I have recently been talking to my students about somatic practices. We have regular tapping classes within SLU but there are many other somatic practices we can do to build the connection between the mind and body and release stress and pent up emotions. I appreciate talking therapy and find it so beneficial, but we also sometimes need ways that don’t involve words and thought - we just need to move and release from the body.
One of my favourites is "shaking," which involves creating voluntary bodily vibrations to release stress, tension, and trauma.
Shaking has been used across many cultures and is also used by animals, as well as humans. When animals experience stress or fear, they often shake their bodies to release the built-up tension.
Similarly, in humans, shaking can be a way to process and discharge stress, anxiety, and trauma.
Some of the benefits of shaking are:
Stress and tension release: Shaking can help us to relieve physical and emotional tension stored in the muscles and fascia, which can lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety.
Emotional processing: By physically releasing pent-up energy, shaking allows us to process and integrate difficult emotions, such as fear, anger, and grief, in a safe and controlled manner.
Increased body awareness: Shaking can help us become more attuned to our bodies, which can lead to greater self-awareness and an improved sense of well-being.
Improved circulation and lymphatic flow: The act of shaking can stimulate blood circulation and lymphatic flow, which helps in flushing out toxins and waste products from the body, thereby promoting overall health.
Enhanced relaxation and sleep: Shaking can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation and restorative processes. Doing this regularly can help improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia.
Trauma recovery: For those of us who have experienced trauma, shaking can serve as a powerful tool to help process and release stored traumatic energy, fostering healing and recovery.
To practise shaking, find a comfortable space where you can stand or sit with a relaxed posture. Begin by taking a few deep breaths, then start gently shaking your body, focusing on areas where you feel tension. Gradually increase the intensity of the shaking while maintaining a sense of control. After a few minutes, allow the shaking to subside and take a moment to observe any changes in your body and emotional state.
(As with any therapy, it is wise to approach it with respect and consult with a mental health professional or a certified somatic therapist to ensure the practice is suitable and safe for your specific needs).
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