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What is shaking meditation and how does it reduce stress?




What is shaking meditation and how does it reduce stress?
WWhen you imagine meditation, you probably imagine yourself sitting quietly on a cushion, with your legs crossed and your eyes closed. Perhaps it involves deep breathing, or perhaps meditation chants or mantras play softly in the background. Regardless of the scene, you probably imagine yourself being very, very quiet.

Silence is the quintessential atmosphere of meditation, at least the kind of meditation most of us have encountered in the US. But meditation doesn’t necessarily have to be a completely static practice, as shaking meditation shows.

A shaking meditation is exactly as the name suggests: an active meditation exercise where you physically shake your entire body. While it may feel (and look) a little strange compared to meditation practices that American wellness seekers are more familiar with, the potential benefits of shaking meditations make it worth adding to your mindfulness toolkit.

What is a shaking meditation?

Shaking meditation is another name for Trauma Release Exercise (TRE). Jenelle Kim, DACM, L.Acauthor of Myung Sung: The Korean Art of Living Meditation. TRE is a series of exercises created by trauma and stress intervention experts David Berceli, PhDwhich aim to help with “releasing deep muscle patterns of stress, tension and traumaThese exercises usually involve certain stretches and movements that mimic or induce shaking.

Dr. However, Kim notes that incorporating shaking into meditation has been done for centuries in various cultures and is not exclusive to TRE. For example, it is part of Qigong, a moving meditation from China similar to Tai Chi, she says. Leslie Saglioa trauma-informed master coach, adds that shaking as a healing practice has a history in many African, Australian, Polynesian and Asian cultures.

So why vibrate? “Shaking is a primary impulse for a stressful situation,” says Saglio. That’s why animals often do this after a life-threatening encounter (such as being chased by a predator). Experts think this helps animals like dogs release the energy of the stressful or traumatic event so they can move on.

People also often tremble when they are very stressed or emotional, such as shaking hands when you are nervous, or shaking with anger during an argument. But Saglio says we humans have learned to suppress our emotions, making it harder for us to recalibrate after stressful events. “From an early age we are told to stop crying, stop our tantrums and shut up,” she says. “We’re the only species that goes around bottling everything up.” A shaking meditation can help us shake off all those pent-up feelings.

The potential benefits of shaking meditation

Dr. Kim says one of the main benefits of this meditation style is that it helps us feel calmer and more relaxed by releasing physical tension from our muscles and calming our nervous system.

The shaking, she adds, often brings out old, stored emotions, providing an opportunity to process them and release the energy from our bodies. “Our daily lives are filled with a lot of stress, noise and other sensory stimuli that keep our nervous systems active and alert to danger,” says Dr. Kim. “Shaking meditation can activate our parasympathetic nervous system and signal our body to relax completely.”

Shaking meditations not only help us become calmer, but also help relieve stress in the short and long term. ‘Learning to overcome and turn our body [on] the vibrating sensation teaches our minds a new way to calm our nervous system and makes it easier for us to remain resilient to future mental or physical stressors,” explains Dr. Kim out.

That said, it’s worth noting that research into the benefits of TRE and other types of shaking meditations are limited but promising. For example, a case study on a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that trauma release exercises helped improves physical and emotional well-being and reduces stress. A small 2021 pilot study in Korea among 25 students also showed this TRE helped reduce anxiety. More research needs to be done to understand more clearly how and why it works – and what we know is largely anecdotal – but if it helps you, it certainly can’t hurt.

How to do a shaking meditation

TRE is specifically recommended for people with PTSD as an additional way to relieve tension, trauma, and stored emotions in the body, says Dr. Kim. That’s why she recommends that people interested in TRE itself and who have PTSD watch videos online and work with a certified practitioner (in addition to seeking other support and treatment).

That said, Dr. Kim notes that other forms of DIY shaking meditations also offer similar benefits: they help release tension, reduce stress, regulate the nervous system, and improve overall well-being and emotional state.

To do this, Dr. instructs. Kim to stand with your feet apart and knees slightly bent in a comfortable position. Then begin to gently shake your body, starting with your legs and spreading your movement to the arms, chest and back.

“Let the feelings of shaking become a vibration that takes over and feel the vibration internally,” says Dr. Kim. Saglio adds that there’s no wrong way to shake, so don’t think about it too much. And if you need some motivation, she suggests playing music in the background (watch Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” or Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out”).

As for how long to shake, Saglio recommends five to 15 minutes a few times a week to reap the benefits. Like any other form of meditation, you can do it at any time, but Saglio says it’s especially helpful if you’re stressed and find it challenging to switch off while sitting still. Or it can also be a great precursor to a silent meditation.

Once you’ve gotten all the shakes out, Dr. Kim encourages you to end the meditation with some light stretching and deep breathing.

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