My body shakes, what to do?
In my events I often get questions around shaking of the body.
People experience a jerk, a twitch, or a sudden movement. The movement seems to come from within, spontaneous, as if the body is doing it all by itself, without interference of the mind. Often surprising the body’s owner, and possibly bystanders.
Is this such an unusual thing though?
Actually, these shakes are one of the most primal and basic responses as a human being. As I asked after a Shaktipat: who has ever experienced a the convulsing? 95 % of the participants raised their hands…
Time to clear up some false beliefs. My thoughts on the subject…
A PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATION
In modern Psychology the shaking response is often referred to as neurogenic tremors.
The actual shaking or jerking comes from the limbic brain. The jerk is a signal that danger has passed and the fight-flight response can turn off. These tremors help to reduce over-activity in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis the body’s complex neuroendocrine system that regulates our stress response. A jerk is literally a finish of the nervous system response, to release a more stressful or intense (traumatic) experience from the body.
In the animal world, animals “shake off” the freeze response caused by a life threat. When animals suffer trauma, it has been documented that they will literally shake it off, which helps the animal discharge the energy of the traumatic event. Animals often die if they are unable to shake off the trauma, but in humans, it may evolve into mental or physical illness. Humans also shake off trauma, but for some, the shake off response isn’t available thus the trauma is held in the body.
The problem comes when something prevents the nervous system from completing its natural, survival-based response. Any experience could become stored in the body, resulting in mental or physical illness or both. Impacted systems could be:
An overstimulated amygdala (part of the Mammalian brain). The amygdala is responsible for survival-related threat identification, plus tagging memories with emotion. After trauma, the amygdala can get caught up in a highly alert and activated loop during which it looks for and perceives threats everywhere. *
An underactive hippocampus (part of the An increase in the stress hormone glucocorticoid kills cells in the hippocampus, which renders it less effective in making synaptic connections necessary for memory consolidation. This interruption keeps both the body and mind stimulated in reactive mode as neither element receives the message that an experience (or threat) has transformed into the past tense.
BY OWN EXPERIENCE
As Tantra entered my life around 2014, my body started to twitch. Intensely. I felt more spacious. And continued doing Tantric, shaking practices a few times a week, and continuously supported the release of energy by doing emotional release techniques: shaking, twisting my spine, hitting a pillow or (hand) screaming.
The shaking intensified. As I would allow more energy moving through my body, I could see and feel my body going into convulsions. Sometimes trembling for hours a day.
It felt like my physical body shook of layers of stories, stagnation, muscle tension, stress and patterns. It felt awkward at first, and as I got more and more comfortable with ‘my mind being out of control’, the shaking became easier to bear.
Over time the responses of my surroundings would change too, my parents would acknowledge that a shake, jerk or convulsion is part of who I am as my body is in pain. My lovers would welcome the release of my body, as I would experience more and more pleasure in allowing my body to untangle itself. My friends would understand that that was how my body responded to an emotional story they shared.
I moved tons of energy every day. With the result that I would feel lighter, clearer, softer, more loving, open and aware of myself and others.
More magic entered my experiences. Synchronicities took place constantly and my life force (Kundalini) took over. Showing me what to feel, say or where to go. Life became easy.
A MORE EXPERIENCED TANTRIC EXPLANATION
My Shaktipat teacher Bodhi Baba has been giving Shaktipats globally for over 40 years. I like what he says to the question: What are ‘kriyas’ or the spontaneous body movements that people experience since a Kundalini awakening? And “should I try to control them?”
He states: “The short answer is when Shaktipat happens a huge amount of prana or vital energy force floods into your physical and to be even more precise into your subtle bodies. Before I continue I should explain you actually have five bodies; they’re called the pancha koshas, and each one is more subtle than the other, yet they’re all interconnected, so if there’s an effect on one body, then they’re all influenced one way or another. The physical by the way is the least subtle of the pancha koshas. So, it goes without saying if your Kundalini say encounters a block and this manifests as a shock, jolt or tremor, in say your subtle or astral body then that’s quite likely to manifest on the physical level as well. However, it may not always take the form of a physical movement, it could manifest as internal sound (nadi), yogic breath repetition (pranayama), emotional release crying laughing etc. Depending on the person this could manifest subtlety such as rapid eye movement or REM or quite dramatically such as intense heavy breathing, dancing, singing, or rolling around on the floor. One woman at one of my rituals crawled like a snake on her belly all the way from the back of the room up to the front of the room where the puja or alter was.
As I’ve cautioned in other question and answer sessions. in most cases, you should not try to control them: as I frequently say, the Kundalini Shakti is far more wise & intelligent than you are and she also knows more about what she’s doing than you do, so it’s best not to try to control the Shakti at least for a while until you’re in better communication with her and even then it’s more like working in league with her rather than you controlling. Otherwise your ego and intellect/mind end up trying to control something that you’re Kundalini herself is far more capable of doing. Otherwise it’s like the inexperienced, uninformed student trying to instruct the wise
Later on, as you advance, and learn to work with your pranic force fields such as; the apana, udana, samana, etc. or your pancha pranas can it (working with the Kundalini) be of any use to assist in her work but in the early stages I usually tell most people with very active Shakti or Kundalini’s to just, ‘sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.’
SHAKING IS NOT THE ENDGAME.
Shaking is not the end state of an awakening. It’s the adjustment of the body to the energy flowing.
Or, as Bud Barber mentions in his book “On the way to the Ocean”:
“In traditional Tantra as well as in yoga, it’s believed there are four different stages after ‘Shaktipat’ or the initial awakening of your Kundalini. So if we were to view the process most yogic traditions endorse, from start to finish the final merging in the Sahasrara or crown chakra, then the following four phases are generally what you will find. However keep in mind that just about every school of yoga has its own narrative of what essentially happens.
- Awakening stage (Arambha)
- Cleansing stage (Ghata)
- Absorption stage (Parichaya)
- Final stage (Nishpatti)
Awakening stage (Arambha): Technically speaking, the Kundalini is considered awakened when the so called ‘shell’ of the Kundalini is broken which allows the knot of the base chakra to begin unwinding, normally referred to as the ‘Brahma knot. This knot is located very close to the Kundalini centre. Most traditions also agree that this only occurs when the inner Guru seated in the Ajna chakra or the area of pineal gland is psycho energetically pierced, this sets in motion a series of events which results in the Kundalini’s’ awakening. Of course there are quite a few different opinions on this subject, none of which can be proven or disproven but based on the evidence that I and many others have witnessed after someone’s Kundalini has legitimately been activated this scenario seems to make the most sense, both logically and intuitively.
Cleansing stage (Ghata): At this stage the knot at the base of the spine has usually already been awakened for a while and now the Kundalini energy opens the second big chakra knot at the heart or Anahata chakra. It’s called the Vishnu knot. Once activated the Kundalini energy can flow easier toward different parts of the body to perform a more thorough energetic cleansing of the nadis and raise your overall energy level to a higher frequency. This and sometimes the previous stage is the most common in which involuntary movements or what are called kriyas can occur.
Absorption stage (Pacihaya): At this stage, the superficial cleansing is complete in the various different body layers, and now the Kundalini Shakti retreats into the more subtle levels of your being as it continues cleansing, purifying and raising your energetic frequency.
Final stage (Nishpatti): When the Kundalini opens the third and last big chakra knot at the Ajna (third eye chakra), called the Rudra knot, the person is only one step away from getting the crown chakra opened. This is a highly subjective period in which the individual typically withdraws from worldly life. As the crown chakra opens, one will at last be able to achieve self-realization, cosmic realization, and then Yoga or union.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
So, let us get back to some most common questions.
– Is it dangerous? The shaking can feel scary to you yes. Holding on to past experience can be easier than entering a more unfamiliair physical, mental or emotional state. If you can and are worried about hurting yourself, you might want to place yourself in a comfortable soft space.
– Can I control it? Yes you could. Imagine that you are shaking and your boss walks in. Your mind could actually, in case of a perceived threat, overwrite your physical experience of safety. Your nervous system will immediately switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic which will inhibit release. The body will focus on protecting itself (fight or flight) instead of relaxing and calming down (in which shaking can occur).
– Is it similar to an epileptic attack? I don’t know enough about the medical definition of epilepsy to answer this correctly. I will do my research and get back to you on this.
– I don’t shake or twitch…what’s wrong (normal) with me? Is my Kundalini awakened?
Yes, sit back relax. Kundalini awakening can have many shapes, forms and expressions. A shake does not equal an awakening, or vice versa. It is just a visible adjustment of the body to the amount of energy flowing through. The same amount of energy can flow through regardless and more detailed physical sensations can be noticed.
– Create time and space to do your emotional release. Want to speed up the process? Hit a pillow, put on some music and shake your body, practise squeeze & breathe (a practice taught at the CORE Training which includes exhaling fully and suddenly inhaling to your maximum.
– Create environments in which you feel safe to shake. This might not be as you do that difficult presentation at work, or at your family brunch, but rather at an ecstatic dance, a yoga class, or in soft and nourishing space in your living or bed room.
– Start a Tantric Kriya Yoga or regular Yoga practise to gently open your nadis and work with your Kundalini energy. This will soften the shaking and supports a smooth and constant flow of energy.
– Get out of the way. If your body twitches and jerks, let is happen. Shake & bake 🙂
I would like to conclude by saying that shaking, jerking is one of the most natural responses one can have to energy flowing, to pleasure, to being alive.
I wish for you to celebrate the release of your own body and that of those around you. Notice what changes as you consider that it is a blessing to be out of control, and surrender to the wisdom of your primal body.
Well done for being brave.
A yummie playlist to shake to:
Recommended further reads:
– Why Zebras don’t get ulcers, Robert Zapolsky
– On the way to the ocean, Bud Barber
– On the way to the Ocean, Bud Barber
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