David Berceli, Ph.D. an international expert in the area of trauma intervention and conflict resolution, defines trauma, provides steps to recovery.

David Berceli spent much of his career in war zones, including Lebanon, the Palestinian West Bank, Israel, Uganda, Sudan, Yemen, and Ethiopia. He began to realize that trauma recovery can and does happen quite often without the aid of professional therapists.

He asked Is it possible to develop a safe and effective method of trauma recovery that individuals can use with their family, friends, community or support groups?

Do trauma survivors always need individual psychotherapy for healing or can some of their healing process be done on their own within the healing relationship of those who love them most?

The end result has been the development of a revolutionary new process for trauma recovery called Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). TRE is based on the premise that human beings possess an organic restorative capacity within the recesses of the human body so that they can heal themselves from many traumatic experiences.

Throughout our lives, we continually face the possibility of painful experiences. Though some of us lead easier, less stressful lives than others, none of us escape difficult times entirely. Our tendency is to resist these experiences when they come to us. We don’t like difficult experiences, and we certainly don’t welcome pain! We naturally try to run from these challenges. Or, if they already have us in their grip, we fight them. If those fail us we collapse into freeze.

By resisting what we don’t like, we actually compound our discomfort. By being at war with ourselves, we make ourselves anxious and our days stressful. Life gets more difficult, and we become even more tense. If we find ourselves in too many difficult situations, we may begin to believe our life is going wrong—that we have somehow messed up.

As stress and anxiety increasingly dominate our days, we pay a price. Our well-being is compromised. We suffer emotional and mental distress, which can escalate into anguish. Before long, this takes a toll—our energy plummets, and our physical health deteriorates.

However, it’s not the events that cause the damage to our health. It’s how we respond to them.

It was in Lebanon that he made a trenchant observation about himself and his co-workers when huddled against the wall in a building being shelled by mortars. He noted that, in response to the concussion of an exploding mortar shell, each person in the room startled and assumed a posture in which their shoulders and hips contracted toward each other as if they were going into a ball. He intuitively recognized this as a universal response to danger and therefore instinctual in all of us.

Sometimes, when a person has suffered extreme physical or psychological trauma(including massive stress), they will assume the fetal position or a similar position in which the back is curved forward, the legs are brought up as tightly against the abdomen as possible, the head is bowed as close to the abdomen as possible, and the arms are wrapped around the head to prevent further trauma.

This position provides better protection to the brain and vital organs than simply lying spread out on the ground, so it is clear as to why it is an instinctual reaction to extreme stress or trauma when the brain is no longer able to cope with the surrounding environment, and in essence "shuts down" temporarily. The skeletal muscles in the body are designed to contract in times of danger and relax in times of safety.

The psoas muscles are considered the fight/ flight muscles of the human species. These primitive muscles stand guard like sentinels protecting the center of gravity of the human body located just in front of the 3rd vertebrae of the sacrum. These muscles connect the back with the pelvis and the legs. During any traumatic experience, the psoas muscles contract.

To heal from physical trauma contractions, this deep set of muscles must let go of their protective tension and return to a relaxed state.

Trauma is common to the human species. Consider the fact that life begins traumatically. We come into the world through the painful process of birth—an experience in which we are squeezed out of shape, pushed, and sometimes even pulled with hard, metallic instruments. It’s not a pleasant welcoming at all. As infants lying in our crib, we are assaulted by hunger pains, colic, skin rashes, and a host of discomforts we don’t understand and don’t know how to respond to other than by crying helplessly and vociferously.

We as a species are genetically encoded with the capacity to heal ourselves. If we did not possess this ability, our species would have become extinct shortly after we were born.

Not only can we heal from traumatic experiences, but trauma itself has been part of the natural evolutionary process of our species, and all traumatized individuals have access to this natural healing method that is genetically encoded within them.

When we experience one of life’s painful events, it initially feels overwhelming and unbearable. The experience often overwhelms our entire sense of self. Our emotions, logic and understanding of life can be shattered. We often wonder if we will ever recover from this depth of pain and disruption. However, what we fail to recognize is that it is precisely this shattering effect that forces us to think in new ways, feel emotions at deeper levels and relate to others more compassionately. Those of us who heal from trauma discover a richness of life that feels full and more dynamic than we have experienced before.

Recovering from your own painful experiences of life, creates a deeper sense of connectedness to life and stronger bonds of connectedness to others. Healing personal trauma, family trauma and inter generational trauma evolves the our species. Trauma recovery is as natural and common as trauma itself. Through the cycle of trauma and trauma recovery, we learn how to adapt to life threatening situations. This process of adaptation makes us more resilient. You as a human are similar to other mammals. You have a innate biological resource to let go of and recover from trauma.

Trauma is not foreign to our lives. No matter how much we may try to isolate and protect ourselves from potentially painful and seemingly unbearable experiences of life. We cannot rid ourselves of trauma.

Trauma is any experience that overwhelms one’s normal coping mechanisms.

This is why trauma is so difficult to identify. An experience that might overwhelm one individual may not be experienced as overwhelming by another. Traumatic reactions therefore should never be judged as a weakness of the individual or an inability to cope. A traumatic reaction is simply the basic emergency response of the human organism being activated to promote survival.

What is happening in our society today is that people are beginning to realize that these experiences do affect the individual a great deal and may even alter the very course of their lives. People are now recognizing that they have experienced and survived traumatic episodes, but haven’t necessarily healed their injurious effects. This lack of attention to these experiences and the subsequent lack of healing is what gives rise to post traumatic symptoms, reactions and behaviors. These post traumatic symptoms are referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Vicarious Traumatization is another psychosomatic experience that can be very disruptive. This is a change of one’s own thinking due to exposure to other people’s traumatic stories. This was first studied among counselors, religious leaders and medical professionals working in war torn countries around the world. It was recognized that although a bombing, shooting or military attack may have happened once, professionals may listen to stories of the event numerous times during the week from their clients, patients or parishioners.

Eventually, this can have an accumulative effect of causing fear, anger or emotional suffering in the individual, even though they may never have experienced the initial trauma themselves. Common examples of this in the U.S. culture are: witnessing a car accident, listening to someone’s survival story of a natural disaster or seeing horrifying events on TV. In none of these experiences is the listener in danger, and yet after hearing about or watching someone else’s traumatic experiences, they became frightened, have disturbing memories or nightmares about the event.

Compassion fatigue is another common experience of people who work in trauma-inducing professions or live in violent environments. Compassion fatigue is any intense experience in which one’s emotions are suppressed or unacknowledged.

Many fields of science are continuously researching trauma, PTSD and the intense and overwhelming emotions that they cause. Over time, each of these scientific fields has cultivated and developed its own understanding of how emotions are experienced by the human species.

  • Psychologists believe that emotions are controlled by the ego and the unconscious.

  • Neurologists believe that emotions are controlled by certain parts of the brain.

  • Physiologists believe that emotions are controlled by the nervous system.

  • Psychobiologists believe that emotions are controlled by the neuropeptides (chemicals) being created and transmitted through various parts of the brain and body.

What is being revealed is that trauma reactions and behaviors are a combination of the exquisite, mutual interdependency of these systems working together toward one goal—as survival mechanisms guaranteeing the evolution of our species. The insight that these fields of study have provided us is worthy of our admiration and gratitude.

In the meantime, the human body itself continues to go on working in its own perfect manner, as best it can, without much concern for our research and methodologies.

It is interesting however to note that although we have such difficulty in studying and understanding how this mysterious body works, the human body itself works with its own precision and simplicity when protecting us from danger. Likewise, its recovery process from traumatic experiences, although complex to our scientific scrutiny is also an intricate and precise process for the human body.

The bodymind continuum is the simple realization that what affects the body affects the mind and what affects the mind affects the body. There is no possibility to change one’s thinking without the body being affected. Likewise, there is no way that one’s body can be changed without it having a corresponding effect on one’s mind.

What is important to remember in trauma recovery is that all our bodily systems are working together toward one goal. During trauma they protect us, after trauma they relieve and restore us. By studying the bodymind’s complexity we are eventually led to following this simple reality during the trauma healing process.

As a society, we don’t find it acceptable to demonstrate signs of vulnerability. A quivering voice, shaking legs, knees, and hands are interpreted as weakness in our culture. Therefore, instead of giving into our natural inclination to tremble, we often anesthetize our pain with medicine, alcohol, or other sedating substances.

For example, a group of male friends were sitting around their vehicles just off the highway, when a car that was speeding by hit another car, flipped over, and came careening towards the group, who scattered to save their lives. As the car came to a stop upside down, the men ran towards it and managed to pull out the occupants and provide first aid until medical professionals arrived. The scene was bloody and chaotic.

Afterwards, I spoke with each of the men about their different reactions. All of them reported shaking, which they found both uncomfortable and embarrassing. To deal with this, one went to a local bar and downed several drinks, numbing his body to calm his nerves. Another went home and got into bed without talking about the incident—though two days later, when he was alone in the house, he began to shake uncontrollably. Two others were shaking so badly at the scene that the police offered to drive them home, where they continued to shake for several hours.

We all have had this experience of shaking, from the cold, from fear, from anger. Animals that live in their natural habitats often encounter trauma. Once the initial fight, flight, or freeze reaction is over, how do they process this trauma?

If a gazelle is attacked by a lion but manages to escape, its entire body will shiver for a while. This trembling is a way of shaking out the excess charge. After the adrenaline has been released, the gazelle returns to the herd, drinking water from the pond as though nothing had happened.

If two waterfowl on a lake get into an altercation over territory, they swim apart following the encounter, flapping their wings vigorously to shake off the effects. We can also observe trembling in our own pets at moments when they are afraid of thunder and lightening. Faced with a frightening event like this, they generate the energy needed for either fight or flight. But because they are not in the wild and can come close to us and feel our reassuring presence, they don’t need this energy and the body tremors to dispel it.

As with many mammals, tremoring occurs naturally in humans when we are either shaken up or nervous. For instance, people often report uncontrollable shaking after a car accident or some other brush with danger. If we feel nervous, our jaw may quiver and our teeth chatter.

A classic example is giving a speech, which for many is one of life’s most intimidating experiences. At such a time, we may find our knees knocking. Even on happy occasions like a wedding, a bride or groom can become so nervous that they find their hands trembling. Similarly, if the boss calls us on the carpet, our cheeks may quiver, or we may find ourselves shaking all over. In fact, we often say, “I shook like a leaf.” Some of us also tremble when the blue lights and siren of a police vehicle go on behind us. And have you ever felt so enraged that you literally shook with anger? Tremors are found in many cultures.

Although there are no precise estimates of their incidence and prevalence, they are so common that they are recognized as a diagnostic feature of panic attacks, social phobias, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The shivers that occur during trauma in animals come on at a precise time in the recovery process. Could it be that humans, who are also mammals, also tremor after traumatic events at a precise time and for a specific reason?

This shaking is the bodies natural method of discharging the high level of tensions and chemicals that charge the body at the time of the event.

Through this shaking process the body discharges excess excitement and returns to a regulated state of rest and relaxation. This ability is one of your most primitive responses to shake off trauma.

In addition to causing us emotional distress, unresolved trauma lies at the root of much chronic pain for which a cause has never been determined. It’s also responsible for a host of common physical illnesses. Thankfully, we now have direct evidence that when the traumatized state of an individual is corrected, physical symptoms tend to lessen considerably. In many cases they can go into remission, or even disappear for good.

What facilitates these amazing changes in the body?

The autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, and the immune system, which function in harmony, are all disrupted by trauma. In order to understand trauma’s effects on the body, it’s helpful to understand how these systems are disrupted.

Humans have different kinds of memory involving different aspects of the brain. The majority of what we learn, in the form of facts, together with most of the events we experience and the conversations we have with people, tend to be forgotten rather easily. The type of memory that retains such information is not only fragile but also subject to distortion by our emotions. This is why two people remember events, or what was said, differently.

In contrast, there are memories that become hardwired into the brain. When something triggers strong emotions, such as the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, the event is ingrained in us. We remember exactly where we were at the time and what we were doing. Another form of memory, known as procedural memory, also involves hard-wiring the brain. We use this type of memory to learn habits and skills when we are infants. For instance, it’s how we learn to walk, ride a bicycle, play an instrument, or gain proficiency in a career skill.

There are additional brain regions relevant to a different kind of memory. These are structures that regulate body movements. What do these sites, such as the cerebellum, have to do with memory?

They appear to be relevant to implicit procedural memory, the type you need to perform reflexive, motor actions without even consciously thinking about them, where, so to speak, your body remembers how to do something before you do. -Robert M. Sapolsky

In addition to retaining habits and skills, procedural memory is the aspect of our memory that can be conditioned to respond to specific cues of the kind the young woman in bed experienced, or that a person might experience at a gas station following an automobile accident. This part of our memory works in the same way a dog can be trained to salivate at the sound of a bell. This is because procedural memory stores the cues associated with the event—the smell, feel, taste, and images.

How does illness results from trauma?

Trauma that we don’t process close to the time of its occurrence causes a variety of secondary problems. Not only is the production of growth hormones, reproductive hormones, and digestion disrupted, but our emotions are not processed well either because our cognitive capacity is reduced. Prolonged stress also causes exhaustion of the adrenal glands, which has a profound inhibitory effect on our immune system.

There is now evidence that even excessive stress, let alone severe trauma, is a factor in a variety of illnesses. These include:

  • anxiety disorders

  • depression

  • high blood pressure

  • cardiovascular disease

  • gastrointestinal troubles

  • some cancers

  • premature aging.

Stress also seems to increase the frequency and severity of:

  • migraine headaches

  • episodes of asthma

  • fluctuation of blood sugar

Additionally, there is evidence that people experiencing significant psychological stress are more prone to develop colds and other infections than those who are less stressed. This is because stress reduces the efficiency of our immune system, which would normally fight off infection. In addition to these adverse health effects, we have the ability to split off from normal consciousness those regions of the body through which trauma enters our lives.

We dissociate ourselves from such a body part—literally shut it down, restricting circulation in this part of the body. We do this because the messages coming from this area of the body are perceived as a threat. A muscle deprived of blood goes into spasm, which is extremely painful. With cues, the symptom occurs again, just as if the trauma itself were happening all over again. Muscles that became clenched in an act of self-defense during the original trauma replicate this clenching. In fact, as many as half of all symptoms for which people see doctors stem from this kind of clenching.

In both males and females, pain can also develop in an extremity that is overused over a period of time, especially in the dominant hand, and hence is prevalent in people who use a keyboard and mouse continuously.

If a person lives in a state of arousal as a result of previous trauma, repetitive contraction of an already contracted muscle can cause the muscle to become inflamed.

This can produce a variety of symptoms such as carpal tunnel syndrome, impingement syndrome in the shoulder, cervical disc disease in the neck, TMJ, and migraine. Tics might occur based on old traumatic events that were never resolved. Not without reason do we call them nervous tics. Other habitual spasms might include a squinting eye and throat-clearing. A cluster of diseases may be associated with the way people often freeze in the face of danger. Gut and chest-related symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, cramps and diarrhea, and gastro-esophageal reflux. There is some evidence to suggest that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome may also be connected with the freeze response, as well as phantom limb pain following an amputation.

Multiple chemical sensitivity can often be triggered by a smell such as new carpet, cigarette smoke, or perfume. The person has become progressively sensitive, until the slightest threat triggers autonomic dysregulation. Although migraines can be genetic, they can also occur as a result of the dilating and constriction of blood vessels. Asthma, too, results from constriction in the lungs that may be connected with trauma. A stutter, premenstrual syndrome, and postpartum psychosis can be exacerbated by trauma. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sleep apnea can also be related to trauma. Though trauma causes a plethora of physical symptoms, many of these abate when we create a psycho-physical climate that allows the body to heal itself. How we can create such a climate will become clear once we have a thorough understanding of how trauma is experienced in the body.

Much the same as the instinctual tremors in animals, tremors in humans are the natural response of a shocked or disrupted nervous system attempting to restore the body and mind to a state of balance. Tremors are able to aid recovery because they don’t cause us to relive the experience and thereby compound the trauma. On the contrary, they extinguish the trauma by helping us turn off our fight, flight, or freeze mechanism. They also discharge the excess energy from an aborted fight-or-flight response.

Tremors allow an organism to “thaw out” from the hyper-arousal state. They are the way the body releases itself from trauma. They work by quieting the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in humans just as they do in other mammals. The body evokes the tremors to complete the discharge of our fight, flight, or freeze response. Such tremors are referred to as neurogenic tremors. They are a primordial bodily experience originating in the processes of the brain’s procedural memory. As such, they are a natural aspect of the genetic composition of the human organism.

An important aspect of a successful recovery from trauma is to activate the organism’s natural release mechanism that signals the body to return to a state of rest and recuperation. In 1997, Dr. Peter Levine articulated not only the theory behind tremors but also a process to evoke these tremors in the context of counseling.

Dr. Levine proposes that the key to restoring balance in humans following a traumatic experience lies in our ability to “mirror the fluid adaptation of wild animals as they ‘shake out’ and pass through the immobility response and become fully mobile and functional again.”

It’s time for us to recognize that shaking is a healthy function that has a physiological rather than a psychological origin. The activation and deactivation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis isn’t a cultural or social phenomenon, but a natural physical process. By reinforcing and harnessing these primordial and instinctual tremors instead of treating them as if they were pathological, we are able to resolve the bodily manifestations of the overactive state of our sympathetic nervous system, restoring a state of balance.

After an incident of trauma is over, our nervous system should naturally deactivate itself by shaking out any residual tension-causing chemicals remaining from the traumatic episode. This shaking sends a signal to the brain informing it that the danger has subsided, and it should turn off its alert status. If the nervous system doesn’t deactivate itself, the body continues to remain in a kind of short-circuited loop, with our brain continuing to believe it’s still in danger and therefore commanding the body to maintain a state of readiness. Consequently, our muscles hold onto the excess charge. If they don’t get an opportunity to release this charge, they create a chronic tension pattern within the body. When the flexion muscles don’t return to a relaxed state after the stressful event is over, they also remain vulnerable to continued stimulation from even minor amounts of stress, setting up a vicious cycle of unending anxiety.

I wondered what would happen were I to deliberately relax this specific set of muscles that cause the movement towards the fetal position. I set out to find a way to cause these deep core muscles to relax.

A year after 9/ 11, it had become apparent to most people that the first responders—particularly police, fire personnel, and emergency medical teams—were still experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. These manifested themselves in different ways with different people. The exact symptoms have a lot to do with a person’s disposition, the amount of healing support they receive, the closeness of their relationship to those who were killed, and their own childhood and adult experiences.

I was invited to New York by a group of therapists who had been working with post-traumatic stress disorder among the firefighters who were at Ground Zero. Their physical complaints included lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and gastro-intestinal problems. Having worked with the psoas muscles for years, I know that all of these symptoms can be the result of chronic contraction of the psoas. I had the New York firefighters do the Trauma Release Process ™ for two days.

The first day, I explained the postures their bodies assumed and the movements they went through during their rescue efforts. These included bending forward, lifting, crawling, and being hunched down. The psoas muscle contracts tightly during these physical experiences. These positions are also emotionally charging, since they are accompanied by a fear of death. Consequently, the neural patterns established to hold the muscles in this tight position are also charged with a life-or-death intensity. The Trauma Release Process ™ helped these men and women to relax the contracted psoas muscle after only two sessions.

The reason these exercises are so fast acting is that the tremors release the chronic tension from the inside of the muscle, rather than from the outside as in externally applied techniques such as massage. It was an amazing experience to watch these firefighters release deep chronic tension simply by activating their tremoring mechanism. This mechanism did exactly what it’s designed to do—restore the body to its natural state after a traumatic event. Since they continue to put themselves in the path of danger daily, many firefighters do these exercises today as a regular part of their routine.

Until we recognize that the social cost of post-traumatic stress disorder outweighs the financial cost of healing our citizens, we will continue to deny the need for large-scale trauma recovery programs. Traumatized children become traumatized adults If, as a society, we respond to adult trauma inadequately, our response to trauma in the lives of children is even more woeful. It’s estimated that more than a million and a half children per year are maltreated. Conservative estimates of the number of children in the United States exposed to a traumatic event in a single year exceed four million. These include children who live in the fallout zone of domestic or community violence, have experienced physical or sexual abuse, have witnessed or experienced violent crime, or have been exposed to other unexpected violence such as car accidents, burn accidents, kidnappings, or other forms of attack. A

t least half of all children exposed to traumatic experiences develop a variety of significant symptoms in adolescence and adulthood. Depending on the severity, frequency, and nature of the trauma, these children are at risk for developing serious emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems. When children experience trauma while the brain is in its developmental stages, they devise coping strategies to help them get through the trauma. Adults do this too. We all come up with ways of dealing with what we are faced with. We will dissociate into fantasy worlds, isolate ourselves from friends, or become overly engaged socially to avoid being alone.

The difference between a mature adult in a healthy mental state and a developing child is that the adult has the ability to dismiss the coping strategy once it has served its purpose. To an otherwise developed brain, this coping strategy functions as a band-aid. But the developing brain in a child cannot distinguish between a coping strategy, which serves a temporary purpose, and a pattern of behavior that becomes built into the brain as a permanent characteristic.

If children grow up in a traumatic environment, the more they are forced to use patterns of thought that help them cope with trauma. It’s also more likely that those patterns will become embedded in their natural thought processes and become lifelong traits. Traumatized children then begin to process all unfamiliar and overwhelming events as though these events had the potential of being dangerously traumatizing. This causes them to overact to normal events, producing hyper-arousal and even what clinicians call “dissociative behavior.” This is when children develop secret places in their minds where they go when overwhelmed. Such places are often highly fanciful, bearing little resemblance to reality. In terms of the real world, the child has shut down. The result is often a vacant stare, curling up in a fetal position, or rhythmic rocking, stroking, or bumping. School teachers, administrators, and other personnel within the educational system are left to deal not only with the maladaptive behavior of the traumatized children they teach, but also with the vicarious trauma they themselves develop as a result of being exposed to the children’s symptoms on a daily basis.

Due to the increase in psychologically based mental health disorders in the United States even in otherwise healthy individuals, there is great interest on the part of the medical community and the government in more cost-effective, self-directed therapies. For instance, we have already seen that there is heightened interest in exercise as an alternative or adjunct to traditional interventions such as psychotherapy or drug therapies.

Because the method I put forth in this book is easy to teach and learn, it can be used as a self-directed exercise routine. Since there is no need for special materials or therapeutic supervision, the method is cost-effective and therefore available even to large populations within the lower socio-economic bracket. This approach also has implications for self-directed stress reduction exercises for many professionals who work in stress-inducing professions. Many of these individuals don’t presently seek counseling for fear that it could harm their career, cause them to have difficulties with their peers or superiors, or be a stigmatizing admission of an inherent weakness of character. A self-directed, body-based method of stress reduction allows individuals to process their own stress without needing to seek the guidance of professionals.

Tough Times Can Make You Stronger With our recovery from each traumatic episode, we give into and accept more easily the way our life has unfolded.

Paradoxically, the more we let ourselves flow with life’s tides, the more we discover how to take control of our life and invest ourselves more fully than ever in the precariousness of being human. Researchers conducted an experiment with three sets of chicks. The first group of chicks formed the control group. This group received no intervention on the part of the researchers. The second group was held in the hands of the researchers until they experienced the freeze response. This group was then released and the chicks were allowed to recover, which involved going through trembling and fluttering their feathers. The third set of chicks was likewise held in the hands of the researchers to evoke the freeze response. But when they were released and began to tremor, they were again held to prevent the tremoring process from occurring.

When the second set of chicks, which had been traumatized and allowed to discharge the trauma, were placed in a vat of water to see how long they could swim before reaching the point of drowning, they turned out to have even greater endurance than the first set of chicks, which hadn’t been traumatized at all. In other words, the traumatized chicks that were allowed to discharge the trauma had become more resilient. The third group, which didn’t discharge the trauma, sank to the bottom of the vat without attempting to swim. They had learned to be helpless in the face of a threat.

Through the unending cycle of trauma recovery, the human species also learns how to adapt to life-threatening situations. This process of adaptation makes humanity as a whole stronger and smarter in the face of future challenges. If we didn’t possess this evolutionary instinct, we would have died out as a species shortly after we emerged on the planet. making sense of traumatic times Accepting trauma as a natural part of life allows us to see such times in a new light.

When we experience one of life’s painful events it initially feels unbearable. The experience often overwhelms our entire sense of self. Any ideas we may have held of there being some kind of logic to life can be shattered. Indeed, we often wonder if we will ever recover from such pain and disruption. The self-renewal that happens in the recovery process occurs because we are forced to explore painful depths we wouldn’t otherwise have chosen to experience. Whether we like it or not, whether we want to or not, our recovery process forces us deeper into our body and further into serious reflection than we would normally dare to go.

As painful as this exploration may be, in the end we have to resign ourselves to the fact that, as one observer put it, “this is the way things are,” and they have been made this way “by factors that are not in the person’s control.” 20 This depth of inner exploration inevitably creates a deeper sense of connectedness to our personal life, together with stronger bonds of connectedness to others and even the universe. In other words, it is precisely the shattering effect of trauma that forces us to think in new ways, feel at deeper levels, and relate to others more compassionately.

Ph.D David Berceli - A collection of excerpts from his two books “The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process, Transcend Your Toughest Times.” and “Trauma Releasing Exercises: TRE a Revolutionary new method for stress and trauma recovery,” David Operates the www.traumaprevention.com website where he offers education in his TRE method. T