Releasing trauma from the body
As I learn more and more about the nature of trauma and its effects on us, I become increasingly aware of the need for us to meet and treat the whole of ourselves, not just to address our mental well-being. As Babette Rothschild says, the body remembers, and outside conscious awareness our physical form holds on to so much. In Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy we can identify and be with these physical effects to integrate and resolve them. I am always on the look out for things clients can do themselves to aid this release, after all, the goal is for clients to be at choice and to have options.
A few months ago I began experimenting with dancing the 5Rhythms as a new to me way of gaining insight about what my body is experiencing, and of releasing the emotion that is there. I blogged at the time saying how highly I recommend trying it.
This month I have been learning about TRE - Trauma Releasing Exercises. The TRE Association Website describes TRE as “an innovative series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma.” Developed by Dr David Berceli, these exercises are said to activate a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. Having experienced a lot of unconscious movement of my body in times past when I was training in Ericksonian Hypnosis, this piqued my interest.
Although the developer’s goal is for the exercises to be ones people can use for self-help, for those with trauma histories the videos suggest that the support of a professional is appropriate certainly to begin with, as the technique can be quite full on once it gets going. Safety first, I found myself a practitioner to guide me through the exercises, although there are videos available on youtube, I felt more comfortable in the hands of someone experienced to begin with. After all, the idea of our body trembling and shaking without us directing it to can seem a bit odd!
My conclusion having tried TRE? Yes, it certainly released tension and stress for me, and then some. After a session I feel like I’ve done a workout, but I also feel softer and as if I am somehow flowing more effectively. In all honesty it took some getting used to, but the effect was a big release and I sense used regularly will be a good part of my self-care routine.
These exercises are ones I have added to my repertoire of things to use for myself, but also to mention to clients where appropriate if I feel a physical therapy as an adjunct to psychotherapy might be useful. It’s always good to have options.
How do you most like to release physical tension?