“The first night, I fell asleep really easily and felt like I’ve been asleep for weeks.
I woke up feeling deeply rested. It feels like a sense of ‘letting go’ [...] I feel like I can then move forward in my life and I’m not acting out of things that have happened and pains that I’m carrying around. So it just feels like I can become more available to… life.”
Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) is an easy to learn body-centered method created by Dr. David Berceli. It is a simple technique that helps releases stress or tension from the body that accumulate from every day circumstances of life, from difficult situations, immediate or prolonged stressful situations (e.g. anxiety, depression), or traumatic life experiences (i.e., natural disasters, social or domestic violence, PTSD).
TRE consists of six simple exercises that help individuals release tension from the muscles, which in turn relaxes the anxiety of our minds, by evoking a muscular shaking process in the body. The exercises elicit this shaking in a controlled and sustained manner. When evoked in this way, this shaking, also called “neurogenic tremors”, begins to release deep chronic muscular tension held within the body.
Reported benefits include:
- Better sleep
- Less worry & anxiety
- More energy & endurance
- Less relationship conflict & work stress
- Reduced muscle pain & body tension
- Alleviates symptoms of PTSD and helps heal trauma
“The human body registers everything that occurs to it, both physically and neurologically. And if we do not resolve trauma, all it can do is to continue to wear us down over life psychologically, emotionally and physically.”
- David Berceli, creator of TRE
* * *
David Berceli, creator of TRE
David Berceli, PhD is an international expert in the areas of trauma intervention and conflict resolution. For the past 22 years he has lived and worked in nine countries including Israel, Palestine, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Yemen, Egypt and Lebanon providing trauma relief workshops and designing recovery programs for international organizations around the world.
For more information, see David Berceli explains TRE.
What is this “shaking response”?
Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) invoke the natural tremor mechanism of the body in response to stress or trauma. This is common to all living beings. Here is an example of the trauma release process in a polar bear.
David on trauma as a paradigm shift
The human animal is designed to experience, endure and survive traumatic episodes. If we did not possess this ability the human species would have become extinct shortly after it was born. This natural ability to let go of and resolve post traumatic reactions is genetically encoded in us to complete one process and begin something new as a part of our unending cycle of evolution. When a traumatic event occurs, the individual feels overwhelmed and the experience seems unbearable.
However it is precisely because of this overwhelming experience that the individual is forced out of their old way of thinking into a new way of being in the universe. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, all experienced trauma and used their painful encounters to develop a more moral and ethical response to their traumatic circumstances. Their lives demonstrate to us that the trauma recovery process contains the possibility of helping the human person develop into a more moral and ethical species. If we can repeat this process for thousands or millions of people, we can use the transforming power inherent in the trauma recovery process to transform the ethical and moral foundations of the human person… Mass trauma may be the process whereby the human species is evolving into a more ethical species. The trauma survivors of the third world may be the harbingers of a morality necessary to temper the technology of the first world. These survivors may be evidence of the natural evolution of the human species from the Age of Technology to the Age of Wisdom.
Wisdom born of trauma
“I do not wish tragedy on anyone but ever since that accident, I never fail to tell my wife I love her. I kiss my children every day. Life is richer, fuller and deeper than I have ever experienced. It has more meaning and depth than it ever had before.”
This type of transformation of life after surviving a traumatic experience is very common. The questions that beg to be asked here are: How and why does a traumatic experience cause us to live a more profound life than we previously had? Why don’t we simply choose to live life at its deepest level before a tragedy? Why do we need to have a traumatic experience to wake up to appreciating life to its fullest?
As a human species, we are biologically designed to experience, endure and survive trauma. No different from other living organisms on this planet, we are genetically encoded to let go of and recover from trauma as a way of ridding ourselves of any experience that obstructs or interferes with the natural evolutionary process of the human body.
Resolving past traumas delivers us into the future. Through the unending cycle of trauma recovery, the human species learns how to adapt to life threatening situations. This process of adaptation makes the species stronger and wiser to protect it from future traumatic episodes. If we did not possess this natural evolutionary instinct, we would have died as a species shortly after we were born. Trauma recovery is as natural and common as trauma itself. Accepting this sometimes unpleasant fact of life allows us to see trauma in a new light… Only by letting go can we unlock ourselves from the past, be delivered into the future and prepare ourselves for our next evolutionary experience.
Once a trauma befalls us we are forced, whether we like it or not, whether we want to or not, to follow its life-altering path. At times, this process often leads us through episodes of helplessness and hopelessness. It can terrify us by unveiling the fragility, precariousness and vulnerability of our humanity. It exposes us to the rawness of life as a living species on this planet. It tears at the very fabric of our identity and radically redefines our view of life. However, it is precisely because this experience has burned the bridges of our past ways of thinking that we are forced into a new way of being in life. The old ways of thinking and relating no longer suffice and a new way of being begins to emerge. We discover that on the other side of this frightening journey we have the potential of emerging into a new life of maturity, compassion and wisdom.
About Living Ubuntu
We are a non-profit organization with a focus on mind-body issues, specifically health and well-being, and the effects of stress, trauma and compassion fatigue. We seek to increase awareness of the global and local impact of these issues, build a sense of community, and encourage living a more fully embodied life.
Find more more about us at