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Shakes, Trembling... and Crying?

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

Hi Justin,You mention a few times about animals being able to shake off states of freeze or flight or fight. I would really recommend you search Google and YouTube for Traumatic Releasing Exercises. It's essentially a way of inducing bodily tremors to shake off the effects of bodily stress and trauma. I was stuck in a depressive state for a couple of months, which of course corresponds with the freeze response. Anyway, the first time I tried the approach above, I immediately came out of my mood state and back to my energized and happy self. It really was quite extraordinary! Feel welcome to discount this, as I was pretty damn skeptical myself when I first came across it, but the rationale behind it seems to make a lot of sense and fits perfectly with polyvagal theory so I thought you might appreciate it!

I don't discount this at all!  I've heard of shaking/trembling as an intervention, but it's not something I am super well-versed in at this point, so I simply don't comment on it because I want to make sure I'm focused on what I'm knowledgeable about and actually using day to day.

I actually think that when we cry, it serves the same purpose, even though it's not a conscious attempt to shake or tremble.  But that's exactly what happens: involuntary spasms, involuntary breathing, using our muscles and really releasing some sort of pent up energy.  It's not just fluid coming out of our eyes, it's an entire body experience. And after we successfully cry, we feel better.  Lighter, like something became unstuck.  Especially if it's with a safe person/people.  I think this is a way to climb up the polyvagal ladder, though I haven't seen Dr Porges or Peter Levine or Deb Dana comment on this, just my hunch as of now.

Of course, we humans stop this process from happening. We ignore problems, stuff them down deep inside, drink them away and many many other ways to cope. Or if we do cry, we isolate ourselves (which is a neuroception of danger) rather than reconnecting with a trusted person (if we have one). And when we cry, we judge ourselves with labels or tell ourselves to "get over it" or "be strong" (messages from others we've adopted). So crying as an attempt to shake off or tremble gets thwarted even if it begins. Again, this is my two cents. Not endorsed by any polyvagal practitioner or researcher that I've seen so far.

Thanks for reaching out!  I hope the podcast has been valuable for you. I definitely will search out the Traumatic Releasing Exercises.


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