- To Help Create a Clear Mind, An Open Heart and a Fluid Body.
“People come for Craniosacral treatment for many different reasons and with many motivations. Some know its benefits for particular physical disorders, others use it to help with stress or psychological difficulties, still others to engender a greater integration of mind, body and spirit. The beauty of this work is that encompasses all these.
The results of treatments are often remarkable, even when other medical and therapeutic approaches have failed. The depth of Craniosacral work is explained by the fact that it works with our most fundamental physiologic system, that of primary respiratory motion. This approach has the ability to either by-pass or move through any opinions or mental defenses we may carry. It works directly with the wisdom of the body.”
– Michael Kern, Wisdom of the Body: The Craniosacral Approach to Essential Health
Craniosacral sessions are 90-minute sessions and are done fully clothed. The work is known for its lightness of touch, and the long, attentive duration of each contact, to optimize a movement pattern within the body – the “cranial wave.” Even slight deformations of a bone’s movement or position can produce physical or psychological symptoms, and often both.
Craniosacral work can also be a wonderful pre-natal session as well as highly effective in helping the return of mental clarity and abundant energy after a life-crisis.
WHAT IS CRANIOSACRAL WORK?
Craniosacral work is a holistic healing practice that uses extremely light finger pressure to optimize a movement pattern within the body – the “cranial wave.” Craniosacral work differs from most other modalities by its lightness of touch, and the long, attentive duration of each contact. It believes that focus and gentleness are the foundations of healing. Craniosacral work is one of the most respectful of all bodywork techniques. While Craniosacral work focuses on helping the cranial wave flow freely through the head, spine and pelvis, it is not limited to those areas, and may be used to work with painful or restricted conditions anywhere in the body. In fact, many practitioners find that Craniosacral work helps the client access their own clarity and insight, and hence it is used not only to relieve pain, but also to help empower the client to deal successfully with many different life situations.
WHAT IS THE “CRANIAL WAVE?”
When we breathe, the movement of our body is obvious. Each time our heart beats, we can feel the movement of blood along the superficial arteries. But the cranial wave is so subtle that it takes trained hands to feel it, and we usually cannot feel our own wave at all. A sheet of writing paper is 100 microns thick; the average movement of a cranial bone (our heads are composed of 22 bones) is 40 microns. The normal frequency of the cranial wave cycle is from 8 to 14 per minute. The quality and frequency of the wave as it passes through (or is unable to pass through) different bones and tissues in the body is assessed by the Craniosacral practitioner, who “listens” to it in order to gauge the need for treatment. (Practitioners also listen to it to sense the effectiveness of their work.) Different conditions, such as whiplash injury, trauma to the head, or migraine headache produce different qualities in the cranial wave. The trained practitioner can recognize these qualities. The frequency of the wave can also be dramatically affected by illness—for instance, in coma it slows to 2 cycles per minute. In meditative states, it may calm down to 3 or 4 cycles per minute, which unlike coma is a time of great inner nurturing – a return to the source.
WHERE DOES THE CRANIAL WAVE COME FROM?
The body is kept alive by the presence of an energy field, which is known as the “bio-electric field” in physiology, and as the “spirit” in religious traditions. In China the energy that makes up this field is called “chi,” in India “prana.” The Bible refers to it as “the breath of life.” And it is a kind of breath—it is not static, but rather fluctuates, similar to the way that household electricity alternates. However, unlike household electricity, the cranial wave fluctuates very slowly, just 8-14 times per minute. This fluctuating field of energy is not controlled by the body’s nervous system, but is independent of it, and, in an evolutionary sense, much older than it. It comes from the ocean, from the tides of the sea. Without this field we die; when the field is weakened, we feel drained. When we are out of harmony with our own inner tides, we do not feel well, we feel “all out of sorts.”
WHY IS CRANIAL WORK EFFCTIVE?
In simple terms, if the cranial bones are not in the “right place,” then the brain and central nervous system cannot be in the “right place.” Even though the cranial bones move only half the thickness of a sheet of writing paper, the human head is so delicate and so suffused with vital nerve pathways, that even slight deformations of a bone’s movement or position can produce physical or psychological symptoms, and often both. When the cranial wave is distorted it also consumes or diverts a disproportionate amount of “chi,” or energy, lowers the strength of the immune system, and increases the likelihood of chronic states like depression becoming intractable. When the cranial wave is optimized, we feel “all of a whole,” we feel wonderful. That is why some people whose conditions seem to be quite unrelated to the Craniosacral system do feel much better after receiving the work.
WHERE DID CRANIAL WORK ORIGINATE?
The earliest written reference to the “movement of the spinal nerves” and its importance in life, clarity and “bringing quiet to the heart,” is found in the I-Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, which is 4,000 years old. The ancient Chinese called Craniosacral work “the art of listening.” In the Middle Ages, bonesetters sensed the fine movements of the body to assist resetting fractures and dislocations, and to treat headaches. In modern times the American osteopath, William Sutherland, spent fifty years beginning in 1900, detailing the individual movements of the human cranium and pelvis. He called his work “Cranial Osteopathy,” and he made an enormous contribution to the healing arts. His contemporary, Nephi Cottam, an American chiropractor, called it “Craniology.”
WHY SUCH DELICATE PRESSURES?
The head works at extremely fine tolerances—during a quiet conversation, for instance, the eardrum moves less than the diameter of a hydrogen atom, and there are 100 billion billion hydrogen atoms in one drop of water. Because the joints between adjacent cranial bones (the “sutures”) are so finely balanced and move so little, the practitioner must focus intently on the movement that he or she is “listening” to. Any rushed or hard pressure tends to distort the normal movement of the bones and feels like an earthquake. There is a similarity here to homeopathy—the minutest dose is capable of creating the greatest transformation. In the Western world we are accustomed to being impressed by size, speed, power, noise. We think that the bigger the dose, the more power.
IS CRANIOSACRAL WORK SAFE?
While very subtle and careful, Craniosacral work is nonetheless powerful, and as such occasionally produces side-effects such as headache, or neck stiffness. This almost always occurs because the client has had a pre-existing trauma to his or her head that went unrecognized and the Craniosacral work “stirred it up.” Seen wisely, such events are to be welcomed, because they allow the old wound to finally heal and the energy that has been bound up there to be released.
IS CRANIOSACRAL WORK SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE?
There have been more than 40 scientific papers published documenting various aspects of its effectiveness, and at least 10 authoritative textbooks published. Notable amongst the scientific papers are Viola M. Frymann’s work documenting the successful treatment of 1,250 newborn children with birth defects, Edna Lay and Stephen Blood’s work on temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), and John Wood’s work on psychiatric disorders.
WHO IS CRANIOSACRAL WORK SUITABLE FOR?
There are many conditions, particularly muscle contraction headache, migraine, cluster headache, neck arthritis, low back pain, scoliosis, personality disturbance, dyslexia, whiplash, Bells Palsy, vertigo and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) where, in the right environment, it can be highly effective. Other conditions, such as autism and tinnitus meet with varying degrees of success. Craniosacral work can also be highly effective in helping the return of mental clarity and abundant energy after a life-crisis, and sometimes helps alleviate chronic depression. It is also sought out by those who are perfectly healthy, as a meditative and calming experience. Some people find Craniosacral touch a deeply spiritual experience or that it creates a fertile ground for the kind of transformative insight that paves the way for important change.
ENERGY AND SYMPTOMS
Cranial work regards the body, and its energy field, as a field of intelligence and of information, which the practitioner listens to and respects. A flow of different, quieter energies takes over during an illness, and an inner wisdom often surfaces within the client’s consciousness that leads to a breakthrough and transformation. In cranial work, symptoms are seen as intelligent responses of a dreambody that is in some way stressed beyond its particular adaptive or coping abilities; symptoms are regarded as distress transmissions that allow the listening and attentive observer to understand what really troubles the client, and what they need. In deeper healing practices, the assessment of what the client needs is not limited to physical interpretations or biochemical intervention, but includes a sensing of what the client needs to return to a full and rewarding lifestyle. The cranial practitioner’s job is to facilitate and enhance the workings of the healing response. It is not the practitioner’s job is to dictate to the cranial system. The practitioner learns to put his or her hands on the client, and wait for the client’s Craniosacral system and its energy field to tell them what to do. In this sense, cranial work is truly a client-centered therapy. Healing resources are also available outside the client, in the form of nurturing friendships, wise counselors, family, and within the client’s social network.
Note: Craniosacral sessions are done fully clothed. Stretchy or loose pants enable the Craniosacral wave to move freely and to be felt more readily
See our Fee Schedule for pricing information.