Healing Trauma—Allow Yourself to Shake


Ever find yourself shaking after a particularly stressful experience? Maybe you just had a conflict with someone or a near accident, and your body starts to shake. Rather than getting embarrassed and trying to calm down and stop the shaking, just allow it. Your body is releasing excess stress hormones and bringing itself back to a state of equilibrium.

The incident could have been anything that was emotionally or physically disturbing to you. In the midst of the event, you may have argued, walked away or stood silent. But what you do afterward is also important. Your body has just been in the sympathetic nervous system, and a whole bunch of adrenaline has raced through you. You were primed up and using your fight, flight or freeze response. Terrific! This is exactly how your body is programmed—this is a healthy mind-body system.

And our body knows exactly what to do afterward if we allow it to do its thing. Ever watch an animal after it’s been scared and has run off or fought or even played “dead”? Notice that it shakes. We, as souls in a body, also need to do this to prevent stress hormones from getting stuck in our cells. These hormones are here to help—to give the body the energy to respond to a potentially dangerous situation.  But we don’t want the body to stay stuck in that state of being. One could remain “frozen” to a degree in particular situations, and this makes it hard to move forward in a more empowered way. When we allow our bodies to discharge the excess adrenaline by shaking, we are decreasing the chances of remaining emotionally stuck.

The first time I heard of this, I was at a trauma release workshop at a coach summit. I attended the class because I was interested in body work, but was mesmerized by the instructor’s painful story of the physical and emotional problems that she had experienced after a car accident.  She was well enough to walk away from the collision, but as she stood on the sidewalk staring at her wrecked car, she recalled hugging herself tightly.  Hugging ourselves gives us a sense of comfort after a traumatic experience, but if our body is shaking and we are trying to prevent it from doing so, this can lead to problems. The shaking is the body’s way of releasing adrenaline and bringing balance back to our system. The instructor told us that she had stopped her body’s natural tremoring response because she was embarrassed and was just trying to “be ok” in public.

Unfortunately, she suffered emotionally and physically for many years after the accident, and she attributed it to the suppression of this release response.  Her healing came when she got treated by Dr. David Bercelli, author of The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process. His work teaches people how to allow shaking in the body to help heal from being stuck in the fight, flight or freeze response.

Anytime you find yourself—or anyone for that matter—shaking after an intense experience, no matter how big or how small, allow this response. It’s the body’s G-d-given wisdom.