Craniosacral Therapy Opened My Eyes
Early in my massage career, Craniosacral therapy opened my eyes. It unlocked stuck bodies so I could do more efficient bodywork. I incorporated it into every move. Blending and melding with other people’s central nervous systems felt like an alternate universe at first, but once I got the hang of it, it was almost too simple. I love it. I believe empathy in the world would thrive if everyone learned it.
As a bodyworker I’ve done hands-on work on all sorts of mammals. If it has a central nervous system you can work on it. I work on adults, children, babies, infants in utero, animals, even an elephant once. Babies and animals are fun because their response is instant and they have no filter. Animals often watch me work on their people and jam their head between my hands and “demand” some work, and when the work is done, they “thank” me.
The crossover symptoms addressed between Craniosacral therapy and HPN High Performance Neurofeedback immediately jumped out at me when I was investigating HPN. Traumatic brain injury, PTSD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety, Fibromyalgia, Learning Disorders, Emotional Difficulties … the list was awfully familiar.
Except HPN is a little black box with wires that does the work in seconds instead of my fingers and body and concentration and intuition and neutrality and loving kindness and groundedness and patience and direction of energy and hours and many treatments and bending and holding and therapeutic pulses and negotiating permission and therapeutic dialog and facilitation of somato emotional release, etc. Craniosacral therapy is my favorite form of bodywork. Rooted in Osteopathy, its basic purpose is to remove impediments to the flow of cerebral spinal fluid and yet it encompasses everything. For all its beauty and subtlety and how deep it can go physically mentally emotionally and even spiritually, I believe it is the most effective bodywork technique with the least amount of physical effort.
I was immediately intrigued with HPN Neurofeedback when I saw the results. I thought of the years I’ve spent muscling people into a healing state, and here is this little black box that does what it does. You don’t have to believe in it or have a proper bedside manner or talk smart or be a healer for it to work. It’s scientific technology. It is very simple to operate the machine correctly to obtain results (although you need a clinical license for the FDA to let you have one).
Out of curiosity, I wanted to touch people’s heads after HPN sessions once their neuronal function was increased. Would people’s craniums respond differently? Would my experience as a therapist be different? Would it work to combine therapies? Because I had an idea to combine therapies – Stephen Larson talks about combining therapies in his books on neurofeedback – but I hadn’t seen documentation of the combination of Craniosacral therapy and HPN Neurofeedback. Other clinicians I know aren’t bodyworkers so they couldn’t tell me.
What I didn’t expect was how much differently people’s heads would respond. It seems HPN unlocks central nervous systems similarly to how Craniosacral unlocks bodies – and now the HPN is providing me with a key to more efficient Craniosacral therapy.
Most clients just enjoy it and bliss way, way out. The simplicity of lying down on a table with experienced hands on one’s head is a meditation of its own after the HPN, a gentle escorting of the neurofeedback while it lands, while I do some professional tinkering around their skull. This is pleasant in itself as opposed to jumping back into the action of life directly after the neurofeedback.
But if there is emotional trauma as in the case of PTSD that needs to be processed, or guarded injuries as in the case of TBI, things can get exciting. Sometimes things need to come out in order for them to heal. Both HPN and Craniosacral therapy can facilitate this, and the combination can be powerful – areas that were previously physically or emotionally locked down can open up in the form of somato emotional release. Fast. It takes some courage – it can be intense – such is the nature of trauma therapy. What is most surprising is how rapidly people are moving through it. I’ve seen massive shifts in several sessions. Then once the reveal has happened, it’s done. In my experience, the nervous system then becomes stronger, and things settle down.
As a Craniosacral therapist, there is a constant negotiation between myself and the client – mostly silent and manual, some dialog. HPN speaks brainwave, the language of the brain. Before I did HPN, I had to do a lot more negotiating. HPN now does much of the negotiation for me by balancing the unconscious brainwaves and calming the state of fight-or-flight before the client gets to the table.
Now, to my professional touch, a nervous system after HPN feels more open, willing. I’ve felt countless heads without HPN – concussion, depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, injury, chronic illness, disability, terminal illness, you name it. The difference is palpable. It feels like locked fascia is happier to unwind, trauma wants out, and pent up pain is ready to let itself out, and move on. Fidgety kids are more game to be worked on. With newly optimized brainwaves, people seem to enjoy giving permission for more productive Craniosacral therapy. This gives the client and me the opportunity to get right to it and through it.
Of course I can’t help but think of the many disabled people I have done Craniosacral therapy on in the past. They all experienced relief, but now I wonder how they would do with HPN Neurofeedback. In my pediatric Craniosacral class there were two orphan toddlers from Russia with fetal alcohol syndrome – I worked on them all afternoon. They went away markedly better but they would need more help. I think of those kids and wonder how they are, and what the combination of HPN and Craniosacral could do for them.