I first heard of craniosacral therapy in one of self development expert Wayne Dyer’s audiobooks. When he commented that his experience had been paramount to his healing process, I knew I had to try it out for myself. Lucky for me, my colleague (and fellow Australian) Chris Skidmore offers cranioscaral therapy at the Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio in Bali, where I also teach. I asked Chris about his studies and thoughts around this powerful healing technique.
And, in a nutshell: Craniosacral therapy was developed over a hundred years ago by Dr. William Sutherland, an osteopath. He discovered that, at a deep level of our physiology, healthy living tissues subtly ‘breathe’ with the motion of life. He dedicated years of research into working with this subtle rhythm, which he called ‘the breath of life’. From a lifetime of research, he developed a system which, at its core, works with the body’s network of tissues and fluids, including cerebrospinal fluid, the central nervous system, the membranes that surround the central nervous system, and the sacrum.
My colleague Chris is trained in bio-dynamic craniosacral therapy, which he describes as getting in touch with the ‘body’s inherent healing intelligence’, with less of an emphasis on intention and body manipulation. The therapist’s role is to allow a space for the body to drop into a calm, deep space, and to give the body a chance to respond to any imbalance itself, rather than the practitioner directing the flow. The flow of energy correlates with settling the sympathetic nervous system (active state) to the parasympathetic system (rest and digest mode) so that the body can return to a balance. After all, as Chris said to me, “The body is an ancient system which knows what to do.”
Craniosacral therapy has been known to foster even structural changes in the body’s system, particularly along the spine, as bound physical illness and emotional tension often creates imbalances in the physical form of the body. Chris speaks of being able to feel the ‘bones breathe’, and noticing the re-alignments that occur during a session. Chris knows that as the therapist, he must step aside and allow the shifts in the person’s body to happen as they are ready, rather than try to manipulate, direct or force any to occur.
“In this way, we enter the mystery together,” Chris said.
Chris began by speaking with me about how I was feeling. His presence and listening made me feel at ease, and he gently allowed me to open up with an intention and invitation for my body’s healing process.
I began lying down on the table, connecting to my breath and relaxing into a deep space. Chris’s touch throughout the session was subtle and gentle, hands and fingers on the head, neck and belly. I felt waves of energy flow through my body, and even noticed the direction of this flow. (Super interesting was how not centered my mid-line of energy actually was.) I felt deeply in tune with my inner body, and, at one point, I felt so connected to my heartbeat that I felt my blood pumping into every part of my body—all the way to my fingers, toes and head. There were moments where I felt like I was drifting into a deep space that was like sleep, though I was still very conscious and clear in my mind. My thoughts rarely drifted to anything else as I so deeply enjoyed the relaxation.
At the end of the session, Chris gave me all the time I needed to awaken. I felt as if I had taken a decade-long nap and was just waking up for the first time. A contented heaviness came over me, and my body felt very warm from the inside out. I had the privilege of having my session in my own home, so I stayed in this calm space as Chris left so I could crawl into bed and allow it all to integrate.
Sound intriguing? If you ever find yourself in Ubud, Bali, take a session with Chris at Radiantly Alive.
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