What to do if you shake/tremor during meditation
Edit, 3rd June 2020: Since this is my most found post via search engines, I would like to point readers towards my more recent take on shaking/tremoring here: Tremors are the Way Forward – Berceli was Right
This is a very quick one, as shaking is a complex topic that will be covered in a future post as I believe I’m finally getting somewhere near to explaining what it is and why it happens.
If you get shaking/tremors/convulsion-like responses while meditating, the short explanation is that the meditation has broken up your usual thought patterns (which are maintained by muscle tension patterns via the fascia). What you consider to be “you” — your personality, which is basically just a set of muscle tension and endocrine responses to stimuli — is programmed into your fascia. Meditation, especially when you become more relaxed or “detached” from your body, activates those fascia patterns in preparation for them to be “wiped” via a breath (this is also the purpose of yawning — meditation is just taking this wiping protocol to its extreme). It then wants you to take a full breath to stretch out that fascia and complete the “wiping” program.
Many of these fascia patterns are contractive — e.g. fear. Anger is also contractive, in different muscles (e.g. clenching the jaw). Breathing activates pretty much every muscle in the body, facilitating a kind of “global reset”. But you must do a full breath to stretch all those muscles.
So, if you get shaking during meditation, breathe slowly, deliberately and fully, especially “into” the tight muscles, allowing that breath to open up the whole body. If it turns into a yawn, go with it.
You may have to do this several times to get the shaking to calm down, but it’s all good.
An alternative (but non-preferred) remedy to shaking, if the breathing is not clearing it all up and you just wish to get on with your meditation, is to send a paralysing wave through your whole body, which will flat-line those contracting muscles. To do this, breathe out slowly, and as you do so, imagine that you are falling. You will feel a paralysing wave pass through your whole body. With practice you can direct that paralysing wave into specific muscles of your choosing. This method can be used to achieve complete body numbness by systematically nuking any body part that still has sensation, which leads to impressive formless realms (“disembodied” meditation). I find this is best done while semi-reclined or lying down, provided you can stay awake. Emerging from such a state you will find it has imprinted a long-lasting equanimity and “glow”, and you will have the ability to simply let go of or observe non-judgmentally things which would ordinarily bother you — the “cloud passing by on the horizon” metaphor from Buddhism. For me, a really deep state like this can last a few days.
I believe this fascial “wiping” or depolarizing is also how ketamine therapy works so rapidly and effectively on the chronically depressed, as I discussed in the Dissociatives section of my Jhanaic Drugs post.
I also believe the falling sensation is an immediate depolarizer, and is the reason sky-divers feel high for days after a jump. In other words, if you have a really high diving board available to you at a swimming pool, you may wish to try thinking about your problems just as you jump off the highest board.
What I have been describing in this post is all Circuit V stuff in the Eight-Circuit Model. That’s why that circuit is associated with feeling “high”, and also why it transcends the other lower circuits — because it allows the responses that make up those circuits to be “wiped”. This in itself is extremely important, but the really fun stuff starts with Circuit VI when new responses or personae can be installed during a Circuit V wipe (this is called metaprogramming). I’ll write more about metaprogramming once I’ve tested it more fully — I’m still getting to grips with it myself.