TRE – Trauma Release Exercises

What is it?

TRE is a way of releasing trapped emotions, by triggering a long suppressed natural body mechanic. This ties in to the Ook and Ukk story from Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

It was developed by Dr David Berceli. Who after visiting warzones observed that the bodily reaction to trauma was shaking, he also observed the same response in animals.

Time machine time….

…After running away from the big dinosaur Ook and Ukk arrive somewhere safe. When they get there they both start shaking, this releases the pent up fear response, they shake as long as they need to. They process the event, life continues as normal. Somewhere out in the woods Gronk is also shaking as a way of ‘thawing’ the freeze response. He recovers and joins Ook and Ukk, they laugh about times past. The now vegan dinosaur joins them (see Part 3), they feed it Dandelions, then they spot an alluring female and try to impress her with tales of bravery. She goes off with the dinosaur instead. Nothing changes…

The Science

In Part 3 we learned that stress / anxiety / fear can get stuck in the body. If you engage the body’s natural fear release mechanism, the fear is processed and released. This results in a natural return to wellbeing and calm. The exercise I will outline below will trigger stimulation of the vagus nerve and your body will begin to release the stored fear. Eventually you will be able to utilise this reaction yourself without the exercise. So that if you are having a crisis, you can go somewhere private, maybe a bathroom cubicle if you are not at home and let yourself shake it out standing up.

I have found this a great one to try an hour before bed time if you have had a particularly hard day. You need the hour because it is quite a workout and you can end up feeling like Loki in Avengers Assemble, after the Hulk has had his way with him.

The big benefit

You are not reliving the trauma, you are releasing without going through the fear in your mind.

How to do it

Warning: If you have any mobility issues, back problems, are pregnant or have any medical reasons why you shouldn’t do this exercise. DO NOT DO IT. You try this at your own risk, you have been warned.

At step 4 it will look something like this:

Image borrowed from

To Start

  1. Lie down on a yoga mat or a firm mattress
  2. Set a timer for one minute, raise your knees feet together, then raise your bottom off the mat so only the soles of your feet, shoulders, neck back of your head and arms are on the mat.
  3. Start the timer. You should feel a strain in the top of your thighs. This is what you want.
  4. When the minute is up, relax back onto the mat. Keep your feet together splay your knees outwards.
  5. Start a timer for 15 minutes, Stay relaxed. You should start to feel a tremor starting in your hips. Let it happen, it may travel up through your body, your head and arms may shake, just go with it.
  6. During the exercise gradually bring your knees together. Take it slow, move them a few degrees and hold for a while then repeat. If you reach the top before the 15 mins is up just keep them in that position.
  • If nothing happens at first this is ok, it can take a few goes for your body to ‘remember’ to shake
  • If you find it too difficult, painful or exhausting you can stop at any time. Just stretch out your legs
  • If you find the shaking too violent, you can control it just my becoming aware of it and stopping yourself shaking so much. It really does work try it!

After 15 mins

  1. Stretch out your legs
  2. Rest for a moment
  3. Check how you feel now on the SUE scale (see Part 3)
  4. Get a glass of water or a cup of tea

That’s it. There are other ways to engage the shaking response but I like the lying down version as you can watch TV or listen to the Radio / Podcast in reasonable comfort while you do.

If you want further information you can visit Dr Berceli’s website

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