress hormones in the bloodstream and allowing tense muscles to relax, tremoring supports the body to relax. This is the natural bodily mechanism behind the revolutionary practice of TRE or trauma release exercises developed by Dr. David Berceli. Now TRE is sweeping the globe as a helpful tool supporting individuals and whole communities to heal. And I am receiving great feedback from my clients who are embracing this practice.


Tension or trauma release exercises have been shown to effectively release long held stress and trauma from the body. Currently TRE is being used effectively to treat PTSD and insomnia in returned servicemen and natural disaster survivors. TRE can release milder forms of everyday stress as well as old stored trauma patterns. Most of us have experienced a little shaking or tremoring when feeling nervous or stressed. Sadly we’ve often been directed to suppress this natural bodily stress response. An example of this is the experience of jelly belly if are put on the spot to talk in front of a crowd.


The Cambridge dictionary defines Trauma as ‘severe emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting or life-threatening experience’. Stress usually stems from normal life events that are while dramatic are not life threatening; such as moving house, job loss, exams, deadlines and divorce. Both stress and trauma can elicit the same autonomic nervous system response supporting our body with extra energy to survive the situation. In particular it is our sympathetic nervous system with the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that is activated. If stress is prolonged and there is no return to a calm, safe and engaged nervous system we can begin to live in chronic states of stress and experience hypervigilance. A person with hypervigilance can become extremely sensitive to their surroundings and be on high alert to ‘hidden dangers’ from both people and the environment. If further stress and trama continues this may develop into a freeze or immobilising response. In this case we may feel disconnected from life and people and emotionally numb or vague. 


We are a little like an iceberg with 90 percent of our behaviour being driven by the subconscious mind and only 10% by our conscious mind. In that 10% we have critical and logical thinking, short term memory and will power. Have you ever said to yourself ‘I love myself, I will eat healthy from now on’? Ok this is a great decision made with the critical or logical mind. But deep down in your subconscious are patterns of self-judgment and self-sabotage. So the next thing you know you’re ordering coke, chocolate and a burger ! 


Our nervous system is wired to keep us safe, allowing for instant energy to do what is necessary to survive. Traumatic events can occur at any time in our life from childhood through to old age and may include: childhood abuse, verbal abuse and put-downs, the sudden loss of a loved one, a car accident, an operation, witnessing or experiencing violence, sexual abuse or just feeling unsafe and frightened. Stress messages to the brain activate the release of adrenaline and cortisol to power the muscles, increase heart rate and provide more blood sugar to activate the body in response to danger. To be clear this response is not you, it is your nervous system which has evolved over millions of years to keep you safe.

The gazelle chased by a lion goes into fight and flight and a rush of hormones allows it to flee from the lion. If that doesn’t work it goes into freeze mode, appearing dead. If the gazelle survives it will tremor or shake, releasing the excess stress hormones from the bloodstream. Soon after it will return to grazing, seemingly unaffected.


TRE offers a simple somatic or body based way of allowing the nervous system to release and relax. This can be done without needing the trauma story or memory to be revisited. It is a simple but profoundly effective way to manage daily stress and tension with the added benefit of releasing old trauma patterns from the nervous system. As old patterns are released a greater feeling of ease and comfort is experienced. We feel safer and more comfortable in our own skin so to speak. Then the Light of consciousness can shine through here more clearly. The great thing about TRE is that once learned you can continue to utilise it. An empowering tool, TRE is an effective self-help or stress management technique. Yet it is more than this, offering a somatic way to peel back the layers that cover true inner freedom. 


Join Soraya Saraswati online or in person on the Sunshine Coast for a private TRE session or join or organise a group session. Email or phone Mangalam Meditation Retreat  0400 520 624


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