Making the most of TRE® once you’ve learned it
Once you’ve had a session to learn the basics of TRE® – the exercises, how to access your tremor, how to stop tremoring, remembering to integrate the work done – then the next thing you would want to do would be to learn how to develop your practice so that it becomes more effective for you over time. Some beginners, having acquired the basics and experienced the tremor in their legs (these larger muscle groups are easier to activate and so an easy access point to begin the journey) think: Oh, that’s all there is to it!
While TRE® can still work to help you discharge stress when used that way, giving yourself time to find out how to get the tremors going in other parts of your body can help with releasing tension being held in other areas of the body. This, of course, can support the relieving of pain in more parts of the body since we store stress everywhere and often in the upper parts of the body – working long hours at the computer gives me a lot of neck and shoulder stress, not to mention jaw stress when I’ve been clenching my teeth a lot due to frustration.
In fact, on one of the Facebook Live videos I’ve done recently, jaw tension definitely showed up during my shake to be worked through, which was hilarious because I was simultaneously trying to articulate what was happening in my shake. A tremoring jaw and talking are not a complementary combination! To counter my insistence on preventing the tremor in my jaw so I could talk, my TRE® mechanism had me yawning throughout the session so that those tense muscles in my jaw could get the stretch they needed. The shake will find a way to get the job – or in my case, the jaw – done!
Anyhow, here are some questions you might have as a beginner on the TRE® journey, and I will do my best to address them as objectively as possible. As with all these posts that have to do with answering questions, if there are any questions you have which I haven’t addressed, please do give me feedback and I will make sure I plan and do a post to address them.
How many sessions do I need to learn TRE®?
For the basics, one session can be enough.
The exercises which help you access your tremor are simple and easy to remember. If you need, there are some providers and trainers who have put up videos of the exercises, even variations of them, so that you can follow these if you need more repetitions to be able to do them all unguided.
What’s the point of attending a series with a group?
To feel safe as you explore and become confident, for positive affirmation on a new journey, for expanding your ideas of what is possible and for limbic resonance.
In a nutshell, the more comfortable and confident you are with practicing TRE®, the more you’ll be able to trust and relax into the process each time you practice. The more relaxed you are, the more your body is able to induce the tremors it needs in order that you can have more effective tension release. For growing that comfort and that confidence, having a season with a group is a way to get monitored shakes with a certified TRE® Provider who is trained to keep you safe as well as to support your familiarity with how to use interventions at a much more affordable rate than having 1-on-1 sessions.
A main purpose of these sessions is to have a safe space to explore and experiment with this new modality and to get help, if you need to, if something about your experience puzzles you in the process. For many who are new to TRE®, simply experiencing how their bodies can and want to move is an education in itself, and it is always important for us to be with positively affirming groups who can share the wonder of the adventure with us. The more positive reinforcement we have through positive experiences, through being reassured that however weird our tremors are as they emerge that they are also wonderful, the more confident and willing we can become to exploring where else we can take ourselves with TRE®.
Another benefit of attending groups is that there is an opportunity for people who practice together to observe each other’s shakes. In the community, we speak jokingly about the idea of ‘shake envy’ where observing a kind of tremor someone else has makes us want to have an experience of that kind of tremor ourselves. I once provided a session for a beginner who, on her second TRE® session, told me that she experienced a tremor in her eyes because she could feel how her pupils were rapidly dilating and contracting! Man, but did I have a huge dose of shake envy that day! We can experience tremors all over, wherever we store tension, wherever there is tissue to respond, and tremors can take on all kinds of magnitudes, intensities and movements. Sometimes all that keeps us from accessing tremors that are different from ‘usual’ is to observe that it is possible for someone else because the recognition that it can be done is an effective key to help us open our minds and to become aware that we have been subconsciously holding back from allowing a tremor because we thought it couldn’t or even shouldn’t be done a particular way.
What can sometimes happen in a group that is exciting is when there’s limbic resonance. It’s hard to have that happen all by yourself; you’ll need to be practicing with at least one other person for that to have a chance of happening. The more familiar a group is with shaking regularly together and the more openness and trust develops in a group, the more it stands a chance of happening that the members of the group finds that certain movements they experience are similar or perhaps a certain emotion emerges for everyone during a session. Even without that, the pre- and post- session sharing can create a lot of resonance and a great feeling of camaraderie and companionship – we all come together because we want to be well, to release pent up stress, to cope with situations, to heal… – and knowing that we are not alone can be augment our emotional resources tremendously.
So, what’s the point of 1-to-1 sessions with a provider?
More personalised support, especially for those who already acknowledge that they have something they would like to work through more intensely with TRE®.
The deeper the journey we have the intention to explore, the more our systems need for us to feel safe so that we can find the courage within ourselves to do what might be very intimidating or challenging to some parts of our psyche. Those who have residual or unresolved trauma from childhood or incidents earlier in their lives can sometimes find their TRE® journeys to have a particular intensity in the way the tremors emerge or the kinds of emotions that they experience before, during or after a shake, or, in some cases, survival responses can also show up which might lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. In such cases, to have our journeys witnessed by a caring, non-judgemental observer who is able to help us feel more safe because we know that their primary reason for being there is to focus on us and to remind us that we are safe can be invaluable. It can help us access the great amount of courage that we need to be open to allowing these sometimes scary or painful parts of our psyches to emerge to be seen, addressed and healed.
For most, simply knowing you’re tremoring as part of a group can be an intervention in itself. When we consciously know that we have to share the attention of the provider, we automatically self-regulate. However, there are some people who have a much stronger reaction to the TRE® process and, for these in particular, to have a period of personalised attention is more necessary.
If I do TRE® with a group, do I still need to make time to do TRE® on my own?
Personal preference rules the day; an awareness of ‘public’ versus ‘private’ space might create different experiences.
Of course, a benefit of attending a regular group is that there is already a regular interval that you’re practicing TRE®, so you don’t have to do solo practice unless you want to. Many, once they become familiar with TRE® and how using it works for them, sometimes choose to also have times when they do TRE® alone:
- We are usually different people when we are with a group to when we are by ourselves, no matter how much trust and bonding we may feel with the group in question. For this reason, some people find it beneficial to make time to have a group practice and to do a solo practice regularly so that they can reap the benefits of both.
- Some find that more frequent practice of TRE® is more supportive for where they are, so a regular group provides a baseline stable practice and they fit in another solo practice mid-way to take care of discharging stress that has built up by the mid-week interval.
- It is also a benefit of TRE® that, really, that all we need is our bodies. It can be done anywhere at any time so long as we feel safe enough to allow ourselves to access our tremors. For this reason, it can be used to help us release tension in a more ad hoc sort of fashion when we need it. Like before a big presentation, or after a tense conversation with someone, or when we’ve found ourselves getting triggered by some thing incidental. Personally, I find that sometimes just a few minutes of TRE® help me feel more grounded, more present, and more clear-headed about something which I might find stressful or agitating.
The choice of how often and with whom is, in other words, a very personal one and is usually tailored by the individual to meet their own needs. Some of us need a regular appointment set by an external entity to help us stay regular in our practice. Some of us prefer a more social environment and feel safer with a group. Some of us go through phases, even, of wanting to shake more often because life happens.
How often do I need to practice TRE® anyway, with or without a group or provision?
For beginners, a getting-to-know-you regular practice is ideal.
For beginners who are just starting to develop their relationships with their bodies with TRE®, a regular practice can be helpful, simply to familiarize. Once or twice a week is great; do take time off in between to allow for an integration of what TRE® is helping your body to process. The clearing and integration can go on for a few days, which is why some people find that a day or two after doing TRE®, they might feel more emotional, or perhaps feel more thirsty or tired, or even that they have differently vivid dreams. Some might even become more achy in some parts because, chances are, those are the parts that they were subconsciously not allowing to tremor: when you’ve spent most of your life not allowing yourself to tremor, chances are, you’ll need a little time to change that habit.
Also, when you do TRE®, you’re not just practicing how to allow, regulate and integrate your shake. You’re also practicing observing your body: What’s tremoring today, what’s not tremoring today, what feels like it would like to start tremoring, how much tremoring is feeling like enough for this session, how changing my breathing or taking time to stretch or having more breaks affects my shake… The more you practice watching and listening to your body, the more your body will start communicating with you so that eventually you’ll know when your body really needs to shake something off, and how to regulate your shake for different occasions.
Until that internal communication becomes more clear, you might want to set a timer for each practice you do on your own (say, 15 minutes, max) and set yourself a target for how many breaks you’ll take to just stretch out and lie still while you notice how your shake is going. Explore. Grow. And if you feel uncertain, find someone to ask.
Most importantly, whatever I or anyone else has to say on the matter: the TRE® journey is about your relationship with your body and the whole system that includes your mind, your emotions, your habituated tendencies, and anything else that you have stored in there. For that reason, you are the boss of your own journey and how you want that to progress. Taking time to find a Provider you feel gives you the support you need can be helpful – chances are, you’ll find that different Providers and the way they hold space will help you discover different things about yourself. Or simply taking the time to do a few minutes of TRE® every couple of days to get familiar because that’s what you’re comfortable with for a start.
As with any relationship, the more attention you put in, the more astute a sense you will develop for what suits and what doesn’t suit your needs.