Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST)
The subtle nature of this holistic approach makes it particularly suitable for people in fragile or vulnerable conditions as well as those in sound health. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy works with the central nervous system to soothe over-stimulated nerves, release holding patterns and renegotiate physical and emotional trauma. The work is extremely gentle and profoundly effective. This modality can address physical aches and pains, birth trauma, accidents and injuries, acute and chronic disease, emotional or psychological disturbances, or simply help to develop well-being, health and vitality.
BCST is a soothing body/mind therapy that combines a Western scientific understanding of the body with mindfulness skills, a unique type of touch and an appreciation of the body's ability to heal itself.
The core principle of BCST is that health is always present in every body. Sometimes when the focus has been on illness, pain or pathology, it is possible to lose a connection with the underlying feelings of health, comfort and ease. BCST can help you reconnect to the health, ease and vitality inside you.
It is a quantum approach emphasizing our energy, physiology, structure and function in an integrated way.
Is it energy work?
People often ask me if I do energy work. This may seem like a simple question but, to me, the answer is complex and informative. First, I would say that all bodywork is energy work in that everything involves energy. We are made up of energy. Every tissue in our bodies emanates a bio-electric field. Gizmodo’s Maddie Stone has calculated the amount of energy it would need and discovered that, in theory, the power generated could charge an iPhone 5C in 70 hours. We respond to each other energetically, whether we are aware of it or not. I do not, however, consider Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy to be “energy work.”
What is it? How does it benefit the client?
BCST is a gentle touch therapy, practiced with awareness of anatomy and physiology, which guides my perception and enhances my ability to meet what you, as a client, present. An informed appreciation for the subtle expressions of anatomy and physiology allows me to perceive more subtle layers of what we call physical reality.
William Sutherland, the father of Cranial Osteopathy (also known as Osteopathy in the Cranial Field), perceived a process of transmutation, or stepping down, of what he termed The Breath of Life. He saw this Breath as a larger source beyond the physical body. He sensed through his “thinking-feeling-seeing-knowing fingers” the subtle rhythmical fluctuations of fluid within the body. He understood that the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain picked up the potency, or life energy, of the Breath of Life force that forms us. The CSF then carries this potency to every tissue, every cell in our bodies, bringing life and health.
A. T. Still, the father of Osteopathy, stated:
“A thought strikes him that the cerebro-spinal fluid is one of the highest known elements that are contained in the body, and unless the brain furnishes the fluid in abundance, a disabled condition of the body will remain. He who is able to reason will see that this great river of life must be tapped and the withering field irrigated at once, or the harvest of health be forever lost.”
This is the work of BCST. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy in particular has grown from the later work of William Sutherland. Towards the end of his 40 years of studying and facilitating the subtle movements of the bones, tissues, and fluids of the body, Sutherland moved to California. Living near the ocean, he was influenced by its tides and recognized their similarity to what he was palpating in the body. He began to speak of “the Tide.” He advised his students to “Rely upon the Tide.” He wrote:
“Visualize a potency, an intelligent potency, that is more intelligent than your own human mentality. You will have observed its potency and also its Intelligence, spelled with a capital I. It is something you can depend upon to do the work for you. In other words, don’t try to drive the mechanism through any external force. Rely upon the Tide”.
Up until this point in his career, Sutherland had practiced various forms of subtle manipulation of the cranial bones, membranes, ligaments, and fluids. Most cranial practitioners today continue to practice such manipulations. These practices are considered to be “biomechanical.” They involve the common cultural perception of the body as a living machine. When something goes wrong with a machine, the mechanic evaluates what is wrong, which informs him as to how to fix it. If I break a bone, for example, it can be extremely helpful to have an X-ray taken so as to establish which bones are affected and if they are truly broken. Then a skilled practitioner can set the bone and immobilize it with a cast. This is a useful, biomechanical approach. It involves the external source, the X-ray technician, doctor, etc., evaluating the situation and applying an external force, X-rays and a cast, to fix the problem.
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is a different approach. It involves the appreciation and facilitation of internal forces. These resemble, and perhaps are, the embryological forces that form us in the womb. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy involves attention to the dynamic and physical midlines of the body, which rhythmically re-enact the miraculous expression of the life force through embryological development.
The potency driving this expression is essential to health. Potency is always present in the system, although it may be tied up in areas of holding or compression in the body or its biosphere. These areas of holding are actually expressions of the ever-present Health. The system has done its best to manage unresolved traumatic forces by containing them in various patterns in the body or its biosphere. My job is to perceive and resonate with the Potency and Health in the client, which supports full expression and resolution of the issue. The client’s Intelligence knows what it needs to do. It has its own “Inherent Treatment Plan.” As a BCST practitioner, I have profound respect for this expression of Intelligence and patiently wait for it to unfold, rather than imposing my own ideas of what should or shouldn’t happen or be treated next.
In order for the Inherent Treatment Plan to present, there is usually a need for the client’s system to slow down. Rather than focusing in on the trauma or holding in the system, limiting access to the resources of the entire system, I settle myself as a neutral mirror for the client’s system. The purpose is to reflect back to the client the whole, including the issues and the forces available to resolve them. A gentle relationship and physical contact is developed enhancing the client's sense of safety and trust. The client is supported in being present with their breath and bodily sensations, to balance the tendency to slip into old trauma-related patterns of dissociation or acceleration. The client is helped to orient to the resources available to them, such as things that are working well in their lives, people or pets they love, activities they enjoy, etc. We notice as their nervous system settles and balances.
At some point, a “Holistic Shift” or “Neutral” state known as Stillpoint is experienced. The system has shifted from an accelerated, often chaotic state to a more settled coherence. This is much like how seltzer water in a bottle settles after it has been shaken. Consider that our bodies are made up of about 70-90% fluid. At our rapid speed of modern, western life, these fluids can be in a state of perpetual shaking. Our nervous systems are constantly in fight-flight, which interferes with our innate ability to rest and rejuvenate. In BCST, we wait for the system to settle before bringing attention to specific issues in the body. Once this settling has occurred, the Potency naturally begins to orient itself to where it is needed. The Inherent Treatment Plan can emerge when the system no longer needs to constantly respond to external input. As a practitioner, I listen for what your system chooses to express and support its lead in a non-judgmental and non-invasive way.
A BCST practitioner doesn’t need to strive, claim, or pretend to know what is needed. We also don’t get to claim responsibility. The work is done by the Breath of Life as it operates through both client and practitioner. There is a resonance between us, which is a key to how BCST works.
Over time, this settling becomes deeper into the rhythms of the Breath. There is a slowing down as the client returns to the beginning, prior to the hurts and traumas of their personal histories. Like the early embryo, the client floats within the full potential of what life has to offer. This is the heart of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy.
A gentle and safe complementary modality, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is suitable for people of all ages and physical conditions. Treatment can aid almost any condition, raise vitality and improve the body’s capacity for self-repair. Some of the conditions successfully worked with are:
A properly functioning nervous system plays an important role in how we improve from injury and how we perceive and experience pain over time. An activated nervous system creates a state that slows the healing of tissues, contributes to inflammation, and sometimes generates a despairing mental orientation to pain. BCST can support the nervous system to return to a less activated state. Clients frequently experience pain relief from the softening and realigning of tissues and fluids.
The effects of an overactive nervous system can challenge the immune system, compromising its ability to recognize real threats to the body's health while mistaking the body's own tissue as an invader. BCST supports the immune system to function more efficiently and effectively by supporting the restoration of healthy nervous system balance.
BCST is particularly effective in working with the effects of shock and trauma. There are 5 recognized types of trauma: physical, emotional, psychological, economical, and social/relational. Nervous system overwhelm, known as the 'freeze response', can result in prolonged feelings of helplessness, patterns of behavior that recount the trauma, or the inability to move forward in a creative empowered way with one's life. When the nervous system can be supported with BCST, shock and trauma can be discharged, while at the same time experiencing inner resource and the capacity to access one's Inherent Health and enhance one's personal strength and resiliency.
BCST can help parent(s) and baby build resources during and following pregnancy. Reducing prenatal stress has been proven to improve baby's brain development and other gestational developmental outcomes. Following birth, BCST can help resolve the effects of a challenging delivery on both mom and baby, including those related to nursing, bonding and attachment.
This list is by no means exhaustive. The work can involve resolution of past events and is often profoundly relaxing, deeply moving and exhilarating.