You can hardly attend any kind of exercise class without being told, at some point, to “shake it off” or “shake it out.” Everyone knows what this means. You jostle a bit, it feels good and you move on. What if you were to extend that moment of shaking, and turn it into an exercise in itself?
I often prescribe vibration exercise to my clients, asking them to “thoroughly shake each body region” and to “submit to any impulse to twitch, flop, shudder or rattle.” There is hardly anything to it: just set aside some time and shake for a few minutes. It is an eccentric kind of exercise!
What’s going on here?
Strange as it may seem, I hold this exercise in very high esteem: it is one of the most valuable that I have practiced myself over the years, and often makes a crucial difference for sick people. The reasons for it are actually quite simple.
Most of us are stuck in some kind of rut. Illness, malaise and depression are all embodiments of rigidity. Most of us are holding on tightly to something, maybe a lot of things, for one reason or another. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be problematic in excess. To thrive, we need a good dynamic range of emotional physical experiences — nothing should be shut out or resisted too hard or for too long, but most of us tend to lean in that direction. We need to break free. Shaking is one powerful way of doing that.The kinetic nature of life is difficult to suppress.
Unfortunately, people strongly resist anything that seems like a tremor or a twitch, mostly for social reasons. There are complex taboos against “losing control.” So we fight it and become even more rigid. This holding can become so intense that it may become pathological — may become the very problem itself. An ironic design flaw in human nature.
In spite of all this holding, the kinetic nature of life is difficult to suppress, and you can easily observe this. People will spontaneously use shaking to “let off steam” when very angry or frustrated, or they may even abandon control and allow themselves to “shake with anger,” something so recognizable that it is a cliché. People will shake themselves when they are very nervous. Most importantly, you will see people shake when they experience emotional release, and they finally give up any pretense of “holding on.” One of the reasons crying feels good is because we finally allow ourselves to shake!
By choosing to vibrate, or by allowing ourselves to vibrate, we interfere with one of the most insidious vicious cycles in human nature — that is, we make it harder to be rigid! Its potency is probably due to its simplicity.