My body sometimes shakes

My body sometimes shakes
April 11, 2018 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #604 – “Does your body start to shake when you get quiet?”

Jacek writes:

I have a question related to trauma & Focusing. When I quiet down and let go, my body starts to move in a jerky way. It feels like it’s something ‘annoyed, angry, violent, but not dangerous’ inside that would like to manifest itself. My body sometimes shakes. I know this is my old trauma. I’ve done some work with Somatic Experiencing. How could I use Focusing to work on this, please?

Dear Jacek:

Shaking is a natural reaction to trauma, and if it was suppressed at the time the trauma occurred, it may need to happen now.

Being present as shaking comes can be a healing process in itself.

There are methods that center on allowing and encouraging the shaking. Somatic Experiencing is an excellent method that I often recommend.

To do Focusing with something like this would be in addition to and not instead of allowing the shaking to come.

You can combine the two: the method that encourages staying with the shaking, and Focusing. But probably not at the same time. Here’s how I could imagine that happening:

Perhaps after the shaking has subsided, you might then make an invitation in your body, like this: “I would like to get to know the part of me that might be something ‘annoyed, angry, violent, but not dangerous’.”

And then you wait with your attention inward until you sense something vague and hard to put into words. That is the felt sense.

Since you are accustomed to shaking, at first the shaking might start again. You would welcome it.

And then when it subsides, you ask again, “I would like to get to know this part of me…”

This may take patience and persistence. What we are doing in Inner Relationship Focusing is building a relationship with the traumatized part. It has been all alone for a while, possibly a long time, and it might now be like a shy wild animal. But in my experience it is also grateful when we have the patience to allow it to come.

Then you sense it in your body, you sense how it is feeling, and you let it know you are with it. The next steps of life energy emerge from there.


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