Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy
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 me, 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.
During a typical Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy session, you lie comfortably and fully clothed on a treatment table or in a chair. Your practitioner makes contact with her hands, gently and with negotiation so that you feel at ease with what is happening. BCST offers a way of being held that encourages feelings of safety and comfort so that physical tension, emotions and psychological states can be clarified and processed.
Common places of contact include the feet, shoulders, head, or under the spine and pelvis. This is always at your discretion and your pratitioner will check with you before making contact. Using her hands helps her to feel or ‘listen’ to how you are holding yourself together and to notice the changes in tension as your body responds. The first thing you will probably notice is a sense of deep relaxation which will generally last throughout the session. With subsequent sessions this release of tension often extends into everyday life.
Biodynamic touch is a particular type of touch. It is light and gracious. There is never any pressure, manipulation or force. Your trained practitioner creates a calm, still and embodied presence. This type of touch and presence enables you to feel safe, supported and held. This sense of safety allows your brain to switch from flight, flight or freeze to rest and repair. It is in this state that healing and change can begin to take place at the cellular level. As well as using touch, there may be some verbal interaction during our work together. While this doesn’t necessarily mean talking about your experiences, sometimes talking about sensations, thoughts or feelings that come into awareness helps to deepen the healing process. This can be a valuable way to help integrate the body and mind, embedding the physical experience with insights that become conscious.
At your first appointment there will be plenty of time to fill out a little paperwork.
You remain fully clothed. Only shoes, bulky items and glasses need be removed.
We will have an optional personal eye mask for your use during your session.
Lay face up on the table. Blankets, pillows and bolsters are available for your comfort.
Put on your eye mask or close eyes. You will be directed to take some settling breaths.
Dismiss the thoughts of the day. Relax. It's very hard for many to relax - especially nowadays with so many pressures we experience. Don’t worry if success comes later than sooner. Just take your time and do your best.
Your therapist will negotiate a gentle, safe touch.
Sessions are most often quiet. Be silent or express. There is no wrong.
She will let you know when your session is ending. Understand that this process can continue through your next sleep cycle and even up to three days.
When you want to make real changes in a problem that’s bothering you, the best way to start is to do a few sessions, maybe five to six, in a relatively short time frame. After that, we can re-evaluate together and sessions can usually be further apart.
You might never need to come back again to address the condition that brought you to seek treatment in the first place. Or you might find that you need sessions once or twice a year if you feel your condition hinting that it might start up again. Many people find this approach preferable to taking medication that doesn’t do the job very well and/or creates distressing side effects. Remember to maintain your regular medical checkups.
Some people live in high-pressure situations and make Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy a regular part of their self-care. And still others choose to periodically continue Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy sessions because they find it an important support to their personal development.