Okay, so today is only Day Three, and maybe that’s a little early to be making any statements about this new practice of mine. I am trying to commit to a 28 day practice of engaging in the sequence of bioenergetic exercises that David Bercelli has pulled together and labeled “Trauma Releasing Exercises.” Click here to go to his website: trauma prevention
I’m not sure I entirely accept all of the claims made by the proponents of the method but I do know that the first part of the series is profoundly grounding and the second part opens up the opportunity for the body to discharge a lot of energy in the form of movement. I also know that when I work through a stress-release, stress-release sequence of movements, I usually can feel a lot more and mostly I feel better.
The FEELING more is what counts for me. I am pretty good at shutting things down in my organism, i.e., my body. I look quite contained and relaxed, and situations and events do not visibly distress me. I also have chronic tension in my neck and shoulders (my physiotherapist would just shake her head at this point) and sometimes stomach upsets and sometimes trouble with sleeping. If I am unwilling or unable to feel my emotions as they are happening, then I have to do something to keep them from being in my consciousness. So I tense my musculature, tighten and constrict so that nothing gets through. Not feelings, not energy, and if I am particularly tight, I can even limit the flow of fluids through my tissues. And I am not alone in this: many people are expert at this sort of shutting down. So opening up is a good thing!
On the weekend, I was delighted to have a group of bioenergetic therapists and trainees visiting me in my home and office. We shared a lot of good ideas and some of our particular interests. Margaret Bernard of PEI led our group through the TRE and that was a great reminder for me that daily bodywork is really a must for me to stay connected to myself. I can readily connect with my thinking parts but find connecting with the feeling parts takes more attention. TRE helps me to bring that attention and also to let go of the holding and constriction.
So in only three days, I’m noticing that my feet are connecting to the ground differently. I have increased flexibility in my toes, which is a bigger deal that you think. Toes are a critical connector to the ground, and thus when we have good movement in our toes, they can hold on better. Really! Take off your shoes and try it. Squinch up your toes and try to walk around. Yes, really do it. Do it until your feet have some intensity of feeling in them, say, a seven out of ten. (Intensity, also known as PAIN!!!) Then mindfully spread out your toes on the floor, feeling everything (relief?) and try walking with all of them active and engaged. Aahhh……thank you, toes.
So toes. That’s good. I also notice that when the vibrations get going,, I can let them move quite readily up my body but that things get hung up at my diaphragm and throat. This is not new news to me; I know that I have blocks there, pretty typical ones from childhood. But when I allow myself to make a sound with those vibrations, the blocks ease up a bit. And when the sound starts to soar, almost like it isn’t part of me, then my body opens up to laughing and sobbing and all sorts of spontaneous movement. It is very cool.
I stay aware in this process, too, because I know that these kinds of unusual movements often permit the free flow of thoughts, memories, images, and sensations in the body-mind. This is access to my unconscious, and I don’t want to miss a thing! What I have found is that after I am finished (and how to decide to be “finished?”), I sit to write in my journal and the ideas are also flowing….ideas about so many things, not just the constricted content of my usual thoughts. Who knew that bioenergetic exercise would also open up my thinking self?
I’ll keep doing my daily practice and let you know how it proceeds. In the meantime, you can do TRE also…there are books and videos available from that website and also therapists and bodyworkers who are trained to help you learn the sequence. You can find a practitioner on the website. You can also just follow your body into movement and charge and discharge, but I know that can be harder to do than it sounds. Let me know how you do! Below is a video about TRE.