What is TRE®? Unwinding Stress & Returning to Our Center

written by Susan Sanders


You're trying to get out the door & into the car to head to work; your kids are fighting and one of them forgets their lunch. You stop at an ATM to get money for the forgotten lunch and get the kids to school late because, this morning, everyone on the planet needed money from this particular ATM machine. You arrive to work late; your boss is less than pleased, and you're informed that the project you'd been working on now has to be completed two weeks ahead of schedule, so much for the family vacation you'd planned… 

Some version of this scenario plays out for all of us to some degree or another fairly regularly; it's part of living in modern society. How are we to manage the inevitable and unavoidable stress that comes with the territory? Our bodies are actually very well equipped for this task! In times of stress, our nervous systems help to protect us in two ways. The first is the fight or flight response which makes energy available to allow us to, essentially, fight or flee a real or perceived danger. The second is the mechanism that allows for the release of the energy after it's no longer needed. Have you ever gone through a stressful or fearful situation and shortly after the incident your hands start shaking or your knees start to knock? That is your nervous system working to release or discharge energy once it's no longer needed by your body. 

There is a disconnect that keeps the second part of this process from working effectively, though. We are all conditioned from a young age to not show fear or weakness. The shaking (or trembling) that is a normal part of stress release is seen as a weakness, and we're essentially taught to suppress the response. Think back to the last time your hands started to shake...what did you do? Wring your hands, clench and release them, put them in your pockets or out of sight? These actions that stop the shaking interrupt the normal process of release; this prevents stress and tension from leaving the body. The energy that was produced can't be released and is then stored in the body. 

Do you struggle with insomnia, worry & anxiety, PTSD, muscle and back pain, limited flexibility, decreased energy and endurance or relationship conflict? These are some of the symptoms that have been identified as stress related and can be a result of our inability to effectively release stress and tension.  

TRE® (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises), developed by Dr. David Berceli, PhD., is a simple series of exercises that will assist your body in releasing patterns of stress, tension and trauma. It safely activates the natural reflex mechanism of shaking or trembling that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/trembling mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance. 

Stress is unavoidable in our daily lives, but can be managed. You can learn to recognize your body's natural stress releasing mechanism, understand the cultural constraints that suppress it and honor the process.

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Susan Sanders is a Certified TRE® (Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises), Provider. She was first introduced to TRE® in 2013 and began using it regularly to reduce stress and tension in her life. Over time, Susan experienced the healing effects of this process of release and was so deeply affected by the changes she noticed that she wanted to share it with others! Once she obtained certification as a TRE® provider, Susan transitioned out of a career in social services and opened her own practice. She currently conducts workshops, individual sessions & informational sessions in the St. Louis Metro area, Metro East and throughout the state of Missouri. In addition, Susan is a Certified Reiki Master Practitioner and committed to honoring the body's innate ability to heal itself and to create space for that healing to occur.

Susan’s next workshop will be held Saturday, September 28 at 2:30-4:00p. Check our events calendar.

Why Meditate?

Dhyana, the seventh of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, is meditation and concentration. The word dhyana comes from the Sanskrit word dhyai, which means “to think of.” The first six limbs prepare us for deep meditation, but we don’t have to start at limb one to gain the benefits of meditation.

Magazines, TV and internet are full of articles about meditation. I’m sure many people read these articles and are interested in learning more about meditation, but daily meditation takes time. I often hear people say something like, “I’d love to meditate but I don’t have extra time in my schedule, plus I’m pretty happy most of the time anyway, and why should I add meditation when I’m already overloaded?” 

You may want to re-think taking time to meditate when you read what I have to say: Hear me out. 

According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75% of all physician office visits in the US are for stress-related ailments and complaints. 

We are all subject to stress. It has been estimated that stress costs $300 billion every year due to loss of productivity in the workforce, medical expenses, accidents and related social problems. 

A few common causes of stress are: 

  • loss of loved one 

  • loss of job 

  • work related issues 

  • money issues 

  • divorce 

  • marriage 

  • illness/injury — chronic or short term 

  • The list goes on and on.

Simply said, the cause of stress is not getting what we want. You may not like that definition, but if you really think about it, it’s true. Either because we did something that keeps us from getting what we want, we didn’t do something to get what we want, or circumstances out of our control interfered and we got something we didn’t want. In one form or another, we are all subject to stress. 

When we encounter a stressful situation the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. (see illustration below) 


The hypothalamus is like a command center, signaling the entire body through the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls things like heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, constriction of key blood vessels and can dilate or constrict airways in the lungs. Two components of the autonomic nervous system are sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic is like hitting the gas pedal, kicking on our fight or flight response. The parasympathetic is like rest and regroup, calming the body after stressful situation has passed. 

Upon activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the adrenal glands respond by pumping the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) into the bloodstream. Epinephrine brings on a series of physiological changes: heart rate increases, pulse and blood pressure go up, breathing rate increases, and airways in the lungs open wide allowing more oxygen to be carried to the brain increasing brain activity. Epinephrine also triggers the release of blood sugar (glucose) which, through a series of events, supplies more energy carried by the bloodstream to the body. 


Chronic low-level stress keeps what is called the HPA axis activated. The HPA axis is the networking between the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. Chronic low-level stress results in physical problems such as heart attack, stroke and weight gain just to name a few. 

Meditation is an effective way to deal with chronic stress. Meditation has been around for thousands of years practiced in many traditions; almost every religion has a system of meditation. Currently a method of meditation with roots in Hinduism, Yoga and Buddhism called mindful meditation is the most researched and well known. Mindful meditation in the United States has increased in popularity since the mid 20th century and continues to grow to this day. 

The primary reason mindful meditation has become mainstream is because research and personal experience with mindful meditation shows that a consistent mindful meditation practiced improves physical and emotional health and changes areas of the brain (neuroplasticity) that are tuned to chronic stress response. Over a period of time the brain adapts to the HPA axis response, and the HPA axis becomes more easily activated. 

Neuroplasticity is generally accepted as one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th Century. Dr. Michael Merzenich in the 1970s was conducting experiments attempting to prove that the brain is compartmentalized and fixed. Dr. Mersenich inadvertently discovered that the brain is not compartmentalized nor is it fixed. Some areas of the brain are subject to structural change (neuroplasticity). Response mechanisms to chronic stress can be changed by using mindfulness — non-judgmental awareness in the moment. 

Functional MRI technology has verified theories regarding meditation and the brain. Using FMRI technology, researchers can see structural changes in the brain after just a few weeks of meditation. 

Additional studies have found meditation enhances our ability to empathize without taking on others’ negative energy. Also, mindful meditation increases our ability to nurture ourselves and facilitate a greater sense of well-being. Research also indicates mindful meditation increases density in gray-matter in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory and structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. 

I wish much love and success to everyone who has taken the time to read this article. Please begin a regular meditation practice today. Information is everywhere, guided meditations can be found in apps and on the internet and books. 

Our website is mooncrestyoga.com 

We are offering meditation workshops almost monthly. 

written by Emmet Schmelig

Source: https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic...