What is Craniosacral Work/Craniosacral Therapy?
What is Visionary Craniosacral Work®?
What is the origin of CS Work?
What does a Visionary Craniosacral Work®/Craniosacral Therapy session look like?
What does a Craniosacral Session feel like?
How many sessions will I need?
What is Craniosacral Therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy (CST), (also called Visionary Craniosacral Work®, Craniosacral Work, Cranial Work, Cranio) is a gentle, yet powerful hands-on modality that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve health and performance.
The Craniosacral system extends from the bones of the head (cranium) down to the bones at the base of the spine (sacrum). It includes the central nervous system as well as the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and support the brain and spinal cord.
Life expresses itself as motion . At a deep level of our physiological functioning all healthy, living tissues subtly “breathe” with the motion of life – a phenomenon that produces rhythmic impulses which can be palpated by sensitive hands.
Like the cardiovascular system, the Craniosacral system has inherent rhythms or waves that can be felt throughout the body. These rhythms are usually referred to as the Craniosacral Rhythm or Cranial Wave. The rhythms express what is referred to as ‘primary respiration’, because they underlie and are more fundamental than all the other rhythms of the body (such as heart beat and lung breathing). Primary respiration is produced by our intrinsic life force, which was called the ‘Breath of Life’ by Dr William Sutherland who developed this approach. (see “What is the Origin of CST?”)
Every condition affecting a person influences the cranial wave, sometimes creating restrictions to this healthy rhythm. Throughout our lives we regularly are met with stresses and traumas. Our body, mind and spirit become patterned, shaped and conditioned according to how we’re able to deal with these stresses. If stresses or traumas are overwhelming to our system, they become locked in the body as sites of inertia. These places of inertia will distort or diminish the cranial wave. They may for example, limit our life force, or “chi”, manifest as areas of pain and discomfort, lower the strength of the immune system, or inhibit optimal functioning of our endocrine system.
Common causes of inertia are physical injuries, emotional and psychological stresses, birth trauma and toxicity.
One of the foundational beliefs of CST is that the health in a person is never lost. There is an inherent intelligence – our essential blueprint of health. The body, mind, and spirit operate as a unified whole, continually working to heal. Within every injury and illness there is an “inherent treatment plan” or a self-correcting mechanism.
The essential aim of craniosacral treatment is to facilitate the expression of primary respiration in tissues that have become inertial, fragmented and distorted. During a session, the practitioner “listens through the hands” to the body’s subtle rhythms and any patterns of inertia or congestion. The practitioner can introduce subtle suggestions, gently facilitate and support the best possible conditions for the optimal alignment where the patient’s own intrinsic forces can come back into play and naturally dissipate any stressful forces that have become trapped in the body. Dr Sutherland realized that the intrinsic forces – the self correcting mechanism – within the patient’s own body can be utilized, rather than having to apply any external force. Therefore, treatment is always very gentle, supportive and non-invasive.
The ability of all of the tissues in the body to express their primary respiratory motion is a critical factor in determining our state of health. When these rhythms are expressed in fullness and balance, health and well-being naturally follow.
What is Visionary Craniosacral Work®?
Visionary Craniosacral Work® (VCSW®) is based on the ancient art of combining compassionate perception with skillful touch. The founder Hugh Milne, is a third generation Scottish osteopath and author of the extraordinary book “The Heart of Listening”. VSCW® has been taught worldwide for over 25 years. VCSW® blends all practices of Craniosacral work (Biodynamic, Energetic, Biomechanical and Visionary), Shamanism, Eastern healing practices, meditation, and perception.
Hugh Milne bases his craniosacral teachings on the work of Dr. William Sutherland, the grandfather spirit of Craniosacral Work.
The visionary school takes its genesis from a pivotal event in the life of Sutherland.
In 1899 Sutherland was studying in the first osteopathic school to be set up in the USA. It was founded in 1891 by the man who coined the term ‘Osteopathy,’ Andrew Taylor Still, in Kirksville, Missouri.
The path of Sutherland’s professional development was forever changed by his witnessing of his mentor’s gift of perception. Sutherland was later to recount it this way:
Still was like the X-ray: He could look right through you and see things, and tell you things, without putting his hands upon the body. I have seen him do that! Time and time again. When some of the early teachers had a clinic up before class, hunting for the lesion, in would come the old Doctor from the rear, “Here’s your lesion.” How did he do it?
As visionaries, we are trained not to be merely technicians but to be able to “see” the structures beneath our hands and to understand their connection to the functional whole. A visionary knows how to touch a client with precise and gentle contacts that help the client feel more centered, aligned, balanced and more at home in themselves. Sometimes, by touching just the right place in just the right way, a visionary can help the client understand what troubles them, and what they need to reclaim their equanimity, and their place in life. Such work can also help the client access and release their healing potential.
A visionary is someone who can do four things equally well, and hold all four things as equal in importance. The four are:
- First, they can perceive the entirety of the client’s anatomy and physiology.
- Second, they can perceive the parts of their anatomy and physiology, and notice which parts are not in alignment with the whole.
- Third, they can perceive the client’s inner spiritual journey, emotional state and energy level, and hold no judgment about what they perceive.
- Fourth, they can perceive their own inner spiritual journey, emotional state and energy level, also without judgment.
Combining anatomical knowledge with precision of touch, intuition, stillness, and an ability to really listen and really see the client is key to Visionary Craniosacral Work®.
Clients feel deeply seen, deeply heard and deeply touched. They often report feeling “more relaxed than I ever have felt before”, or “in my center”, “restored”, “in my heart”, or “connected to my Self”.
It is the intention of VSCW® to “to help create an open heart, a clear head and a free body.”
What is the origin of CS Work?
CS Work has its roots in the field of Osteopathy. The presence of subtle rhythms in the body was discovered by Dr. William Sutherland (1873-1954), an Osteopathic Physician over 100 years ago. He discovered that cranial sutures were, in fact, designed to express small degrees of motion. He spent many years of research during which he demonstrated the existence of this motion and eventually concluded it is essentially produced by the body’s inherent life force, which he referred to as the “Breath of Life”. He went on to demonstrate that these movements are inextricably linked with mental and emotional health and that restriction of these movements corresponds to a reduction of the natural capacity to self-heal.
Numerous schools and approaches to CS work have emerged over the years ranging from biodynamic, to visionary, to biomechanical, to energetic. Most approaches are rooted in the original work of Dr. William Sutherland.
What does a Visionary Craniosacral Work®/Craniosacral Work session look like?
Craniosacral Work is focused around creating a safe space for the client, holding appropriate practitioner boundaries and using a very gentle touch. The client usually lies fully-clothed on a comfortable treatment table. During a session, the practitioner makes contact by placing their hands lightly on the client’s body and “listens through the hands” to the body’s subtle rhythms and any patterns of inertia or congestion. Contact is made carefully so that the patient feels at ease with what is happening. The sessions are often quiet without a lot of conversation, but when appropriate the therapist and client will share their experiences or helpful insights.
What does a Craniosacral Session feel like?
Most people find Craniosacral sessions pleasant and relaxing. People often report feeling as if they have “had their batteries charged”. Sometimes people feel tingling ,numbing , or fluttering sensations or they may experience momentary pain related to past events. It is likely that you will feel calm, relaxed and centered. You may feel lighter or more spacious within yourself.
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions required depends entirely on the condition being treated. Acute injury and disease states can benefit enormously from 2 – 6 sessions whereas chronic injuries and disease states usually need more time to shift their patterns.
How safe is Craniosacral Therapy?
The light touch in Craniosacral Therapy makes for a very safe modality. It is a non-directive, non-analytical, and non-invasive approach. When practiced by a qualified therapist, it is a very safe method. There is a handful of contraindication such as acute brain injuries, acute stroke or aneurysm.
What are the benefits of Craniosacral Therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy is so gentle that it is suitable for people of all ages – from newborns to seniors. Sessions may relieve a range of problems. Here is a basic list and below that is a more extensive explanation of benefits.
- Migraines and Headaches
- Chronic and Acute Neck and Back Pain
- Stress and Tension-Related Disorders
- Emotional distress (anxiety, stress, depression, worry, etc.)
- Support through Life Changes
- Immune System Support
- Vertigo, Tinnitus, and Menieres
- Motor-Coordination Impairments
- Infant and Childhood Disorders
- Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
- Chronic Fatigue
- TMJ Dysfunction
- Central Nervous System Disorders
- Learning Disabilities
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Orthopedic Problems
- And Many Other Conditions
I have categorized three main areas in which someone might seek out and benefit from CST. There is some overlap among these three areas, but for the sake of clarity, I will explain each separately.
- Most often clients seek out CST for relief from pain or other symptom. CST can benefit those suffering from headaches, migraines, neck pain, low-back pain, whiplash, Bell’s palsy, jaw pain or dysfunction, and learning difficulties. Among CST’s largest patient groups are those suffering from chronic symptoms that haven’t been aided by other approaches. Often, when symptoms remain after a head impact or whiplash injury this work may be the key to restoring function.
- Other conditions for which CST has shown to be effective are sensory disorders. Among these are eye-motor coordination, autism, dyslexia, loss of taste or smell, tinnitus, vertigo and neuralgias such as sciatica and tic douloureux.
- Women who are preparing to give birth can benefit from CST. Sometimes pregnant women experience back pain, hip pain, sciatica, or pain in her sacrum or perineum. There are craniosacral techniques that release and balance restrictions in the pelvis and spine. Unwinding the tension in the muscles and surrounding soft tissue can be relieving and sometimes help to ease labor. Post pregnancy sessions help to realign the pelvic bones and soft tissue allowing for an easier recovery.
- The extremely light touch involved in the application of CST makes it a safe approach for children, infants, and newborns with early traumas, including birth trauma. They especially can benefit from early identification and release of restrictions in the craniosacral system, thereby preventing future difficulties, such as learning disabilities or hyperactivity.
- CST is a gentle way to work with emotional trauma, anxiety, depression and stress. It promotes the release of emotional energy that has been held in the body. Trauma is processed at a pace the body and psyche can handle, which helps you move gradually toward deeper levels of harmony and attunement. CST helps you to become more present, grounded and integrated. Chronically recurring emotional issues such as hopelessness and helplessness, frustration, fear, anxiety, depression, apathy, grief, betrayal, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder traumatic incidents, are often resolved through the deep stillness of CST or through SomatoEmotional Release which includes therapeutic dialog and imagery techniques.
Wellness and Stress Relief
- Another area of principal effectiveness is with stress-related responses in the body. Stress can cause health problems or make existing problems worse. Under stress, the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system becomes stimulated. The body releases hormones to prepare you for “fight or flight.” Under these conditions, there is increased muscle tone, heart rate, and blood pressure, stress on the adrenal glands, changes in the digestive process, and suppression of the immune system.
- The body expends significant energy during this stage but has no chance to refuel and rebuild. Insomnia, chronic fatigue, fear, anxiety and tension, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, headaches, and poor digestion are possible reactions of the body to chronic stress. It can also cause behaviors that contribute to the development of disease. Many people respond to stressful events by overeating, eating an unhealthy diet, smoking, and increasing alcohol consumption or drug use, all of which place further stress on the body.
- CST works to reverse the debilitating effects of stress by providing the conditions in which the nervous system can rest, rejuvenate, and come back into balance–bolstering overall health and resistance to disease. In fact, it’s this capacity to reduce stress that’s leading an increasing number of people to include CST as part of their personal wellness program. They report having more energy, sleeping better, being sick less often, and increased ability to deal with everyday stress.
- Craniosacral Therapy is also excellent as a preventive therapy, because it can facilitate the resolution of imbalances within a client’s system that they may not be aware of consciously.
Personal Growth and Spiritual Path
- Receiving Craniosacral Therapy can be used as a tool for personal and spiritual growth. The deeply meditative and calming experience is a way to gain deeper access into a more essential state of being. Craniosacral Therapy helps clients access their own clarity and insight; hence it is used not only to relieve pain, but also to help empower the client to deal with many different life situations.
- After a session many clients report how relaxed they are. “I wasn’t sleeping. I was aware of everything around me, but I was very relaxed.” They were likely experiencing a level of deep meditation.
- Many forms of meditation result in the clearing of one’s mind which promotes a sense of calm and heightened awareness. During meditation, the brain’s activity alters significantly. The most well-known brain waves evident during many kinds of meditation are called alpha waves. Alpha waves accompany relaxation of the entire nervous system. You feel relaxed, calm, lucid, not thinking. Sometimes clients move into deeper states where theta and delta waves are prominent. These states are associated with deep relaxation and various states of consciousness. Scientific studies show that the regular practice of meditation can be a powerful healing tool.
- Some clients seek out Craniosacral Therapy to assist in the Awakening process. It helps to move areas of blocked energy, brings clarity, insight and a sense of integration of body, mind and spirit.
Click here to listen to a Beyond 50 radio interview with Regina about “Using Visionary Craniosacral Work® to Support Your Spiritual Journey”.
Are there contraindications for a Craniosacral session?
Situations where application of CST would not be recommended include conditions where a variation or slight increase in intracranial pressure would cause instability. Acute aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage, or other preexisting severe bleeding disorders are examples of conditions that could be affected by small intracranial pressure changes. Head trauma, traumatic brain injury and stroke are contraindicated in the acute stage.
How to book a session:
Call Regina at 541-390-3191
My office is located at 1569 SW Nancy Way, Bend, OR 97702
Gift certificates are available. Please inquire for more information.
Please provide 24-hour notice for cancellations or rescheduling. Full payment is required for missed appointments or cancellations received with less than 24-hour’s notice.
I accept cash, check and Credit Card Payments
Before your session:
- Wear loose comfortable clothing such as sweats or yoga pants.
- If you are a new client, please arrive a few minutes early to complete an intake form or bring your completed intake form with you.
- Arrive a few minutes early. I encourage clients to sit in the waiting room, breath and let the outside world drop away.
- Consider your intention for the session.
During the session:
It is important to me that you feel comfortable and safe. If you need warmth, water, a potty break, or if you experience discomfort of any kind, please let me know.
After the session:
- Drink plenty of water.
- It is recommended that you have some quiet time after your session to help you integrate the work and enjoy your new relaxed state of being.
- Please be mindful as you move about your world after a session. Use care as you drive, getting in and out of your car and on stairs and curbs, etc.
“Taking better care of yourself is not merely a matter of good health, it is a measure of spiritual evolution. Are you treating your physical vehicle as if it is divine? Good for you if you are. If you aren’t…why not?” – Neal Donald Walsch
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