It's true, we tend to let things "build up." We not only accumulate stuff in our closets, desks, cupboards, etc, but in our bodies as well. It's also true however that we actually have a natural response to "shake things off" that we seem to have forgotten over time.
Ever notice how your body will tremble after a "close call" when you're driving? Or the notes in your hand shake while you are giving a speech to a large audience?
This is the adrenals freaking out! In our intelligent "fight, flight, freeze"response, there is an immediate "shake off" to stress.
Children do this "shake off" instinctively and "normally" (physically and vocally)---until they are led to believe that it's wrong, and society's programming tells them that it's much better to HANG ON to all that stress.
So, what happens to all that stress that gets tucked away?
Stress will literally get trapped in your body, where you might feel tight shallow breathing, some intense muscular tension, migraine headaches, stomach upset, digestive issues, episodes of anxiety, and a myriad of other physical maladies--which are all caused by the presence of stress hormones --and our energy, rhythm, balance-- run amok, sequestered to dark corners, choked, and gone haywire.
This "shake off" is the body's natural response to stress.
You will observe that many animals in nature do this, such as polar bears and rabbits and ducks! They shake several times in a day to get rid of stress or trauma that they have experienced. Watch a couple of ducks: you'll see that immediately after a "kerfuffle," they'll move away from each other and do a "shake out." How perfect is that? ( Great couples' therapy!)
---Give it a try...don't get too out of control if you're not warmed up...go at it gently to begin:
Stand with knees slightly bent (not locked) and feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, RELAX your jaw, now shake out your hands, and let that shake move into your arms and up into your shoulders....see where it leads. Let the breath relax, stretch your face, make sounds if you wish, like AHHHH! You can give the feet and the legs a shake and then, for the grand finale: shake the hips! (Go on, show Shakira how it's done!)
If standing is not comfortable, you can do this lying down. Simply raise your arms towards the ceiling, in front of your chest, and shake out the hands, up through the arms, and into the shoulder. You can shake out your legs by keeping them on the floor and gently bouncing them and/or rolling them in and out. You'll figure this out ...move intuitively, with the breath, and never "push or strain". Be kind.
Tip: If you look and feel ridiculous, you're doing it right!
After shaking, "moving all this energy," take a moment and enjoy "the sensations" running through your body after this rejuvenating shake off. This is a great opportunity to switch from the "thinking mind"--close your eyes and FEEL the body tingling, each cell being affected by this liberation and therapeutic reorganizing of hormones, lymph fluids, the blood, the breath...
I bet you will feel better after 30 seconds of "letting things go"! In the world of energetic wellness we learn, "the moment you change the form, you change the content"-- meaning the entire system ( endocrine, nervous, immune, emotional) sets off with new instructions, new signals start firing off, something new unfolds and energy is set in motion.
"The fastest way to still the mind is to move the body." -- Gabrielle Roth, 5 Rhythms Dance
(As a side note, kids will happily participate with you. In fact, instead of a "time out" I think kids might really be better served with a good "shake it out.")
Photo credits: Sophie and Jen, Integral Movement "GROOVE" Class with Donna-Lynne, "Shake it off", www.studiowild.ca
"Walk Talk Dance Sing," the movie about thyroid disease, is here.
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