The Craniosacral modality of bodywork has it’s origins in Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. William Garner Sutherland graduated from The American School of Osteopathy in 1900 and became fascinated by the mobility he discovered in the 22 bones of the skull. In medical school it was taught that these bones fused together after birth, but he found this to not be true. The craniosacral system is comprised of the skull, brain, spinal cord, sacrum, and the membranes, tissues, and fluid that hold it together. The cerebrospinal fluid has been described as being one of the most potent and vibrant elements contained in the body. It is constantly cushioning, nourishing, and removing toxins from the central nervous system. When there is stagnancy in this system, our brain and body does not function optimally. The flow of cerebrospinal fluid can be affected by physical and/or emotional stress and trauma to the body. Our body contracts down to a deep cellular level when we are faced with anything that our being perceives as not safe. Stress to our system can be from accidentally banging one’s head on something, or being on the other end of harsh words. When we are not given the support or lack the tools to process and heal, the cells of our body hold this emotion and physical pain, compensating and waiting until there is a safe space to resolve it.
In the context of addiction and substance abuse, most of the time, alcohol and drugs are used to suppress unwanted physical and emotional feelings. This pain is buried down into the central nervous system, masked, but still present. A skilled Craniosacral Therapist has been trained to sense where the craniosacral system needs support and contact in order to process and let go of what is holding a client back from experiencing inner peace and calm. It is the therapist’s duty to create a safe, neutral and comfortable sanctuary where the client can feel safe and nurtured without judgment. The client can verbally share as much or as little as he or she feels comfortable with as they sit or lie prone (face up on their back) on a massage table remaining fully clothed. When the client is ready, the therapist begins with a light hold usually at the feet, spine or head. The craniosacral therapist checks in with the client making sure they feel at ease, while the nervous system is listened to in a very still way. By contacting this system, without an agenda, stress and trauma held in the body can begin to unwind. Clients often feel like they are floating on a cloud, or sinking deep into the table. They might feel a cooling sensation or warmth, sometimes one is able to get a sense of their cerebrospinal fluid, moving in a wavelike motion up and down their spine, or in their head. It is not unusual for clients to report a relaxing state and sensations that they have difficulty describing. Tears might arise and the client can verbally process or be with what comes up in silence. Pain can also arise as the discomfort that has been masked is acknowledged so that it may then release. The craniosacral system possesses an innate wisdom and intelligence that knows how to heal the body. Sometimes it requires the support of a therapist to guide and create a safe place for this to occur. The body, mind, and spirit will only begin to process what it is ready for. This is one of the most beautiful reasons craniosacral therapy can be so effective in treating trauma. It is a gentle and non-invasive approach that can go deep to the roots where true healing arises.