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Craniosacral Therapy - An Introduction

craniosacral_massage

Craniosacral therapy enhances the functioning of the physiological body system that envelopes the brain by manipulating the bones of the skull to treat a diverse range of symptoms/conditions - from simple headaches to spinal cord injuries.

by Michael Kern,

DO., R.C.S.T., M.I.Cr.A., N.D.

Life and motion.

Life expresses itself as motion. At a fundamental level of our physiological functioning all healthy, living tissues subtly "breathe" with the motion of life - a phenomenon that produces rhythmic impulses which can be palpated by sensitive hands.

The presence of a subtle rhythmic motion in the body was discovered by osteopath Dr William Garner Sutherland about 100 years ago, after he had a remarkable insight while examining the sutures of disarticulated cranial bones. Contrary to popular belief, Dr Sutherland realised that cranial sutures were, in fact, designed for movement. He undertook many years of research during which he demonstrated the existence of this motion, and concluded that it is produced by the body's inherent life force, which he called the Breath of Life. Furthermore, Dr Sutherland realised the motion of cranial bones is closely connected to an integrated network of tissues and fluids at the core of the body that includes the motion of cerebrospinal fluid, the brain and spinal cord, the membranes surrounding the central nervous system and the sacrum.

Essential ordering forces.

The Breath of Life produces a series of rhythms in the body that make up a subtle physiological system, called the primary respiratory system. The ability of tissues to express their natural rhythmic motion is a critical factor in determining their state of health, due to the fact that the primary respiratory system carries the essential forces which maintain our physiological balance and order. These forces act as a fundamental blueprint for health which can be seen in operation as far back as the time of our early embryological development. As long as this original intention is able to find expression, health will result.

Inertial patterning.

However, the body becomes patterned according to how our intrinsic resources of health are able to deal with any stresses that we may experience. Any unresolved tensions, strains and traumas create sites of inertia in the body which may accumulate over time. These sites affect the natural expression of primary respiratory motion and so hinder our ability to function. Common causes of inertia are physical injuries, emotional and psychological stresses, birth trauma and toxicity. The body thus becomes a unique expression of our health, history and conditioning. As a result of unresolved inertia, events are imprinted in the tissues like video tape which may keep replaying whenever stimulated.

Through the development of subtle palpatory skills, the craniosacral practitioner can read the story of the body by sensing the patterns and qualities of primary respiratory motion. The intention in craniosacral therapy is to help free any areas of inertia so that the ordering forces of the Breath of Life find expression in the tissues. When this happens, it is marked by the restoration of balance and symmetry in primary respiratory motion and a return to normal functioning.

A gentle facilitation.

Craniosacral therapy is a hands-on approach that involves "listening with the fingers" to the body's subtle rhythms and any patterns of inertia and congestion. The emphasis of treatment is to encourage and enhance the body's own self-healing and self-regulating capabilities, even in the most acute resistances and pathologies.

The work is very gentle and non-invasive. Subtle suggestions are introduced through the practitioner's hands to help restore balance in areas that have been affected by inertia. With this skilful touch the practitioner can assist the body to resolve patterns of disorder, thereby encouraging a revitalisation of tissues with the healing forces of the Breath of Life. Furthermore, the quality of therapeutic presence of the practitioner can become a reflective mirror for the patient and their potential for change.

A holistic approach.

Craniosacral therapy takes a whole-person approach to healing. The inter-connections of mind, body and spirit are acknowledged, as well as how the body reflects experiences and retains the memory of trauma. It is an effective form of treatment for a wide range of illnesses, helping to create the optimal conditions for health, encouraging vitality and facilitating a sense of well-being. Craniosacral therapy is suitable for people of all ages, including babies, children and the elderly, and can be effective in acute or chronic cases.


 

Michael Kern DO, RCST, ND is a Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopath and Naturopath with a practice in North London. He is a senior tutor for the College of Osteopaths, the International Cranial Association and the University of Westminster.

He is the author of "Wisdom in the Body - The Craniosacral Approach to Essential Health".

He can be reached at www.cranio.co.uk E-mail:

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