Most people have experienced involuntary shaking (neurogenic tremors) such as ‘shaking like a leaf’ or ‘knocking knees’ after a severe shock or fright, when extremely nervous (such as before public speaking) or even in moments of extreme excitement and joy.
The tremors are the central nervous system’s innate way of discharging excessive tension through the rapid muscle contraction and relaxation of the tremors to calm the body down from an over excited adrenal state.
Neurogenic tremors are innate to all mammals and are easily observed as a horse sends a tremor through its’ entire body after a fall. Other examples are gazelles shaking after escaping a lion attack, ducks flapping their wings after a fight or the rapid vibration felt holding a scared rabbit or guinea pig.
In most western cultures, these tremors are seen as a sign of weakness and vulnerability, tending to be suppressed or avoided resulting in chronic pain and tension rather than allowing them to organically restore the body to balance.
Neurogenic tremors induced with TRE are shown in this video by Dr David Berceli
The tremors have been described as like a massage from the inside out and are mostly experienced as mildly pleasurable often with an associated feeling of heat or release spreading throughout the body.
Some people experience large amplitude tremors with their legs shaking significantly (which tends to be the body breaking up gross and superficial tension) while others experience a more refined and purring like vibration that moves further through the body as it becomes more relaxed.
Each person’s body will usually tremor where there is the most or the primary tension is held, such that one person may have all their shaking in their legs while others may mostly experience it in their shoulders and arms. Every person will have their own individual tremor pattern according to their own unique history, experience and tension patterns. How and where the tremors occur is regulated by each individual’s brainstem just each person will have their own individual heart rate and respiration in response to the same amount of exercise.
How do the tremors restore the body to a calm relaxed state?
The tremors turn down the central nervous system’s automated and hyper-aroused fight or flight or freeze response by creating a vibration of contraction and relaxation that releases the built up energy and tension held in the muscles and connective tissues of the body. While this shaking is the body’s innate response to calm down the body when it is traumatised or overexcited, it is often seen as a sign of weakness and there for suppressed, leaving the body held in a chronically stressed and tense state.
The tremors release the traumatic experience in the same way that it was created in the body – by the brainstem initiating a discharge of the physical tension associated with the event. The Trauma Release Exercises are designed to invoke the tremors from the deepest core muscle of the body (that flexes us forward into defensive and defeated postures) before spreading throughout the rest of the body.
Is there an emotional response during the exercises?
While some people experience significant emotional release during the Trauma Release process, others may experience no emotional response whatsoever. Some may experience intense memories of a trauma, while others may have no memory or recollection at all while still achieving a significant physiological and psychological release.
An enhancing attribute of the Trauma Release Exercise process is the physiological states associated with a trauma are often able to be released without having to actually relive, remember, or talk about the actual traumatic event itself.
Some people who have experienced severe trauma may at times feel frightened during the exercises, not due to experiencing the tremors themselves, (which most people experience as mildly pleasurable) but occasionally due to the nature and intensity of the emotions surfacing that they are no longer able to control or suppress during the process.
In such situations these people should be guided through the process with direct professional assistance being clearly informed that at any stage if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable the tremors can be immediately stopped by simply straightening the legs or rolling onto their side.