There are so many ways we can tap (literally and figuratively) into ourselves to reach places of calm, collection, awareness, focus, and self-love. Meditation and somatic therapies are so powerful. Yet in those sticky, chaotic times that we need them most, they can seem overwhelming or confusing if we haven’t yet developed the practice fully. Enter: shaking.
While some somatic therapies are more technical or specific, like tapping, we can also dance or just move. Moving our bodies helps us break up stagnant energy and shift ourselves into a totally new realm of thinking and feeling.
We spoke with Marina Yanay-Triner, known as the Compassionate Somatic Coach. She works with people using a body-based approach to address stuckness and triggers and to help regulate the nervous system. To her, a somatic practice like shaking and gyrating and moving the body is paramount to connecting inward.
“Shaking is a body practice that has not even been invented—it has been observed by animals in the wild and made its way to us, humans. This practice allows the body to release trapped energy that we were not able to discharge during a traumatic event. When we go through a dangerous event, we can either fight, flee, or freeze. If we fight or flee, we are much less likely to be left with the impact of trauma or PTSD than if we freeze. The freeze response is a smart survival mechanism in that it protects us from pain by numbing our entire body. As we freeze, all of the survival energy stays trapped in our body, and shaking allows us to release it.”
And so much of our lives center around the freeze. We experience trauma, and we retreat. We go back to work and sit at a desk. We fall into bouts of depression, and we don’t want to get out of bed. It’s a harmful cycle, but we can shake our way out of it.
Yanay-Triner wants us to first be compassionate to ourselves. She reminds us that we do not choose our response in a dangerous event. It is automatic, coming from our autonomic nervous system. “There are many ‘favorites’ that go into what response our body automatically selects, and the important thing to know is that all are equally normal and none of them is bad.”
If you’re excited to dive into shaking it all out but don’t know where to begin, there’s almost no wrong way to go about it. Yanay-Triner gives us some guidelines to get the most out of it, however:
“Begin by feeling your feet on the ground, and what it feels like to be supported and grounded. Feel the contact between your feet and the earth, and notice your chest, belly, and throat and the sensations that arise. Start to gently shake your knees up and down, and choose a speed that works for you. Allow the shaking to spread into any parts of your body that want to participate, all while noticing your feet firmly on the earth. I typically recommend moving slowly rather than quickly so that you can actually stay connected to your body (particularly the throat, chest, and belly) and feel that energy being discharged. Your body will tell you when to stop.
Pause and check in here: how do you feel? What has shifted?
When you do a somatic (body-based) shaking practice, you allow your body to return to safety by releasing the energy of fear that is present within you when you face a life threat.
A great time to do the practice is when you notice tension and tightness in your body and still feel really connected and present. That way you can be aware of how the energy moves through you.”