Go slowly at the start. Learn how your body responds to the tremors. Shaking 3 times a week is a strong practice, probably no more than 10 to 15 minutes shaking after the exercises if you are new to TRE.
You can gradually build up as you feel more confident – longer periods of shaking and more often. Some people shake every day for many weeks, some people find it works fine for them just once a week or after a stressful event.
TRE is self regulating tool. Experiment to find the dose and pace that works for you.
DO I NEED TO DO THE WHOLE EXERCISE SEQUENCE?
We recommend using the whole sequence the first 10 times you do TRE self practice. The sequence is very robust and has been road tested on hundreds of thousands of people. It will gently and safely lead you in to the tremors.
The sequence of exercises helps ground you in your body as well as tiring out pelvic muscles so they can start shaking.
The exercises are a tool to help you shake. The shaking is the magic part of TRE where self healing occurs. Overtime you will learn to let go and allow the tremors with out needing all the exercises. For many experienced shakers it is enough to lie down and do the floor exercises to initiate the tremors.
You may even notice times in the day (after running for the bus?) where you could let your self shake and discharge some tension. Play with the shakes, its your body!
HELP, I FEEL WORSE AFTER I SHAKE?
Sometimes when after we shake the sensations in our bodies can feel more intense. This can be scary. Often the answer is to shake again, but halve the amount of time you actually tremor. Most people who feel worse initially on doing TRE, probably dived in too deep, too quick. Slowly is the best way of working with trauma, work in small manageable chunks.
Use a timer to help you regulate. Even 5 minutes can be a long time when you are learning or if you have been in a really difficult space. For some people even 1 minute might be enough.
If anything feels as though it is going too quick, or you feel as though you are dreamy and floaty and ungrounded, stop tremoring. Put the brakes on by letting you legs go flat and roll on to your side.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITS OF TRE?
TRE is simple and powerful. For some people not talking, just shaking, coming into their body and working on their own is a life changing. These limits can also be hard for some people; they may benefit from finding a community, social justice, appropriate medication, ongoing one to one talking therapeutic support. In these cases TRE work best as part of a package of care.
No one knows how to treat trauma successfully for all clients. We do not claim TRE is cure for all people, nothing works all the time for everybody, this is the same for any intervention. Treating trauma is complex and evidence is unclear. TRE has some limited research, very good theory, lots of anecdotal evidence and passionate advocates.
Current trends in western medicine of working with trauma are based on finding better medications to dampen down body responses (eg beta blockers and anti-psychotics etc) or CBT as the gold standard therapeutic intervention. The evidence base for CBT is mixed at best. Most trauma theorists are focused on some form of graded exposure to intense sensations and teaching emotional regulation. The better ones appreciate emotions emerge from the body.
There is excellent theory and very good developing evidence about changing body reflexes – the core of the TRE model – and a number of exciting modalities trying to find the best ways of down-regulating over protective reflexes (eg EMDR, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR). The goal is changing the body in the first instance; not starting with the mind and focusing on cognitive understanding and tools.
Some of the talking treatments that have been researched – eg brief intervention therapies and talking treatments (famously research on talking treatments post 9-11 in USA was not supportive) – do not come out very well at all in some long term studies. It is hard working with trauma, particularly if people are dissociated. Dissociation is massively under appreciated in the most therapeutic approaches.
The best metaphor for how TRE works is probably not releasing tension, rather, ‘waking your body up’. It is often more effective to frame shaking as a process that safely generates new feelings of connection that are inherently anti dissociative.