Shaking Out The Freeze Response
What Was The Shaking All About?
Start by watching this video about the physical effects on the body of the fight, flight and freeze responses
The shaking I experienced the day after Go Ape was my body - or you could say Cavebrain - exiting the freeze response. Animals do this instinctively in the wild
Humans can get stuck in the freeze response. I did for years.
Obviously this is a disaster for Cavebrain. If you cannot exit the freeze response, Cavebrain thinks the danger is still clear and present. It will not relax, which means you cannot relax.
My childhood and teenage experiences of abuse put me in a decades -long freeze response that I only exited in my forties. Over a period of a few years in my early to mid forties, I would have regular episodes of shaking for no apparent reason. When I read Peter Levine’s amazing book Healing Trauma (which has a CD with physical exercises) it all became clear that the shaking was just a long delayed exit from freeze response.
For a really long time I was convinced that you cannot do anything to trigger this shaking, meaning I believed that I had no power over whether I could exit the freeze response. My assumption was that this was a department of Cavebrain that was off limits to my conscious mind.
On the train coming home from Go Ape that day in August, I voraciously trawled the internet looking for answers. Was it actually possible to train yourself to exit the freeze response? I found very little.
I must admit that I felt quite dejected. I had done all this work getting to understand Cavebrain, even given it a special day doing threat handling at Go Ape, but it had not gone into fight or flight as I had hoped.
If only! I sighed bitterly on the train. You see, fight and flight are straightforward responses to threat. You fight or you flee, and in that very action, Cavebrain sees that you have dealt with the threat. You discharge the excess adrenaline and cortisol.
Going into freeze response presents the (in my case, highly likely) possibility that you stay stuck in it.
Cavebrain had fallen back on the default freeze response up there in the forest and I had no idea if it would let me out.
As you heard on the audio, it was less than 12 hours later that the shakefest happened.
What I believe is that it is all the work I have done to understand, work with and manage my Cavebrain that led to such a speedy and welcome exit from the Go Ape freeze response.
And to finish, here is a song called Shake It Out. Any rumours that this is nothing but an excuse for me to play you some Florence and The Machine are completely unfounded. Honest guv!