I have committed to a New Year Resolution for 2021. I will be meditating in some form for 30 minutes a day. I haven’t been able to meditate since I’ve been medicated for my mental illness, which has been about five years. I’m unable to sit still as a side effect of my medication. I had been rooted in some traditional Eastern teachings that you must sit in Easy Pose (cross-legged) and focus on something with the mind while witnessing the breath and coming back to that focus repeatedly as you get distracted. Sitting in Easy Pose, with my core’s posture upright, for 30 minutes usually involves some pain in my hips. I’ve always had to move around and I’ve always felt like I was half-assing my meditations. I’m not innately a half-asser.
My therapist convinced me to find a comfortable position for my body and relax as a meditation. I’ve been experimenting with this inspiration and have been extremely successful. I’m laying in bed in Corpse Pose now allowing my legs to shift naturally into a Reclined Butterfly with my feet touching.
I learned from Kundalini Yoga that when my eyes look down behind my cheeks and my tongue stays down in the bottom of my mouth, my energy focus in meditation moves downward towards my feet which grows roots. When my eyes are directed into my third eye and my tongue touches the roof of my mouth, my energy focus moves up toward my crown chakra where I can hear angels sing and follow my bliss.
My energy mechanism opens and I feel like I’m receiving craniosacral therapy. I feel my breath shift as my body releases deep tensions. I continually bring my focus back to my eyes and tongue, my witness to my breath. Everything the mind thinks is an illusion. It is creating thought and drama; mind is ego. I can always detach from that and return to breath and my true identity, which witnesses that breath.
Today, during a peaceful, painless meditation, I felt like a successful hedonist, completely satiated in every way. Thank you for being a blessing in my life. I am surrounded by good people and good food and so many lovely kinds of good. Thank you.
People often ask me whether craniosacral therapy is energy work. Craniosacral therapy uses light touch to make subtle movements in the craniosacral system, which is membranes and connective tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord. We connect using intention. When you need to pick up your car keys, your mind, extremely rapidly, sets an intention to move your hand. That intention initiates a series of events that cause our movement to pick up the keys. When I place my hands on your cranium, it is my intention to connect with the skin first then connect deeper and deeper through the layers until we reach cranial membranes and the dura mater, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord. I work extremely intuitively and my hands and the area where my hands are working, often become warm. Dr. Upledger’s teachings include energy techniques and I do often send energy into an area of the body where I am working. I wanted to take this opportunity to answer the question in greater detail, by describing the energetic mechanism I personally work with. I use the chakra system, from Ayurvedic medicine, which aligns inexplicably with our endocrine system, to evaluate areas of imbalance. I also use my hands to connect energetically with the two extraordinary meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Du (governing vessel) and Ren meridians (conception vessel). I personally experience the breath moving energy up and down through the chakra system. While on the table, our breath changes as we release tension. While working, my breath changes as I work energetically. I often take deep breaths while working which helps me to stay relaxed while moving energy through my hands and your body. To summarize, craniosacral therapy, as I practice it, is a combination of energetic and mechanical bodywork.
Dr. Upledger’s CranioSacral Therapy was rooted in the cranial osteopathy of Dr. Sutherland. Dr. Sutherland taught of lesions within the craniosacral system itself. Using the cranial bones like handles, we palpate the movement of the craniosacral rhythm. The rhythm moves through a normal physiological pattern of flexion and extension. When the bones do not move in that normal physiological pattern, when there is an irregularity in the pattern, we identify a “lesion” within that bone. We then release the soft tissue that is layered underneath or around the cranial bones to restore the bone to normal physiological movement.
Dr. Upledger’s later developments included fascial diaphragm releases. These diaphragms, like the respiratory diaphragm, are areas where soft tissue, held together by connective tissue, runs horizontally across the body. Releasing restrictions in these diaphragms release the connecting fascia throughout the muscles and around the spine and spinal cord, allowing the cerebrospinal fluid to move more easily from the occipital bone at the base of our cranium down to our sacrum at the bottom of our spine.
During a vaginal birth, the baby’s head is normally molded into an oblong shape to pass through the mother’s pelvis. I commonly find, in normal, healthy adults, craniosacral lesions with deep and complex restrictions layered around them. These old restrictions could have been released shortly after they occurred. Birth, even Cesarean birth, is one of our first traumatic experiences. Craniosacral theray can be given to every baby, soon after birth, to facilitate their body’s dramatic transition from liquid to air. I recommend continued craniosacral therapy throughout the child’s life, especially after a trauma. That could be a fall or accident, an illness, a surgery, an emotional trauma, like seperation or divorce, or any difficult transition.
Craniosacral therapy creates an opportunity for self-healing; for restoration and harmony. It is beneficial for alleviating pain but is more powerful when used as a tool for wellness and prevention.
Around the time of my twenty-fourth birthday, I was doing some energetic and consciousness exploration. I had just discovered massage and bodywork and it had instantly transformed me. I found energetic, emotional release. I had always been the kind of person with emotions constantly bubbling up, the pressure holding high and sometimes experiencing bursts of dramatic explosiveness. With bodywork, I felt my body differently. When I was receiving bodywork, I related to it differently. Sometimes when I experienced emotions gracefully while receiving bodywork, I heard clarity and wisdom about the issue that was the source of the emotion. My body started to talk to me.
As part of my exploration, I bought a yoga video and a candle and began a new journey. I didn’t have the discipline to practice each morning, as recommended. In fact, I began to experience huge quantities of resistance to doing the things I knew would transform me into the woman I wanted to become. I used the candle to begin a meditation practice. I had read in a book to stare at a candle flame with eyes open for five to ten minutes. As my mind quieted, the flame stilled. When I would think of the clock, the flame would flicker. Thus began a long-term, rocky and undisciplined, relationship with meditation and yoga.
Now, as a craniosacral therapist, I have the pleasure of working with yogis. What impresses me the most about yoga is their fascial glide. In other words, their connective tissue is well-lubricated and without restriction. The layers of fascia glide against the layers of muscle. Another note of interest is that they release energy cysts easily and efficiently. Energy cysts are areas of walled-off energy. The energy is from an external source and, for some reason, our body was unable to dissipate that imposing energy. Energy cysts sometimes consist of only emotional trauma while others are a combination of physical or emotional energy. Due to these differences, yogi’s craniosacral therapy sessions tend to move more rapidly and with slightly greater results than non-yogis.
One of my great mysteries in life is how yoga works. Recently, I’ve learned much about the physical poses, or asanas, of yoga and how they affect us physically. Yet there are two other components that bewilder me, the energy and the awareness. If you’re not familiar with yoga, it originated in northern India over 5,000 years ago and is first recorded in the Vedas, a collection of texts containing songs, mantras and rituals to be used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests. Through yoga, many of us learn the energy system taught in the Vedas, the chakras. The chakra system is useful in learning our own energy awareness and our interactions with the energy of others. My question is whether the asanas affect the chakras more intentionally than other forms of exercise might, explaining why so much energy is released easily by yogis.
The witness, or the phenomenon of awareness, may be explained through meditation more than the asanas but I’m not sure. Over the thousands of years, Saints, gurus, and mystics have developed, sharing their wisdom and teachings with us. Whether it is through teachings or the poses, somehow, while practicing yoga, people develop a higher consciousness. It may be a sense of experiencing our minds differently. We may become more aware of what we are thinking and have a new source of awareness that can guide our thoughts back to the present. How does that work?
I had lunch with a friend today and was discussing this and she reminded me that anecdotal medicine is still good medicine. If it works, what does the why really matter? She emphasized that our current culture spends an enormous amount of time and energy rationalizing scientifically how things “work.” Craniosacral therapy is very much an anecdotal treatment, despite its scientific evidence. It works miraculously well for some and not so much for others.
In regards to the physical, yoga has some faults. To simplify, joints are made of connective tissue, cartilage, and fluid and those tissues must remain lubricated. The muscles around the joint must also be strong enough to move the joint without allowing the weight or force to “sink” into the joint. Some yogis have joint damage from asanas being attained and held through flexibility rather than strength. Yoga can also cause repetitive stress injuries, especially if the joints aren’t being well-maintained. Many yoga poses, or asanas, cause compression of the vertebrae of the neck and lower back. Some poses are known to cause serious shoulder injuries. Headstands, which shouldn’t be done at all, caused neck injuries.
When I was ill several years ago, I had become more sedentary than I was accustomed, was on medications, and hadn’t received any bodywork in a while. I developed tendonitis in my right Achilles. The podiatrist told me I would never be able to walk barefoot and pain-free. I returned to craniosacral therapy and yoga. I began a disciplined, once a week, practice at a local studio. I developed an increase in my intermittent low back pain. The teacher would tell me not to let my belly fall while in Cow Pose and I would realize I didn’t have the abdominal strength to do as she meant but the yoga class did not provide the strengthening I needed.
Soon thereafter, I discovered a new studio, a new teacher, and a new method of yoga. LYT yoga (pronounced “lit”) has been developed by a physical therapist to make yoga physiologically sound. Strength is the foundation of the pose, not flexibility. I think because of all the fascial gliding, I have not tightened or lost any flexibility but, rather, it has improved while I have strengthened. I’ve been practicing LYT yoga with Motivity with Joi once or twice a week for about a year. The changes to my body are profound. I’m still experiencing the magic of the physical, emotional and energetic nurturing I feel with every practice. LYT yoga includes teachings about how we “spill” energy through our weakness. This teaching has been very effective in improving my belly strength and control.
I am given the fortunate opportunity to discuss vertebrae frequently, as small talk. Spine issues are so common that when people find out I’m a massage therapist, they start telling me about their vertebrae, and of course their discs.
any of the bones or segments composing the spinal column, consisting typically of a cylindrical body and an arch with various processes, and forming a foramen, or opening, through which the spinal cord passes.
I was chatting with a new friend last week and she was explaining her understanding: the discs between two vertebrae are bulging and pinching a nerve which causes her pain and numbness. In her case, in her neck and radiating down her arms.
I found myself, again, trying to explain simply how light-touch bodywork can affect soft tissue and alleviate that pain and numbness. The nerves don’t touch the bone. The nerves are wrapped in layers of connective tissue, called fascia. The fascia is made of elastin and collagen mostly and has a silly putty type of stretchiness to it. When you stretch gently and hold, the tissue will change to maintain the stretch. The lack we can add to the fascia around the nerves can relieve the restriction enough to diminish the pain and numbness.
This fascia, connective tissue, wraps around layers of fluid which wraps around layers of nerves. It also wraps around individual muscles, individual layers of muscles, and individual filaments of muscles. The fascia wraps around organs and all of this fascia indirectly connects to each other. This explains why a restriction released in one area of the body can affect a symptom that seems unrelated.
In summary, the nerves don’t touch the bones. The nerves are surrounded, and protected, by the craniosacral system, which consists of the fascia, membranes, and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Even if the disc is herniated, or bulging, and pressing on the nerve, that soft tissue and fluid can be rearranged without pressure.
When there is an upset or a stress, we want to control the environment; i.e. eliminate the stress. Our responsibility is to consciously realize that this is not within our control. We do not have control over our environment. Breathe into it. Cope with the stress. Many of us go literally crazy trying to keep all the loose ends of life wrapped up. It’s impossible to control all the details and, I would argue, not the best approach to begin within. You’re setting yourself up for all sorts of stress-related health conditions.
You also don’t actually have to act out the psycho-drama in your relationships to alleviate the stress. Learn to cope with the stress. Many of us find ourselves taking it out on each other. We’re stuck in patterns of argument, disagreement, dissatisfaction, or disappointment. We love each other and don’t know why we keep having the same conversations over and over again.
This pandemic, and the social distancing it requires, provides the perfect playground to practice our coping skills. Our environment is even more difficult to control than usual. The virus adds a variable that increases our health risk exponentially, thereby increasing the stress we feel about it. Those of us with children and families to protect may feel overwhelmed. We must find a way to cope.
Craniosacral therapy can help. With my subtle guidance, you can connect with an inner wisdom and sense of healing. This inner place shows us a sensation of coping that we can learn from; it provides a blueprint for calm. Using our discernment, we then apply this blueprint energetically to the current conditions we face and create plans for coping with all the stresses in our life.
Text me at (561) 410-6113 to schedule today. You deserve it.
1. How can craniosacral therapy help my overall health/immune system/anxiety during this pandemic?
Craniosacral therapy helps overall health primarily through its effects on the parasympathetic nervous system. A state of relaxation is not only comforting, it is literally healing. It allows your brain to change states of brainwaves into a sort of mental reboot, the type of heaing that deep sleep includes. It allows cells throughout the body to redistribute fluid and release toxins.
Craniosacral therapy affects the immune system primarily through the endocrine system. A technique included in craniosacral therapy, as taught by Dr. John Upledger, is diaphragm releases. Most of the fascia, or connective tissue, in our body runs longitudinally. The locations where fascia runs transversely we call fascial diaphragms. The thymus, the primary endocrine gland of the immune system, sits within one of these diaphragms. By releasing the fascia around the thymus, we allow the hormones from that gland to distribute more fluidly. Equally, it allows nutrients required by the thymus to reach the gland thereby making the thymus more functional. In addition, SomatoEmotional Release, a group of techniques included in craniosacral therapy, can use visualization and dialoguing to connect you with your own inner physician. Using this technique you can direct your own immune system to fight an invader.
I’m not currently offering sessions due to the “stay at home” plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As soon as we’re free to roam and interact again, contact me, I can help you recover from the stress of this difficult time.
2. Can you help TMJ and pain from grinding my teeth?
Yes. This is a common disorder we see improve with craniosacral therapy. We do this by using the cranial bones like handles, to stretch the membranes that connect the cranial bones underneath. For example, we release restrictions in the temporal bones which relieves pressure on the facial nerve. This can immediately reduce the pain associated with TMJ dysfunction. We also gently decompress the TMJ joint itself. Complete relief may require a series of sessions but each session will show improvement.
I also work inside the mouth with a gloved hand. By releasing the hard palate and facial bones, most of the pressure in the jaw is alleviated.
3. Do I have to disrobe for treatment?
No. You will remain fully clothed, wearing comfortable clothing but not denim, when lying face up on the massage table.
4. Do you offer a package deal or a rate for scheduling a series of sessions?
I do not. My rate is $70 per hour session in your home. This rate is intended to be accommodating and affordable for most. At this already discounted rate, I cannot afford a further discount.
5. Can craniosacral therapy relieve back pain?
Yes. This is another common ailment we treat. By decompressing the spinal bones themselves and stretching the membranes around the spinal cord, most pain can be alleviated over a series of sessions.
We have two nervous systems: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic is “fight, flight, or freeze.” These are our natural responses to danger. The parasympathetic is “feed and breed.” This should be our normal, relaxed state.
The sympathetic nervous system helps us cope with a tiger who wants to eat us chasing after us. It doesn’t help at work. Yet our body creates feedback loops that allow the stress to continue to manifest as increasing the activity of our sympathetic nervous system. What is best at work, in “normal” stressful situations, is to be calm, relaxed, and focused. In this state of our parasympathetic nervous system in the lead, we can perform at our best, even in the stressful situations that we face every day.
Craniosacral therapy assists your body’s own healing mechanisms in slowing down the hormones of the sympathetic nervous system and activating feedback loops that allow the parasympathetic nervous system to resume control. Symptoms of the parasympathetic nervous system include deeper breaths, such as your belly moving up and down as you lie on the massage table, tummy sounds, which indicate normal digestion resuming, and the relaxation of muscle and tissues throughout the body.
At the age of 12, I tried to slit my wrists with a disposable razor. It was right around the time I started my first period. That was the first of many suicide attempts in my life. Every few years I would end up at the bottom of the same spiral. After each attempt, I woke up with dread and called my mom crying.
Now, 43 years old, I am disabled by mental illness. I know now that I am full-fledged crazy. The kind of crazy that makes people homeless and happier outside than stuck in a studio apartment alone. I don’t know what happened for about 4 years of my adult life. I was psychotic, experiencing auditory hallucinations but not comprehending that this is what was happening, and on the cycle of a brain with a mood disorder.
For the last three years I have been stable on medication with no symptoms of mental illness. I looked for a part-time job for a couple of months when I realized I wanted to go back to my own skill set, my talent, my heart’s work: craniosacral therapy. Meeting people now and marketing my private practice, I’ve been embarrassed or awkward when asked what I’ve been doing for the past ten years. That is the catalyst for my decision to come out as mentally ill. Mental illness is in the news so much right now and at the center of great debates. There is so much press, much needed, about gun control in the aftermath of mass shootings.
My last suicide attempt occurred when I was 24 years old. Craniosacral therapy healed me a great deal. My illness is serious enough, and was progressing, that I will have to be on psychiatric medications for the rest of my life. But craniosacral therapy continues to release trauma and restrictions in my tissues, freeing my body to move easier and my mind to relax.
For information about my practice in Palm Beach County, Florida, visit ladybug4852.com. For information about CranioSacral Therapy internationally, visit upledger.com.
Bodywork is a key element in the work of evolving the self to your truest form. Layers of restrictions have been created by hardship and disease. We can peel back those layers that are deep within, exposing who you are instead of what has happened to you. Join me on this physical, somatic, energetic, personal, and spiritual adventure in self-healing that is craniosacral therapy.