About Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral Therapy could be described as "knowledge of the body meeting the body's own knowledge".
A craniosacral therapist has received specialised instruction in cranial and spinal anatomy and function, and understands how to perceive the rhythmic flow of fluid as it fluctuates through the body and central nervous system. These tide-like movements are also palpable in the peripheral structures of the body.
Holistic philosophy considers the body and mind as being unified, and science is now recognising that this has a biochemical basis. Thoughts and emotions can influence our health, and stored memories are considered to be located not only in our brains, in our consciousness, but also physiologically in the tissues of our bodies. Mind becomes body, one might say.
During a session of craniosacral therapy, the therapist may make contact with your cranium (head), sacrum (base of spine) and often other areas, such as the feet or shoulders. With sensitive fingers and a light touch they will 'listen' to what your body is conveying. Whilst the therapist's knowledge of anatomy will help inform the impressions they get on a structural level, treatment is respectful of any embedded emotional associations and other underlying forces.
A core concept of the craniosacral approach is the idea that the body has an inherent life-force and an intrinsic ‘blueprint’ for wellbeing which is never lost. By entering into a place of deep inner stillness, the therapist can become a supportive presence; reflecting back to the body what they perceive, and facilitating a balanced expression of wellbeing.
The body's fluids will flow with vigour and vitality when a person is healthy and balanced on all levels. Body tissues contract in response to stress, and craniosacral therapy works on the belief that patterns of disturbance will be present influencing the flow of fluids. Over time, these patterns of disturbance may become 'walled off' and deeply embedded, as the body's self-defence system contains the problem. The mind and body are inseparable, and we store memories and emotions not only in the brain, but also within the body: Mind becomes body. Thoughts affect our energy fields, which permeate the body and may influence our wellbeing. Think how many times you have heard someone remark that so-and-so is a "pain in the neck", that they "can’t stomach" a situation, that a disappointment was "galling"... that person may be unconsciously describing a corresponding physical manifestation of their verbal complaint.
Closing our minds to problematic parts of ourselves – almost disowning them - can chronically deplete our inner resources. Just as talking about a traumatic experience with a counsellor can help the intellectual process of integration, so the body, too, needs to process its cellular memory of the event. Craniosacral therapy may help to liberate these areas of restriction, to dissolve the ‘walls’, by bringing gentle, non-judgemental awareness to whatever is being held.
Reflecting back what the therapist is sensing within you, their hands serve as a mirror to your body, allowing it to become conscious of the way your tissues are moving or being held internally. This awareness is often all that is needed to bring about change; the body recognises the disharmony and is able to correct it. Sometimes things are not so simple, and the energetic imbalance or ‘blockage’ seems unable to resolve itself straight away. Perhaps it has become accustomed to holding itself in a compensatory manner; perhaps it has forgotten how to be the way it was before you were born. Perhaps your body has 'closed its mind' to that particular area, and does not recognise it as being part of you. This is a common form of dissociation.
In such cases, the body needs space in which to feel safe enough to 'view' the area and bring it into relationship with its whole. This is where craniosacral therapy, with its grounded and gentle approach, may be beneficial. With great sensitivity, the therapist uses their hands to 'listen' to the area, and whatever it might be holding, whilst maintaining a wider focus on your underlying wellbeing and resources. This may help to facilitate a release, allowing the area to become integrated once more with the whole.
Image © Gerardo Calia
Image © Gerardo Calia