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A CranioSacral Therapy Primer
James Nemec, LMT, CST-D
The term, “CranioSacral Therapy” may be more difﬁcult to pronounce than “long haul tractor trailer,” but it’s the essence of simplicity after learning a few basic points…
Body, Mind & Spirit / Inspiration & Personal Growth $12.95 U.S.
A CranioSacral Therapy Primer
Also by James Nemec
RELATED NONFICTION Touch the Ocean: The Power of Our Collective Emotions Journeys: Stories Our Bodies Can Tell Awake and Asleep: The Dawn of Awareness RELATED ESSAYS Craniosacral Therapy Can Address Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI/MTBI) in Civilians, why not Active Duty Military and Veterans? Spirals Within Spirals: Stones Have Stories to Tell
A CranioSacral Therapy Primer
James Nemec, LMT, CST-D
The information in this book is not intended as medical advice. Its intention is solely informational and educational.
A CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY PRIMER
Copyright © 2010 by James Nemec All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author, or the publisher, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. Published by CraniOcean Media West Palm Beach, Florida http://www.CraniOceanMedia.com http://www.CraniOcean.com Cover and Book Design by William Groetzinger The information contained in this book is not intended as medical advice. In the event you use any of the information contained in this book for yourself, which is your constitutional right, the author and publisher assume no responsibility for your actions. Edition ISBN Book 978-0-9792805-8-0
Published in the United States of America First Edition 2010.
(Provided by Quality Books, Inc.) Nemec, James. “Cranio-what?” : a craniosacral therapy primer / by James Nemec. — 1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-9792805-7-3 ISBN-10: 0-9792805-7-5 1. Craniosacral therapy. 2. Mind and body. 3. Integrative medicine. I. Title. RZ399.C73N46 2010 615.8'2 QBI10-600123
To the continuing Preservation of Wildlife and the Wilderness, of Sealife and the Ocean
“The Art of Medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Voltaire
“No techniques but gentle contact.” Dr. William Garner Sutherland
A CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY PRIMER
PICTURE YOURSELF… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 “CRANIO-WHAT?” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 WHAT IS CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 WHAT CAN IT DO? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 WHAT ELSE CAN THIS STUFF DO? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 A FEW PRECAUTIONS, OR CONTRAINDICATIONS . . . . . .14 CRANIAL AND SACRAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 RECEIVING A CRANIOSACRAL SESSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 IS THIS DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 A COMPLEMENTARY MODALITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 WHAT IS IT TO UNLOCK AND UNWIND? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 WHY IS THIS A ‘LAST DOOR?’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 WHY IS IT CALLED, CRANIAL? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 …SO IS IT OSTEOPATHY? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 THE CRANIOSACRAL SYSTEM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 RHYTHM, PULSE, FLOW…? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 CRANIOSACRAL FOR PEDIATRICS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 SHARING SOMETHING MORE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 THE BODY HAS STORIES TO TELL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 IS IT FOR YOU? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
AN AUTHOR’S NOTEPAD THE “C-SYSTEM” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 “THE LITTLE BLUE FLOWER” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 A SENSE OF INVITATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 BIBLIOGRAPHY—NURTURING READS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 A CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY PRIMER SUMMARY . . . . . . . .60
A CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY PRIMER
Copyright © James Nemec, 2010
Welcome! This short Primer is for You. Since a Primer is an A-B-C, it can be browsed and enjoyed in any office lobby, spa, or medical clinic, or handed out to others for their information. It’s also meant to support and enhance the reading pleasure of a small handful of lyrical books by certified massage therapist and craniosacral therapy Diplomat certified, James Nemec, LMT, CST-D. “Poet of Bodywork.” And hopefully, it will inspire others to learn even more! What is the theme? Few know that just as there is an art to giving craniosacral therapy, there is an art to receiving it. Have fun.
Picture yourself in the waiting room of a clinic or integrative
medical office. You are sitting and sifting through the magazines on the table for something else to read, maybe even some brain food, as you wait for your own session to begin! In your imagination, the waiting room can be tastefully decorated and quiet with the calming scents of your favorite aromatherapy. A hand-made fountain of river stones can be placed in a corner with the soft sound of water. You discover a little pamphlet under the magazines, and as you casually browse through it, you begin to contemplate the questions it asks and make discoveries on your own. Your first question might be, “Cranio-what?” This short Primer was originally a very similar, loose-leaf pamphlet that we’d placed on a small square glass table in the lobby of our acute care clinic, on Melrose Avenue in L.A, next to the flashy, eye-popping magazines. The pamphlet was the first thing I’d ever written for the public about this fascinating subject while I was still aspiring to be accepted as a student in massage school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The small but much appreciated pamphlet would become something like a nurturing chrysalis, for from it, a modest website would soon grow, CraniOcean.Calm, and then a rather surprising series of books would eventually appear in slow motion like butterflies, metamorphosing one at a time, for the body, mind, and spirit. Okay. Not long after I’d had the dream about the beat poets, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, telling me that I was about to
2 “CRANIO-WHAT?” write some books on health and healing. That afternoon there was only one other person in the men’s spa. “Yes. This reassured me. “I don’t know if it’s a ‘cure’ but something has sure happened!” “Yes. a young man from Denmark who had just come out of the sauna. in my other life. stepping into a warm. I was in the Spa of the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. fluffy bathrobe for a massage. “Elsinore. the body is a book. much less the cost of the massage that I was about to have. “If you can read the stories in body you have your cure!” I was astonished at his perception. I then said.” “Elsinore? That’s the same city in Denmark where Hamlet was from!” He nodded and smiled. “Maybe I’ll quote you!” I said.” I went in . I asked him where he was from in Denmark and he said. It is filled with stories. The Peninsula is one of the “in” places where celebrities go for their massages and spa treatments. Here was an interested student from a foreign country who understood what I was trying to say without my having to go into any detail about it.” He said. I was about to say more but he “got it” instantly. “You must learn the story. “Yes.” I said.” I was humbled. “You know your Shakespeare!” This blew my mind. It’s hard for me to find a good massage much less a truly wonderful massage anywhere. I told him that I’d had this dream and was thinking about writing a book about the stories that the body can tell during bodywork and massage therapy sessions.” he said. it was as if I’d just spoken with Hamlet! “Thanks. This is ironic as there are so many different forms of massage and bodywork available these days. He then introduced himself as a student of Business and we talked for a while and it got around to what I was doing. This was nothing I could tell my Dad in Florida about. I was delighted. it is. I asked him if he’d had a massage and he said he had and that it was great. In his broken English he said. We laughed. As a poet and a playwright.
what is it to work with awareness? And what is it make an art. I had moved my arms to a more comfortable position on the table and she moved them back to where they were before. I tried to say something. One was working with attention and awareness. I was not considered. It wasn’t an anger expressed in words but in action. I felt deep rest and peace. It was as if an angel entered the room. Nor did I feel touched. and safe. and to work with awareness makes any work or processing at the deeper levels of being. These different feelings transmitted from their hands into my precious body.PICTURE YOURSELF… 3 for my massage. It was just what I needed. It was utterly mechanical. Awake and Asleep: The Dawn of Awareness would ponder. but my body knew what it experienced and the body does not lie. I wondered. the other was not. your own while getting out of your own way? This would become the question that the third book in the Trilogy. I’d learned long ago in my training in the Theater Arts and later in the Healing Arts. but dead inside. any art. I could do nothing and say nothing. and the other was clinically focused. considerate. This woman was interested and kind. The difference was where each massage practitioner’s heart and intention was: one was alive and listening. I later couldn’t understand how the massages could be so different. Both women massage practitioners were pleasant enough and the massages were performed competently. my body wanted to speak. I hired another massage. and the massage therapist became angry at me. harmless. I’ll give the benefit of a doubt and say the first massage therapist was simply having a bad day. It would place my bill at over two hundred dollars but I was impelled. I felt transported. I remained stock still and waited for this experience to end.” As I drove home in my old Honda to my upstairs bungalow apartment in Hollywood. I went into a dreamy place. Immediately afterwards. “The body knows. but I’ll leave this intriguing question .
and move forward despite all. the liver. A hope was that this primer could provide a space of calm to relax within. neck. Do with them what you will. (And what is it that needed love or to be loved?) I really shouldn’t say anymore about this since I’ve said enough to blush about for a week. But when an Editor in New York City read the first manuscript for the very long book that would later . and contemplate anew. whole-istic. our vision can increase and the ranges of our experiencing can open kaleidoscopically. breathe. The few butterflies of books were made available as a small contribution to show what is possible. and holy duty and obligation to others. space opens. Why a Primer? Why anything? It doesn’t matter what we do in life. no matter what this looks like to our addled and weary brains. The general idea was to make book gardens for anyone to wander and enjoy at leisure. Thankfully. lower back. if there is such a duty. heart. in our potential. as if I were caught in a struggle to benefit others. when out of alignment and off track with one’s purpose. and to demonstrate what you can do for yourself and your loved ones at comparatively little expense to you. learn how to learn to love ourselves through anything that arises. But did anyone need “my” help or to be benefited by “my” findings? Wasn’t I a playwright just scribbling notes. and discovering what’s possible? When we can discover what is possible. My purpose in doing this Primer has been a little off. one can ask.4 “CRANIO-WHAT?” alone for now since this is a Primer. anything at all. We can. Somehow the writing process felt forced. toes. what matters is our purpose while we are doing it. feet. With any book that we can hold in our hands and contemplate. putting down the stories as they surfaced from the body. is to love ourselves first. from without or from within. what is it to be of service? It could be that our whole. and not to benefit anyone or improve on mankind. lungs.
She sounded like someone in a hollow tube. plastic folder on a glass table in the lobby of our office. This was when I was first learning about this light touch healing art and when no one could even pronounce the term. When I would plug the cord for the fountain into the wall in the morning.” The Primer. She sounded like she knew a lot more about book making than I did so I agreed with her. Feng Shui. I’d cobbled it together from the pages I’d written for clients back in 1995. Journeys: Stories Our Bodies Can Tell. “craniosacral therapy. I was sharing . I don’t even remember her name. and since the answers were all in the stories already written down. I had to bend down past the glass table and past the pages I’d written. she said. and from there. could be placed at the opening of the book or at the end. I thought it was a math thing and listened to her politely as she spoke on the phone.PICTURE YOURSELF… 5 be broken into two books to make. we needed metal for the lobby. she said she needed a “Primer. and Awake and Asleep: The Dawn of Awareness. with a very sophisticated way about her. after all. because I wasn’t that great in math as a kid.” I’d placed those pages in a little clear. he’d said. The Primer never made it into the books since there wasn’t room for it in the books. This is where my purpose went awry for a while. Rather than water. really. and unplug it at the end of the day. Metal was good Feng Shui. “I” wanted to please her and this was my downfall. next to a stone fountain I’d built in a sort of Japanese style with materials I’d bought from Home Depot. So forgetful of her name and wanting to please her and caring very much what she might think and/or say about “me. Even so. I liked that fountain but the chiropractor who I rented a back room from didn’t because he felt it wasn’t good. She said it could be organized in such a way that each chapter could be a sidebar while the book could stand alone as a whole piece. I didn’t know what a Primer was.” I went ahead and wrote a Primer but never saw or heard from her again.
It was more a business card than even a small contribution. Then much later. Nemec Planet Earth July 2010 . with chiropractors.6 “CRANIO-WHAT?” an office on Melrose Avenue in L. I had my dream.A. and this always disturbed. and other massage therapists and I wasn’t licensed so the pages might have come off as a little too self promotional in odd parts. J. acupuncturists. with too many claims.
Then.” or “butterflies. I often hear this: “Cranio-what??” The term. Craniosacral Therapy.” and seem very complicated. some of this information is already posted on CraniOcean.com.7 “CRANIO-WHAT?” So when I tell people what I do for a living. but it’s really the essence of simplicity and super easy to follow after learning a few basic points! Let’s start our Craniosacral Therapy Primer. zebras. “Mind-what?” Cranium and Sacrum . it was one of those terms you had to think about. CraniOcean.” or “nautilus shell spiral. and moonbeams. may be more difficult to pronounce than “long haul tracker-trailer.com. but with a few pages taken from the popular trade website. a free website set up in 1996 to provide general information on this subject to a bewildered public that had no idea what “craniosacral therapy” was at time. not with Websters. like mind-body. Since the pages and the pamphlet came first.
and the elderly. Craniosacral gently and non-intrusively unlocks the fluid channels along the spine. and with a possible side effect of allowing you to feel really good. shock and trauma. a treatment that is non-invasive. It can do this because it’s based on the newly discovered “craniosacral system” which surrounds. It can be sought even while on medications. children. and complimentary with any medical treatment program. cushions and bathes the entire central nervous system in a marvelous fluid. frees and improves the performance of the entire central nervous system. natural. and stress. Imagine a safe.8 WHAT IS CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY? Craniosacral Therapy is a deeply gentle and calming hands on therapy that goes beyond the reach and comprehension of most traditional medicine. complimentary health treatment proven to relieve and treat feelings of grief and of loss. With craniosacral it is possible to tap into the body’s amazing ability to self-heal and self-correct. . The touch is so light that it is safe for infants. supports. It’s also for those in desperate need—those who have hurt so much they can hardly hope. elegant. The practicing craniosacral person often takes on those cases that doctors and hospitals don’t know what to do with anymore or have simply given up. We all work together. wandering depression. It’s for anyone who’s basically fine and just wants to relieve some stress and experience calm and deep relaxation.
health. the New York Editor said that she wanted a list of benefits up front. and well being of the central nervous system in children and adults suffering acute and chronic conditions. Editor. one can then think one knows all .9 WHAT CAN IT DO? Those in the enlightened Spa crowd know that craniosacral therapy can provide the ultimate Spa experience and feelings of heaven on earth! Others caught in the medical gamut can encounter it randomly as their “last hope. non-intrusive craniosacral therapy to support and enhance the overall function. no worries. and one is that after one finishes reading such a list. harmony. Maybe I shouldn’t say this either. But there are problems with presenting a list of benefits for anything.” Few know the spectacular range of gentle. but along with a Primer. Ms. Well.
including: • Autism • Birth Trauma • Caesarean Recovery. Upledger during studies at Michigan State University in the mid-1970s.” Although not to be sought for those real emergencies that doctors and hospitals are highly trained and equipped to handle. nor to be mistaken for hard core medicine. like her. puncture wound. derived from the discoveries of osteopath Dr. endogenous • Diagnosed Learning Disorders • Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) • Migraines • Ovarian Dysfunction • Parkinson’s .” light touch Craniosacral Therapy. William Garner Sutherland from 1901 and developed by osteopath Dr. the broken bone. nor a “cure all. this list of benefits is here for those who. Respectfully. require “lists of benefits. has been clinically proven to safely enhance the relief and treatment of a full spectrum of conditions. and so on. John E.10 “CRANIO-WHAT?” there is to know on the subject. for Mother and Infant • Cerebral Palsy • Chronic Asthma • Chronic TMJ • Cluster Headaches • Depression. internal hemorrhage.
you’ll love craniosacral! . With such a list. and how can it be useful to you? We will briefly touch on some of the very good reasons in this simple Primer. how can craniosacral therapy be so fantastically flexible in application.” as you will see. Might it be worthwhile to find out? If you like massage.WHAT CAN IT DO? 11 • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) • Scoliosis • Seizures • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI/MTBI) • And more Does that about cover the whole alphabet? There really is “more.
. and craniosacral therapy is no exception. Anyway.12 WHAT ELSE CAN THIS STUFF DO? Few know that just as there is an art to giving craniosacral therapy. as you will see. colic. of choice for dentists who discover and certify in it. speech. attention. proving effective in the relief of birth trauma. might it be beneficial to allow the body some time to unlock. relax. here there is no “healing agenda” and force is not used. It can support and enhance overall development of the child (gross motor. fine motor. Craniosacral is the modality. Along the way. or approach. here’s some more of what craniosacral can do beyond providing the ultimate Spa Experience: • Teeth. • Craniosacral for Pediatrics is fast becoming the modality of choice for infants and children. seizure disorder and more. mainly. oral motor. It is now used before and after dental surgeries in holistic dental offices to treat and relieve needless pain and suffering. month. there is an art to receiving it. mouths and sore jaws that have hurt for decades can be relieved in a few gentle sessions. one might consider just how long one’s body has been in contraction and pain—weeks. and come out of its contracture and discomfort? Quick fixes are known to happen in all branches of medicine. years? If a very long time. This is sometimes felt and experienced as a gradual awakening.
alternative. those on a path of philosophical self enquiry find that it can let them go deeper into their contemplative process while improving their overall health and well being. And more? Check it out. . greater stretch. This can possibly open to the liberation of the living being. As such. sensory processing. and integrative medicine. and yogins report that after craniosacral therapy they can access flows of “pranic” energy with greater ease and speed. Yoga practitioners.WHAT ELSE CAN THIS STUFF DO? 13 language. yogis. On the other hand. They also enjoy enhanced breathing. kids diagnosed with any number of conditions have been able to clear their medications and be kids again! • It works with the person in a unique way. it can support and rejuvenate those long on a path of challenging spiritual growth. and so on) and improve the performance of the central nervous system for anyone of any age! As in other branches of traditional. and calm. both on the inner and the outer at the same time.
people!) These are conditions that can influence the subtle “intercranial” fluid pressures. OR CONTRAINDICATIONS The only real precautions are somewhat obvious: If the patient and/or client is now suffering from a cerebral hemorrhaging or cerebral aneurysm. cerebral infarction. (Take care of your brains. there should be an open line of communication between the craniosacral therapist and the primary care physician. or an active rupture of the brain at the base of the skull. Patients and/or clients that might be suffering in a comma from such impacts and events require some time of recovery before craniosacral therapy can be applied. . or a very recent fracture or operation to the skull. As with other branches of integrative and complementary medicine.14 A FEW PRECAUTIONS.
” This is where the craniosacral system comes to its end. at the same time that you look into a mirror. consider this: when was the last time you were treated as a whole person in a hospital in all of your aspects? When the unique. often in these circles called. there is a continuous communication. With your hand still at your own sacrum. “of or belonging to the cranium and the sacrum. it’s likely that even your sacrum has some information to share with you. and the sacrum. You can actually feel the sacrum with the flat of your hand. never before and never again World that is You. or the lower back around the tailbone. We have been taught that the body and head are separate. you will see this isn’t true. . You might be surprised. the cranium. was caressed with a light touch? And when was the last time that you took the time to listen to the stories your body had to tell? Yes. Sacrum is named after. correspondence. or the head. What’s the sacrum? It’s the flat triangular bone at the base of your spine. but if you look in a mirror.” You can quickly check this out for yourself by observing if you have any thoughts. as.15 CRANIAL AND SACRAL Websters defines the word. Give it a chance to speak. craniosacral. the “bodymind.” As miraculous as it might seem. any thoughts at all. Both body and head function as an inseparable unit. “sacred bone. Just listen. Go ahead and feel free to place your hand there now. and communion between these two key areas of the body.
thoughts about anything at all. then you have made a very valuable discovery! You have found out for yourself that the body and mind are not separate. The body and mind work together as a harmonious whole.16 “CRANIO-WHAT?” Any Thoughts At All? If you can look into a mirror and discover that you are thinking thoughts. © Bill Groetzinger .
Visceral Manipulation Therapy. Lymph Draináge Therapy on improving the lymphatic circulation and supporting the immune system. Often the parents of infants and children are warmly invited to participate in sessions and normal clothing for all is not an issue. There are no “high velocity” adjustments. we might say. on the gentle synchrony and movement of the internal organs.A. like in a yoga or acting class or gym.” In doing so. craniosacral focuses in on the newly discovered “craniosacral system. Our descriptions would often be different. for no two people are . At the office on hip and fashionable Melrose Avenue in L. So we would often describe it as a cross between chiropractic and massage. it can gently and safely address acute and chronic restrictions along the central nervous system. that no other modality or approach can quite reach. Reiki on the subtle body. Acupuncture on the energy of Chi and the all encompassing Meridian channels.17 RECEIVING A CRANIOSACRAL SESSION A typical craniosacral session occurs on a relaxing massage table. we were at a loss for words when asked about it. and spinal cord. Where Massage Therapy focuses on the muscles and circulatory system. but unlike a massage. the person is not asked to undress. I suggest that the person wear comfortable clothing. brain. and so on. with a very light touch. It’s more like a soothing and nurturing bath for a tired central nervous system. where I worked for over a decade. for example.
Touch the Ocean: The Power of Our Collective Emotions describes pioneering sessions with dolphins and in the ocean in moment-by-moment detail. we begin to see the human body unlock and unwind in the ocean in a slow motion spiraling pattern. You have the privilege of turning off your beeper or cell or unplugging from your phone. as in a massage.18 “CRANIO-WHAT?” exactly alike or encounter craniosacral therapy in exactly the same way. We had the receptionist trained to say. can be most therapeutic! The book. “If you like massage you’ll love craniosacral!” Although it’s not massage. but as much as this is a wonderful compliment to the field. it could be in your most comfortable room in your home. Yes. In Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT). This is your time and your session. (Don’t forget that you can purchase the Audio Book!) . it is technically incorrect. Craniosacral therapy can and has been performed in hydrotherapy pools.” I know I did at first. or a gentle wave of water from its fins. craniosacral therapy is performed with humans and dolphins in relatively controlled aquatic environments. Here. For this reason. right next to you. Sometimes there might be aromatherapy. or sometimes it might be in a clinical setting without all the “frills.” Or. unlock. candlelight and soft music playing. Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT) is offered the world over by health care groups using a variety of modalities. and flow. some people mistakenly call this “craniosacral-massage. dolphins can assist in the therapeutic process too! Just the kindly smile of a dolphin. mountain lakes. some sessions can last up to an hour or more and so it thoughtfully uses a soft massage table as a treatment table. Did you know that craniosacral therapy can also be received in the water? Something very special happens when we remove the massage or treatment table from the equation and quietly enter the water to receive. and even in the ocean with enhanced therapeutic benefit and relief.
trained or wild. even when working with or around dolphins. pool. Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT) . It’s up to you. a simple bathing suit and top can be worn or a light wet suit. I wonder who could have went way out of her or his way to bother to write and offer such a book to the Planet. and why? Interesting question? or shameless self promotion? When doing craniosacral therapy in the water.RECEIVING A CRANIOSACRAL SESSION 19 Hmm. in a spa. or even in the ocean. Some might prefer nose plugs to keep out the water! But such “extras” are not at all required.
if a cran- . But craniosacral is performed with the person face up on the treatment table. or modalities. if we use a deeper. “craniosacral-massage” but again. This way you will discover the standard amount of touch pressure that is used. Upledger. we won’t feel our skull bones move: they resist. Dr. In craniosacral. Go ahead and place a nickel on the back of your hand. However. Most people often confuse craniosacral with massage and some will call craniosacral. The touch pressure is different than deep tissue. or the weight of a nickel. a practitioner can work with a touch pressure of only five grams. And thank goodness for that! On the other hand. the muscles and connecting tissues can resist our touch. as the developer of craniosacral therapy. Many trained craniosacral therapists have a massage therapy background. with all clothes on. the two approaches. supine. and unlike massage. Both will use a massage table since some craniosacral sessions can last up to an hour or more. are very different. heavier pressure than five grams. Clients often wear sweat suits or yoga clothes for sessions. A massage therapist practicing craniosacral therapy understands and is sensitive to this. but it does go very deep into the tissues. for example. encourages his massage therapist students and feels them most effective because of the high levels of sensitivity involved in their training. This is why during a vigorous deep tissue massage to the forehead.20 IS THIS DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE? This is not deep tissue massage.
I’d never thought of this before. This goes deeper than deep. Often. This “core” is the craniosacral system. the bones of the skull are also connected to a special core. it’s the deeper connection that is craved in requesting deep tissue massage. The way one client from New York City described his experience back to me. We can only touch this core in stillness and presence. And this movement is a response from the interior dimensions of the craniosacral system itself. was that. in some consultations.IS THIS DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE? 21 iosacral practitioner backs off the touch pressure to five grams or less. He . Students of all schools of craniosacral are taught to use their hands with intention and care at these deeper levels. for him. it felt like the movement of tectonic plates. something happens. the core of the body. There is a shift in the delicate tissues behind and around the forehead and the bone itself moves. he or she uses the bones of the skull only as handles to access the soft connective tissue structures of the craniosacral system itself. I would suggest that just as the Earth has tectonic plates that are connected to a core. Intention and Care Keep in mind that when a craniosacral therapist works. the core of the Earth. and very lightly places his or her fingertips on the forehead bone. Later. not all.
or she is not moving the bones, although incredibly, the bones can float on the membranes like long, slow, waves on the ocean. And the system responds lovingly to this kind of care and gentleness and loving intention. It feels safe inside its body home, safer than it could anywhere else on Earth, even in the Star System, or the Milky Way Galaxy, in that moment. Think about it for a while. What is there to lose in giving it welcome?
A COMPLEMENTARY MODALITY
A field within integrative medicine, it is generally known as a complementary modality, and now practiced as such on a worldwide scale. There are almost 100,000 practitioners as of this writing but the numbers are growing. While we have available the extraordinary miracles of surgery and treatment, craniosacral therapy complements all branches of medicine with elegance and harmony. Based on a human physiological system largely ignored—the craniosacral system—more and more Doctors and other practitioners are now beginning to consider and incorporate craniosacral therapy into their practices, including:
• Medical Doctors • Dentists
A COMPLEMENTARY MODALITY
• Psychiatrists • Osteopaths • Chiropractors • Occupational Therapists • Physical Therapists • Massage Therapists • Veterinarians It is properly considered neither “Alternative,” nor “Traditional.” It does not compete but works in conjunction with mainstream, integrative, and alternative branches. One might say it is a friend and friendly to all. For example, since craniosacral can kindly help ease the raw tensions from surgeries and restore integration, functionality, and tone to the connective tissues, it is useful and welcome to both Preoperative and Postoperative Care. And there is no conflict with medications. We all work together. The craniosacral therapist’s loyalty is neither to one Healthcare approach over another, nor even to craniosacral therapy itself. I happened to encounter this up close when Dr. Upledger himself sharply reminded us students, “Your loyalty is not to craniosacral therapy but to the patient.” I was at first bewildered but found this miraculous for its simplicity. Whatever works is good. Now, the more informed members of both the conventional and alternative communities might often refer and draw upon the considerable sensitivity and skills of a cooperating craniosacral therapy specialist. With huge exceptions and with respect to caring colleagues in Traditional and Alternative Medicine, when I was first starting
out and trying to figure out why more doctors weren’t taking more advantage of such modalities as craniosacral therapy, I would often look at it like this: Traditional, hard core medicine, is very good at seeing, for example, a maple tree, in all of its wonderful parts, but has been known to miss the living environment around the tree, that the maple is supported by the good earth and that there is sky above and perhaps a water source nearby. Trees need water too. The tree is not independent of the environment it lives in. Or the sky. In the same way, it helps doctors and their patients to know about the living environment that surrounds the central nervous system, that of the craniosacral system, and that such an environment even exists! When using craniosacral therapy, there should be communication between the craniosacral therapist, and the primary care physician. Your total health and wellness is the bottom line.
WHAT IS IT TO UNLOCK, AND UNWIND?
The feeling of craniosacral has often been likened to giving
the whole central nervous system a warm bath, or a nurturing massage. When properly applied with a very light touch, it can likely assist to deepen a person’s understanding and sensitivity to what’s going on in their world, with or without words. This can open a door to health, healing, and happiness. The practitioner might move to different areas of the table during the session and not just remain seated at the area around the cranium, or head. Craniosacral is holistic, whole-istic, and treats the whole body, not just the part. It treats both the whole and the part. He or she might “check in with you” from time to time, or ask how you are feeling. And this is simple, good manners. You can always say “no,” but keep in mind that this is a modality for the new millennium. You don’t want to miss your adventure in much needed stress reduction and relief! You might feel your tired legs and arms gently begin to move almost as if by themselves. This is a deeply relaxing and releasing feeling and called an “unwind.” The term originates from Dr. William Garner Sutherland, the great grandfather of craniosacral. It’s as if an old fashioned clock band that has been very tight begins to unlock and unwind of its own. This can happen very slowly and gradually. This is a physical sensation, much like when our head naturally and smoothly turns to one side, as if by itself, while resting on a pillow at night. In the jargon of the trade, this is a physical or
There may even be a feeling of an oceanic calm. It is deeply nurturing and relaxing. Craniosacral therapy is happy to be here and available. and intelligent touch is applied. We will return to this presently in our Primer. And why not? . This doesn’t need to be a choice of the “last resort. while you soak in the feeling of increased spaciousness in body and mind. At the same time. As the “issues in the tissues. or the session may occur in silence. And all of this. listen to our bodies. continue to unlock and relax with the deeper unwind.” as one client describes it.” They say they have run the full “medical gamut. high intentioned. WHY IS THIS A ‘LAST DOOR?’ Too often new clients say that this was their “last door” and “last hope. emotions that have been blocked can begin to thaw and release along with them. when we can take the time to get quiet. also.26 “CRANIO-WHAT?” “biomechanical” unwind.” It can be a first door also! Or a door to open along the way. I wonder how many sincere providers in other fields of medicine hear this at least once a month? Perhaps quite a few.” This is because they often encounter craniosacral therapy only after all other options have been exhausted. There may be some words shared. and to the stories our bodies might have to tell. shared dialogue. Something special happens when a very light.
“last resort. Rolfing®. even craniosacral therapy. is that some people. Massage Therapy. Occupational Therapy. Craniosacral Therapy is only one piece on the pie graph of health and healing available to us now. prevention. nutrition on another. not all. In our panic and under- . and innovative surgical procedures another piece.” if they choose. then it’s time for the person in distress to go to the so called. not all. Physical Therapy. We just don’t seem to know it yet! And what’s even more wonderful about having available such choices available to us as Cranial Osteopathy. to name a few. they might consider something called. now have a choice to also use these as a “first resort. Many are uncomfortable with certain procedures. and now no longer choose to go directly to anti-depressants or headache medications they don’t understand and are in fear of.WHY IS THIS A ‘LAST DOOR?’ 27 Imagine a pie chart. Hopefully. Visceral Manipulation. Reiki. and Acupuncture. and so on.” But many of us have had this the other way around. well. when it’s found that all else and all the alternatives have failed. much in the same way that good and proper nutrition and exercise is a first resort defense. And yet in a number of cases. after the immune system has been overburdened. just as pharmaceuticals are another slice of the pie.
as the saying goes. might it be worthwhile to look into a safe. and how we can take care of ourselves and our loved ones before and after surgeries. gentle hands-on approach such as craniosacral therapy? As Dr.” You might even feel better! You will certainly be more informed. This gave us a great relief. As I often like to quip. We didn’t have to figure things out for ourselves but just do what “the doctor said. It used to be that the Doctor was always right. “It’s worth a try. even doctors know that there are other. all of the time. we have sought out hard medications and hard core surgical procedures as first. study up.” Consider. and then a cure for the last cure. random elements at play and we have to think. A properly informed person is an empowered person and a safer person.28 “CRANIO-WHAT?” standable distress. is that you don’t always know all that is being “prevented. and figure some things out on our own. Before rushing for a cure. Upledger has been known to say. for example. often finding out in hindsight that some of these could have perhaps been avoided with some good massage therapy and bodywork. “What would be lost but a few relaxing hours on a massage table?” The interesting thing about prevention. We also need to know about prevention. especially when in crisis.” Now. . We need to uncover real information to help us make choices for ourselves and our loved ones. however minor. advocate for ourselves in hospitals. harmless.
and other practitioners in fields such as Rolfing®. The craniosacral therapist.” and hence the term.” or just.” Cranial and Sacral The term “craniosacral.” often shortened to. CRANIAL? If you break the word. “cranio” and “sacral. is somewhat descriptive of the relationship between the cranium and the sacrum. “craniosacral” down into cranial and sacral. “cranial. you find the words.” and “sacrum. the osteopathic doctor. Polarity Therapy. Feldenkris.” arguably borrowed from osteopathy. “cranium. Visceral Manipulation.29 WHY IS IT CALLED. and Network Chiropractic . “craniosacral.
In animals. not just the cranium can be affected but the sacrum too. for there is a continuous correspondence between these two areas in animals too. Equine CranioSacral Therapy. cats. mammals. although not to be substituted for the inestimable value of your valued Veterinarian.30 “CRANIO-WHAT?” are aware that there is a continuous and intimate correspondence between these two key areas. The craniosacral system is common to all primates. which means that even your pet has a craniosacral system! On this. some craniosacral therapists are regularly asked to work on the pets of their clients! This includes dogs. tension. and horses. This very light touch approach helps even animals to relax and to drop needless stress. Animal lovers know that their animals can get stressed out too! There is a growing interest in work on horses both as professional competitors and as pets in a growing field called. and pain. Equine Craniosacral Therapy .
Chi Gong. Somatics. Although some of the lines of demarcation are starting to blur with the introduction of craniosacral therapy. . Just like there are many different approaches the arts of Acupuncture. there are different approaches to the study of craniosacral. little known branch of the osteopathic community. the focus is not on the direct manipulation of the cranial sutures. The craniosacral therapist works with the bony landmarks of the skull as handles only to access the connective tissues of the craniosacral system within. with some exiling themselves to England and the Continent. At the dawn of the 20th Century. extend from within the cranium and all the way down the length of the spine to the sacrum. cranial osteopathy was called “craniosacral” by a small.31 …SO IS IT OSTEOPATHY? Very different. this approach differs from cranial osteopathy in that it openly acknowledges there is an inner emotional world to each person and that it’s all right to have one. Their leading edge work went on behind closed doors. and so on. These soft connective tissue layers. Cranial Osteopathy tends to employ counseling after sessions. Swedish massage. Cranial osteopathy does not permit this. or membranes. Craniosacral Therapy acknowledges the appropriate release of emotion during sessions. Another difference is that unlike the cranial osteopath. But this changed with Upledger’s and others’ findings.
there are wonderful choices available and it comes down to the individual. neither giver nor receiver might feel any change at all. cranial osteopathy. osho. visionary craniosacral. cranial. the father of osteopathy in America. founder and developer of craniosacral from 1901. At first blush. Again. It takes practiced and caring hands to perceive it.” . without exception. “It’s the little things that are the big ones in the science of osteopathy. And as Dr. biodynamic craniosacral. It is very difficult to make any value calls since this is a form of hands-on healing art and each practitioner is unique. Andrew Still. and this can be a source of comfort and solace. later named.32 “CRANIO-WHAT?” It’s subtle. and surgical interventions that are also available to MDs. and all acknowledge. and each practitioner has his or her unique healing talent to share and contribute. And there’s no accounting for taste! Different forms of this new healing art now go by various names. anymore than the craniosacral therapy approach. craniosacral therapy. “cranial osteopathy. craniosacral massage. No matter the background. The classic cranial osteopathic approach might not be suitable for everyone. or credential. drug therapies. DO. William Garner Sutherland. Dr. treatments. Upledger himself had such a background before he developed CranioSacral Therapy in the mid-1970s. suggests. cranial-sacral.” What of a trained osteopath who practices craniosacral? A Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) can draw on a full range of conventional diagnostic techniques. no two practitioners are exactly alike. great indebtedness to one man.
Would you want to be operated upon by a heart doctor who did not know of. Very likely. In the medical speak. the cardiovascular system. Dura actually means “tough” . your good hearted massage therapist knows more about the lymph system. and it’s unique biomechanics than even your doctor! I like to draw on a comparison with the heart and its intricate but beautifully designed system of arteries and veins. the craniosacral system surrounds and enfolds the central nervous system. the Lymphatic System only began to be dissected in the seventeenth century and now medical schools often spend less than two days on it in their instruction. For example. Just as arteries and veins surround and enfold the heart. So please go easy on your Doctor! The craniosacral system is only a recently discovered physiological system and it takes time for these new discoveries to surface. it has for the most part been virtually ignored. It is essentially a semiclosed hydraulic system contained within a tough. the existence of arteries and veins? So it is with the craniosacral system. Some few in the traditional medical community are becoming aware that the craniosacral system is no less a human biological system than. for example. called as a whole.33 THE CRANIOSACRAL SYSTEM… And as it’s only a recently discovered system in the body. the cardiovascular or respiratory system or the skin. watertight membrane called the Dura Mater. or believe in. the craniosacral system comprises the “inter-cranial” membrane system and associated structures surrounding the central nervous system.
” Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced in our delicate brain tissues as a filtrate from the blood.” To use another image from CraniOcean. live and “breath. It is then enclosed within this membrane and it never departs. From here.34 “CRANIO-WHAT?” and Mater means “Mother. . picture an open flower delicately balanced within your cranium with a very delicate stem going on down to your sacrum where it gently plants.com. if you will. this fluid maintains the physiological environment in which the brain and nervous system develop.
However it takes considerable sensitivity and patience to first encounter the actual rhythm with your own hands. lymph. FLOW…? It’s been called rhythm. your hands never forget it. cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). urine. and this shutting down may be called a stillpoint. The production. going on all the time. Once you learn its feel and symmetry. There are thousands of rhythms. Naturally. a stillpoint would occur when the truck is on idle. pulse. pulses. absorption and reabsorption of this special fluid in the brain emits a resonant pulse or rhythm throughout the entire body.35 RHYTHM. a tide. much like the heart has a continuous rhythm or pulse. not when the ignition is turned off. Sometimes I’ll even call it the craniosacral story flow. The “feel” of the pulse or rhythm or flow is not unlike that of the cardiac pulse or the rise and fall of the breath and breathing. saliva. and of course. or a flow. tears. the qualities of the rhythm will be different for . sweat. or the breathing. there are times when this rhythm shuts down to be almost imperceptible. If the body were a truck. amplitude and rate. flows. depending on my mood. quality. Just like a truck has a constant rhythm when the ignition is turned on. PULSE. flow. This rhythm has been called variously. It’s just a matter of which one you tune into. the body’s ongoing symphony. Although the craniosacral system has a continuous rhythm or pulse. the craniosacral system has a constant rhythm. depending on who you speak to in which school. blood. a pulse.
each person. Some people will be more restricted in this fluid flow than others, and some less restricted. Speaking of rhythm, sometimes the rhythm can be felt even after a session is over. This provides a soothing relaxation and calm to the whole body Up until craniosacral’s discovery in 1901 by osteopathic physician, William Garner Sutherland, DO, and later its therapeutic potential researched and explored by osteopath John Upledger, DO, FAAO, from the mid-1970’s, it was necessarily ignored and it’s considerable therapeutic benefit unknown. Once, while visiting the Upledger Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, I very enthusiastically described it to Dr. Upledger like this: “Dr. Sutherland’s was the chrysalis stage, Dr. Upledger’s, I mean, your work, sir, and others was the larval stage, and now the field has opened up to us all, everywhere, like the butterflies! We’re all the opening wings of the butterflies!” Dr. Upledger looked at me through his white shock of hair and blazing blue eyes, a bit surprised. I wondered if I’d said anything wrong?
CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY FOR PEDIATRICS
It has been said by many cultures since ancient times that
kids are closest to “Heaven.” We can well understand this in our culture too. There is now a rapidly growing field called Craniosacral for Pediatrics. “Pediatrics” is the branch medicine that works with infants and children.
CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY FOR PEDIATRICS
When working with infants and children, the mother or father or both are warmly welcomed in the treatment room during the session while the child is receiving. Parents are also invited to participate in water, hydrotherapy pool, swimming pool, river, lake, or ocean sessions with their children, for craniosacral can also be performed safely in the water! Take just the ocean, for example: The salinity content of the ocean is generally the same as the salinity content of the human body. In the quiet, nurturing ocean, the body can return to its early embryological environment. As the human embryo develops, it passes through a variety of discrete stages and unfolds much like a chambered nautilus shell, in a spiral. It is wonderful for infants and children in the ocean, and, particularly for Occupational Therapists and Sensory Integration Therapists, playing on the beach can be part of the therapeutic process too! Could it be that our bodies are oceans in miniature? If so, this would include infants, toddlers, and adolescents.
“Oceans in Miniature?” Ada Lopez, the CS Therapist in, Touch the Ocean
In the clinic or medical office setting, craniosacral therapy is also proven to provide relief from: • Autism • Birth Trauma • Caesarean Section and postpartum • Colic • Down’s Syndrome • Learning Disorders (ADD/ADHD) • Malaise and Depression • Orthopedic Conditions • Plagiocephalic Conditions • Pregnancy and Nursing Mothers • Seizure Disorders • Strabismus or “lazy eye” (72% percent) • Spastic Cerebral Palsy (65% percent) • Trauma • Whiplash • More Some of these conditions can of course be relieved and at times, treated in full grown adults and the elderly. No matter the modality, traditional, alternative, or integrative, the body has its own unique timing for healing and remission. And since there are so many others involved, if such a wonderful event would happen, no one person, or modality, can take the credit.
CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY FOR PEDIATRICS
At times, the parents might sit and with wonder observe as their child gently unwinds on the treatment table and relaxes. At other times, either of the parents may entertain the child while the work goes on, or actually lie down on the treatment table with the child. The infant or child can often be a moving target! The parents can provide a calming influence.
Especially with birth trauma, or complications of parturition, the parent can be present as the body of the little one “unwinds” and frees. There can be a physical unwind, or there can be an emotional unwind, or both! An attentive mother can tell the difference. And each session is different. The unwind can happen very slowly and gradually, or somewhat faster, with the infant moving this way as that as its small body works out the held energy and tensions. At times, with the therapist or therapists present, the infant body can wrap around, or fulcrum around, the mother’s own body, as the infant releases the traumas. This can be nurturing and nourishing for both infant and mother. The father can also be present, with the same therapeutic relief and benefit. Sometimes an infant can begin to cry, surprising everyone in the room! Children and infants are normally taught not to cry, but here, any and all crying is all right. We meet them where they are. Nothing is imposed or forced. And it’s not the sound of a cry of hunger or complaining, but it can be a sound of deepest held emotional tension and release from trauma. A toddler or child can cry, stomp, or throw a tantrum! This is within a caring therapeutic context and is viewed as another release of tension, another discharge, and all right. Such behaviors pass as quickly in sessions as they arise. Much of craniosacral therapy occurs in a non-verbal or even pre-verbal space, a space, for example, that is quite familiar
. The relief of Cesarean section by craniosacral therapy. The rapid change in just air pressure alone can create a very unpleasant cranial base situation in the infant to be dealt with in adulthood if not hours after the actual time of delivery. the image of the Cesarean birth taught in craniosacral therapy is that of a deep-sea diver who comes up to the surface too fast and “bends” due to the rapid change in air pressure. craniosacral therapy helps to relieve connective tissue structures. dissolve stress. can help soothe and calm adolescent malaise and depression. This is an experience that is both deeply meaningful and peaceful for all involved. At best. No matter the diagnosed condition of the infant. Silence is all right too. sympathetically and energetically. has deep-seated emotions and tensions to work out and release. both the mother and the newborn would soon be treated in “post-op” for Cesarean. At times. The therapeutic facilitator listens rather than “leads” the session. accepts that any and all emotions are okay to have. or pre-adolescent. and improve the overall function of the nervous system. it’s not unusual to work on both parent and child in craniosacral sessions. Not just the delicate bones of the infant head. Even a child diagnosed with Autism. but the infant’s whole body is subject to constant pressures within. few know that craniosacral therapy can also be used in conjunction with Cesarean Section procedures! Although “C-Sections” are often required for the safety of both the mother and infant. later in life. like any other child on the Planet. for the relief of the one can assist in the relief of the other. with a very light touch. There is a quality of peace and sacredness that only an infant or child can impart to us “adults. As astonishing as it might seem.” There is a feeling in the room that all silently and peacefully recognize. and again. and some sessions can occur in almost total silence. toddler.40 “CRANIO-WHAT?” to the infant.
and . why not ourselves? Could put a whole new spin on the old phrase. whatever “heaven” might look like. some can be emotional impacts.) Kids are close to heaven SHARING SOMETHING MORE There are different forms of impacts that we can receive and that can remain lodged in the body.41 Maybe this is what it means that kids are closest to heaven. "Suffer the little children. relieve. and some chemical. Why not treat them this way? Come to think of it. The craniosacral therapist is trained to relax. Some of these impacts can be physical impacts.” Could the word "suffer" mean simply to take the time with them and let them be as they are? (Think about it for a while.
we can feel some of the affects of the medication as it clears out of this physiological system. sensitive bodywork. the Good Lord forbid! It’s not so hard to conceive. and other forms of highly attuned. chiropractic. How can an impact be chemical? If we have inadvertently ingested chemicals from our workplace.42 “CRANIO-WHAT?” even assist in the gentle release of these impacts. or a steel toed boot. When it occurs. and this can include something as simple as aspirin or mild antibiotics. this can make for a chemical impact. and dislodge from the system. This can be quite an odd sensation when this happens. and one could wish that our wonderful doctors would reemploy their skill and license to touch their patients. but there can also be impacts from sound. This thawing can happen during a session or even after a session. Such events of cleansing and “detoxification” can also be common to massage therapy. lymph drainage therapy. glass. and if it occurs. and walls of the craniosacral system. spontaneously remising. being hit by a car. It can be the sound made from being kicked in the head by a horse. however. or if we have ingested a lot of medications. and well we might not be. for our mind tells us that we aren’t on the old medication anymore. for example. or as complex as anti-depressants or hallucinogens. Not to go much farther a field. tissues. Shock waves can pass through metal. And how can such an impact possibly be relived and even dislodged? This is far beyond the scope of the Primer. and . The approach creates the environment. During a craniosacral therapy session. the chemical residue can remain locked in the fluids. these medications can possibly begin to thaw and melt. if we have been on a regimen of medications. It’s useful to view these as physical impacts.
but while we are following each person’s intimate. If the relief. we witness the safe.SHARING SOMETHING MORE 43 therefore through bone. And will one ever know if this is true or false until one finds out for oneself? . clients often report out loud that they can hear the sound that was made on impact. moment-by-moment story. The welcome feeling is said to be a new freedom and quite liberating in itself. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury or Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI/TBI). from the craniosacral system. and dislodging of sound impacts can work in the overall relief of civilians. might it work for active duty military and Veterans also? This is very real. even if years before! Such events can often arise as part of the relief of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in craniosacral therapy sessions. Sound vibration impacts also contribute to an aspect of PTSD that is now called. Well. thawing. where sound vibration impacts can combine with any number of other impacts. and appropriate relief and release of these impacts from the craniosacral system and the body. our craniums are made of bone too! When these impacts dislodge. emotional. In the books we not only begin to begin to learn more about how about how physical. including emotional impacts. with a caring and light touch. and sound impacts can become lodged in the body. We can be more ourselves again. chemical. gentle. Space opens.
This gentle form of relief and treatment is also available to all ages. But consider yourself most fortunate to encounter a fully trained practitioner who is fully available to you and your needs. This can become an “emotional unwind. from infants to the elderly. can be quiet. it can feel like a dream. the body. I would hope that the reader would soon refer to the books to learn more of this and how to approach this properly. and deeply relaxing. not just the mind.44 THE BODY HAS STORIES TO TELL This is where craniosacral therapy gets really interesting. has stories to tell. for when we are quiet and still. birth trauma. “somato” meaning body. preferring to address only the physical structures and purely biomechanical problems. in the books that this Primer gently supports and supplements. But certainly.” and can open into a larger whole body emotional release. Some practitioners are available to provide this for you and yet others are not. again and again. to gain the remarkable and refreshing benefits of SomatoEmotional Release®. no one need to have suffered PTSD. An “SER. This allied modality is a missing ingredient in health care. John Upledger calls. and so on. These . depression.” or whole body emotional release. sensations and images can quietly rise to the surface of our conscious awareness. or what Dr. This is also one of the reasons why craniosacral therapy is fast becoming the modality of choice in the effective relief and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). for as we learn. nurturing. At times. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI/ MTBI). SomatoEmotional Release®.
course load that I’d been very worried about. might be mentioned out loud to the therapist or not. “I” was even the color of the sky. people would mention images during their sessions. And I didn’t have a sense that the college counselor was trying to control me or on some hidden agenda or power trip. I would sometimes recall this random counseling session I’d had years ago in college. and memories. It’s up to you. silence was the best response. as a total Gestalt. and this was “my” role in the dream. At these times. “I” was the wheels of the skateboard. impressions. When I mentioned this to the college counselor. What might be significant is an image that might be therapeutic for us. Soon I began to see that all of the dream images. And on the other hand. When I first started working in this day job. “I” was the hill. The dream was no longer so mysterious to me. an intern. I wanted them to know that I was present and available to them. I’d had a disturbing dream where I was skateboarding down a steep asphalt hill and the wheels of the skateboard went out of control. On the one hand. and this was “my” role in the dream. Images come and go for all of us throughout the day. This too can be mentioned or left alone. . There was an issue I’d had with a too large. sensations. and I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. going out of control. and he taught me a valuable lesson. reflected my own anxiety. We can be awake or asleep and images quietly pass through the background of our thoughts and thinking. He was quiet and considerate. listening. Craniosacral Therapy says that this is okay.THE BODY HAS STORIES TO TELL 45 images. as I went through the dream. he suggested that I role-play with each of the images in the dream: “I” was the skateboard.
for others. “You go with the craniosacral flow” . and allows that intelligence to direct and guide the session. It works with the wisdom in the body. our receptionist often smiles to them and says. mind. rejuvenated and flowing and possibly flowering in body. Each session is different since each person is different. a stormy sea for a few hours and “worse before better. weeks. for your response time might be slowed! It’s as if you’ve taken a long bath or have had a cocktail and sometimes it can be quite a buzz! When our clients depart the office. and spirit.46 “CRANIO-WHAT?” Craniosacral Therapy does not direct the flow of images or program the person into some new pattern or set of behaviors. a very open space can be provided. Pay attention to your driving when you get back in your car. and a simple feeling of being. or even months. When we can allow this inner wisdom to guide the session. “You go with the craniosacral flow!” And off they go. Rather than “lead” a session. and the resonant effects of some sessions can last for days.” The feelings pass as the fluids and tissues are renewed. the intelligence within each person. a craniosacral therapist listens and allows. For some it will be oceanic calm. It’s going to be different for everyone.
as in any field. see if you can talk on the phone with the person you are about to work with and find out if you can basically get along. really. find what is the best approach for you. and other healthcare practitioners. you may possibly feel inspired to find out what craniosacral therapy is for you! There is of course friendly competition among all the many schools of craniosacral. and relief it can offer remain inconceivable to many. but the answer is going to be different for each person. to me. comfort. as in any branch of medicine. as you read this Primer. and gather more information from other sources. If there is ever any question of what is the best approach in the trade. the considerable care.47 IS IT FOR YOU? of many medical communities now refer and draw upon the considerable sensitivity and skill of the craniosacral therapist. Keeps me interested in this day job! Of course. What is the gut feeling you receive? This is much like any other field of expertise when hiring. like I about did just now. is a good thing. many more doctors. No matter the credential or school or approach. Members . This is not to say that there aren’t real healing miracles that can occur. dentists. This. and while more and more are incorporating craniosacral therapy into their own practices. What then is craniosacral? I could quote the pages and pamphlets on the glass table at the office on Melrose and the website in full to answer this question. psychiatrists.
while others will sit with good book of what others have experienced in order to process and to deepen wisdom. in the medical environment. or even dance. craniosacral therapy is not yet approved by insurance companies in all 50 states. journaling. moment by moment. like massage therapy. Or perhaps by browsing the pages of a book on the table of a waiting room in a clinic lobby! Thank you for your time. this book can inspire craniosacral therapists. Hopefully. some patients and/or clients will seek the company of a good friend or counsel with a favorite talk therapist. the only way you can really know is by visiting a practitioner in your local area and finding out for yourself by lying down on a treatment table. are also used to access the quiet spaces within. first hand Although. . attention. and participation here in the mutual blend of hearts and minds. massage therapists. A light touch Often. as of this writing.48 As I often say. is fast becoming accepted as a part of medical health care. and in our daily lives. and other health care practitioners to see what is possible when we can maintain our sense of integrity and compassion. Painting. between sessions. it.
AN AUTHOR’S NOTEPAD .
I don’t know the botanical name of this flower. the c-system responds lovingly to care and gentleness and loving intention. I may say something like this. Sometimes I call it the star flower.50 THE “C-SYSTEM” I like to call the craniosacral system the “csystem. We each have our own unique talent. All it takes is a very light touch. What it might be for one person can be very different for another. it can sense who is there. It might possibly have five delicate petals. Like an infant. it might possibly be a mere scintillation. or a vibration of energies. the same kind of flower that collects on bushes on the side of highways and byways and yards on both coasts.” an alive. It’s just the stem of a flower growing up from the base of our spine at the sacrum to finally open and blossom in the cranium. or even an animal. the main thing is to just get out of the way and let it do its thing. or otherwise. If a bright visual that extends even beyond the treatment table. and don’t care to know it. even though a friend once tried to tell me. whatever that might be. When I’m asked to describe it so that even a child can understand it. or an expanding prism of liquid light. like a star. And I see the nurturing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as the water that nourishes the flower. At other times. Sometimes . Like a flower. experience. or a subtle and gentle feeling that arises. it is always the stem of a little blue flower. For me. Others might perceive only the feeling. and gift to offer. human physiological system which surrounds and enfolds both the brain and spinal cord and bathes them with a fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). if only the sharing of our presence.
It doesn’t work with force. The great Dr. It works with real living beings. no less. and after a while it was par for the course. We visited with something we called the little blue flower at the end of the first book in this series. Finally. since each practitioner makes it their own with each new session. It would appear and disappear.51 “THE LITTLE BLUE FLOWER” Craniosacral Therapy is based on medical science and for this Facilitator. When I first saw this event occur. and travel up through the midline core of the body to the base of the cranium where it would eventually open and blossom. Touch the Ocean: The Power of Our Collective Emotions. Again. it was as if I saw it from the corner of my eye. and can only go as far as you can go. Why? Craniosacral is a living art.” To work with force and/or coercion especially at these deeper levels of healing is a stupidity. No more. I had for a long time during treatment sessions perceived a luminous line of blue which would appear at the base of the central nervous system. . but it would only take one day to bring it back into focus. as much as pulling apart the petals of a flower before it can open. Paint is paint in the hands of a hired house painter and then something different in the hands of a Rembrandt or Van Gogh. it is an art. or around the tailbone. I didn’t know what this meant medically. If I’d blinked it would have gone away. above the forehead like a bio-luminescent blue flower. as it were. I still didn’t give it much thought. There is “no agenda. only that the person on the table was in full health and shine. or if it meant anything at all. a craniosacral practitioner is only as talented as you are.
Others more experienced in the field than myself may possibly be able to describe this event with far more eloquence. or a point of reference for what was possible. Sutherland had borrowed from the Book of Genesis and which he related to the more subtle flows of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) when the body as a whole would come into balance and harmony. “The Breath of Life” was a phrase that Dr. calling it. but now for our storybooks.52 “CRANIO-WHAT?” William Garner Sutherland may have offered one possible description for this event. It's opening and appearance would invariably be accompanied by a satisfying feeling through the treatment room that all is well. represented a starting place only. And new life. I've often thumbnailed this event as the Big Bloom. This. We each find our own way. The Breath of Life. which is a milder phrase than the Big Bang but with its appearance the creation of worlds unfold. for me. . it was and is the little blue flower.
Upledger often described to us erstwhile students that the craniosacral system is the physiological system where the body. for example. For me. spirit. outdoors in parks. all that is required is that we open. and after witnessing how the waves. It can expand through the Cosmos to the music of the spheres and beyond. there is a vibrant. the craniosacral system itself—by whatever name—would become the physiological system where body. This always would intrigue me. and spirit come to an integration point. after working with clients in locations other than the clinic. mind. in forest areas. and spirit came to an integration point. but also the environment. mind. and connect. I began to feel that the craniosacral system was not only where the body. It can be that special feeling of blending with the water when in the ocean .53 A SENSE OF INVITATION Dr. mind. attune. and in the ocean for some years. in mountain lakes. To discover this. sealife. and the living environment integrated. very alive quality to the environment. and even the wind would seem to move in quiet synchrony with the somatic emotional releases in the clients’ sessions. wildlife. What could this mean? It seemed like another one of those things that one had to experience for oneself! Well. This environment is not only local. With some quiet observation. it is as dynamic and alive as you or I. Perhaps it can be the feeling of calm and connection one might feel when walking alone in familiar woods. Rather than merely lifeless and inert.
54 “CRANIO-WHAT?” on a surfboard. and move in synchrony together with a sense of invitation. or even in the ocean. Craniosacral in the Ocean . but are we also aware that there is an inner environment? There is an exterior and an interior. beyond the turbulence or “noise” of the waves. we can “tune in” with both the outer and the inner environment at anytime. come alive. Both are always available to us. This is not so mysterious. I would call what I was consistently witnessing on the massage table in the back room of the clinic. anywhere. really. or in a small boat waiting for the fish to bite. There is an outer environment. and yet this can open to the mystery of creation itself. It could be that we experience this more than we know but just don’t notice. “craniocean. However. We tend to mistreat and ignore them both. This feeling of “blending” can be experienced by anyone. I have repeatedly found that both of these seemingly separate environments can wake up. even in the midst of a big city like Los Angeles.” for there is the cranium and there is the ocean that is love. or outdoors.
sculpture. clinic. we need to rediscover the origins of craniosacral during some portion of each session. it was that the awareness within the body was allowing the stories to be told. And now. music. and so on. Whatever name works to support you and the patient and/or client is good. At its best. for each practitioner makes this work her or his own. And I didn’t feel that what I was sensing or discovering was particularly original in the history of medicine. poetry. Call this what you like. Upledger and others hadn’t covered. like each new session on a relaxing massage table. or ground that Dr. For Craniocean work to be truly effective. including beloved artists in painting. if just by using a sense of invitation. is ever free and filled with variety. in our essence. . we are all artists. at a hospital. The ocean is always changing. just as we are ever changing. Perhaps the real contribution of Craniocean is the sense of invitation. all is invitation. or CraniOcean? This tiresome convention of “naming” is a rather interesting challenge that each professional practitioner encounters at some point in her or his career. When we can learn how to learn to get out of the way. Sutherland or Dr. CranioSacral Therapy. both as givers and receivers. I felt sure that there were other ways of describing this. or private home. theater. I realized. The ocean. This is where it all begins.A SENSE OF INVITATION 55 Was it Cranial. for whatever our hands-on medium of choice. other practitioners in other hands-on fields by other names are thankfully beginning to rediscover this intimate interrelationship with the environment. It wasn't that the body was telling stories. the ocean cannot be directed or told what to do or how to behave in lock-step command.
56 “CRANIO-WHAT?” CraniOcean Performed in Kauai. Hawaii .
cranial osteopathy. I would like to thank her for pointing this out to me. William Garner Sutherland. after Sutherland. for his challenging certification programs. which introduces an emotional component to this healing art. and to John Upledger. When my friend. is now known by various names such as. cranial osteopathy.57 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thank you again for your participation. then an intern at SUNY. Sheru Hurlong. all forms of craniosacral practice derive from one man. I might have forgotten all about it and it would have remained in the hard drive of the computer! Once more. who first began to experiment with the inherent motion of the brain and spinal cord in 1901. Dr. and visionary craniosacral. craniosacral osteopathy. for otherwise. And so I would like to express appreciation to William Sutherland. New York. DO founder of craniosacral. DO. FAAO. cranial-sacral. and the clients who would borrow the pages and take them home with them. now called. and for his encouragement to students to make this light touch . Upledger’s permission to use terms from craniosacral therapy. Also. picked up the pages from the glass table of our waiting room on Melrose Avenue. developer of Craniosacral Therapy. What this one man began while in osteopathic college in Kirksville. for Dr. biodynamic craniosacral. she said it was the simplest description of craniosacral therapy that she’d ever read! This really impressed me because she was originally a massage therapy student. craniosacral. DO. Missouri.
occupational therapists. This list of unsung heroes and heroines includes our physical therapists. Judy Waskuch. layout designer William P. and consulting editor. OT. for making this new publication possible. also helped with most of the illustrations. I have learned something from each one that I have had the privilege to encounter. and those with the courage and the heart to practice integrative medicine. text Editor. this doesn’t mean to throw the baby out with the bathwater!) I would also like to thank publisher CraniOcean Media and Deborah Tyner. or be touched by. . acupuncturists. touch. care. also. chiropractors. who in addition to a great design. Peter Dudar and Sally Mar for their help with illustrations. and oodles of craniosacral therapists and friends who approved the final cover design! Last but not least. and prevention. from the wings. Lisa M. and I acknowledge their silent contribution to this book. for as he has pointed out.58 “CRANIO-WHAT?” hands-on healing art their own. Also. it won’t work unless you make it your own. Also.” We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our good hearted massage therapists and intuitive bodyworkers and energy workers as one of the greatest natural human resources on the planet at this time. a certain “New York Editor. Groetzinger. another friend and “Poet of Orthopedic Surgery” for his disciplined guidance with the final text. (Of course. Mora.
The Cranial Bowl. New York.M. Visceral Manipulation. St. Revised edition June. North Atlantic Books.. Incorporated. M. The Heart of Listening: A Visionary Approach to Craniosacral Work. D. Enterprises. UI Publishing. Florida. Somatoemotional Release and Beyond. 1988. Minnesota. pdf . Florida. Dr. W.. Upledger. Dr. 1997 .G.G Sutherland. 1962. Seattle.I. Pierre Mercer.. F. Jean-Pierre Barral. D. With Thinking Fingers. Christiane Northrup.A. 1995.. 2010.O. 1990. John E. JAOA.O. Vol. Number 9. Sutherland’s experiments with Victorian charm and grace.A. Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing. William Garner Sutherland. W. Women’s Bodies. 100. Palm Beach Gardens. D. John E.. Special Reprints.59 BIBLIOGRAPHY— NURTURING READS Ada Sutherland. 210. William Garner Sutherland’s wife recounts Dr. Upledger. California and U. Peter. Bantam Books. published. September 2000. Palm Beach Gardens. p.M. Washington. Berkeley.O. Hugh Milne.O. Your Inner Physician and You. published by North Atlantic Books. Eastland Press.. DO.D. O.
your household pet! Craniosacral therapy acknowledges that emotions can get locked in the connective tissues as emotional memories and emotional pain. non-intrusively. “unwinds. It can do this because it works with the connective tissue and fluid environment that surrounds and supports the delicate tissues of the brain and spinal cord. may be more difficult to pronounce than “long haul tractor-trailer.” and releases. and horses. the arms. n Although not to be mistaken for a “cure-all.” but it’s the essence of simplicity after learning a few basic points. with dolphins. Sometimes. in other words. Also. legs. and in the ocean.” or for those emergencies that doctors and hospitals are trained and equipped to handle. craniosacral therapy has been proven to treat and relieve a full spectrum of conditions. cats. safely. and the body can move in different directions.60 A CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY PRIMER SUMMARY The term. a physiological system called the. non-surgically. “craniosacral system. it can be used in water. spontaneously—a good thing. n n n . Craniosacral Therapy.” The touch is so light that it is safe for infants and the elderly. It can even be used for dogs. as this pain and trauma releases and unlocks.
but by finding out for yourself in your own experience. cosmetic surgeons and more. promote integration. it is very often used by orthopedic surgeons. Few know that just as there is an art to giving craniosacral therapy. is not by opinion or by this Primer. without forcing anything. psychiatrists. Massage therapists are very skilled in its use. Give yourself time. and dentists. The only way you will know for sure. ask yourself: How long has the body been in contraction and pain? Weeks. Do all things (in combination) with Love. Craniosacral therapy activates and supports a self-correcting ability of the body that lasts.A CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY PRIMER SUMMARY 61 n Doctors of many branches now use craniosacral therapy. the thinking is now that if this does not work for you first. there is an art to receiving it. and restore functionality and tone to the connective tissues. months. or years? If so please allow some time and patience for the body to come out of its contracture and pain. Mainly. including osteopaths. n n n n . then go to the last resort—the surgical procedures and medications. Because craniosacral therapy can help ease tensions. in Preoperative and Postoperative Care. As integrative medicine.
62 ABOUT THE AUTHOR James Nemec grew up on the ocean in Palm Beach. he is the founder of CraniOcean: Intuitive Bodywork and Massage in a blend with Craniosacral Therapy.com. or to make appointments. Now. To learn more about his current schedule. Nationally certified in massage therapy and Diplomat certified through the Upledger Institute in craniosacral therapy. visit.craniocean. discussions and demonstrations. www. based in West Palm Beach. . He has worked as a performer and playwright and as a practitioner of Craniosacral Therapy. he also travels throughout the country and internationally to perform one to two week Mini-Intensives. Florida.
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Thank you for the share of your time and attention here in the blend of hearts and minds. LMT. CST-D All rights reserved.N. Love does it all. (Think about it for a while.) Hallelujah! .J.
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