We know that relaxation, stillness and rest help us to heal. But this is only half of the picture. The complement of relaxation is arousal. Wild activity in our bodies, minds and souls is as valuable a healing and transformational practice as sitting in a lotus position.
It wasn’t long ago that the practice of Yoga, meditation and acupuncture were relatively unknown and definitely not mainstream in the western culture. (As we once let in the healing wisdom of Asia, it is time to let in the healing wisdom of Africa.) It is time for the shaking body to become as familiar to us as the quieted body.
The practice of shaking is as important as the practice of meditation.
We were born to shake, to be fully excited about our aliveness, as we were born to have moments of rest and quit stillness.
The most powerful form of healing and well-being comes when both hyper arousal and deep relaxation are cycled together, one taking place in relationship to the other.
There are people who will advise you to avoid taking any shaking medicine. They will say it hasn’t been tested in a laboratory. Or some will say it is a waste of time. All of this was once said about meditation.
We have cultivated a reverence toward “being in control” and a fear and avoidance of experience that feel “out of control”. The paradox of our time is that the more we try to control ourselves, or others, or our environment, the more out of control everything becomes. The more we try to control, the more we seek experiences that provide a moment of letting go, sometimes trough sex, drugs or alcohol.
Becoming more spiritual or more aware of spiritual ideas, stories, teachings, symbols and sayings may not make us more spirited. What we are looking for is spirit rather than spirituality. A spirited life, one that is filled with vitality, joy and delight.
The shaking practice can lead to experiences like feeling calibrated, attuned, freshly inspired, infused with spirit, reborn anew, converted to a mission, feeling alive. It is that what we most deeply seek when we feel that something is missing in our lives.
Ask your body to move and it directs you. Shake yourself into the life you were born to be.
It is a universal life force we can tap into which brings forth the shaking and all the other energetic outcomes. In China the name for this energy is chi or qi, it is called ki in Japan, n|om among Kalahari Bushmen, tumpinyeri moorop among Aboriginals, prana in India, yesod by Jewish kabbalists, holy spirit by Christians, baraka by Sufis, manitou by the ojibway, and ha in Hawaii.
When we are tired, we want to take a time-out. When we feel overstressed, we want to be still and get away from activity. However, there are times when rest and stillness don’t help our feeling of being rundown. We feel low on energy and apathetic about daily life. We feel as if we need an infusion of energy, a revitalization of our body, mind and spirit. In such times, we require zest rather than rest.
We can benefit from both deep relaxation and ecstatic arousal, regularly administered, to help balance and maintain the homeostasis of our physical being. It is the whole picture of health – the dance between activity and rest, including spirited ecstasy and quit trance – that requires our attention.
The ability to use all of our innate abilities, particularly those that connected to the greater complexities of life, has diminished as we have built philosophies, religions, psychotherapies, cities, gadgets, and bombs. We have lost our most vital link to the cosmos, our ability to be in direct communication with nature and the original great mysteries. Yet the ecstatics of the oldest living culture have not lost these connections. The missing link is shaking medicine. It is connected to the wild inspiration that can transform us into being authentic improvisational agents of creative expression, peace, and love.
How many times are we told, “Get still” or “Just watch your breath” or “Relax”? The benefits of the relaxation response have been medically proven – perhaps because they are so easily measurable. But how about arousal?
The complement to totally-in-control relaxation is extreme arousal, or the arousal response. And heightened arousal – whether through free movement, spontaneous jumping, or body shaking – is as valuable a transformative experience as sitting quietly in a lotus position.
Consider a re-entry into the wild. Become a wild shaman, a wild pagan, a wild Christian, a wild Buddhist, a wild Jew, a wild agnostic, a wild artist, a wild performer, a wild whatever you want to call it because the name is less important than the experience of being wild in this natural though always uncommon way of giving priority to mystery over mastery.
From: Shaking Medicine: The Healing Power of Ecstatic Movement by Bradford Keeney