What are TRE exercises for releasing tension, stress, and trauma?

TRE Exercises: My experience with TRE started in 2017 when I was working in Thailand as part of the New Life Foundation, a center for addiction recovery. I did these exercises in a group and immediately felt numerous benefits, such as a sense of calmness, relaxation, improved sleep, and better emotional control. Since then, TRE has become a natural way for me to cope with stress.

TRE is quite popular worldwide because it is a very simple and easily applicable method. However, sometimes the way it is practiced can be harmful because participants do not receive enough instructions from the facilitator regarding independent practice, such as how often to do the exercises, when and in what situations, what self-regulation entails, or how they can control trembling, etc. Even I, due to insufficient instructions, sometimes “misused” these exercises and practiced them too frequently, which made me feel overly emotional or tired.

Given that this whole field has fascinated me and TRE has brought me numerous long-term benefits, I feel motivated to spread this practice here. In late 2018, I started a one-year training in Zagreb to become a TRE facilitator. Alongside enriching my personal TRE practice, I gained knowledge, tools, and insights on how to introduce TRE to people in the right way, allowing them to become acquainted with this practice in a safe and secure environment and continue applying it in their daily lives.

What are TRE Exercises?

TRE stands for Tension, Stress, and Trauma Release Exercises. These exercises are based on the fundamental idea, supported by research, that stress, tension, and trauma are psychological and physical.

TRE consists of a set of exercises that, in a safe environment, activate the natural reflex mechanism of trembling or shaking, which releases muscle tension and calms the nervous system. When this muscular shaking mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return to a state of balance.

Who Created These Exercises?

These exercises and the method were developed by Dr. David Berceli, the founder of the International TRE Center for the Prevention and Healing of Stress, Tension, and Trauma. (Learn more at www.traumaprevention.org)

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David Berceli aimed to create a method and exercises that could be done by a large number of people. Once participants master the exercises with the guidance of a facilitator, they can do TRE completely independently after just a few sessions, without the presence of a facilitator.

How to Do TRE Exercises?

You don’t need any preparation or prior knowledgefor TRE exercises. The facilitator provides instructions beforehand, explaining what you can expect, the concept of self-regulation, and the importance of taking breaks during the exercises. The goal of the exercises is not about strength or physical agility; they are straightforward, and the key is to perform them correctly.

The series of seven simple exercises aim to warm up, stretch, and prepare the muscles that are activated during stress and emotional trauma. While doing these exercises, we observe, follow, and become aware of the sensations occurring in our bodies. After the warm-up, we lie down in a specific position, and that’s when the natural trembling mechanism is activated (although trembling can begin during the earlier exercises).

Through involuntary trembling, tension and blocked energy accumulated during stressful situations, which we haven’t released through natural fight or flight responses, are discharged.

It’s important for participants to know that they can take breaks and stop the trembling if needed. Sometimes participants may laugh during the exercises, while others may experience gentle trembling or various bodily sensations. The response is truly individual for each person. What is common to all participants is the feeling of relief and awakening after the exercises.

Who Are These Exercises For?

They are suitable for everyone who:

  • is under stress or tension
  • experiences inner tension
  • has trouble relaxing
  • has insomnia
  • is irritable
  • experiences physical pain, such as back or neck pain, headaches, etc.
  • has difficulty controlling emotions and tends to react strongly in stressful situations
  • wants to bring more peace and relaxation into their life

TRE is especially beneficial for athletes after training sessions or for overcoming stage fright before public performances or exams.

If you want to learn more and join us, please contact us at [email protected] :)

Read more about my mindfulness journey back to myself.

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