Myoclonic Shaking is something every hypnotherapist should know about because sooner or later it’s going to happen in one of your sessions. They just don’t teach you about this in hypnosis school. But you need to know how to handle it when it does.
What is myoclonic shaking?
MYOCLONUS refers to muscle twitches. Most people experience this as they’re falling asleep. The arms and legs jerk involuntarily as you’re falling asleep. This is the body’s way of releasing energy from the nervous system; it can happen in sessions as involuntary twitching, quivering or quaking.
This shaking-quaking can happen with varying degrees of intensity. It can be quite frightening for some clients when it happens. You need to be able to respond to it calmly and guide the client confidently when it happens in a session.
I first learned about myoclonic shaking in the early 90’s while reading a book called Paradox and Healing. But it was not until I started practicing hypnotherapy that I witnessed it in a session.
The book was written by two MD’s (Greenwood and Nunn) who were using acupuncture to treat chronic pain patients. What they observed with these patients, particularly those with whiplash, were three phenomena which were linked to blocked emotional charge:
- Emotional Release
- Myoclonic Shaking
Greenwood and Nunn noted that when these three things happened together there was a physical, emotional, and mental expression of blocked energy. The doctors theorized that the standard practice of suppressing these states with tranquilizers and muscle relaxants actually block the body’s natural healing response.
This combination of emotional release, myoclonic shaking, and regression acted as a “healing crisis” or “transformation” of the psyche. What followed was a dramatic reduction in pain.
This has to do with trauma.
The problem is a freeze response that locks the energy into the nervous system of the body. This information is only now beginning to breakthrough into the field of mind-body healing but the healing process, that the good doctors were observing, is naturally occurring.
Dr. Peter Levine wrote a wonderful book titled Waking the Tiger.
Another wonderful book to read is The Body Bears the Burden by Dr. Robert Scaer. I highly recommend both these books.
Another area of interest for me is German New Medicine (GNM). GNM is all about biological conflicts and the body’s natural response to the perception of threat.
All mammals do this. When faced with a threat the nervous system goes into red alert. It’s called a stress-response. When the threat is passed, the body naturally discharges the energy of the event. That extinguishes the trauma.
When we’re not able to run or defend ourselves there’s a freeze response. This locks the energy into the body. This is called “kindling.” In hypnotherapy, we call it sensitizing. It’s what sensitizes a person to subsequent re-stimulation.
The unprocessed energy of the event is still trapped in the body. So, once the threat is gone we need to discharge the energy through a sort of epileptic quaking movement. At least, we should. The problem is – humans have an evolutionary disadvantage when it comes to traumatic experience. We think.
Humans tend to use thinking to override feeling. So, rather than discharging the energy of the event we hold onto it. This locks it into the body. Then, we try to use reason and logic to deal with the traumatic memory – which just never works.
What Greenwood and Nunn discovered is that you can help the body unfreeze by releasing the trapped energy. This will activate the body’s own healing system. And the body will discharge the trauma of the event.
Myoclonic shaking is a natural process.
It’s the body releasing the trauma of the event. Discharging. Extinguishing the trauma. So, if it happens in one of your sessions – encourage it! The body-mind knows how to heal. If you let the body do what it’s doing, your client will release the energy trapped inside. As a result, they won’t have to carry it around anymore. Cool, huh?