Quaking & Shaking: Healing, Freedom & Joy Through Ecstatic Movement
Connecting to Truth & Vitality Through Spontaneous Movement
Sitting meditation is one route into connection with the Divine/The Universe – but did you know there is another way, that is anything but still? Quaking and shaking are ways to awaken our soul through moving our body spontaneously into a state of ecstasy, and are ancient techniques used by shamans and other spiritual healers and teachers to bring healing and a deep connection with our truth. Shaking as a spiritual practice opens us up to the wildness in us that we need for our healing, clearing blockages like trauma and shock, and letting us experience our true nature, free of old limitations. The Japanese practice of Seiki Jutsu is one tradition of ‘shaking medicine’ that we’ll look at in a bit more detail.
Sacred Ecstatics, Seiki Jitsu and Freedom of Expression
Quaking and shaking are ancient spiritual practices for modern times that help us to release attachments – to people, things and old ways of being – to experience love, deal with change, and re-connect with freedom and joy. With ‘shaking medicine’ we learn to let go – embracing instead of running away from the idea of being out of control. But this kind of ‘losing control’ is very different from, say, taking drugs or exploring wild sexuality. This is letting the Divine move us and move through us, awakening the energizing force of life itself by using uncontrolled movement and sound. In this way we get a taste of what it’s like to step out of our limited, ego-self and into a sense of connection with everything around us.
To get a detailed idea of what a quaking and shaking session feels like, see these testimonials on the ‘Sacred Ecstatics’ workshops run by Bradford and Hillary Keeney. You can also try out Seiki Jutsu, a practice of self-healing and revitalization that starts with a transmission of enhanced Seiki from one person (a Seiki healer/therapist) to another. Once you’ve been attuned to Seiki – simply, vital life force energy – and got the hang of spontaneous movement through learning with a Seiki practitioner, you would use a daily practice called Seiki Taisou that keeps you attuned to this energy. This means you take 10-20 minutes a day to give your body and mind a break from the constant ‘do-ing’ of everyday life, and allow yourself to move as your body wants, without any effort or purpose. This gives space for the vital energy of life – like a spiritual electric current – to charge you up and clear your blockages. You will tap into the natural freedom of expression you had as a child until you come to the ‘seiki tuning zone’, a state of total immersion in the moment, and heightened awareness. Ecstatic emotion comes next, as you let your whole being be danced.
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How to get involved/ Shaking as a Daily Spiritual Practice
If you want to practice quaking and shaking at home, Bradford Keeney has these suggestions. You can do this exercise daily – but at least once a week. Your session can be as long as you want. Choose some spirited, rhythmic music. When you start your session, bring your attention to good feelings like love and compassion, and keep your connection to these feelings. Start moving and wiggling around to the music, keeping your eyes open, closed or half-closed – whatever feels best for you. Use all your muscles as you move, from head to toe. Gradually increase the pace of your breath until you’re breathing quickly. Open yourself to the idea of becoming ‘excitable’ – give yourself encouragement to tremble, shake and quake. After you’ve finished, do whatever your body needs at that moment – you might want to lie down, but sitting or walking is fine too. Meditation teacher Osho said the key to shaking is to allow it rather than do it – stand or sit silently at first, feel the shaking coming, and when your body begins to tremble, help it but don’t will it. If you want to experience quaking and shaking in a more ‘led’ way and with the benefit of the energy of lots of other people, try out a workshop – see this list of international events from the Keeney Institute. Shaking retreats are also run at places like Osho Leela Centre in the UK. You can also check out the book ‘Shaking Medicine: The Healing Power of Ecstatic Movement’, or do a home audio learning course. To find out more about Seiki Jutsu specifically, see Bradford and Hillary Keeney’s book Seiki Jutsu: The Practice of Non-Subtle Energy Medicine. However you choose to get involved, be prepared to let go of your self-consciousness and open yourself up to the unique experience of the ecstatic vibration we all have inside us.
The Arousal Response and Healing
You’ve probably heard that that the relaxation response we find in meditation and deep relaxation can bring healing – but shaking medicine offers the idea that the opposite response, the ‘arousal response’, can also bring healing, well-being and deep change. In fact, we need both for optimal transformation. Bradford and Hillary Keeney have brought the spiritual practice of shaking to the West in a whole new way. Their teaching is in the tradition of great spiritual adventurers like Carl Jung and Gurdjieff. Shaking, or ‘neurogenic trembling’, can help to heal trauma held in our bodies so that we can re-enter into our natural state of feeling connected to love and joy. In fact, shaking is also a spontaneous self-healing response our bodies have to trauma – though we lose the ability to do this as we become older and more socialized into ‘acceptable’ ways of being. Peter Levine’s book Healing Trauma explores this idea. While there are some similarities with the ‘Chaos’ aspect of the 5 Rhythms ecstatic dance practice (insert Ecstatic Dance article link), shaking medicine is a different species of ecstatic movement. While in 5 Rhythms, uncontrolled movement is part of a cycle with 4 other parts, shaking medicine focuses exclusively on the complete letting go. Meditation teacher Osho also developed a Kundalini Meditation and Dynamic Meditation that includes both a ‘shaking’ phase and a ‘still’ phase. Quaking and shaking takes us into what Keeny calls ‘the church of experimental spirituality’, where we re-route our energy into the current of the ecstatic healing power of the universe.
From Squaxin Indians to Quakers to Burning Man Festival: The History of Quaking & Shaking
Shaking has been linked to healing for centuries, with the Indian Shakers of the 19th Century among many other cultures who have made this discovery. Slowly this tradition was lost, especially as many cultures started to concentrate on literacy and technological development. It didn’t help that Quakers (George Fox’s followers) and the Shakers (led by Ann Lee) faced persecution and were even imprisoned for following a path of ecstatic movement. Shaking was seen as a sign of mental health problems or spirit possession by the more technologically developed cultures. ‘Out of control’ expression has been forced underground by social influences like the Church, but music festivals like Burning Man (insert alternative festivals article link) and the gospel traditions of the African-American church showing that shaking has never really stopped. This powerful medicine has come back to us in recent years, and we now have the opportunity to learn from ancient wisdom to help us thrive in our crazy modern times. Psychotherapist Bradford Keeney learnt the shaking practice when he spent 10 years visiting and living with the Kalahari Bushmen of Africa. Keeney also learned Seiki Jutsu from Japanese master Ikuko Osumi Sensei. Seiki Jutsu itself dates back to as long ago as the 8th century and has been part of the Shinto tradition. It was around centuries before Reiki was developed, and was used by the samurai.
How will this help you to transform your problems and pain?
By totally letting go, and letting rip with our spontaneous movement and vocal expression, we revitalize our tired bodies and minds and go way beyond the limited mind chatter we spend most of our time with, opening up to the vast Big Mind all around us.
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