What is Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral therapy has its roots in Osteopathy, which was founded in the 1800s. Osteopaths recognise that all the body parts work together instantaneously in harmonious co-ordination as one indivisible unit of function. Therefore, disease or disability of an individual structure signifies an imbalance in the whole, rather than a malfunction of the concerned structure. The emphasis is on treating the individual as a whole, taking all his circumstances into account, rather than treating the condition or symptom.

Craniosacral Therapy was created from Osteopathy in the 1970s. It departed from Osteopathy in that it was taught to and practised by people who were not osteopaths and it specifically looked at the system that lies between the cranium (head) and sacrum (pelvic bone). Apart from the spine and the individual bones, this includes the brain, the spinal cord, the cranial and spinal nerves and the cerebrospinal fluid that circulates within and around these structures. These are all components of our central nervous system. In time, the scope of Craniosacral Therapy expanded to include the entire body. Initially, this therapy was practised by manually manipulating bones and tissue - this is known as the mechanical approach.

In the 1990s the work evolved to incorporate a biodynamic approach. This does not involve a mechanical manipulation of bone or tissue. The practitioner's touch is delicate and still and the contact is only with a view to listen to the client's system, not to impose external force. Often the contact is so light that it is not felt at all. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) involves working with the life-force of health that operates within our bodies. This force expresses as a stable rhythm that moves through the body in a regular wave-like manner. As it passes through the body, the bones, tissue and fluids are vitalised by it and move in response to it. Sometimes, their movement in response is limited by obstructive factors such as stress, environmental toxins, medication, accidents, surgeries, early imprints and trauma. These limitations or obstructions to the natural flow can result in compressions, mis-alignments or imbalances in the body.

The practitioner is trained to perceive, co-operate and work with the natural force, using a light biodynamic touch and a calm, still and embodied presence. The combination of the presence, the quality of the touch and the understanding of the body intelligence creates a safe relational field that has a powerful beneficial effect on the central nervous system. When a nervous system is met in this way, it down-regulates by coming to rest, freeing up resources of repair and regeneration. The brain switches from fight or flight mode to rest and repair, restoring balance to the systems and accessing the body’s natural ability to heal. A state of balance is achieved within the body as the obstructions melt away - this results in an increase in vitality, facilitating the recovery and regeneration of the body through its own natural process.

For the individual who has no particular health issue, the work brings deep rest and relaxation, proved to be optimal conditions for health and rejuvenation of the human body and spirit. It enhances vitality, supports the immune system and improves resistance to disease. It is particularly beneficial for the functioning of the central nervous system, promoting clarity of thought and improving the capacity of the individual to respond to and deal with the daily pressures of life in a healthy and integrated manner.

The work does not take the conventional approach to diagnosis and treatment. In fact, evaluation and therapeutics blend together and occur simultaneously during sessions. Throughout the therapeutic process, the practitioner is learning about the client. The system is dynamic, not fixed and unchanging – the state of the system varies, sometimes from one moment to the next, and from one session to another. Throughout the process of evaluation, the client is being treated. The practitioner’s state of presence and orientation facilitates and enhances the client system's movement toward health and balance.

© 2016, Niyati Nath

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