Why I choose Craniosacral for all clients
As part of my therapy sessions I almost always complete a treatment with Craniosacral Therapy. I see it as a way to give my client time to restore their mind, body and spirit through activating their parasympathetic system. So what does that all mean? And why is this my favorite part of treatment?
Let’s begin with our nervous system
The nervous system is in charge of many organ functions that keep us alive that we never have to even think about. Functions like blood pressure, blood flow, body temperature, breathing, digesting and eliminating food.
It also has two sides: the sympathetic
and the parasympathetic
. The sympathetic begins from the middle part of the spine spanning from the shoulders to the belly button. This side is responsible for what is called the “fight-or-flight” state. If there is a bear chasing you, you’re running fast, furiously, efficiently, and effectively thanks to your sympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic is its counterpart. It’s often called the “rest-and-digest” state. It emerges from parts of the brain stem and parts of the sacrum (your “tailbone”). It is responsible for replenishing resources and repairing any part of the body that has suffered during the day. This includes any stress that has burdened the body in some way.
Ideally, these two divisions of the nervous system balance each other out. For every stressful experience that activates the sympathetic nervous system, there should be an equal amount of downtime for the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and repair the damage.
Unfortunately we are simply not getting this down time our body needs to find balance. This is in part due to multitasking, technology and our ever increasing amount of stimulation in our modern world. Therefor the nervous system has to prioritize what is important to deal with immediately and what can wait to be dealt with in another moment.
Prioritizing by our Nervous System
1. Your vital functions.
It’s fundamental that your heart keeps beating! That you take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide efficiently. And that your kidneys filters your blood, etc. Nothing takes priority over maintaining vital functions.
2. What you subject your nervous system to.
Let’s say you are running to work. Your nervous system has to adapt by making sure your body can keep up with the demands you are putting on it in the moment. If it didn’t, you’d likely pass out because your cells would not be getting enough oxygen.
3. Your emotions.
If you’re angry, your nervous system has to accommodate for the increase in heat and metabolic needs that are required to be angry. If you’re depressed, your nervous system has to accommodate to the decrease in oxygen because you are breathing not as deeply as you usually do. Less oxygen = less energy.
4. Your past injuries, both physical and emotional.
Sadly, last on the list are all the things that happened in the past. So anything that is not happening right now is included in “the past”. Your nervous system gives priority always to what is happening right now. If it’s not happening now and you are in a state of stress, it will be stored and addressed later.
Where the problem begins
The problem with this beautifully designed system is that it is organized around the idea that there will be downtime every day to address the stresses that have been stored. If there is no downtime, past injuries continue to be stored long term in the tissues of the body. And, as you can imagine, there is a limit to how much can be stored in the tissues before damage starts to manifest as a consequence of storing.
Bear in mind that the body is always working toward health and does its best to keep you functioning at your most optimal state with the conditions it is presented with. So if you are stressed or ill, it is still working toward optimal functioning and health within the parameters and resources available to it, even if from your perspective your body is not working as well as it “should” or “use to.”
Then we have the function of the central nervous system which is general to keep you alive. Included in this is a built-in ability to sense and judge danger vs. safety. When you are in danger your sympathetic nervous system turns on and you prepare to either fight or run away. When you are safe, you can rest and so your sympathetic nervous system turn off and the parasympathetic nervous system turns on.
How do you know if you are safe or in danger?
If you think about it for a second, it’s not entirely obvious all the time. There often isn’t a clear sign that says you are in danger or you are safe. You could be taking the same route to work that you’ve taken a hundred times before and you suddenly feel like something’s not quite right. Within a couple of seconds from out of nowhere a car slams into your car.
Where did that feeling come from and what part of you was aware of the incoming danger?
The feeling came from your nervous system, and it was your nervous system that was aware of the incoming danger.
The nervous system evaluates itself and its external environment every 1/100 of a second. It does this for two reasons: first, to make sure all systems are functioning and performing as they should on the inside of the body and second, to be sure that it (you) are safe.
Back, a long time ago, when we had to worry about being attacked by other creatures in nature, our nervous system was the “sixth sense” that kept us well informed of when it was time to start running.
So what is Craniosacral therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy is a healing modality that takes your body out of the sympathetic state and into the parasympathetic state. The transition from fight-flight to rest-digest is imperative to healing. Without that transition, the body is unable to go from maintenance mode to repair mode and therefore is unable to heal. When you are ill you are resting and sleeping all the time because that is the only state that will allow for healing to happen.
How does a Craniosacral therapy work?
We begin by utilizing gentle soft touch techniques that are designed to bring the body to a comfortable and relaxed stillness. Often the use of essential oils, silence or soft music will be added to deepen the experience for the client.
Now here is where it gets interesting. Did you know that the nervous system of every living thing is built to detect what is going on in its external environment? Well, it is also able to detect other nervous systems nearby! The client’s nervous system is naturally evaluating the state of the practitioner’s nervous system and due to proximity it will begin to copy the practitioner’s nervous system. Through training, experience and breathing your practitioner creates an environment of deep relaxation where healing can occur. No manipulation or deep pressure is necessary when you tap into the parasympathetic state and afford the body the time and space it needs to start repairing the damage that has built up over weeks, months or decades.
An easy way of explaining this is comparing it to how our mood changes when we are around different people. If we are in the presence of a sad person, we find ourselves feeling a little sad after a while. Or if we are around a happy person their happiness is often “contagious” and we will leave them feeling good. And if you are near another person who is calm you too will feel calm despite having a stressful day.
Why is Craniosacral my favorite treatment?
So you may be asking which treatment is my favorite or which to start with. My answer is simple! Bringing the supported movement and release of Thai Massage together with Craniosacral Therapy is positively my favorite therapy to both give and receive.
For me it comes down to what is most supportive for my clients. So, where do I see the most powerful responses? The answer is simple! It’s utilizing the benefits of Craniosacral treatment to give the client’s body time to restore and revive.