What is vibration meditation and how does it relieve stress?

WAs you visualize meditation, you might imagine yourself sitting quietly on a cushion, legs crossed, and eyes closed. Perhaps there is some deep breathing involved, or maybe meditative chanting or mantras playing softly in the background. Regardless of the scene, you’re probably picturing very, very still.

Silence is the quintessential meditation vibe, at least the kind of meditation most of us come across in America. But meditation doesn’t have to be a purely static practice—as demonstrated by vibration meditation.

Shaking meditation is what the name implies—an active meditation practice that involves shaking your entire body. While it may feel (and look) a bit strange compared to the meditation methods that health seekers in the US are more familiar with, the potential benefits of shaking meditation make it worthy of being added to the kit. your mindfulness tool.

What is shaking meditation?

“Shaking meditation is another name for trauma release exercise (TRE), says Jenelle Kim, DACM, L.Ac, author of the book. Myung Sung: The Korean Art of Living Zen. TRE is a series of exercises created by trauma and stress intervention specialist David Berceli, PhD, that aim to help “release patterns of tension, stress, and injury deep in the muscles.” These exercises often include specific stretches and movements that mimic or induce shaking.

However, Dr. Kim notes that incorporating swaying into meditation has been practiced for centuries in different cultures and is not exclusive to TRE. For example, it’s part of Qigong, a movement meditation from China similar to Tai Chi, she says. Leslie Saglio, a master trauma trainer, adds that shaking as a cure has a history in many African, Australian, Polynesian and Asian cultures.

So why vibrate? “Shaking is a fundamental impulse to a stressful situation, which is why animals often do so after a life-threatening encounter (like being chased by a predator),” says Saglio. ). Experts say this helps animals like dogs release the energy of the stressful or traumatic event so they can move on.

People also often shake when they’re very stressed or emotional—such as hands shaking when you’re nervous or shaking when angry during an argument. But Saglio says we humans have learned to suppress our emotions, making it difficult for us to readjust after stressful events. “From an early age, we are taught to stop crying, stop throwing tantrums and be quiet,” she said. “We’re the only species that go around squeezing it all in.” For that purpose, 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 style of meditation is that it helps us feel calmer and more relaxed by releasing physical tension from our muscles and calming their nervous system. ta.

The act of shaking often evokes stored old emotions, she adds, providing an opportunity to process them and release energy from our bodies. “Our daily lives are full of stress, noise and other sensory inputs that keep our nervous system active and alert to danger,” says Dr. “Shaking meditation can activate our parasympathetic nervous system and signal our body to fully relax.”

In addition to helping us feel calmer, shaking meditation also helps reduce short-term and long-term stress. “Teaching our body to overcome and turn [on] The feeling of shaking teaches our minds a new way to calm the nervous system and makes it easier for us to be resilient to future mental or physical stressors,” explains Dr. Kim.

All that said, it’s worth noting the research on the benefits of TRUE and other types of shaking meditation are limited, but promising. For example, a case study of a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that trauma-relieving exercises improved physical and mental health and reduced stress. straight. A small 2021 pilot study in South Korea of ​​25 graduate students also found that TRE helped reduce anxiety. More research is needed to better understand how and why it works—and what we know is largely anecdotal—but if it helps, it certainly doesn’t.

How to perform a shaking meditation

Dr Kim says TRE is especially recommended for people with PTSD as a supplemental way to reduce stress, trauma and emotional buildup in the body. As a result, she recommends that people interested in TRE, who have PTSD, watch videos online and work with a certified physician (in addition to seeking other support and treatment).

That said, Dr. Kim notes that other forms of shaking meditation that you can do on your own offer similar benefits of helping to release tension, reduce stress, regulate the nervous system, and improve mental health. improve overall health as well as emotional state.

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

“Let the tremor become a tremor that takes over and feels the vibrations within,” says Dr. Kim. Saglio adds that there’s no wrong way to shake, so don’t overthink it. And if you need some motivation, she recommends playing music in the background (like Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” or Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out,” for example).

As for shaking time, Saglio recommends shaking for 5 to 15 minutes several times a week to reap the benefits. Like any other type of meditation, you can do it at any time, but Saglio says it’s especially helpful if you’re feeling stressed and find it hard to turn off when sitting still. Or, it can also be a great prelude to quiet meditation.

After you’ve shaken it all off, Dr. Kim recommends ending your meditation with some gentle stretching and deep breathing.

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