Craniosacral Therapy uses gentle touch and mindful presence to attune to subtle rhythmic motion in the body. This motion is discernible in all living organisms and when it is compromised, ill health ensues. It originated at the beginning of the twentieth century with the insights of William Garner Sutherland, an American osteopathic physician. Sutherland intuited and established micro-motion in the sutures between the bones of the skull. This went against the widely held conviction that the cranial bones fused.
He observed and described patterns of movement in the skull as well as other structures in the core of the body which link the cranium to the sacrum, in synchrony with fluctuations of cerebrospinal fluid, or the Tide. He maned this set of phenomena Primary Respiratory Mechanism and through experimentation he verified that restrictions of motion in this system led to a variety of health problems. As an osteopath, he used manual medicine to treat his patients and developed new techniques to subtly manipulate restriction in the Primary Respiratory Mechanism in order to restore health.
This biomechanical approach is widely practiced to this day by osteopaths and other therapists, to very good effect.
Late in his career, Sutherland had another profound insight about the existence of an ‘invisible element’ which had the power to drive the subtle rhythmic motion that he previously described. He named the invisible element the ‘breath of life’, and the animating power, the ‘potency.’ And he recognised an intelligence in this potency, greater than our human intelligence. He felt that the presence of the breath of life and the action of its potency extended way beyond the boundary of the body and were expressions of universal principles and forces that governed life in the universe. This gave birth to the biodynamic paradigm in the cranial concept.
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy relates directly to the action potency. The potency varies in its expression in health and disease. It performs organisational, adaptive, protective and healing functions to promote optimal conditions for the maintenance of health throughout the lifespan. The biodynamic approach recognises multiple rhythms which move through and around the body in a tide-like manner. The slowest rhythms harmonise with an unchanging blueprint of health in structure and function. The faster rhythms are patterned by body memories of experiences which compromise health.
In recent times Sutherland’s later understanding has been expanded by Franklyn Sills in the craniosacral field and by James Jealous within osteopathy. Craniosacral Biodynamics is Sill’s name for the form of craniosacral therapy that informs my teaching. His two volumes of Foundations in Craniosacral Biodynamics, provide a definitive text for any resolute student of the work.
Mainstream medicine separates body and mind, physical and mental health, as well as matter an energy. Complementary therapies and many traditional medical practices accept the functional continuum of body, mind and spirit and the dynamic interface between energy and matter. In Biodynamics we recognize that the solid, material body comprised of tissues and fluids is sustained by a bioelectric field which extends beyond the physical form. Trained hands can palpate, tissues, fluids and the bioelectric potency.
Our practice relies on following the healing priorities of potency and catalysing the liberation of potency from areas where it has become condensed and inert; on synchronising our palpatory awareness with the slower tidal rhythms which reconnect the client’s body and mind to health and on attuning to a dynamic stillness at the heart of the tide.
Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease - Hippocrates