Is This Shit Working??

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A hot pink neon question mark]

Let’s admit it.  We’ve all been there.  We commit to a practice, we experience the changes it brings (sometimes small, sometimes huge), and think, “Wow, this shit works!”  And then at some point we adjust to a new status quo and are no longer able to perceive the benefits we derive from our practice, and we begin to wonder: “Is this shit working??”  And I’m not just thinking of mediation or yoga or whatever…I even notice this with my skin care routine for fuck’s sake!  I get a new cream (I’m very into face creams these days because I’m temporarily obsessed with aging—I’ll get over it), apply it religiously, my pores shrink (or whatever it’s supposed to do), I’m delighted…until I get used to it and suddenly doubt that it’s making a difference (or that it’s worth the investment).  So I stop doing it…until some morning a few weeks later when I look in the mirror and realize, “Damn!  It was working!”

I recently experienced this cycle with my Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®) practice (yes, yes, practitioners have moments of doubt, too), though somewhat accidentally.  For over a year, my practice with TRE® was to shake after my workouts.  The yoga mat is already out, my muscles are already charged, and my time commitment to myself for my workouts (3-4 days per week) was in alignment with a shaking commitment that felt good (3-4 days a week worked for me!).  So I was shaking regularly, but I’ll admit: I noticed myself questioning, “Is this shit even doing anything?”  I was a little bored with my tremors (which is normal) and hadn’t experienced any “big” or “exciting” shifts that I would attribute to my practice in quite some time.

Then in the past couple of months, I began struggling with generalized fatigue, punctuated by the onset of sudden exhaustion some afternoons.  One afternoon as I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge for an appointment, deeply aware of that exhausted feeling, it hit me that maybe these fits of extreme fatigue were related to TRE®, as I had just done my workout and shake before jumping in the car to head to my appointment.

Many people feel energized after TRE®, and many feel sleepy after TRE®.  That’s all in the range of normal, and it’s also normal for these patterns to change over time.  I coach clients all the time to notice the patterns of how TRE® impacts them and to use that information to strategize when is the best time during the day to shake.  TRE® didn’t used to make me sleepy, but maybe that had changed!  I decided in that very moment to stop shaking after my workouts and to start shaking before bed.

Confession: that never happened.  And probably never will.  I’m just not a “do a practice before bed” kind of girl.  I’m a read-before-bed kind of girl.  Or a watch-a-show-on-Netflix kind of girl.  But “doing” before bed…uh uh.

So I went a few weeks without shaking…and then I started to notice the changes.  Doing a body scan one day, all I was aware of was pain.  (Learning to not just notice my pain, to drop below and find a variety of sensations, was a big part of cultivating somatic awareness for me.)  I went to the chiropractor for my monthly adjustment, and my thoracic spine refused to move.   That hasn’t happened in months!  (Though before regular TRE® practice, that was very common for me.)  And I became aware of this constant, background “charge” in my nervous system.  I don’t generally experience anxiety (which I can say with confidence since I have to fill out those damn anxiety and depression scale evaluations every month when I get my brain treatments), and wouldn’t say I was “feeling anxious,” but I was buzzing all the time and felt more reactive and less focused, less grounded.

So eventually all those observations coalesced into the “Oh my god(dess), is this because I haven’t been doing TRE®?” moment.  A question to which I felt my body respond, “Duh, Shauna.”  And it felt true enough even in that moment that it was rapidly followed by a feeling of awe and appreciation: “Holy shit, it does work!”

So I’m back to practicing and with a renewed sense of joy both in my own practice and in the fact that I get to share this incredible modality with other people.  I’m still not shaking before bed, mind you.  So far this week it’s actually been mid-way through my morning “coffee hour.”  Frankly, my body had started trying to shake (whether I wanted it to or not) at this time, so I’m allowing myself to follow the impulse.  My body starts shaking, so I put down the coffee, lie on the floor and set the timer for 15 minutes.  After which I go back to my coffee.  It seems to be working out!  I’ve already noticed a reduction in that background buzz, and we’ll see how it goes at the chiropractor in a couple of weeks.

So when you find yourself doubting your practice, whether that’s TRE® or anything else, know that it’s normal.  We all get bored, we all wonder if it’s worth the investment (time is a precious and significant investment).  It might seem curious that sometimes we need to feel something “not working” to know that it “works,” but maybe this is doubt’s silver lining: renewed trust, renewed commitment, renewed joy in our ongoing practice, healing and transformation.

Happy shaking, dear ones!


New to TRE® and curious to experience it for yourself?  Email me to schedule a private introductory session or click HERE to register for my group class held the third Monday of every month!

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash