Addressing Your Health and Well-Being
"To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease."
Biodynamic Craniosacral Work uses exquisite stillness, gentle touch, and finely tuned perception to help the client relieve pain, relax the body, quiet the mind, expand consciousness, and feel more "in tune."
The practitioner does not attempt to fix problems, but instead contacts healthy underlying patterns that are palpable to the trained practitioner (and sometimes to the client as well). If the client is able to relax into the flow of these patterns, which feels wonderful, then all aspects of body and psyche are favorably affected. The more deeply the client relaxes, the better! Part of the practitioner's job is to intuitively assist that process of relaxation.
Often, people have coped with life's stresses by compensations of the nervous system. By the time we lie down on a massage table, we can be quite "jangled," which may translate into physical pain as well. Or it may be that psychological trauma is interwoven with injury, making the injury hard to heal. Biodynamic work can bypass the hypervigilant, overcompensated nervous system to help clients regain our naturally joyful and calm presence. Receiving this work we "remember" our true self, and it is often a tremendous relief.
Biodynamic Craniosacral Work ~ Be Still and KnowWhen osteopathic physician William Sutherland first developed craniosacral work ("cranial work") in the early 1900's, he approached it as a biomechanical process of manipulating bones and tissue to free restrictions in the brain and central nervous system. Most contemporary practitioners still practice either the biomechanical approach to cranial work or a later development called functional work.
By late in his life, though, Dr. Sutherland himself was moving beyond the biomechanical and functional models. During his later years, he proposed quietly listening with "seeing, knowing hands" in lieu of externally derived manipulation. He began working with fluctuant patterns or "tides" within his patients. (He identified the tidal fluid as cerebrospinal fluid. Our understanding has since evolved and now CSF is considered to be only one aspect of tidal phenomena.)
When the tides return function to a dysfunctional area, it's often in idiosyncratic ways that the practitioner's imagination could never have dreamed. Dr. Sutherland asserted their intelligence and precision: "Allow physiologic function within to manifest its own unerring potency rather than apply a blind force from without." He quoted the famous aphorism in proposing that we "Be Still and Know."
Dr. Sutherland's inner circle included another doctor, Rollin Becker, to whom he passed this perspective, which is now called Biodynamic Craniosacral Work. Although I have trained with a variety of craniosacral institutions, I practice biodynamic work almost exclusively. I practice a variant in which there is no intention, compression, augmentation, or exaggeration used at all. Not only does it feel most natural for my own temperament, it has also offered my clients the strongest clinical results with the fewest side effects.
Primary Respiration Is Breathing With Your Entire BodyThe tides I referred to above have a variety of rates and amplitudes. The "cranial wave" (7-12 cycles per minute) is associated with our day to day reality, and it is influenced by circumstance. All the other tides are much slower, wider and unvarying in rate. These slower tides are collectively known as "Primary Respiration," and they ebb and flow in a transverse direction.
Although the concepts may sound esoteric, the events described here are palpable to sensitive touch and possible to feel within one's body; we can also recognize the Dynamic Stillness, which is the matrix out of which Primary Respiration emerges.The Biodynamic practitioner’s intention is to facilitate the subtle, pleasurable movement pattern of Primary Respiration, because the waves carry important information throughout the body. (See the paragraph below for more discussion of this.)
Tides That Carry The Movement of Health
The experience of Primary Respiration is different from breathing with your lungs. The “breathing” is actually a delicate whole-body wave pattern that ebbs and flows in identifiable rhythms. These waves distribute health, intelligence, and consciousness throughout all fluids, organs, tissues and bones. In fact, this movement is health. When the tidal fluctuations are impeded, our health suffers; when tidal movement is restored, health is regained (to the best of our capabilities). Thus, Biodynamic Craniosacral Work engages the forces of health, rather than attending to problems. It is astounding how many issues and pathologies clear up along the way.
Primary Respiration Is A Powerful Force For Healing
Primary respiration carries a potent force, which in Biodynamic Craniosacral Work is called the Breath of Life. When the Breath of Life floods areas from which it has been locked out—called inertial areas—those areas can expand and reintegrate with the whole. (Factors that induce inertia can be as varied as disease, injury, myofascial restriction, stress, and psychological or spiritual trauma.) When the reintegrated pattern is experienced, we know it to be our true self. The words “health” and “healing” come from the same root as the word “whole”; wholeness is health. Primary respiration is powerful because it hooks us back up to our source of wholeness.
What Happens In A Session?
Dressed comfortably, you rest on a padded table while I place my hands gently on or under you. I follow no routine. The most important part of what I do is to cultivate in myself a state of presence called a neutral, which encourages you to relax deeply. As you relax, portals open to the Breath of Life, and inertial areas are safely drawn back into interchange with the whole. These areas are reinfused with the Breath of Life and are transmuted into health. (I’m using some shorthand here to describe a complex, multi-rhythmic, nonlinear process.) At the session’s end, you’ll likely feel quite ordinary, and yet more “yourself” than before.
Biodynamic Craniosacral Work ~ What Is It Like?
Since it’s so hard to describe craniosacral work, here’s an image that evokes the experience. Imagine emerging from dark woods into a clearing, where a hearth fire provides warmth and radiance. You feel connected to the infinite stars above, and yet you can nestle into the comfort of the hearth. As you relax into the stillness, the warmth of the hearth may permeate you so fully that you lose the sense of having a distinct body at all. Feelings may wash through you, or you may feel as though you are held by a radiant presence.
An Element Of Mystery
Does this all sound hard to believe? Yes! Although it is mysterious, I have found the experience of biodynamic craniosacral work to be undeniably meaningful for both practitioner and client. Occasionally we experience nothing of note during a session, but things shift dramatically afterward. I’ve also noticed that the Breath of Life heals without “treatment reactions” (such as discomfort, dizziness, or headaches).
I can’t say what you’ll experience in a biodynamic session, because each time is unlike any other. But after years of study, this ‘terrain’ has become like a familiar friend to me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share its joys and its potency with you.