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What is TRE (Trauma Release Exercises)?

polar-bear-cub out of anesthesiaDr. Peter A. Levine discovered 35 years ago that wild animals recover from trauma by tremoring spasms of their body core and flailing of limbs, to complete the fight-flight they were in before they froze. Levine shows a National Geographic video of a polar bear chased by biologists (just to tag him) and then shot with a tranquilizer dart. As the bear wakes from freeze, its body trembles intensely, its legs thrash, and it makes biting motions over its shoulder—replicating and completing all the fight-flight actions it was making during the chase. Finally it undergoes deep gasping. See minute 10-12 of Levine's video:

This discharges tons of stress chemicals which otherwise get frozen in the body. [See Levine's book “Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body.  ]

Our human thinking brain usually refuses to do this trauma reset, aka "discharge."  We're too fearful of the fierce shaking and the scary flood of our own natural aggression we might have to feel--without acting it out. Acting out is a no-no, of course, but we don't know how to feel strong emotions without acting out, so we don't want to feel.

That’s why humans have trauma and wild animals usually don’t: old fight-flight stress chemicals stay frozen in our bodies. Levine created “Somatic Experiencing” body work to let us experience the reset motions we need, especially decades after trauma. My attachment-base psychotherapist and I got a shock when I accessed this discharge shaking doing Levine’s CD exercises (the book I mentioned has an audio CD). My body went wild and released a ton of childhood trauma. More here:

Later, Dr. David Berceli developed TRE based on this tremoring, to help large groups of traumatized people in refugee camps, earthquakes, poverty, terrorism, war zones, any mass trauma.  He discovered that the psoas muscle is key to body core tremoring.

TRE is a set of seven purely muscular exercises which induce this same “polar bear” tremors on a bodily basis, by exhausting the leg and other muscles that normally inhibit the psoas from tremoring.  And then, if we’ve got trauma  (who doesn’t?), tremor it will.

Berceli describes the tremor reflex as a vital survival instinct:

Levine’s friend trauma expert Robert Scaer, MD on TRE: https://livingubuntu.wordpress...-releasing-exercises

On “how to” TRE, see Matt Schwenteck step-by-step: 

Whenever I do these exercises, I feel fantastic. Matt says only two kinds of mammals have forgotten how do to this life-saving tremoring: zoo animals and humans.” 

Haven’t we all felt we’re in a zoo at times in our traumatized society?

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