This first article appears in the Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 'Body Sense' Magazine published by the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) and is titled "Craniosacral Work-Accessing The Healer Within"
The second article below the first article appears in the August 1st, 2011, edition of 'Massage Magazine' titled "The Healing Art of Visionary Craniosacral Work ®: A Practitioner's Role"
There is also an article about the work I do in the 'Independent' a Santa Barbara magazine with over 50,000 viewers dated May 30th 2012.
Visionary Craniosacral Work ®-Accessing The Healer Within
By Paul Brown
It’s no secret that proper nutrition, exercise,
and living a low stress lifestyle are among the keys to good
health and longevity. If we pay close attention to these three
cornerstones of our health, our body will reward us with
vitality and well-being. Amazingly, even when our body gets a
little out of balance--a sore tennis elbow, an irritating
cold, or an achy neck from a tense business meeting--we are
each equipped with a high-performing immune system
miraculously designed to heal our body and protect us from
The demands of our modern world often challenge our immune system’s ability to keep up. We get pulled in competing directions-- work, kids, telephones--with everything vying for our time and attention. Stress has a way of creeping in cutting us off from the precious life forces that lay at the root of our foundation for health. If we haven’t been building and maintaining the nutrition, exercise and stress management cornerstones we need, then the sore tennis elbow, cold, or tense neck becomes more serious and our health foundation starts to crumble. When this happens, we instinctively reach out to our doctors to “cure” us. We fail to realize that nature has already provided us with our very own miraculous inner healing force--the craniosacral system. My role as a craniosacral practitioner is to help my clients find a way to optimize their own healing force so they can either build a solid, healthy foundation or restore it if the crumbling has already begun.
A GENTLE TOUCH
Craniosacral work is a healing modality that
grew out of osteopathy, the ancient art of bone setting. In
craniosacral work the subtle art of precise and gentle
touch is applied to correct imbalances in the fluid and
membranes surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal
Craniosacral work is based on a particular understanding of human anatomy. Imagine your craniosacral system has a regular rhythm much like the heart only more subtle and slower. Just as your heart pumps needed blood to the rest of the body, the craniosacral system pumps important fluid-- cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-- between your brain and spinal area.
The CSF plays important roles in your immune system’s performance. These include offering protective covering for your delicate brain tissue, delivering glucose (a type of sugar that nurtures and cools the brain) to the cortex brain, inhibiting viruses and bacteria in the brain and forming a transport medium between the blood and the brain. CSF has a big job to do, but health problems can create an imbalance in the flow of the CSF, limiting health and clarity. If CSF is allowed to flow unimpeded, then the body has the opportunity to maintain or restore balance.
Proper performance of the craniosacral system and its fluids is essential and necessary to the entire central nervous system, which is a network of specialized tissue that controls the actions and reactions internal to the body and your body’s adjustment to your environment. The crazier your environment, the harder it has to work. The two main components of this system are the brain and the spinal cord. Think of your brain as a computer and the spinal cord as the cable. The spinal cord links the computer’s input and output to the rest of the body. Remarkably, your entire motor function, learning patterns, and emotions are affected by the craniosacral system as your whole body expands and contracts with the rhythm of the pumping fluids. This is where craniosacral work can improve the functioning of these essential self-healing systems.
Think of your craniosacral practitioner as your partner. You go into a state of deep relaxation while allowing your body to find its optimum health. Your practitioner lends his or her ability go to those places on your body that need support to help your body's natural flow. Together you are able to bolster your body’s own resistance and improve how your central nervous system responds to stress and illness. When soft touch is applied to this system, the body will respond accordingly and clients can achieve incredible releases from long-standing restrictions, stress and tension.
Craniosacral work achieves, not only relief from physical pain, but also restoration of clarity and emotional wholeness as well.
Craniosacral work can successfully
Central nervous system disorders
Chronic neck and back pain
Facial and jaw problems
Headaches (migraines, cluster, etc.)
Stress and tension related problems
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
WHAT TO EXPECT
During a craniosacral session, the
practitioner will have set up a space devoid of distractions.
In my practice I refer to this as the “sacred space” because I
strive to embody the philosophy that time and space are
special, unique, quiet, restful, and where stillness resides.
The practitioner will ask questions to support what health or
healing concerns the client has. This is a critical part of
the healing process because craniosacral therapy offers many
techniques that can be directly customized to the client’s
needs. By having a conversation first, the client and
practitioner work together to find the best option for
Next, the client lies on a traditional massage table, fully clothed, and the practitioner begins to apply a slight amount of pressure (about the weight of a nickel) to the craniosacral system. In my case, I draw on more than a hundred different techniques from my years of training and use a precise, gentle touch to areas such as the brain, spine, or other parts of the body. Once the body is in a relaxed state, craniosacral therapy has the ability to teach on a cellular level. The body knows this; that is, every cell in the body will remember the connection with the forces of healing and the more the body remembers those forces of healing, the more it can allow itself to heal. For example, if you’ve had a stiff neck in the past due to stress, it is likely next time you have stress your neck will get stiff again. The cells in your body remember and now equate stress with a stiff neck. This same “cellular memory” can be achieved in a similar, but positive, way by giving the body--and the central nervous system--an extreme and wonderful experience of deep and often profound relaxation through craniosacral work. The more the body remembers this natural state, the more it can allow itself to heal.
It is about reconnecting deeply with your source and allowing it inform you. Therefore, you will be invited to rest in your heart, and sense from there, rather than remain in your head and separate from your heart and body.
During the session you may encounter memories, emotional issues, thoughts, feelings, and/or spiritual insights. When they arise know that these are the exact aspects of yourself that consciousness has chosen to bring to your awareness. By allowing to whatever arises to just be there, without feeling that you have to do anything about it, the separated parts will rejoin the wholeness that you are. If, however, something feels too intense, let your practitioner know and he will modulate his contact.
By the time you leave your session, you will most likely feel relaxed, refreshed and re-energized. Some clients even report “a reawakening of power” as the body, mind, and heart find their own profound medicine. Others find that their bodies need time to recover positively from all the work done and will need to lie down or even sleep. What's important here is to allow the body to do what it needs to do to eventually find its optimum health.
Most of us have mastered the art of “doing” in
our crazy, activity-filled world, but “being” is actually
tougher, much more rewarding, and is truly a gift. Lao Tzu,
the prolific sixth century B.C. E. philosopher, said ‘The
source of all great movement lies in stillness’. I’ve often
been awed by what the body can do when we give in to the
dynamic activity of stillness--when we slow down enough for
the body to respond positively to its own healing ability.
While craniosacral work is a complementary practice, I also view it as a spiritual practice. Now, more than ever before, we are witnessing a return to healing that encompasses the totality and wholeness of the body, mind, spirit, and psyche. We are paying more attention to what we eat, we are looking for alternatives to drugs, and we are stopping to think for a moment before we make that call to the doctor. We are flexing the muscles of a deeper consciousness as we strive to experience what it means to live a healthy and authentic life. In many ways, we are reaching out to the spiritual roots of our healing. By tapping into our inner healer, craniosacral work helps us get there.
The Healing Art of Visionary Craniosacral Work ® -
A Practitioners Role
By Paul Brown
Craniosacral work is a healing modality that grew from
osteopathy, the ancient art of bone setting. The subtle art of
precise and gentle touch is applied to correct imbalances in
the fluid and membranes surrounding and protecting the brain
and spinal cord. The practitioner uses specific techniques,
along with presence, where sacred space is held by means of
mindful awareness for healing. This allows the client to
achieve releases from restrictions and tension throughout her
entire body. This, in turn, brings about relief from physical
pain, restoration of clarity and insight, and the optimization
of emotional wholeness.
Craniosacral work is valuable for many medical problems and is routinely used as a preventive health measure, as it increases resistance to many ailments. People of all ages, from children to seniors, can benefit from this form of therapy.
The difference between craniosacral work and other modalities is the duration of the techniques that are held on the client, as well as the moment-to-moment attentiveness the practitioner holds to the client's needs.
The craniosacral practitioner facilitates the healing of the client's own healing process. In doing this the practitioner slows, broadens and eventually stills his attention to the intelligence of the client's primary respiration system (the totality and complete submicroscopic self-organizing movement of the fluids in the body). When this is done, the client's body then knows what to do.
What a practitioner does as a skilled technician
As a practitioner, the ultimate priority in this work is to hold the well-being of the client and value the uniqueness of each individual. The client's body is empathetically connected, allowing for emotional safety. While instinctively remembering the individual's wholeness, scared space is held within the dynamic stillness that permeates the room. In the session, this leads to the pain and suffering that is felt inside the client's body, mind and heart. The practitioner consciously breathes in the pain and suffering, synchronizing with the primary respiration that is different with each client, while exhaling loving kindness. Full intention is used for the connection of primary respiration as when we find cohesion with stillness, moving at its own pace. Elevated consciousness is brought about between the client and the practitioner, as he proceeds to be present with an open and loving heart that is necessary for optimal healing.
If the body is carefully listened to, the body will tell the practitioner which pertinent techniques or holds to use during a session depending upon the client's specific needs. A gentle, sensitive finger touch is used that optimizes the slow and steady (depending on the health of the client) movement within the body known as the cranial wave ( the explanation of the cranial wave is discussed later). In addition to this, precise touch at specific points on the body monitor and interface with the oceanic environment of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This offers relief from pain, deep relaxation and maximum revitalization of body, mind and heart, allowing for the individual to find his/her way to a state of health and wholeness.
Who benefits from this technique?
Craniosacral work is often used as a preventive health measure and as a way for many people to maintain clarity and balance in their everyday activities. Craniosacral therapy is also an excellent complement to many other healing modalities and can assist with pain and dysfunction for many specific medical problems, such as
Chronic neck and back pain
Central nervous system Disorders
Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
Tinnitus (ear ringing)
Stress- and tension-related problems
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
Neurovascular or immune disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Fibromyalgia and other connective-tissue disorders
What makes craniosacral work unique
The most unique aspect of the role of the practitioner is the visionary approach (one who perceives outside, senses what is inside and trusts both at the same time) that allows for him to meet, greet and hold united consciousness with the client—all while waiting for nature to heal the disease.
The practitioner comes in touch with spirit as a quiet, intuitive presence. This moment-to-moment stillness allows him to be guided, as his hands become receptors of healing energy. The practitioner expresses his highest knowing, moving to the place that supports each client's body, mind, and heart as it finds its own profound medicine and undergoes a reawakening of the power within on the journey to optimum health. As a practitioner, this carries forth into the work, giving him a deeper sense of love, compassion and, most importantly, presence. Presence then becomes more important than technique.
Craniosacral work in the
Craniosacral work has come forth in the world community as a modality that encompasses compassion and a real sense of love while promoting healing. The work of a craniosacral therapist is to reach out in service to satisfy the continuing hunger for renewed spiritual growth as we, in communities, seek wholeness of body, mind, and hearts through maintaining good physical and mental well-being.
Another extraordinary quality of visionary craniosacral work is it has the ability to touch the depths of one's being and find access to a greater sense of clarity, serenity, release of archaic wounds, dealing effectively with old habits and patterns, and a renewed sense of emotional wholeness. Craniosacral work is redefining communities in the sense of healing by regaining the spiritual roots that connect each one with common respect, loving kindness and a deeper consciousness for living a healthy life. This includes the communities of chiropractors, massage therapists, kinesiology practitioners, reflexology practitioners, dentists, just to name a few.
Craniosacral work as a spiritual practice
This work becomes a spiritual practice. In order to do the work that needs to be done, the practitioner allows time to slow down, creating sacred space and holding the client's dream body (the totality and wholeness of the client) with reverence and awe. Through the many techniques and holds available that deal directly with craniosacral work, a process is used of extreme gentle sensitive touch, a form of Taoism, the "doing non-doing" to optimize a movement within the body known as the cranial wave. (The cranial wave seems to have its source in involuntary movement of muscle contraction and is triggered into an oceanic tidal motion that in a healthy body has a range of 8 to 14 cycles per minute.)
Problems such as the ones mentioned above can create an imbalance in the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), limiting health and clarity. As the work continues and if the practitioner is open to the practice explained above, the body will be free to open up sutures, air sinuses, rigidity, and blockages in the body to free up CSF—and the healing processes will naturally follow. In essence, sacred space is being held for these other forces. This is more than can be physically seen, touched or healed. It is something beyond our knowing and it is timeless.
This now brings the opportunity to use these gifts, apply intention and intuitive perception, along with a visionary approach to the craniosacral techniques as a way of allowing the body to heal itself. Healing happens on both physical and emotional levels, but the deepest healing takes place when the practitioner stays in the moment and is truly present, serving as a channel for this love that reaches down to the innermost part of the client's being, where the real healing takes place.
The responsibility of the practitioner is to reinterpret everything according to a deeper reality, and this happens when he lets go of what he thinks and knows and touches into the dynamic activity of stillness. It is this stillness that everything settles into a subterranean level, where all things have the potential to come into optimum health.
Using the inner eye, inner ear and his heart, the practitioner is the watcher of the temple and helps clients come to know that their bodies are also temples that connect them with self (the higher state of consciousness). During the practice, both practitioner and client meditate together and this approach is profoundly healing.
Craniosacral work has the ability to teach on a cellular level. The body will remember this; that is, every cell in the body will remember the connection with the forces of healing and the more the dream body remembers those forces, the more it can allow itself to heal. This will remain as an indelible lesson in the hearts and minds of those whose lives the practitioner touches, both now and for years to come.
The satisfaction that comes from the sense of service fills, feeds and has the potential to complete the practitioner in his life. Craniosacral work is the catalyst for this. The more the intention is exercised, the more effective and powerful it becomes. The practitioner is then ready to hold the container for healing, to grow into greater autonomy, authenticity, and wholeness. Through this, he can help clients find their own sense of healing. When the practitioner is freed from any preconceived expectations, healing is more likely to take place.
This work brings forth the simple life of integrity and passion: to live and work from "still point" and from "silence." The more one enters into this blessed work, the more one is asked to work with consciousness and find this place of stillness. Stillness invites an awareness of compassion, humility and trust.
It is important, as a practitioner of this work, to come
from a place of unconditional love and inner stillness. By
holding this, there is a sense of synchronicity with the
The practitioner serves as a channel for clients, providing direction to their own healing ability. From there, and with the practitioner's support, the greater natural goodness will itself do the rest.