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.

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7 Responses

  1. Pat says:

    Very interesting article! Three questions:
    1. Does this refer to concentration, insight, or both?
    2. I feel shaking while meditating in the same places I experience shakes during TREs, it is just much weaker. Are these the shakes you are talking about.
    3. Sometimes Ive felt something like the paralyzing wave, but I never intended to make it happen. When this happens, should I just take a full breath to wipe the tension patterns?

    • Illuminatus says:

      1. Shaking is common in all forms of meditation, and also bodywork such as yoga, TRE etc. Shaking is especially common during kundalini work.
      2. Any shaking. But I get them largely in the diaphragm. Mine became a lot more common after practising breath of fire and other yogic breathing work.
      3. I think getting a good balance between breathing and letting the relaxing wave take over is the right approach, e.g. breathe out = let wave relax you, breathe in = finish wiping the pattern. Rather than letting the paralysing wave nuke my whole body at once (which I used to do to get a very rapid relaxed state and euphoria) I now sense which parts of my body “want” to have the wave pass through them, and just continue breathing while letting body parts drop out one by one in the order they present themselves. This gives a far deeper state eventually via this progressive method.

      • Pat says:

        Will what you described in your response to my 3rd question still be effective for “wiping” old tension patterns?

  2. Illuminatus says:

    Yes. Relax the tension pattern, then breathe to wipe it, is the method.

    By the way, most tension patterns won’t be wiped permanently (though some will). I will cover this in depth when I write the full method.

    In short, your responses are like a tree, with a root. The root might be something in your DNA, or some really really old “core” belief, or something from your “karma” if you believe in that, or whatever. You can meditate and do the above method and wipe the recent leaves at the top of the tree, and get the added bonus of the equanimity state. However, when you go out in public or otherwise cross paths with situations that trigger those old tension patterns, you will need to practise purposefully relaxing those tension patterns as they fire. Luckily the persistent equanimity state from the meditation makes this a hell of a lot easier. The best way to do this ongoing pruning is to have a new default response, e.g. smiling (which relaxes tension anyway when done right). I am going to write a post called Basic Smile Meditation soon about practising this at home so it can be used as a magnet to wipe tension patterns while out the house. The smile is a very specific natural smile which can be trained.

    By going after tension patterns as they arise, it is like pruning that tree down lower and lower — and they stay pruned for some time. So, I’ve had times where I trained equanimity and a chilled, pleasant vibe for socializing and it really helped my social skills (with ample evidence — e.g. lots of new friends made, getting lots of girls etc.) and it has stayed like that for sometimes months in a row. However, I never got the “root” of the tree on those occasions. Then I would go away and be reclusive for a while, working on other projects most of which I do alone. Get back out into the real world after a few months away, and the tree is grown back. (This is one problem with having a one-track mind.)

    I think “enlightenment” can be seen as getting down to the root of certain trees regarding the nature of existence etc., and actually managing to get the root and yank it out. I think I attained that with duality (to turn it into non-duality, as described in my post about that). Maybe all the compassion stuff in Buddhism is actually to get to the “root” of social discord and pull it out. I’ve been close with that before, but never reached the final pull (and wasn’t particularly aiming to, because I didn’t realize that was how this stuff worked at the time). My smile meditation I’m going to write up however is not geared around compassion, but is instead geared to program engaged happiness. A kind of joyful fascination with things and people. I’ve been testing it this week and it’s worked really well. It kind of makes life like a fairytale. Things have that kind of softness to their edges that make you wonder if this is a dream. It’s very similar to the final state of “happy and harmless” described in Actualism, and is a state I’ve had before. It’s a good root to go for, so I’m going to go for it.

  3. Jennie Beswick says:

    This happens to me, especially when I haven’t meditated for awhile. It feels like tension release and I feel more calm and open afterwards. I think its a good thing and I’ve always just accepted it. It fades as I became more relaxed in my meditation practice.

  4. nance says:

    ok so during a meditation session which I’m new at this but felt like a pro one my last meditation. I was scared and anxious also felt paranoid i believe i was under the kundalini but since I’m new i haven’t open no chakras or even don’t know how or which one to start with this is why i believe i was under kundalini. I felt things and visions and whisperings in my mind felt like someone was with me at that time when i was alone in the room/ basement. i read all about the kundalini and i believe it was. So I’m asking you what should i do i have read that if not practice the right way i can die i have 3 kids i want to leave all this behind and never do meditation again but i want to know so much about our minds ourselves it so big. But afraid.

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