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Trembling And Shaking In Trauma Release


Trembling And Shaking In Trauma ReleaseWhen healing trauma, many things can take place in a session.  Trembling and shaking in trauma release are normal.  However, shaking and trembling do not mean trauma is being released.  All bodies go through this in some form or another, but often we are not aware and conscious enough to notice it or understand it.

The one fallacy that I see propagated in the healing world is that  just allowing someone to have an emotional release, whether it is through shaking and trembling or crying, is healing in its entirety.  It is possible that it can be, but it is also very probable that it can continue the trauma cycle in that person.  When the trauma cycle is continued, you can actually re-traumatize an individual.

There are various modalities out there that teach us to let the person be alone if they are trembling or shaking.  The theory is that this is what the body needs to do and it will just stop at some point.  While there is truth to this, it is not the whole truth.


Misunderstanding Shaking And Trembling

We’ve seen animals shake and tremble in their sleep or relaxed state.  We’ve seen animals shake and have trembling movements after some trauma.  There was a video from National Geographic that does not appear to be available any longer, due to copyright issues where a bear had gone through a traumatic situation.  As the bear released and let go of the trauma, he was trembling and shaking.  At the end of the trembling and shaking, the bear drew a deep inhale breath and then exhaled deeply and slowly.  This is evidence of what is natural and normal in trauma release with trembling and shaking.

Unfortunately with something that is valid and normal, there are those that misunderstand what this healing nature is in humans.  It is not the trembling and shaking or crying that matters.  These are just the outward manifestations of trauma release.  In fact, they are not the trauma release, but just part of the cycle.

The danger comes in where the focus as a healer is solely looking for the trembling and shaking to be a sign of something good happening in the body.  If you don’t have the conscious mind connected to the trembling and shaking through the felt sense of the body, you are not helping the individual.  You are re-traumatizing them.  Your result is that you are just replaying events that have happened, but giving no exit to the stored energy, or why it is in the body in the first place.


When We Are Traumatized

When we are traumatized, the body stores up energy and connects that biologically and physically in the body, but it also imprints it upon the brain as a stored memory.  With trauma, we go unconscious and so we fail to realize there is a connection.  Just to have someone shake or tremble or cry or whatever the response is, only allows this cycle to continue where no connection is realized.

Trauma creates stored energy in the body and it is constantly looking for an exit.  It is potential energy just waiting to find a way out.  Letting it repeat its cycle over and over is not allowing it to exit.  However, if you connect the conscious mind with the felt sense of the body and then see the trembling and shaking or emotional release taking place, you are allowing the body to heal.


Understanding Trauma Release

Unfortunately, very few really understand this relationship and so it is too easy to end up doing more harm then good.  We may feel we are offering the individual something valid for their healing, but we are not being honest with them or ourselves.  Just to have a momentary release of energy does not mean anything positive has resulted.  Just to have a momentary release that has brought the body into a different feeling state, does not mean we have done anything helpful for the individual.

When true trauma release happens, there is an excited state, followed by increased intensity, then a moment of subsiding and often followed up by another round of increased intensity.  As this cycle of pendulation continues, it allows the mind to more strongly connect with the felt sense.  As the felt sense increases, the potential energy is primed to release.  Sometimes this is through trembling and shaking.  Sometimes this is done through crying or screaming or anger.  Sometimes this results in a temperature change of intense heat or cold.

Through all of it, you are not attempting to bring the individual into exhaustion where it all of a sudden quits, but you are looking for their body to physically change the tension state.  When you reach this point, the individual will attempt, through their breath, to begin the process of deep breathing into a restorative and peaceful state.


From First Hand Experience

I know from first hand experience, in a Conversion Disorder, that the shaking and trembling can be intense.  It can run for a very long time until you become fully exhausted and your body collapses, having no more energy to spare.  You may go into a restful posture or drop out and feel somewhat refreshed when you awake, but it does not mean you have released trauma.  If anything, your body has only become exhausted by the shaking and trembling.  There was no true outlet for the trauma in this situation, just a reawakening of the stored potential energy in the body.

This potential energy is powerful and has an unlimited supply.  It will go for a long time and will trick you into thinking that something great is happening, but again, I can’t stress this point enough.  Without the connection of the mind to the felt sense of the body, you are just creating waves and motions from the potential energy.  You are not creating lasting change.

It is also important to note that people often mimic actions that are expected of them.  I can make the best people think that I’m actually going through some great trauma release moment on the table and not even be connected to it.  My body learned from an early age how to respond in the way that abusers wanted me to respond.  The more I responded in these past situations and the quicker the event was over, the faster I could get the heck out of Dodge!

When you create a situation where you’re focused on trauma release, you’re creating an environment where a body will respond because that is what is expected.  It takes a trained healer to understand when someone is checking out of the process and when they are present.  Without being present and connected to the felt sense, you are just filling time up in a healing session.  Yes, you might get some responses, but more likely than not, you will be taking someone into the hell of their existence and little by little exhausting them in life.


Re-traumatizing Them Is The Last Thing You Want To Do

These are powerful moments of trauma that people have to deal with and live with in their life.  The last thing you want to do is make the situation worse for them, because for some people, it is all they can do to hang on in life.  Re-traumatizing them will only deplete their courage, will power and energy.  It will make them less trusting of others, especially those that truly understand how to release trauma.  Even if the person never articulates this to you, the body and mind understand much more than we often recognize.

Trauma release without connecting the mind to the felt sense of the body is like boiling water and making someone believe you have created a magic potion.  We need to get clear on this, because there are far too many people dealing with far too much and it is affecting our world in big ways.  I want everyone that is a healer to be part of the solution, not adding to the misery that many are living through each and every moment of their lives.


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6 Responses to "Trembling And Shaking In Trauma Release"

  1. Sudha says:

    Thank you for your insight and understanding. I have been exhaustively going through the trauma cycle many times by myself without feeling any better for it and deep down I sensed that I was doing what was others expected of me. What I expected of me was never going to work as i had long ago shut down from myself. It was only by being myself for long periods was i able to get in touch with what I had been trying to hide from and allowing myself to feel and experience the pain that i was desperately trying to shut down. I realised that the trembling and shaking merely served as distractions from what was really going on.

    1. Admin Don says:

      The trembling and shaking in a right setting with safety and an intent, can be very helpful and healing. You are correct though that going deep within is the start of finding out who we are and what is holding us back. The trembling and shaking is part of the release of all that is held within us, but it is almost important to note that being grounded with that happening is crucial. Trembling and shaking alone is not the healing part, but just allowing to release and let go. If you watch animals and nature, they know how to do this after a threatening experience has passed.

  2. Lisa Tallon says:

    HOW do you help yourself and others connect mind and felt sensation?
    What tools do you use to do this?
    What words do you use to do this?

    1. Admin Don says:

      This is not necessarily easy to answer, but I will try to do my best. The experience of it is much more easier than it is to explain. First, a safe room with a same person is established and without that, most of this is not possible. Much of the experience is a guided verbal way of talking and connecting with the person. As a therapist, you detect and feel what is going on in the individual, but you also listen to what they say. So you guide them by asking them to feel and sense. The minute you see that they are connecting with something, you encourage that connection so that it helps build up to much greater sensations and feelings. It is like a coach helping an athlete prepare for a major sporting event.

      There are all kinds of tools such as a fitness ball, or just the place and pressure of your hand. We’ve used tuning forks to help feel. Listening to music and then listening to a finger clicking sound, trying to get all the senses involved is helpful. We’ve used resistance bands that help a person go in and feel. Sometimes it is pauses and breath work. It really depends upon the therapist and the individual as to what works and what works on any given day.

      Much of it is a guided way of taking the person in and for each therapist, it is different. I can guide people in differently than others such as Dr. Canali or his assistants can. No one size fits all. You’re just trying to find anything that will connect with the person and guide them into feeling and sensing.

      A big part of this is not taking them in too fast or too deep. It is a building process all the time using trust with the person. The minute you go too quick or too deep and the person gets overwhelmed, you lose them and have to back up many steps to start over again. Sometimes it is going in just a fraction to the feeling and sensing and then backing out, so that their body and mind get the hang of it. They see that they can go into this without being overwhelmed and once the body and mind understand this, then you can make considerable progress in a short amount of time.

      Hope that helps describe it a little, but it is more complex with that. It is different for each person and each time you touch them. I look at it like someone building a house. They’ve got a lot of tools to build the house and some tools can be used for different jobs. You build the foundation first, then start building off of that. You just use the tools that you have in your tool box.

  3. Lara says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I can’t tell you how timely this information is for my own life as well as my professional life. Just last week I was receiving a light therapy session (I was in the room by myself) and out of the blue my body went into an intense trembling episode. I refer to this experience as “energetic convulsions”. They’re so fast and intense. Unfortunately this was not my first experience, I have been having these episodes several times in the last year in my “Somatic Movement & Consciousness” classes. Obviously I’m in a loop. The good news is that I am in a class of somatic students and teachers so the discussion of how to work with clients and students during this experience is a very potent, important and of great interest to all of us. I will absolutely forward this article to my classmates and teachers. Thank you again!

  4. Min says:

    Thank you so much for this site! I am glad you have healed from Conversion disorder. I was just diagnosed less than a week ago. What should I know?

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