Actually, Pavini does give me something else to do: shake.
What has become for me, in my endless trauma therapeutics work, a kind of foundational trauma fable is a story from Peter A. Levine’s Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma.
The idea goes like this: when you watch an animal have a fearful experience, a deer or rabbit running from a predator for example, you’ll notice that afterwards they spend some time trembling before returning to their business. Levine says this is a release of the excess energy that was shot into their systems in response to the warning signal of danger. Humans, he says, need to also tremble and shake in order to dislodge the excess energy. If they don’t, it gets trapped in the nervous system causing problems of all kinds.
Luckily and almost magically, there is one proposed solution which ties into Levine’s Somatic Experiencing method: shake it. Okay so there are formal therapeutic “exercises” made around this idea, such as TRE: Tension, Stress and Trauma Release, but Pavini says honestly, pe just puts on a song and bounces to it.
This makes sense to me intellectually… I’ve heard about the science behind trampoline bouncing for the nervous system and I’ve definitely felt the calm after a bounce. It also makes me giggle and think about that episode of Community where they find a secret heavenly trampoline that, through use, makes them super chilled out and happy.
Most importantly, I don’t have to have words.
I don’t have to corral my mind and make it get on board with healing these trauma wounds. I don’t have to do anything but shake and bounce.
In fact, after writing this, I think I’m going to go have a little shake myself.
“Is it a big-deal piece of work to heal all of this stuff? You better believe it. But really, what else are you going to do with your life? Aren’t you curious about who you would be on the other side?”
Questions to Ask Yourself
As Brene Brown has shown, the antidote to shame is vulnerability. What shame hates most is being seen, especially with compassion. In fact, when shame is compassionately witnessed, it often deflates like a roadside nylon Santa once the blower is turned off. Shame cannot exist in the light of love and acceptance.
How can you make vulnerability one of your practices?
Next time your nervous system is overactive, if your thoughts are spiralling negatively, or you’re stressed and can’t sleep, try putting on one song and just bouncing and shaking to it. Follow what your body wants to do, there’s no right or wrong way. When your body is done, check in with yourself and see how you feel, now.
Here’s a song to get you started:
“Go” by Moby