Self isolation Week 3

Lake CouchichingDSCF0047

There’s a timeless quality of being present for whatever comes up as one day folds into the next, as we float into week 3 of self-isolation. Schools closed (3 week March break), businesses closed, empty main street. Walking on the trail, and the park half a block from home. and taking in the view down the lake as the ice begins to melt by the shore. Restaurants open only for take out, and we are being asked to stay home. An eerie quiet outside as few cars are out, no traffic noise, only the cries of the geese, as they land on the ice, looking for open water.

I am appreciating the unstructured time to write, to settle into a story about my grandmother, her sister and their aunt homesteading in Montana at the turn of the century. The uncanny timing of the current COVID 19 pandemic coming full circle with the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, when my great aunt died at age 33. My grandmother’s only sister, and my father  aged 5, his brother aged three and half, both witnessing this loss at such a young age. Trying to fathom what it must have been like for my grandmother to lose her only sister. That loss even more poignant with the current pandemic.

Feeling grateful for having a practice of TRE Tension Releasing Exercises, doing them  more often to keep myself regulated in the face of a new reality, a void of space that may continue indefinitely. Every day a new story as we face what it means to flatten the curve of the spread of this virus. Feeling with our colleagues who live in the States , and how crazy things are there, with each state a different story.

I include a link to article published and sent to David Berceli PhD. <;

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Connecting the Dots #1

At a recent art opening where I had a piece of work, a friend inquired “What is the connection between the your art work and your healing work? I don’t see how they are connected.” I was a little taken aback especially because we were at the annual Women’s Art Show at the Orillia Museum of Art and History. As I walked around and looked at the work, and read their brief stories I could sense for many women how therapeutic it was to express themselves artistically and have their work shown.


Then I reflected on my own practice. I had been doing a variety of healing work for the past nine years and in 2013 returned to my art practice. As I asked myself how had this been healing for me, I came to the surprising realization that I had not had any headaches since I started back into my painting and sculpture work. That had been seven months without a headache. In the past few years I had had a headache about once a month. I was blown away, and further relaxed into the fact that returning to my art practice was good move.


So now that I reflect even further I recognize that any kind of self- expression could be healing. There is something about allowing a flow of something to come through us- it could be writing, art, movement, music something we love to do where we can get lost in the process of creating something. In a way it is all a process of saying yes to life flowing through us.


Both art and healing are part of a process of integration that I also referred to in my last blog on art and focusing. Stay tuned for more articles around the theme of connecting the dots and integration.

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Making a Stand

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Making a stand

Making a Stand JudyArcher lg.-8256 copyFocusing, TRE, and making Assemblages (Dec 2013)

Recently my art teacher asked me how I get my ideas. The answer lies partly with my practices of Focusing and TRE. My ongoing objective in my artwork is personal integration and self- realization. Also in my regular practice of Focusing and TRE I am always applying those skills to generating ideas for my artwork. My practices are so ingrained and a part of me that it feels like play to access them.

In my Focusing I am going inside my core area, grounding my feet, legs arms and hands and sensing for what needs my attention. This is something that I can do any time, so when I am wondering about a theme or an idea I start sensing more about it. That might come as a feel of how it is- in words or descriptions. As I explore how it feels, more descriptions or possibilities emerge. I might engage with this process several times in relation to a possibility and it could emerge into one or more projects- either a sculpture, assemblage or a painting or a feeling I want to capture in a piece of work. Sometimes I experience only a fragment and as I start creating something, the work itself evolves.

TRE™ Tension Releasing Exercises make a contribution as I shake out tension regularly, experience feeling more grounded and am thus more able to sense what feels right. The more I practice doing that, the more easily I am able to check in and sense on an ongoing basis. The more I practice, the more my skills can be brought to bear in relation to any area of my work or life. Often I wake up with an idea of how to use a found object when the day before I have been wondering –What can I make of that object that I collected or found.

In my last art show (2004) I had shown assemblages, so people started donating objects to my effort. I had a sense of wanting something to portray making a stand for my art and life. I had 3 wheelbarrows that had been given to me. I started to play with how the three might stand up on their handles and form a huddle. In collaboration with my builder we put them together with bolts and made sure they were solid enough to stand together as a triad. With a few more adjustments- a 2×4 at shoulder height and two 1×2’s vertical from there, a piece of doweling across the top forms the support to hold a 12 inch metal wheel and lo and behold we have the piece “Making a Stand”.

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TRE and contraindications

 A reader writes:

I am curious if doing this kind of release (Tension Releasing Exercises TRE™) can sometimes lead to overwhelm if the person is not resourced enough? Is it ever contraindicated?


Thank you for your question. Let me answer the last question first:

There are two contraindications and one caution and I mention these in the class, as well it may come up when I do a health history conversation with participants before they take the class: 

1) A person has had abdominal surgery in the past three months,

2) A person is in the second or third trimester of pregnancy

 There is also a caution that these exercises evoke emotions and that is why we teach self-regulation.We teach three different ways that we can rest, take time out, and learn to take the exercises slowly, a little bit at a time. This allows us to integrate whatever emotions arise and give them space to be without having to fix them or change them.



The TRE™ exercises are designed to help us be more grounded. We teach students processes of learning to go at their own pace while doing the exercises, to self- regulate. In the class we invite people to stretch or tire out their muscles to a level of effort of seven out of ten- with a guideline that one is no effort and ten is exhaustion. A person may choose a different number of repetitions for movements on each side of the body or on different days depending on their abilities. They may even check in with their body and choose a much more gentle level of effort depending on how they are feeling that day.


To continue on about your second question on potential overwhelm:

 When students want to do the exercises at home we recommend doing the exercises two or three times a week- not more. When someone chooses to go further and certify as a Practitioner we learn to recognize when we ourselves or a student may be headed towards overwhelm, and what we can do to facilitate grounding first ourselves and then the student.

This is also why we require certification for people who wish to do this work professionally, so that people learn these skills from the inside out before trying to teach another person.  


This piecce was originally written as a prelude to  a three-hour class in Toronto on April 30,2013 and  Chris Balsley’s Friday evening Talk May 10,2013 or Chris’ Toronto Module 1 training May 11-13, 2013      See flyers for current workshops on my homepage <>





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Welcome to my blog. I am building on an article about TRE™ and Focusing that can be found on my website under articles. In that article I explore how the practice of TRE ™ and Focusing influence and support each other. The article emerged out of integrating the Tension Releasing Exercises into my life and reflecting on the process in my journaling. In the TRE™ organization we recommend that TRE™ can be added to an existing professional practice such as energy work, massage, movement, psychotherapy, physiotherapy, Trager or yoga. Before we integrate the exercises into our professional lives we begin by integrating them into our everyday personal lives. We explore what effect the exercises have on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lives. We explore this by doing the exercises regularly and reflecting in our journaling what we notice.


This process also helps us learn to self-regulate. Thus we learn how the rhythm of doing the exercises evokes a relaxation response without being too much at once. We develop a sense of curiosity about what the changes are that we experience. And over time we learn to be in presence –noticing what changes are emerging. Gradually we discover how to adapt a rhythm of exercises to the flow of our lives. All of the above is a part of the certification process for those of us who wish to do TRE professionally.


Part of the rationale for requiring this exploration is that we need to work from our own bodily sense of doing the exercises in order to be able to guide others. Since this is a body oriented practice we need to be guided from our own bodies first and foremost.


While on the outside this is a process of certification, for me on the inside it is really like a journey- a journey of embodiment, or relaxing more fully into my full potential. I would love to have others join me on this journey.

 Whether you would like to learn and/or teach TRE, please consider joining us for Stress Navigation /TRE Level I workshop with Chris Balsley on May 11-13, 2013.  See the listing on my home page and download the flyer.


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