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Somatic Healing
with Alex Greene & Red Beard Somatic Therapy

By Sarah Hodges


I’d never heard of self-inducing tremors and shaking in the body for the purpose of healing. Nor could I imagine how much stress these little shakes could release.  That is, until I discovered the healing practice called TRE (Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises) a few months ago at Alex Greene’s TRE class.

Alex began teaching at Still & Moving Center immediately following the devastation of the Maui fires. He and Still & Moving member Jean Sun Shaw realized that so many people here on the islands were experiencing trauma in the aftermath, and someone with Alex’s skillset could bring valuable tools for alleviating this.

When Jean approached Director Renée Tillotson, proposing to bring Alex from Colorado to Still & Moving Center to provide TRE (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises) Therapy, Renée jumped at the opportunity. She recalled someone giving a TRE workshop at the studio long ago, but had not been able to find it again ever since then.

Enter Alex Greene.

As I attended Alex’s live-streaming class that Friday afternoon in February, I lay on the yoga mat in a very slight bridge pose filled with curiosity about this practice. As someone who has experienced years of high anxiety and trauma, to the point that I couldn’t leave my house during some moments of my late teens and 20s, I’m always curious to hear about new techniques for healing. Alex patiently and clearly guided us through simple postures, having us gently hold in place to open the way for a slight muscular tremor. I followed his instructions and very quickly found my body subtly shaking.

By the time I left Alex’s class, I felt a wave of relaxation. What a joy to come across someone who is dedicated to helping others heal from stress and trauma, two very prevalent and harmful elements in our current world.

As it turns out, TRE and somatic healing also provide a missing link in Alex’s life.

Alex Greene founded Red Beard Somatic Therapy in 2012, a space for healing with a focus on Structural Integration. Alex is not only a TRE teacher. He covers a spectrum of somatic modalities, from Somatic Experiencing to Internal Family Systems and Brainspotting (check out Alex’s website to read the full explanations of these curious-sounding modalities!).

Alex’s journey into the world of healing arts began in his early twenties. He felt that something essential was missing from his. While studying Physics at the University of Hawaii, he began training at Chozen-Ji, a Zen temple in Kalihi Valley where his father taught. He learned to meditate and travel from a mind-centered existence into a more holistic experience.

“I spent three years living at the Zen monastery,” says Alex. “When I began my formal Zen training I received the instruction that ‘the meaning of life can be discovered through the refinement of breath and posture.’ In the 21 years since then, I have been on a mission to continually deepen my understanding of what this means, and learn how to support others in finding their own path of self-discovery.”

Alex dove into his meditation and martial arts training. He became keenly aware of how the Zen temple’s senior teachers moved and talked. They flowed through their movements, seeming to live more in harmony and with embodied awareness of their surroundings. Alex knew Zen training held something important for him.

After finishing his university studies, Alex continued to dedicate himself to Zen training, leading him into the realm of mind-body integration, spiritual development, and healing. At Chozen-Ji he met healers Dub Leigh, who trained with Rolfing founder Ida Rolf at Esalen Institute, and Feldenkrais founder Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais. Alex also got to work with Dub’s senior student and successor Audrey Nakamura. Quite an acclaimed group to kick off his healing journey!

Alex recounts his first session receiving Zen Rofling from Audrey. He’d experienced hip pain for years from an old high school sports injury. When he meditated he often felt pestered by the pain. After the sessions with Audrey, the pain lessened significantly, and something else surprising happened.

“During my third or fourth session, Audrey was working around my ribcage and spontaneously my legs started shaking,” Alex explains. “After the shaking stopped, for about 10-15 min I felt a lot of vibration running through my whole body. Audrey was calm and told me that the shaking was my body releasing. Something normal. No problem.” At the time, Alex didn’t have a framework for understanding what had happened in this session, but he could feel his pelvis significantly freer.

Alex’s bodywork training kicked off. He picked up a multitude of modalities. At one point, a colleague suggested TRE Tension and Trauma Releasing, which Alex shrugged off initially.

Then, in 2005 Alex left Hawai’i to help his dad open a Zen center in Wisconsin. Here, Alex started a carpentry business alongside his development in the healing arts. A few years later he became a part of a cohort of students for Structural Integration, or Integral Bodywork, and traveled to Chicago for training programs. One day after the training Alex was struck by the realization, “Wow, bodywork is what I need to be doing!”

He realized at the same time that he was learning to be a practitioner to help others heal, this training was benefiting his own healing, releasing injuries, and opening psycho-emotional blocks in himself. “I felt like I was on a fast track to connecting to who I am,” expounds Alex. “I felt almost magnetically pulled to this work.”

Alex’s interest in bodywork and somatic therapy became so overwhelming, that at some point, Alex’s employees at his woodworking business told him to just go do bodywork for a while, and they would take care of the woodworking jobs. He quickly realized that they were right.

“TRE has become a big part of my professional journey, studying how tremoring can interact with bodywork and bring healing,” Alex describes. “I’ve worked internationally in a Japanese temple with people, trained social workers in Kenya over Zoom, and worked with hospital systems. During the pandemic, I worked with the medical system, and with social activists in Detroit. Now, 6 people at the New York Fire Department are trained in TRE and it’s spreading through FDNY.

“In my experience, there are many people for whom there is an immediate impactful sense of healing that comes from experiencing TRE. Clearly, this journey needed to happen. I didn’t know it could and it did.”

I’m so encouraged by hearing Alex’s story and learning about the healing modalities and tools he shares. While it doesn’t seem as if we will achieve a world where trauma and stress cease to plague us just yet, I’m grateful to the people like Alex who are the warriors and front-line workers in healing this trauma and creating space for greater ease and wellbeing.

Red Beard Somatic Therapy



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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)