“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
When we think of meditation we might picture ourselves sitting cross-legged on the floor with our back straight and feet grounded. What we don’t picture is moving and shaking our body until our muscles start to tremble, pins and needles kick in, the shaking becomes unstoppable, the heart softens and the mind goes empty first and then enters a state of bliss.
However, that’s exactly what happens with shaking meditation, a practice where the entire body goes into a shaking mode.
Shaking bodies and vibrating touch have been known throughout the world as powerful forms of healing expression. Yet the value of trembling, vibrating, quaking, and shaking as a medicine for the body, mind, and soul has been rather lost for a while and is now ‘being revived’.
Here are 10 reasons why you can set yourself free with a regular shaking practice:
Freeing One’s Energy or Life Force Clearing Fear and Trauma Building Lasting Strength Accessing Greater Mind Reclaiming Our Wild, Ecstatic Nature Developing Body and Energy Literacy Learning to Let Go Learning to Receive… More…and More! Learning to Follow Connecting with all of Life Freeing One’s Energy or Life Force.The aim of shaking is to clear and release blocks that cause dis-ease. While shaking, we may hit a place of resistance or a block. Through the shaking, blocks of energy causing the dis-ease are brought to the surface in order to heal. We can then process it and upon releasing the block(s), the body naturally shifts to a higher vibration. This process may manifest as spontaneous emotional release, laughter, cough, shout or ecstatic movement as these energies clear and leave the body. It is during these types of releases that we heal ourselves on a deep level. It also offers an extraordinary opportunity to connect with and plug into the larger field of earth and cosmic energy. Clearing Fear and Trauma. Shaking meditation can also be a form of trauma-releasing exercises (or TRE for short). In his bookHealing Trauma , Peter Levine describes that shaking is a spontaneous self-healing body response to trauma in animals as well as in human beings (when that response is not weeded out of us). That would be our natural response to traumatic experiences. As a result of being socially conditioned not to shake, we hold a lot of trauma in our body and shaking lets these traumas dissolve, allowing us to recover our natural health and vitality. Many somatic researchers have shown that fear immobilises us, that it ‘freezes’ energy in our body. Shaking does just the opposite. It heats up our energy and thaws the effects of our fears, often back many generations. Building Lasting Strength . Shaking is a fire practice and it is great training for spiritual warriors. It allows us to face and clear our fears and anxieties, to let go of stress generated through challenging circumstances. It teaches us to become more willing (i.e. receptive and open) and less wilful (i.e. less ego-driven) leaders. It is also a practice we can do anywhere. Accessing Greater Mind. “Understanding how primitive protective reflexes work is very powerful,” explains UK-based practitionerSteve Haines . “It teaches you how to relate to intense feelings in a grounded and self-regulated way by releasing tension and waking the body up. In the right context, the feelings generated by shaking can also be a powerful stimulus to come out of old, fixed habits.” Shaking offers a fantastic avenue for releasing our mind free of limiting beliefs and rigidities of all sorts. When we shake ourselves free of our fears and concepts, we find it easier to venture beyond the small mind. Reclaiming Our Wild, Ecstatic Nature Most of us have been taught to be afraid of our wildness. As Bradford Keeney succinctly put it, we have been taught to be “experientially allergic to behavior that appears ‘out of control.’” Shaking allows us to reclaim our wildne ss. We have been liberated to do many things with our bodies, from ingesting chemical substances, legal and illegal, to stimulating our erotic capacities through endless forms and scenarios. What still remains off limits is the shake. Most of us have been taught never to appear out of control. Developing Body and Energy Literacy . Shaking offers an amazing sandbox in which to learn to feel more and more aspects of our dense body (muscles, bones, organs, skin). As we sustain our attention on whatever physical sensation draws our attention, we generally start dropping through layers of perception and can eventually feel much subtler sensations… tingling, buzzing, swirling motions taking place inside us. As we shake through our density, we can start feeling our subtle body. Learning to Let Go . We live in a culture where we like to plan and be in control. It is very hard for most of us to accept the fact that we are ultimately not in charge. Shaking teaches us to let go of who we think we are and what we believe we are here to do, letting go of all our patterns, our fears, our guilt, our attachments, and discovering who we are beyond all that.Dr. Bradford Keeney, the author of “Sacred Ecstatics”, writes: “Shaking Medicine reintroduces the oldest medicine on earth–the ecstatic shaking of the human body. Most people’s worst fear is losing control–of their circumstances, of their emotions, and especially of their bodies. Yet in order to achieve the transcendent state necessary to experience deep healing, we must surrender control.” Learning to Receive… More…and More! As we learn to relax and to open, we can allow each cell of our body to receive more and more life force from the ocean of energy in which we are always steeping… allowing the magnetic field of the earth to rise through our feet like the sap of a tree, allowing our hands and the crown of our head to draw in light like sunflowers in an open field. We learn to allow ourselves to experience more and more pleasure, as we discover how pleasurable it is to be drinking and tasting our breath, and delighting in the exhilarating experience of feeling our aliveness. Learning to Follow . When our constrictions and attachments loosen, and we let go of habitual or repetitive movement, we often start feeling as if the body actually knows how it wants to shake. We discover that our head or hand wants to move this way, and now that way… and curious, we just let it happen. The shaker in us is suddenly being shaken! Shaking is an amazing opportunity to learn to follow the vast intelligence that permeates the universe (and our bodies), rather than willfully direct our energy in the way that we are conditioned to do. Connecting with all of Life . “Cultures throughout the world have made their own hypotheses and created their own names for what they assume is a force behind the shake. They generally propose that there is a universal life force that we can tap into, and that its energy brings forth the shaking and all the other energetic outcomes. In China the name for this hypothesised energy is chi or qi. It is called ki in Japan, n/om among the Kalahari Bushmen, tumpinyeri mooroop among some aboriginal Australians, prana in India, yesod by Jewish Kabbalists, Holy Spirit by Christians, and so on,” writes Keeney. Whatever we call it, shaking is ultimately a way of healing our internal fragmentation and dissolving our sense of separation. As we allow the great intelligence that pervades our bodies and all of life, to start teaching us… we are taken into ever deeper connection with ourselves, others, nature, the elements, and the larger cosmos. We also start experiencing the most expanded and shared aspect of who we are.
CALL TO EMBODIMENT
If you are feeling inspired about shaking, you might ask yourself by now: How do you do it?
The simple answer is: just do it. In case you want to prepare for it, here are some answers to the most important questions.
SHAKE IT OFF or SHAKE INTO FLOW
- How long? As with any meditation practice, you can start by shaking for 20 to 30 minutes and for as long as you feel moved to do so. Some people shake up to 6 hours a day when they are met with serious illness. This said, micro-practices (shaking for a minute or two whenever you feel disconnected, drained or tired, or need to clear your energy field) will always feel great.
- Where? It is probably best to start shaking in a place where you will not be distracted, and will be free to make sounds and allow yourself to shake as wildly or sensually as you feel moved. A private space – whether indoors or outdoors — is very helpful to staying focused on the practice rather than worrying about what anyone else will think.
Shaking to trance music or a fast drum is usually the easiest way to get started. A really fast and dynamic beat, and uplifting tune, is a powerful invitation into shaking
- There is no right way to ‘shake
,‘ though it is important to keep knees slightly bent. A good place to start is to first tune into the sensations in your body as you prepare to shake. This is your ‘baseline’… your starting point. What do you notice in your body? What most draws your attention?
- Sustaining presence and attention.
As you shake, keep your attention focused on the sensations in the body. And see what you notice.
For more inspiration, watch this 3 minute video about the shaking practice facilitated by Ratu Bagus, a Balinese Guru who encourages shaking practice as key to spiritual enlightenment.
Once you are done, take some time right now to shake. It doesn’t need to be a full practice, just a couple of minutes is enough to give you an idea of what shaking is like.
Evidence based research
Dr. Bradford Keeney, the author of “Sacred Ecstatics” on cultural traditions of shaking https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/2012/01/28/shaking-medicine
Steve Haines, Bodyworker with 20 years experience in trauma healing and holistic body work: https://bodycollege.net/about-steve-haines/
Other sources of conversation
Power shaking meditation http://theboxofhappiness.com/power-shaking-meditation/
The ecstasy of shaking http://befriendinglife.com/2012/07/24/the-ecstasy-of-shaking/