In late 1985 a friend told me about an introductory workshop in Craniosacral Therapy (CST). It was to be taught by Dr. John Upledger, the physician who had transformed Cranial Osteopathy from a structurally based osteopathic practice into a healing form that integrated mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Upledger’s mission was to simplify and popularize cranial work. He wanted to make it available to people on a wide scale. The timing was perfect. I dove in and have been hooked on this work ever since.
CST is a gentle and relaxing hands-on healing form that has benefited millions of people around the world. It is called “Craniosacral” because the work is centered around performing delicate manipulations on the bones of the head or “cranium” and lower spine or “sacrum”.
Osteopaths William Sutherland in the early 1900s and John Upledger in the 1970s identified the craniosacral system as a functioning physiologic system. Their revolutionary work demonstrated that correcting imbalances and releasing trauma from this system could improve brain and spinal cord functioning and heal a wide variety of health problems.
In addition to releasing restrictions to motion in the head and lower spine, CST helps resolve pain and heal dysfunctions throughout the body. A CST practitioner does this by sensing and modifying the rhythmic motion of the cerebrospinal fluid as it emanates from the core of the body. This “craniosacral rhythm” travels along fascial pathways to the body’s periphery with tide-like rhythmicity. It is a natural physiologic rhythm, just like the cardiac and respiratory rhythms.
Competent practitioners of this elegant healing form can sense and release traumatic lesions embedded in the tissues of our patients’ bodies. Often these lesions can’t be identified by conventional diagnostic techniques though the pain and dysfunction they cause are apparent to our patients. Releasing these old traumas relieves pain and tightness and realigns the body’s structure. It balances the autonomic nervous system, and helps other organ systems function better. CST treatments also free the body to move in a more fluid and natural way while facilitating deep relaxation, increasing vitality, and activating a profound sense of well-being. People receiving Craniosacral Therapy treatments don’t just feel better. They feel great!
An amazing offshoot of CST is the Somatoemotional Release (SER) process. This is an approach to trauma resolution that works with the body’s innate yearning to heal. In SER we “unwind” the body to release trauma by sensing subtle movement cues and following the patient’s body into positions that replicate a traumatic experience. These could be anything from accidents, injuries, and infections to surgeries, other medical procedures, and abuse or violence.
As modern humans, most of us have been conditioned to inhibit the natural process that helps wild animals release and recover from trauma. Animals in nature literally shake off traumatic vibrations and get on with their lives after an attack. We domesticated humans, however, repress fear, anger, and other paralyzing emotions associated with trauma. This embeds these emotions in our tissues, along with painful memories.
Re-experiencing unconscious movement pathways through SER can open restricted tissues and liberate traumatic memories and energies. This helps us release pain and allows our tissues to become more resilient and adaptable. So we become healthier rather than more restricted.
Ultimately, working with the craniosacral system involves touching the core of a human being. So this work is not only a physical “fixing”, but also a sacred healing journey– an experiential exploration that encompasses physical, mental, and emotional processes as well as the spirit and soul of a person. It will be my pleasure to facilitate this journey for you– either one-on-one as a patient or in our group journey with the Great River Craniosacral Therapy Institute.
Ron Wish, MD is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education approved provider - number 451491‑10. The Great River Craniosacral Therapy Institute is approved as a sponsor of continuing education for physical therapists & physical therapy assistants by the New York State Education Department, Office of Professions.
© Ron Wish, M.D., All rights reserved, 2018
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