Craniosacral Therapy was first described by the Osteopathic profession. I suspect my interpretation and description of phenomenon encountered in practice differs from theirs as I include energetic Qi flow concepts. They would be observing the same but having a model restricted to neurological and biomechanical concepts might resort to using words like "nebulous communication" or allude to vague spiritual effects. Interestingly, my instructor did not believe in energetics, yet I could clearly feel him projecting it through me from hands placed on my head while assessing condition at the SIJ's. This article describes my observations.
Simply put, Craniosacral Therapy is the release of fascial restrictions in the cranium, brain and spine. The effect from this treatment ultimately extends to the entire body. On one hand, it is about the therapist identifying restrictions and initiating release. On the other, for the client it is about stillness and trust and letting go. Fascial restrictions are energetically charged and bound with that is emotion. When the restriction is cleared, the energy flows and emotion flows with it giving a sense of cathartic release. Energetic Qi flow is improved at a core level and it is thought to improve function of the Central Nervous System. Outcome for the client can be profound.
Treatment begins at any part of the body initiating fascial release activating the vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system achieving deep relaxation. Common points of contact are: the cranium assessing Cranial Rhythm and releasing cranial sutures; the sacrum which is like a portal into the nervous system; the abdomen/diaphragm activating the vagus nerve, and; the feet and ankles assessing Cranial Rhythm and release through the pelvis.
The nature of this treatment is light physical contact. The most fundamental technique in physical therapy is to place a hand on with light steady pressure. Within a short space of time the connective tissue and fascia beneath the hand will begin to warm, soften and release. Energy begins to move.
The primary aim of treatment is to improve the quality of the Cranial Rhythm. The Cranial Rhythm is the expansion and contraction of the bones of the cranium at a rate of approximately five to six cycles per minute. This is thought to be generated by the mechanism of cerebrospinal fluid production and distribution. It is like a breathing and does synchronise with respiration when at rest. The expansion phase is actively powered. The contraction phase is like a sigh of breath escaping.
The Parietal bones rise and expand outward under the active phase while the Frontal bone sinks inward. The Sphenoid rotates back and forth along its axis, its Greater Wings moving posteriorly and anteriorly, under the influence of the Occiput to which it is joined that slides back and forth in an anterior and posterior direction, and the Temple bones rotate. Owing to leverage afforded through the sacrum and hips, the location where the Cranial Rhythm is at its greatest amplitude is at the feet and ankles...the Sacrum tucks in with each expansion phase, opening the front of the Pelvis and rotating the Femur laterally.
Focusing on the nature of the Cranial Rhythm gives an indication of degree of dysfunction and restrictions present. Rather than balanced rhythmical expansion and contraction through the cranium, irregular movement patterns will make it feel like it is bouncing around in the practitioner's hands. The adept practitioner will be aware of the direction or location of restrictions, that is, left or right sided, front or back of the cranium, in the spine or at the Sacro-Iliac Joints and gives an indication of where to focus treatment when progressing beyond the initial approach. The strength and amplitude of the Cranial Rhythm reflects the individual's vitality levels. I have read the speed of oscillation is indicative of mental health but, to be honest, I am yet to encounter a Cranial Rhythm that is significantly outside the norm in that respect.
The effect of emotion blocking Heart Qi imposes a restriction on movement through the entire left side of the cranium and mobility through the left shoulder. This is noted in the majority of cases. Amplitude of movement on the left side can be restricted to one quarter or a third of that on the right.
Using the lightest of touch holding the cranium in the palm of each hand beside the parietal and temple bones, the degree of movement in the Cranial Rhythm is in the order of microns. To the practitioner, the sensation of movement is a combination of actual movement and energetic Qi flow and it can feel like several millimetres of travel are achieved. In truth, I am not always sure whether I am sensing movement or energetic pulses, barriers and waves...it can be hard to distinguish between the two sometimes.
Practitioners who have not developed the ability to sense energetic Qi flow will have difficulty identifying the Cranial Rhythm. This will hamper their ability to carry out release moves through the sutures of the cranium. With few exceptions, release of restrictions in the cranial sutures is carried out in concert with or against the Cranial Rhythm. Release methods used are based on Positional Release techniques from Osteopathy.
I do sense the energetic aspects of Craniosacral Therapy. However, I do not yet consider myself a highly experienced practitioner of this modality. While most clients do receive a small amount of Craniosacral Therapy at the beginning or end of my sessions complimenting treatment...full, extended Craniosacral sessions are uncommon in my practice. This shortfall is balanced by advanced insights to the larger picture I bring to the table about energetic blockage elsewhere in the structure impacting the cranium, brain and spine. I refer to the common effects of Short Right Leg Syndrome on pelvis, SIJ's and spine, as well as, the Heart Story's effect on the left side of the chest, shoulder, neck and head, and unconscious holding patterns at shoulder and torso from the day to day rigours of life leading to upper limb dysfunction. Addressing these issues shortcuts treatment significantly. Being unaware of these structural/energetic issues can prevent satisfactorily resolution of cases. This highlights the short comings of practitioners and energetic healers who are not physical body workers. Typically no amount of energetic healing overcomes energetic blockage caused by structural and postural anomalies.
Training and Certification
Three workshops on the subject across a four year period culminating in competancy at the Australian Craniofascial Therapy School. Final training module focusing on release of fascial connections to the following bones in the face: Maxilla, Palatine, Vomer, Zygoma and Ethmoid. Headaches, oral, nasal, sinus, TMJ issues indicated for treatment.
The Sphenoid bone spanning the gap between the temples, behind the nose, cradling the Pituitary Gland at it's centre, hinged to the Occiput at the base of the cranium...part of the mystery of CranioSacral Therapy. Level Two training - One of nine bones in the cranium we learned to palpate position, determine quality of movement and release dysfunctional restrictions. Each and every one of these cranial release techniques can have a profound affect on our quality of life.