mental health

Is Craniosacral Therapy Energy Work?

Whenever I use the word "energy" in my description of what craniosacral treatment (CST) includes, I can sense my listener backing away. I get it! The allopathic medical model treats energy work as 'flaky', as an outlier. And yet, our bodies are pulsing with energy...

Energy in your body

The nerves in my nervous system conduct electricity, and that gives me an electromagnetic field. You have one too. Your heart generates an electromagnetic field, and an electrocardiogram detects the electrical impulses. Biochemical reactions such as those in our digestive tract and brain rearrange charged particles creating electromagnetic energy. My craniosacral training taught me how to perceive this energy. At first, I was very skeptical too!

You can sense it too...

During a treatment session, I may invite you to notice these fields. When I stand on one side of you as you lay on the table, and then I move to the other side, and ask you which side you prefer me to work from, you know "intuitively" which one feels better. You are aware at some level, an intuitive level, of something that's real - an electromagnetic field. When I am treating you, I am inviting you to create safety for yourself by telling me on which side of your body you want me to be.

Is Craniosacral like Reiki?

According to the International Centre for Reiki Training, Reiki is "a non-physical healing energy made up of life force energy that is guided by the Higher Intelligence, or spiritually guided life force energy." During 2 or 3 day courses, a student is given the ability to use Reiki via an "attunement or initiation" to this spiritual energy. In some explanations, the energy is channelled from the top of the head and out the practitioner's hands into the client. 

Holistic Approach

Craniosacral therapy is also interested in energy - as well as in tissues, fluids, emotions - in the whole human body. CST is a holistic approach. The 2 year Body Intelligence training that I graduated from includes medical anatomy and physiology, working safely with trauma, and how to be in a therapeutic relationship that is safe and supportive. It explores birth and embryology and how these patterns show up in the adult (or child's) body. Through many hands-on supervised sessions with clients, key skills are practiced. Using our hands, we listen to what is going on in your body and work with its inherent health and wisdom - with its natural ability to repair and heal itself.

Ultralight Touch

The form of Craniosacral Therapy called Biodynamic employs a touch that is gentle and non-invasive. There is no intentional or mechanical manipulation of your tissues. Some clients say it feels like my hands are moving! Yes, they do move a little. However, they are following - not leading - the rhythms of your bones, organs, tissues, fluids - and energy. This therapy is safe and comfortable even for babies and those who are frail. 

Letting Pain and Stress Go

Invisible to ourselves

As children and adolescents, many of us grew up not being invited by our parents to pay attention to, or even have, our own feelings and responses. For me, when I did become aware of my feelings, there was seldom an adult available to talk to quietly about my feelings and thoughts and validate them. A friend recently called it a feeling of low self-esteem. Without knowing her own feelings, she learned to react the same way her parent treated her, or to stuff the feelings deep enough so they weren't a problem. 

Long term storage

It is pretty common to store away overwhelming feelings and stress in the tissues of your body for years, without naming or processing your own feelings. Likely you didn't have the resources at the time of the hurt because you were young and didn't have the names for these feelings, or it was too overwhelming. Maybe there wasn't an opportunity to process the events at the time, and so you did the expedient thing and stuffed them away in your body's tissues.

Draining away your energy

As a result, there remains a background noise that's always running. You probably are not aware of it, unless it's a fleeting thought that you seem more tired these days, chalking it up to not being as young as you used to be. When you go away on holidays, do you often get sick? For you, after those first sessions of craniosacral treatment, you may feel very fatigued or even nauseous. This will pass. Maybe your body is finally doing what it needs to get to a higher level of wellness.

Feel that pain away!

Over time, the places in your body that have served as storage areas may become painful. Craniosacral therapy invites you to notice those places in your body. Wait. What? There's value in paying attention to my pain? Won't it hurt more? You will begin to see that pain shifts and changes. Tune in, right now, to your body. Notice if you feel a pain or a discomfort somewhere - maybe in your back or your foot or your belly. I invite you to describe its shape and colour and texture, perhaps comparing it to a fruit or vegetable. One of my clients described the pain in her upper back as a carrot; another as stretched-out pink bubble gum; another as a black rope. A child told me the discomfort in her belly was as big as a watermelon. With the perspective of a curious observer, clients soon notice their pain morphing into a different colour or size, until it shrinks and dissolves away. Isn't that intriguing?

Loving yourself

With compassion, the way you would treat your best friend, gently and without judgement, tune in to the hurts in your body. if it seems too overwhelming, seek out the help of a craniosacral therapist. We can help you to let go of the pain and stress. We can help your nervous system find peace at last.