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Releasing Pain and Trauma with David Berceli, PhD
Episode 4927th June 2022 • Back Talk Doc • Sanjiv Lakhia - Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates
00:00:00 00:47:02

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In a bomb shelter under attack in the Middle East, Dr. David Berceli, PhD observed what would become the foundation for much of his work. As mortar shells assaulted the shelter’s exterior, David observed as young children shook in terror and adults sat, stoic and unmoving. 

“We train ourselves out of these endogenous rhythmic movements of the human body that actually are designed to help us reduce stress or release trauma,” David observed. “By trembling, those two year olds were actually healthier than the adults who simply froze that mechanism and didn't allow their body to discharge the excited [energy] that was being created by the mortar shells.”

This was the match that lit the flame for David, who then decided to dedicate his life to helping people deal with trauma, specifically in mass quantities. This led to the creation of the Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®), a series of exercises that stimulate the body to release deep muscular patterns of stress, tension, and trauma. This system of exercises initiates the body’s natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating to release tension and calm the nervous system. 

In this episode, Dr. Lakhia and Dr. David Berceli discuss all things trauma and how to release that through the body’s natural response to trauma and stress. 

 

💡 Featured Expert 💡

Name: David Berceli, PhD

What he does: As an international author, presenter, and trainer in the area of trauma intervention, stress reduction, and resiliency and recovery training, David specializes in recovery with large populations. He is the creator of a revolutionary set of tension and trauma release exercises and the author of three books about releasing tension through therapeutic body tremors.

Company: TRE® for All, Inc.

Words of wisdom: “The tremor mechanism does not just heal what's going on in you now; it actually goes back in time inside your body to find those patterns that you completely learn to live with, or forgot you even had, or didn't even know you had. And it can undo all those patterns to bring your body to this present moment in its healthiest pulsating state that it can achieve.”

Connect: LinkedIn

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Back Talk Doc is brought to you by Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, with offices in North and South Carolina. To learn more about Dr. Lakhia and treatment options for back and spine issues, go to backtalkdoc.com. To schedule an appointment with Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, you can call us at 1-800-344-6716 or visit our website at carolinaneurosurgery.com.

Transcripts

Voiceover (:

Welcome. You are listening to Back Talk Doc, where you'll find answers to some of the most common questions about back pain and spine health. Brought to you by Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates. Where providing personalized, highly skilled and compassionate spine care has been our specialty for over 75 years.

Voiceover (:

And now it's time to understand the cause of back pain and learn about options to get you back on track. Here's your Back Talk Doc, Dr. Sanjiv Lakhia.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Welcome back to another episode of Back Talk Doc. Again, I am your host Sanjiv Lakhia. I am a osteopathic physician by training, board certified physiatrist, recent graduate of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrated Medicine Fellowship. And it is my passion in life to present to you many different perspectives on how you can deal with your back pain, your spine injury, really from a holistic viewpoint. And those that have had a chance to listen to recent episodes, we really looked at it from a structural lens, a physical lens, rehab lens. And today we're going to take a slightly different approach, but I think a very important approach and really look at it from the lens of trauma.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And I am super excited today to bring to you guys, my guest, Dr. David Berceli, who is a PhD and international pioneer in the field of processing trauma and developing techniques to help individuals handle the trauma. So, David, welcome to the show.

David Berceli (:

Thanks a lot Sanjiv, but I'm glad to be here. This is interesting.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And for those of you that are listening to this on podcast, you're driving on the car, we are also recording this. Check out our YouTube channel for Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine. We're doing a video version of this as well, and I think you'll find that helpful.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

David, let me introduce you to the listeners. You have an extensive background. I think it's really unique. Again, you are an international author, presenter and trainer in the area of trauma, intervention, stress reduction, and resiliency and recovery training. That sounds like something everybody needs. David has lived in and worked in war torn areas and countries, natural disaster zones around the world and specializes in recovery with large populations.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Dr. Berceli is also the creator of a revolutionary set of tension and trauma release exercise and we're going to get into that today. He's the author of three books about releasing tension through therapeutic body tremors. His academic career includes a PhD in social work with master's degrees in clinical social work, theology and Middle Eastern studies. He's also certified as a massage therapist, which I love, because I know that means he's got his hands dirty a little bit through his career and a bioenergetic therapist. So, a really, really unique background and obviously, one that you've turned into a lifelong passion to help other people.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

I got introduced to your work through two means. Number one, doing some personal work with a friend and colleague, a energetic healer, Susan Cowan Moore, so I'm going to link to her website as well. She does wonderful work one-on-one with people. And we were talking and she said, "You know, Sanjiv, I think you could benefit from this type of work that Dr. Berceli has put out in the world." So, I've had a chance to try your techniques personally, and we can talk about my experiences with that later.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And then also through my training with the Fellowship, we've been introduced to your work through lectures on Neurogenic Tremor. And I know you've done some speaking through Dr. Weil's program on numerous occasions. So, this is a real delight to get you live and able to kind of run through the work that you've been doing. So, anything else that you want to add to your bio that people should know about?

David Berceli (:

No, I think that covers it all. I think that the most important thing aside from all the academic stuff is that I did live in a lot of war-torn countries, And I've worked and lived in a lot of countries where there are natural disasters, which is what led me to figure out how do we help tens of thousands of people heal from trauma rather than having to rely on something like individual counseling or therapy, which none of these people would ever have access to. So, I had to really simplify my approach to understanding trauma and then how does the human organism or the human person resolve that trauma?

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

I love that. I was listening recently to a podcast of Mindvalley with Vishen Lakhiani and he says that our problems are too small. And for you, you're thinking grand, you're thinking big. For me as a clinician, I'm interacting with people in pain on a one-on-one level. And I think when you merge those approaches, you can have really outstanding results.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Talk to the listeners a little more, before we jump into the topic of the day, which is the work you're doing with the TRE. I want to hear more about your personal journey. I've gone through one of your books. I've definitely looked at a lot of your materials, but I don't have quite the sense for what was the match that lit the flame for you to really dedicate your life to helping people with trauma.

David Berceli (:

Okay, so the match that lit it was actually living in war. And I was in one of the Middle Eastern countries, I won't explain where. But I was in a bomb shelter and we were being bombed by mortar shells. And so, all of us were in the bomb shelter together, all crowded in there. And I had two little boys sitting on my lap, one on each leg and they were facing each other, so I had my hands on their back. And during the bombing, these two little boys, about two years old, they were tremoring. Almost like they were shivering in cold, but it was very hot there. They were tremoring through their whole body and I could feel it in my hand and I was fascinated by it.

David Berceli (:

And so as I looked around the room, I saw that all the little children were actually shaking like this uninhibited, just in complete terror. Their bodies were shaking. But when they got to be about 11, 12 or 13, I could see that they were starting to shake, but they were trying to inhibit the shaking, and then the adults were not shaking at all. And I thought, "Oh, my God, I'm seeing something organic in the human body that we somehow train ourselves out of." And I associate it with crying.

David Berceli (:

As a two-year-old, if you fall and you hurt your knee, you cry freely. But when you start to becoming teenage years and you fall and hurt your leg, you could even break it and you may start to cry, but you'll try to inhibit it. And then when you become an adult, adults even tell you, "I don't even know how to cry anymore." But that pulsation of crying is such an organic mechanism in the human body, we need it, but we have trained ourselves out of this behavior.

David Berceli (:

So, when I was in the bomb shelter, I looked at this. When we came out, I asked some of the adults, I said, "Do you ever tremor or shake the way that children do?" And they said, "Oh, no. We don't do that because we don't want them to think we are afraid." And it was the perfect answer because it made me realize, "Oh, my God, we train ourselves out of these endogenous rhythmic movements of the human body that actually are designed to help us reduce stress or release trauma." So, those two-year-olds were actually healthier by tremoring than the adults were, who simply froze that mechanism and didn't allow their body to discharge the excited charge that was being created by the mortar shells.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

That's just an amazing observation. That is so true. So, through our own paradigm as adults where we feel almost shameful, if we show emotion, you had the ability in that moment to observe and ask questions. That's just a brilliant observation. And then that led you to asking more questions, right?

David Berceli (:

Well, what it led me to do was say, "Wait, we already know we do this with crying. Why don't we do it?" Because we have defined crying as weak, vulnerable, insecure, frightened, so it has nothing but negative qualities. So, as we grow up as adults, we want to demonstrate we're strong, we're secure, we're able, et cetera. But we've missed the fact that crying is what helps make us strong and secure. And so, we negated these qualities, natural qualities of human body.

David Berceli (:

So, when I came back to the States, I was talking with the neurosurgeon, a friend of mine, Robert Scaer and I was telling him what I saw. So, we decided we would try to replicate that same tremor movement in our office. How could we do that? And so, I designed a series of exercises, which were very simple that I could actually elicit the exact same trauma reaction that we had in the bomb shelter. But now, I'm doing it in the safety of my own living room as an example.

David Berceli (:

And it has exactly the same effects I've found out over 15 years now. It has the same effects because the body doesn't exactly no time. The brain knows time, but the body doesn't know time. And so, if I elicited that tremor response, it will pick up where it left off. Even if that's 20 years in the past, and it will begin to tremor your body to actually bring it in a sense back to a state of healing, if you will or health.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

It sounds like you're able to voluntarily initiate what up until then was an involuntary nervous system response to promote healing. It's almost like how we now know you can actively do certain breathing techniques to your advantage. And you're now taking what you observed to be an involuntary mechanism in the moment of danger. And you've figured out a way to develop an easy to learn technique that you can do on demand in the comfort of your own home and get the same benefit.

David Berceli (:

Exactly right. That's all that I did and it is like breathing. We can affect the change in our body, breathing techniques to calm down the heart rate or even our blood pressure, as an example. We have access to our nervous system as well and the way that we have access to it, which I recognize, is if you just stress it a little bit and you pull back on that stressor. You hold it in a state of limbo, which is a little bit what the exercises are, where you're not stretching it and you're not contracting it. You hold it in this state of limbo and it begins to tremor because it doesn't know whether to extend the muscle or contract the muscle.

David Berceli (:

And then once that tremor mechanism activates, it connects to a certain part of the brain, this organic rhythmic response and then the body in the brain just starts taking over all by themselves. So, literally what I like about this is you could literally activate this tremor response and lay down and watch TV, and it will still stay activated. There's a whole neurological explanation to it. It will stay activated and actually heal you while you were simply distracted by something else.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Wow. Okay. So, I know you do at some point, you're going to want to show the viewers a little bit more about this. But let's rewind from our lens where we help people heal their spine injuries, their back pain. Trauma is inseparable. For example, motor vehicle accidents bring a lot of people in to see their doctors for pain in their neck and their back, et cetera.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And I know as a physiatrist, when you look at some of the literature on this, certainly, there can be structural injuries and we do good evaluations, x-rays, MRIs, et cetera. But there's a lot of people who have relatively "normal imaging," but persistent pain. And boy, if you've done this work long enough, you can observe a significant emotional component tied to the injury. So, give us your explanation of what trauma is in simple terms.

David Berceli (:

Okay. In very simple terms, trauma is something that is overwhelming the normal coping mechanisms of the human body. So, whatever that is, and that could be a psychological trauma. Your spouse could say to you, "I'm getting a divorce." No they didn't hit you and they didn't even say it with emotion. They said it coldly. But the psychological issue and then the emotional disturbance inside of you is going to cause a physiological response. And that response is most likely going to be contraction because all the body really knows how to do is expand or contract. And it expands when it feels safe and it contracts when it feels dangerous.

David Berceli (:

It doesn't make any distinction, whether it's a physical danger or a psychological one or an emotional one, it still contracts. And so, that chronic contraction, if we stay in that state, that's what many people are seeing has the long-term result of a physiological adjustment in the human body. If I'm contracting my neck, just out of fear and anxiety or I could be contracting it, because I work on my computer too much, over time, I'm going to then need chiropractic adjustment or osteopathic care because that chronic pattern is never released. So, the pulsation has been interrupted in the human body and that's what we have to do.

David Berceli (:

There's an endogenous pulsation where it expands and contracts throughout the entire day, but we can squeeze it and hold it in a contracted state for very long periods of time. And that's what creates these chronic stress patterns or chronic pain patterns in the human body. We have to go back to appreciating this endogenous flow of extension and contraction.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that. This is something, a point of discussion in my osteopathic training back in the day where we really felt like there was a normal, almost like a diurnal cortisol cycle or the circadian rhythm. There's a rhythmic movement to the fascia within the body that you can palpate and that's the basis for osteopathy. Is this what you mean by when you say trauma is stored in the body?

David Berceli (:

Yeah, exactly. Because you mentioned fascia, that's one place that could squeeze very, very tight and hold that pattern. If I'm in a car accident, as an example, even if I'm not injured. I'm just jolted into a shock or surprise, that whole fascia pattern, the entire spinal column, particularly the neck is going to contract very hard to protect us from injury. But then the question was did that movement completely without our consciousness, our body moved itself naturally in that way. It has its reverse capacity to now let it go, to pulsate back out of that and let it go. That's what I believe the tremor mechanism is, it's the release of that. And it should activate organically after there has been some shock to the person.

David Berceli (:

And from my experience and many people who have been doing TRE for years, they actually have seen that. Where they might have been in a mild car accident, but they already knew how to tremor because they had been doing TRE. And right after the car accident, their body would begin to tremor. It would take about 30 minutes to an hour and it would actually release the entire contracted state.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Why is it important for people who suffer these injuries to be able to have a mechanism to release this trauma?

David Berceli (:

Because unfortunately, what we've done is we've trained ourselves not to let go of control. We don't like that. We're a controlled culture, so let's use a car accident as an example. People contract after the car accident. They might even start to shake where they're trying to get their driver's license out of their wallet or something. And what do we say? The police officer will say, "Oh, they're shaken up by it, but they're not hurt."

David Berceli (:

See? So, immediately we see they're shaken up by it and so, they see the person shaking. But the person thinks I've got to bring myself back under control again. I've got to be back under control. But then when they go home, what they do is they'll have alcohol or take some aspirin or something to try to medicate themselves to let go and relax, but that's only a temporary solution. It might relax the muscles temporarily, but it's not releasing that chronic pattern that was created at the time of the accident, see?

David Berceli (:

So, yes, the human body actually must have its capacity to both contract unconsciously because we don't do the contraction and it releases itself unconsciously. Meaning, we don't need the cortex to direct this. It's from a more primitive part of the brain.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Yeah. I was speaking with a patient recently and trying to explain this. And what resonated with him was this idea of, and I think I got this maybe from some of your materials, when an animal escapes attack, what do they do? They don't get PTSD. A deer doesn't get PTSD if a wolf is trying to attack it. They actually, and I don't know,, I think you might have shown the video or in one of the presentations, they shake it off. And then they go drink some water from the stream and go on to the next moment, still being a deer. And I think it's our frontal lobe gets in the way of ourselves.

David Berceli (:

Oh, very much so because it's the mammalian part of the human brain that produces the tremor response, see? And that you're right, mammals, unless they're kept in captivity and tortured, but if they're out in the wild, they can be scared by tigers every day, as an example. But like you said, they don't have posttraumatic stress from it because they have their contracted reaction, run away from it or escape.

David Berceli (:

And then when they're done, they go to the watering hole, their body begins to tremor. We see this with dogs in a thunderstorm, as an example, they start to tremor. And what they're doing is tremoring out the excited charge. It's basically burning off the adrenaline that's helping to create the contracted state.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Excellent. All right. Let's open up some space here. I think you have a video that you want to share a little bit about the technique. And then we can dive into it a little more?

David Berceli (:

Yeah. I'm going to show you two videos. They're only a minute long.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Great.

David Berceli (:

The first one is a video of an animal where you actually see this animal being attacked by a leopard. And so, we'll see how it tremors organically and naturally. The second video is a video of a client of mine who came with nothing, but "I'm overcharged. I'm overexcited. I can't calm down. I can't relax." And so, I activate the tremor mechanism in him. So, get a chance to compare how does the animal tremor and how does the human organism tremor?

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Great. Let's do it.

David Berceli (:

We'll do the animal first. Okay, so right here we see that this leopard has attacked this gazelle. Okay? So, we're going to watch and see now. What happens to this gazelle is that it goes into a freeze response right now, which human beings can do as well. It's a mammalian response. So, the leopard gets chased away and you see this animal just laying there, but it looks dead. But then you see the diaphragm starting to pulsate, and that's the coming out of the freeze response, okay?

David Berceli (:

So once it starts to come out of freeze, look at it shake. It's violently shaking almost as though it's injured. Okay, so it looks really damaged, but it's not doing anything. It's just laying there shaking. The shaking mechanism has taken over in the body. Obviously, the animal has no idea what's going on, but it's just following this natural response.

David Berceli (:

And as it shakes longer and longer, you can see the shaking becomes milder and more organized through the structure. That means that those frozen states and that tissue that it contracted to protect itself, is slowly starting to reintegrate. And then you see the animal get up and it runs away, like nothing happened to it at all. Look how smoothly it runs away, okay?

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Wow.

David Berceli (:

So, that's exactly what we are capable of doing something that simple, where we let the tremor mechanism organically move us completely back to the state of health, if you will, in the human body. And then we can get up and walk away from traumas the same way. We have exactly that same mechanism. We simply inhibit it. See?

David Berceli (:

So, now I'm going to show you a client of mine who came. And like I said, he was only full of stress, but I could also see in his body, there was a freeze response, which is a natural reaction of all human beings as we grow up with all the various traumas that we have in life and all the stressors. So, let me show you how human would tremor. So, here we have this guy here. He's tremoring now. Okay, so you see the tremor in his legs first. This is where we activate them because it's' very easy. And he's not doing anything but laying there. Absolutely nothing.

David Berceli (:

As the tremors activate in the legs, they will by their nature start to go through the pelvis and they'll start to relax the lower back and the pelvic area. And when it does that, you can see it's by its nature, it's going to travel up the spinal column. It basically has a pathway to follow. So, it goes up to the diaphragm. There, you start to see the release of the diaphragm by the twist. Then it starts to go past the diaphragm. And now, we see the upper torso is starting to move.

David Berceli (:

And here we have movement coming all the ways from the knees up the body, even out the arms and shoulders, which is very common. And all he did was lay there. He did absolutely nothing else. He laid there and let the tremor mechanism move itself through his body. And look at the difference between this frozen body and this alive pulsating body. Completely different. And this is after a one-hour session. So, you can see how the body can restore its organic pulsation rather simply and easily actually with no effort on our own.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Wow.

David Berceli (:

Actually, most of the time our effort would interfere with that.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Okay. Certainly questions are coming up in my head. But before I do that, do you want to educate people on how that client got to that point? Your step-by-step process of the TRE?

David Berceli (:

Yeah. He really just did a series of... we have seven exercises and they're free online. You can see these there.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Yeah. Hold up to those.

David Berceli (:

But he does seven exercises and you can actually reduce it down to one exercise, it depends on what the state of your body is. But the point is the exercises are designed to keep the body in a state between extension and flexion. Meaning, it holds it in this state. It doesn't allow it to get too tight or to get too loose. And in that state, I think it's the muscle spindle fibers that begin to charge up. They activate the tremor response. And then at that point, it's actually part of the nervous system reaction, so you don't have to concentrate anymore.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Okay. So, let me clarify that. The exercises and we'll definitely link to some of Dr. Berceli's videos on YouTube, which he has. But they involve things like if you're curious, and correct me if I'm wrong, but some squats, some wall chairs, some hamstring stretches, psoas stretches, we're holding things to fatigue. And my initial thought was those exercises were designed to fatigue the leg muscles, the adductor muscles. Not completely, but just to the point where they let go. Is that half right?

David Berceli (:

Yeah, that's pretty right. We're trying to fatigue them a little bit, so we make them a little tired. So, we take away that tight holding pattern in everybody's bodies. So, we fatigue them a little bit and then stretch them a little bit.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And stretch them.

David Berceli (:

And it's that combination of fatigue and stretching that actually helps elicit the tremor reaction.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

So, is it reasonable to say that someone could get into the tremor reaction after any workout? Let's say they do the elliptical and do some stretching, could that be enough then they could lay down and start to initiate that?

David Berceli (:

Yeah. I have a lot of military and that's what I tell them to do. Don't do my exercises because they're basically useless. Their bodies are very strong and very fit. So, I tell them, "Just do whatever exercise routine you do." But the significant one is the last one. It's called exercise Number 7 and that's where they would lay on their back, put the bottoms of their feet together, let their knees fall open. In yoga that's called the butterfly position or the frog position, but I shifted it just a little bit.

David Berceli (:

When they're in that butterfly position, then I have them pick their pelvis up off the ground because that creates the nice stressor in what's called the psoas muscle and the lower back muscles. And that stressor helps to elicit the tremor response as well. Then they can set their pelvis back down on the floor and then close the knees very, very slowly and they will be able to feel that tremor reaction begin to activate.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Okay. And then for someone wondering then, this whole process from, okay, let's say, you just got home from work and kids are busy and you got an hour before dinner. We're talking about maybe 10 minutes to go through the exercises, to get to the point where you can lay down and do the neurogenic tremoring for a period of time. Is that accurate?

David Berceli (:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's accurate. I tell people do about 10 minutes, do the exercise for their first time doing it, so that they understand how to do it. And they can activate the tremors. After that, in one sense, they have retrained their body already. It picked up very quickly that they could actually do the last exercise and the body will elicit to the tremor response immediately because it knows what you're trying to do to it. So, it basically learns it very quickly.

David Berceli (:

So, they literally could come home and then lay down on the floor and activate the tremor mechanism within a minute. And then lay there for 10 minutes, just tremoring just to reduce the stressor of the day.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Yes. And that's been my exact experience. Now, I feel like I can get into that tremoring really quickly. And one thing that I've wondered though and you mentioned here is the duration of the tremoring. When we did this in our group work, in our fellowship, a lot of people were asking, "Well, how long? Do you let it go? Is it if you stop it too soon, is it harmful?" Give us some of your feedback on, let's say, a prescription, so to speak for someone who has trauma and wants to over time improve.

David Berceli (:

Yeah. The prescription is a little bit complicated as we would expect it to be. But here's the deal. I tell people to start with 10 to 15 minutes of the tremoring, that's all. In that process, they'll learn, "Wow, I love this. I want to tremor longer." So, they might tremor for half an hour or they could feel that the tremor mechanism just finally got to their shoulder where they've been having pain. They could feel their shoulder starting to release, so they want to stay longer. So, then I say, "Okay, then follow that."

David Berceli (:

But here's the problem, if you're tremoring and it goes into the diaphragm and you start releasing sobbing because you had a relative recently die or something like that. The sobbing is very good because that's part of the release and the integration of the emotional state, but you might want to stop the tremor mechanism there. And then respect that you're sobbing and there's sadness and sorrow and pain.

David Berceli (:

Same thing with, you work with people with a lot of chronic lower back pains, well, I tell them, "Okay, let the tremor go, tremor mechanism go there. But if you start to feel afraid, stop the tremors." Because the tremor will not hurt these back difficulties that people are having, but their fear will start to contract around it. And so then I tell them, "We'll just do little sessions many times." And then they'll slowly be able to move through all of that fear.

David Berceli (:

So the prescription is a little bit hard, but I tell people start with a small number of minutes, like 10 or 15 and then slowly increase to where you feel comfortable. Because some days Sanjiv, you might feel great tremoring for half an hour. This feels amazing and it's such a release because your body is at a place where it can do that. And then the next day, you could say, "Oh, I feel exhausted. I can only tremor for five minutes. That's all my body feels like it could do." Well, then that's helping you learn how to follow an endogenous rhythm of the human body and not the prescription.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

I'm glad you brought that up. I think that's a good point just to put an asterisk as I do by most of my episodes that we're really presenting this for informational purposes. And it doesn't take the place of professional medical care, particularly if you're struggling with emotional issues, PTSD, trust like that. This could be a wonderful adjunctive tool to your practice, but please do your own research and talk to your professionals about it. And he's got a lot of information on his website as well.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

All right. So, you already cut me off of a question ahead about our clientele, again, coming back to spine care and back pain. I know when people go to look at the video technique, they watch what you just showed us here. They're going to say, "Well, but what about my herniated disc? What about my arthritic hip?" Are there any guidelines you can share for us, for people who want to make sure they remain safe?

David Berceli (:

Yeah. The safest thing to do, because I do this a lot with elderly people as an example or people who have had rods put in their spine or replaced hips. I tell them, "Lay down on bed," because that's usually where they can go. Don't lay on the floor. Lay on your bed and all you do is go into the butterfly position. That's all. And some people even have trouble opening their knees. So, I tell them, "Well, just put pillow supports underneath your knees, but let them be passively open to whatever degree they can. And just stay there for about five minutes."

David Berceli (:

As soon as they start to close, that tremor mechanism will react. And what I found, which is quite interesting, is that the weaker the person is, the more gentle the tremor mechanism will be. And it's almost like it melts the tissue into softness rather than jarring or pushing it as a strong person might experience in terms of the tremors. And so, I find working with people who have got these injuries or physical limitations, I find they actually like the tremor mechanism better when they're doing less effort to activate it and simply laying in bed passively. Because the cushioning of the bed helps the body to feel very safe and the tremor mechanism seems to be able to respect the injury of the body.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And of course, remember if you do get into this, you have total control. You can turn off the tremoring at will, by quite simply straightening your legs, I believe. So, it is an involuntary tremor, but you still have voluntary control over it and you can turn the switch on and off when you want.

David Berceli (:

It's a funny paradoxical experience. And I tell people, "You actually are in control of an out of control experience." It's quite fascinating because your brain looks at the body and says, "I see what it's doing. I understand it. I can even feel it, but I don't know how it's doing it." But like you said, you can stop it immediately if it's too frightening or it's time is up and you have to go to take care of the children.

David Berceli (:

So, yes, it's an out of control experience. Meaning, the neurophysiology of the human organism does that without cognitive control, but cognitive control can both activate and stop it.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Okay. Now, I know we want to keep this high level, so people can be introduced to the concept without getting lost in the weeds. But one question that I'm sure is going to come up and perhaps you can answer this through just sharing some of the experiences of people that you've served across the world. But how does someone measure that this is helping them? Are there objective measures from if a clinician is listening or are they mostly just subjective responses for people? How do you know when it's successful?

David Berceli (:

You see success in two different ways and we've been researching this a bit. People will feel emotionally calmer. Okay? So, that tells us, okay, it might not have done anything to the structure at all, but it did help reduce excited charge in the nervous system. The other one is that if people had physical limitations, some of which they've been living with for years and those physical limitations start to release and they start to get better movement in their hips or their lower back or their shoulders generally or even breathing deeper because it's a big diaphragm release as well. They can actually feel a physiological improvement in their bodies.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Excellent. I'll share my experience with it. So, I've done it probably maybe half a dozen times in the last three months. And what's interesting about it is I start to have some tremoring in areas where I had old injuries that I forgot about. So, I've shared on my podcast that I've had challenges with my low back. And certainly, that is an area that I think came up in the tremoring. But I recalled an old neck strain from a concussion I had in college where I got elbowed on the top of the head and I had this right-sided discomfort for years that I just live with and didn't even realize it. And it started like I was almost having flashbacks to the injury that I had totally forgotten about. We're talking 20 something years ago.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And one of the things that when I was working with my guide, she had told me, "Keep a journal nearby. And when things come up, feel free to write them down. And just anything that comes to your mind that can be an extension of the release and the healing process." So, is it common do you hear stories like that?

David Berceli (:

That is the greatest gift, I think, of the tremor mechanism. It really does get into a person's body and goes back in their history. Like I had said earlier that when you're tremoring, the tissue only knows that contracted state is right now, right here. It doesn't care that it came from 20 years ago, but when that starts to release, see it's a present day, it's a present moment contraction. When it starts to release, it can bring the flashback of, "Oh, my goodness, this happened to me 20 years ago. I remember this." But these are the things that we learned to live with in our bodies that I believe we really don't need to.

David Berceli (:

So, the tremor mechanism does not just heal what's going on in you now. It actually goes back in time inside your body to find those patterns that you completely learned to live with or forgot you even had, or didn't even know you had. And it actually can undo all those patterns to bring your body to this present moment in its healthiest pulsating state that it can achieve.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

I do acupuncture as well. I've been practicing acupuncture since 2004. And during some of our sessions, when I do acupuncture, actually, I use a very lightweight Mylar sheet to cover people up, so they don't get cold, but it's not a pressure on the needles. But I will see ripples in the Mylar sheet during the treatment where they're having this. I've observed that for years. And I feel like this is just like that on steroids. It just triggers it so instantly because the releases I get through the acupuncture are much more gradual.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And in the osteopathic world, we call that a somato-emotional release. And those that practice like craniosacral treatments and myofascial release, they observe it all the time. So, it's very interesting how we can now empower someone to do that on their own.

David Berceli (:

Yeah. What fascinates me is that all of these medical treatments, which I love and have even used on my own body, they all have recognized that their clients tremor like this, but no one has really done the research. Like you say, we write it off as a somatic-emotional release, but there's a whole neurophysiology of why it's doing that. And we should be incorporating that into these things instead of saying, "Oh, yeah, I see it."

David Berceli (:

But every time I work with body workers, they say, "I see this all the in release of my clients." I just say, "Let it go. It's a release." And only because I lived in war and I saw this, did I ask the question to say, "What, what is this? See?" And I have to laugh because I tell body professionals in particular, "We see this every single day." Why didn't one of us just say, "Wow. What is it? Maybe we should explore. It doesn't have any useful potential for us."

David Berceli (:

So, I love your statement. Yes, we do see it. I was just simply curious enough to say, "I'm going to find out what that thing is and see if it can help us. And if so, how do we help manipulate it in a way that it's useful for?"

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And that's to our benefit for sure. Well, you've been very gracious with your time. I want to close with just a few questions here. If those that are like, "Whoa, this sounds really cool. I want to learn more." What are some of the best resources for people interested in learning more about the work you're doing?

David Berceli (:

Okay. So, there are two really good resources. One is traumaprevention.com, which is the website where it explains all this stuff and there's some videos there, but they help you find what we call providers. People have been certified to help guide you through the process if you want to go through it. We also have free workshops listed there. Trainings that are listed there. So there's a whole lot of information there.

David Berceli (:

But the visual, if you want to see what it looks like, but don't frighten yourself, go to my YouTube channel, which is called David Berceli, very simple. And I have collected videos of the people, all over the world, tremoring, just to show what it looks like. Because it's very different in every single body because we all have different histories that our bodies have experienced in life. But I try to show in very simple ways, "Here's what's going on."

David Berceli (:

And I can even have the client make their own intervention in their own body in live time. And you see the intervention I suggest that they make actually begins to change the tremor mechanism. How does it move through the body and how does it release in places that might be contracted? So, those two places, traumaprevention.com and David Berceli YouTube channel would give everybody as much information as they need to be able to feel comfortable. And decide if they want to do it by themselves or they want to do it under the guidance or direction of somebody who's certified to teach it.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Fantastic. And then we touched on this when we started the show, but what's your grand vision for this work? What would make you say job well done?

David Berceli (:

Yeah. I'm not sure I'm going to see it in my lifetime, but I would say that a job well done would be when the medical community takes this up and recognizes its therapeutic potential and begins to incorporate it into their medical prescriptions, if you will, for the healing of their patients or their clients. And it's a long way off in this regard that our paradigm still has not changed. We have to rewrite this paradigm if you will, or yeah, the narrative about tremoring. We even have medication to stop people from doing it, different from actually eliciting it and saying, "This has tremendous value. Let's use it." So, we have to shift that narrative and it's not being shipped to right now in medical.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Yeah, I know. And even in society, just going back to your analogy about crying, really starting to understand if the body was created perfect and has its own innate healing mechanisms, we should be trying to understand these and their purpose instead of just suppressing them. And I think there's headway certainly being made in terms of an idea that people want more holistic approaches to health. And they're really starting to understand, you can't solve every pain with a pill, a shot, or a surgery, although it obviously has its place, especially given the work that I do on a day-to-day basis.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

All right. Now, for you personally, I always like to get a little bit of personal feedback from people about their health habits and tips. And what's your go-to routine to keep your mind, body and soul thriving?

David Berceli (:

Well, it's obviously going to be nothing more than in a sense what the medical model says. I need certain amount of time in the day where I'm completely silent and still, stops the noise in my head. But I also need to have a diet that's healthier, at least on the healthier side of the food chain and some exercise because that truly embraces what the entire organism is. It's mind, body, and energy, if you want to call it that. So, I've got to move it as much as I have to have it keep still and I have to provide it with the nutrients that it needs to be able to continue its pulsation in a healthy way.

David Berceli (:

And that's hard for all of us to do. But what I really do find is even if you just break it down into 10 minutes, 10 minutes of stillness and quiet and even add one more healthy nutrient to your food. And maybe even if you just walk for 10 minutes, just that alone has a significant impact on the way the human body can self-regulate in a healing way. And I know that's hard because everybody has busy jobs and stuff like that, but if we broke it down into smaller pieces, I think more people would be able to achieve this.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Yes. And so, when do you incorporate the TRE for yourself?

David Berceli (:

I do it every morning when I wake up before I get out of bed because I don't know why, but I find that my adductors, they're very tight when I wake up. So then, I just go into the butterfly position and wait and the tremors will activate. And then before I go to bed, I do it as well because it's interesting. It has both sensations when I do it. When I go to bed at night, it actually calms my body down. When I do it in the morning and I get rid of that tension in the adductors, it wakes my body up. So, I use the same mechanism for actually two entirely different responses at two different part times of the day and it's very effective in both of those situations.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And then lastly, again, share the names of the books that you've written on this technique.

David Berceli (:

Oh, my God. I don't remember them. I have three books.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

You've got a lot, yes. You know what, I'll spare you. I have links. I'm going to put links to them for the people in the show notes.

David Berceli (:

Yeah, please do.

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

And they can look at that.

David Berceli (:

Because in my books, I try to give simple explanations, again and I give all the exercises. I want people to try to understand this, so that they can embrace it and not feel that they're dependent on somebody else to take them through it. I just posted a YouTube video today of a family, of a husband and wife and two of their children. And I demonstrated how they do TRE together as a family to reduce their stress as a family. And that's what I'm trying to promote now...

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Wow.

David Berceli (:

... is families working together to reduce stress rather than working as individuals?

Sanjiv Lakhia (:

Okay. Folks again, Dr. David Berceli's traumaprevention.com. We're going to put all his resources and links in the show notes. I hope you found this to be fruitful, at least generate some curiosity and take a look. Add it to the toolbox to help you stay healthy out of pain and emotionally well. So, David, thank you for your time. You've been very gracious today. It was an exciting conversation and I look forward to speaking with you further in the future.

David Berceli (:

Thanks a lot, Sanjiv. That was fun.

Voiceover (:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Back Talk Doc, brought to you by Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, with offices in North and South Carolina. If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Lakhia and treatment options for back issues, go to backtalkdoc.com. We look forward to having you join us for more insights about back pain and spine health on the next episode of Back Talk Doc. Additional information is also available at carolinaneurosurgery.com.

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