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Common steps and sub-activities


Latihan comes from the Indonesian latihan kejiwaan; "spiritual exercise".  The origin of the practice is associated with Javanese "kejawen" and "kebatinan" traditions.  Clearly the name 'spiritual exercise' can cover a whole host of different techniques and it appears that this is causing much confusion.

The word Latihan is used to describe the techniques adopted in Subud, but they differ markedly from the techniques being used in some ashrams and described here which are also called latihan, but which might be better called Shaking meditation.

Shaking meditation

One of the advantages of shaking and the fact it has been taken up by modern movements is that there are very clear descriptions about how a person needs to act in order for the process to work.  Firstly it is clear that this is no swift mid afternoon jolly after a cup of tea.  Shaking takes time.

“Shaking sessions can last anything from 2 to 3 hours- sometimes more.  Shakers in the ashram, for example, shake between 6 and 9 in the morning, from 1-3 in the afternoon and from 6-9 every evening.  Sessions may also include a ‘clearing prayer’ at the end, a short meditation and a group circle discussion”.

The technique requires the practitioner to stand with their feet on the ground and vibrate – shake - as if they were doing an impression of receiving an electric shock. 

The shaking is “no easy and relaxed affair”. You really have to push and move your body  very strongly to use up the glucose and get yourself in the anaerobic state. 

Shaking Meditation web site

“my shaking became faster and faster, going beyond the point where you fear your body can’t take anymore and you will surely explode into many tiny atoms. I didn’t want to lose this feeling, so shook in this way for two hours completely rooted to the spot, not daring to move in case I suddenly lost it.”

You can see from these descriptions that this is really frenetic exercise and uses movements like dancing, but the difference is that in this modern version you are rooted to the spot. 

It is thus not as easy as dancing to get the aerobic effect followed by the anaerobic effect. 

The early Quakers and Shakers were not rooted to the spot, they moved round in a sort of frenzied twitching dance that might be comparable in today’s terms with rave dancing.

If you use this approach, it makes it a lot easier to go from aerobic to anaerobic.  To go anaerobic by shaking on the spot, is I suspect extremely difficult, you probably have to throw yourself around quite violently.

Some shaking groups shake in complete silence in order to try to still the senses, but others use music to basically bombard the senses so much that the effect is the same - the overload means the senses become numbed.

The technique described here is principally used in healing those with severe trauma.  It helps them release trapped emotions.


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