Stress affects the quality of our sleep. Restless sleep increases our stress level. It’s a cycle that takes more than supplements to break. We all carry some level of stress, tension, and trauma. What if we had an effective stress release method, rather than just relieving the symptoms of a stressful life? What if we can go beyond merely managing stress?
This is the aim of TRE and here’s my personal experience with Sae Kani, a TRE® Globally Certified Provider.
You know when you are so relaxed, you just want to stay in that space and relish it? Sink deeper into it. So calm, so quiet, so wonderfully present. Like when you are in savasana.
That is how I felt at the end of my first TRE session with Sae Kani.
On a rainy afternoon, while the skies crackled, I was shaking and tremouring on the floor. Not because the thunder was triggering a traumatic response. On the contrary, I was releasing stress, tension, and trauma that remained unresolved in my system.
TRE stands for Trauma Release Exercises. This series of seven simple physical movements is designed to allow the natural completion of survival responses. It is this lack of completion that leaves many people stuck in a sympathetic mode and the survival response still.
Stress, Resolution, and Safety
Stress is a reality in life. Artificial stimulation from cell phones, man-made noises, and chemicals, for example, further trigger our nervous system. Some nervous systems are more sensitive and some people more hypervigilant.
For a myriad of reasons, including social conditioning, humans in general have “lost” the body’s natural ability to release, like animals still do. When we are told to go “shake it off” there is truth to that. Shaking it off is a primal mechanism for the body to release stress and trauma. TRE is good for this, and for building resilience.
Resolution, or the completion of the survival response, comes when a sense of safety is internally reset. When we are in an emergency, the body takes over, and likewise the body, not the logical mind, returns us to this state of being. When feeling safe, we are grounded and connected.
When we feel unsafe, many people dissociate, to separate from their feelings (because it is too much) and from themselves. This shows up as vacant eyes, disinterest in life, low emotional intelligence, disengagement, and more.
A sense of safety and security, through healthy attachment for example, is key to a healthy, resilient, and responsive nervous system.
By the very nature of evolution, those of us alive are here because our ancestors were “nervous” enough to dodge predators and other threats to survival. They were also resilient enough to reproduce and pass on their genes, along with trauma they experienced. As research shows, we are also the product of transgenerational trauma. This is an important dimension to our approach to experience well-being in an increasingly stressful world.
The question is, do we have the tools to release this collective and build-up of tension to birth future generations of healthy happy and productive adults?
The TRE Session
In an impromptu session with Sae, I once again experienced the power of TRE. I was lucky to have been introduced to it by a somatic experience practitioner friend and had the opportunity to sit down with the founder of TRE Dr David Berceli (read the interview with Dave about TRE and all the good work he’s doing in war and disaster zones, for both the victims and the perpetrators to shift the environment).
I could feel myself coming back into my physical self in the session and when the shaking started, it was glorious. Seriously. When I’m shaking, I know I’m releasing!
At first, you may wonder if your body would ever shake and when it does start, you may wonder if you are doing it consciously. Like if you are forcing it somehow.
Just breathe, and enjoy the pulsations travelling through the body.
Sae led me through the exercises and used strategic hand placements to invite deeper and more expansive tremours. She also asked me to take a break, to allow time for integration, before a second round of shaking.
Integration is important. A trained practitioner ensures that a person is not dissociating or flooding or shaking too much. While it is helpful to shake often, people with a deep or major challenge are advised to shake once every few days – or even once a week – to allow integration on the amygdala, limbic, and neocortex levels and that takes time.
Where is this shaking coming from? It all starts with the psoas, the deep muscle that connects the upper and lower body, the pelvis to the back. In a survival response, the psoas muscle tightens and moves us into a ball, protecting our vital organs and making our spine more resilient. The fetal position essentially.
When the psoas muscle is stretched, the brain is signalled that it is safe and tremors begin. We do not shake at the time of the traumatic experience. We are built to fight or flee. We can also freeze. When our life is literally on the line, our immune, digestive, and reproductive systems are secondary. All the resources are diverted to the primary systems – those that help us run faster or fight better.
This hard-wired response is good to remember because this continues to happen in today’s world, even though most of us are not in physical danger. When we are living with some level of constant fight, flight, freeze because of chronic stress, our health is compromised.
Once the tremors start, this further reinforces the brain that it is safe. When the pelvis region relaxes as a result, neurogenic responses are seen throughout the nervous system, in the wrists, arms, neck, back, and so on.
For many people, Sae comments, the heart centre is closed off. That area is likely the last to shake. When it does happen, it is more like a pulsation. Think, a wave rolling through your entire body, dancing, releasing, uncoupling the links to the trauma.
This is not to say that TRE is only for trauma. Saying it is just a stress management tool is reductive as well. TRE builds resilience.
TRE shifts the state of being from an activated sympathetic nervous system to a grounded parasympathetic nervous system. They call that social engagement nervous system. That is when we are present, when we feel what we feel and can understand what others feel. This, Sae says, is what makes humans human.
We are fundamentally heart-centred and through releasing trauma, we can stop ravaging ourselves and others.
Sae’s vision for her work with TRE is global. TRE could help shift the world and give peace a chance, as John Lennon said. Humanitarian work has been her dream since she was 14 years old. Of course, she says, it starts with one individual, one family, one community, and it ripples out. As a species we can shake out our personal, tribal, and collective trauma. After that, who knows what is possible.
Speaking of shifts, my friend said he felt a palpable change in energy during my session. He felt the calm and an uplift in energy. That was with one person, in less than 15 minutes.
And that night? I slept great, and was rested the next morning.
side note: I highly recommend anyone going through relationships issues or the ending of relationships to connect with Sae to help release the tremendous stress. If you are trying to hold it together for your kids and other dependents, TRE and other modalities can help support you. Having a holistic strategy is essential for multi-level full spectrum healing.
A personal session would be very supportive and the way to go for anyone going through tough times as the practitioner will ensure you are not “over-releasing” to help with a smooth integration. Sae also offers couple sessions; these can help improve intimacy and connection.
Sae Kani is a TRE Globally Certified Provider, Certified Integral Coach, and the co-founder of Humanitarian Support Asia. Her expansive and deep experience of working with over 600 people throughout Asia with stress and trauma places her uniquely as a bridge, with an eye on helping improve people’s individual lives as well as global change.
Sae spends her time offering humanitarian services and teaching TRE worldwide. Originally from Japan, Sae has lived in the UK, Indonesia, Thailand, East Timor, and Nepal.
Sae Kani visits Singapore regularly to offer TRE workshops and private sessions (individual, couple, and family). Contact Kah Keh at Gallery Helios at KahKeh.ho@GalleryHelios.com to book your private sessions or to sign up for TRE workshops.