Shake It Off – Part Two of Three
by Sarah Eggers
Please read Part One to understand where this picks up:
Although Mary was a gifted guide, she made clear to us that the beauty of TRE is that the exercises work, once they have been mastered, regardless of the leader. TRE, Mary explained, is basically a series of six simple, but semi-strenuous exercises that are designed to systematically fatigue the muscles of the lower body, thereby eliciting the body’s tremor response. The final and most important step of the technique involves lying on one’s back with the knees raised, a position that allows the tremoring to take place. One of the things I appreciate about TRE is that it is a self-help technique–that is, once you learn the exercises you can do them by yourself, wherever and whenever you need to. Eventually, Mary explained, your body will “re-learn” to tremor, and you won’t need to do the exercises but will be able to “shake it off” just by deciding to do so. TRE is something that can be integrated into a lifestyle choice, like taking vitamins or exercising. Unlike yoga, which I practice but know is not necessarily for everyone, TRE can be done by anyone, and doesn’t require a particular state of mind. It is the opposite of a mind over body practice; in TRE, the body does all the work.
The exercises that Mary demonstrated and then invited us to do were not hard, but we were supposed to hold each one until it became “uncomfortable, but not painful.” I don’t need to describe each exercise, but they involved things like bending the knees at a ninety degree angle with our backs against a wall, holding the “chair” as long as we could and tightening, holding and releasing the calf muscles and thighs. As a person who doesn’t know my own limits very clearly, this direction was more difficult to follow than I would have thought. I tried not to use the other three women in our group to gauge when I should stop, but to truly check in with myself to find that edge between slight burn and pain. Mary demonstrated each exercise, and then gave us time to work through them at an individual pace. We were quiet throughout, though Mary said we were welcome to talk. I think we were concentrating, and trying to guess how these exercise were possibly going to make us quake and shake like Mary had described. I thought maybe I would need to be chased by biologists with a dart gun to get that movement in my body!
Pretty well “warmed up” by the end of the exercises, I was still convinced that I wouldn’t be able to simply start the tremoring, which was the whole point of this thing. I even wondered if I would have to “fake it” so as not be the odd one out who just lay on the mat like a lump. During this whole time, by the way, I don’t remember thinking too much, which was unusual for me, as I am the kind of person whose mind always seems to have a running commentary going on. Mary demonstrated what we were to do, which was basically to lie down with the soles of our feet on the floor and our knees raised and pointing inward, and then just ride the tremors. As we watched, her body began to writhe in lateral waves. So nonplussed was she that she could continue talking us through it even as her body rose and fell gently.
I positioned myself on the mat as she had, tilted my knees in and waited to see if anything would happen. How could this work? It was too simple. I exercise all the time, do yoga, and never have the shakes afterwards. Or, if it did work, would it feel good? Or would it be frightening and awkward? TO BE CONTINUED…Please click HERE to read Part Three!
© Serve the Warrior 2013 All Rights Reserved
TFGP Editor – Pamela Haber
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A special thank you to Sal Romeo for providing the space for our TRE session.