Craniosacral therapy is a hands-on approach that involves 'listening with the fingers' to the body's subtle rhythms and any patterns of inertia and congestion. The emphasis of treatment is to enhance the body's own self-healing and self-regulating capabilities, even in the most acute resistances and pathologies.
Life expresses itself as motion. At a fundamental level all healthy living tissue "breathes" with the motion of life. The presence of subtle rhythmic motions in the body was discovered about 100 years ago by William Garner Sutherland, D.O., who postulated that this motion must exist in the skull after observing disarticulated cranial bones. Through a lifetime of exploration and research, he concluded that this motion is produced by the body's inherent life force, which he called the Breath of Life. Dr. Sutherland further realized that the motion of the cranial bones is closely connected to an integrated network of tissues and fluids at the core of the body that includes the cerebrospinal fluid, the brain and spinal cord, the membranes surrounding the central nervous system and the sacrum (the triangular bone at the back of the pelvis).
The Breath of Life produces a series of rhythms in the body that make up a subtle physiological system called the primary respiratory system. The ability of tissues to express their natural rhythmic motion is a critical factor in determining their state of health, because the primary respiratory system carries the essential forces which maintain our physiological balance and order. These forces act as a fundamental blueprint for health that can be seen in operation as far back as our embryological development. As long as this original intention is able to find expression, health will result.
However, our body becomes repatterned according to how our intrinsic resources are able to deal with any stresses that we may experience. Common stresses include physical injury, emotional and psychological stresses, birth traumas and environmental toxicity. Any unresolved stresses, strains and traumas create sites of inertia or “body memories” which may accumulate over time. These memories of our stresses and traumas remain in our system, affecting our ability to function and perpetuating ill health until resolved. Constrictions in muscles and bones, for example, can compromise organ and nervous system functioning, leading to chronic pain and illness. The body thus becomes a unique expression of our health, history and conditioning. Through development of subtle palpatory skills, the craniosacral practitioner can read the history of the body by sensing the patterns and qualities of primary respiratory motion. The intention in craniosacral therapy is to help free any areas of inertia so that the ordering forces of the Breath of Life find expression in the tissues. This is done physically, through manipulation and realignment of cranial and sacral bones and muscle fascia, as well as through energetic suggestions made to the body’s inner intelligence through the tissues. When the constrictions in the tissues and sites of inertia are resolved, it is marked by the restoration of balance and symmetry in primary respiratory motion and a return to normal functioning.
The work is very gentle and non-invasive. Subtle suggestions are introduced through the practitioner's hands to help restore balance in areas of congestion, stagnation and inertia. With skillful touch, the practitioner can assist the body to resolve patterns of disorder thereby encouraging a revitalization of tissues with the healing forces of the Breath of Life. Craniosacral therapy is a whole-person approach to healing. The inter-connections of mind, body and spirit are acknowledged, as well as how the body reflects experiences and retains the memory of trauma. It is an effective form of treatment for a wide range of acute and chronic illnesses, helping to create the optimal conditions for health, encouraging vitality and facilitating a sense of well-being.
Reprinted with permission by Patrick M. Cunningham, Lic., Ac., RCST