Bradford Keeney had an epiphany several years ago. An internationally known practitioner in the field of
psychotherapy, Keeney worked at the Karl Menninger Center, the Ackerman Institute, and the Philadelphia Child
Guidance Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania. He originated new orientations to therapy, including
improvisational therapy and resource focused therapy, and developed a new research method called recursive frame
analysis. This lead to his authoring classic texts in the field, including
Aesthetics of Change,
Mind in Therapy, and
Improvisational Therapy. Then
sometime in the last couple of decades of the twentieth century, Keeney left a concert by a jazz guitarist and
began traveling the world, seeking out shamans, healers, and spiritual teachers. For ten years, he listened and
participated in spiritual traditions that included music and movement.
Keeney founded Shaking Medicine, a group that offers experiences to the public through presentations of its Life Force Theatre and Shamanic Conversations programs. Through improvisation, storytelling, music, percussion, and movement, Keeney offers participants something more than waiting for the still voice to speak within the quiet mind. He grabs audiences by the shoulders and the hips and gets them moving to his rhythms.
This work has been distilled into six CDs in Shaking: The Original Path to Ecstasy and Healing. Based on
time-honored spiritual practices that recognize movement, whether it be simple shaking or aesthetic dance, Keeney
brings the mysteries of the Kalahari Bushment, the Japanese tradition of Seiki Jutsu, the ceremonies of the
Caribbean Islands, and the rootedness and spirit of the African-American sanctified church. Movement, he says,
allows your body to circulate and amplify the life force (called chi, kundalini, spirit, or njom by many cultures).
Through the life force, we are supposed to connect with internal healing and with the great Divine.
I plunged into Shaking: The Original Path to Ecstasy and Healing, wondering what I would find. Instantly,
I was immersed into a spiritual performance that mixed percussion, jazz piano, and even a full jazz combo that mixed
many Latin and African musical styles together. This was music I could move to and music that spoke to me
emotionally and spiritually. This music was highlighted in Shaking Rhythms tracks at the end of each CD.
What was surprising was that this music was carried throughout all of the lecture portions of the CDs. Instead
of just hearing a teacher speak about the background behind these practices, Keeney performed them, sometimes
becoming a shamanic preacher, obviously drawing on his early background watching his grandfather and father preach
at country churches and revival meetings. Sometimes, the presentation of this material in this fashion was right on
the money, being able to shake up most people out of their willingness to sit still and let a spiritual leader lead
them down a path without the person's active participation. At other times, the intensity of the presentation was a
distraction. If this had been presented in DVD format, those distractions may not have occurred or at least, would
have been minimized.
The material is fresh and new and challenges a lot of misconceptions, especially about some ideas of kundalini
and other energy practices. Keeney wants people to do their own inner work and not rely on therapists or spiritual
teachers alone. He also wants people to get out of their heads and let their bodies and souls do the work that the
Divine intended. That is what makes these recordings so powerful.
I would highly recommend Shaking: The Original Path to Ecstasy and Healing. However, I would suggest that
the listener work on one CD at a time, eventually working through the entire set. Then, the listener could tap
whichever CD spoke to them the most for continued work.