This irregular Thursday Tidbits post features the gentle touch of Craniosacral Therapy (CST) as described in Kate Mackinnon’s From My Heart and Hands. If you have never heard of CST, as I had not, consider this concise definition: “the healing power of a gentle touch” (Mackinnon).
Essentially, CST is based on the body’s innate ability to heal itself; the therapy has a physical as well as energetic component.
Therapists’ hands are trained to feel and monitor changes in the body’s tissues to a very high degree of sensitivity. In the process of monitoring what is happening in the client’s body, therapists’ hands follow change as it occurs rather than making a decision to move a person’s body in any given direction. This is a principal difference between CST and most other therapeutic types of bodywork (Mackinnon).
The term craniosacral involves the cranium and sacrum, the bony features that protect the brain and spinal cord, our central nervous system:
These structures are further supported by membranes that line the bones of the fluid that fills those membranes, which provide cushioning for the brain and spinal cord. The craniosacral system is at the very core of our being; disturbances in the system create disease or disharmony in the body as a whole. Likewise, problems of the body also reflect back to the craniosacral system, putting it under strain (Mackinnon).
The cerebrospinal fluid of the central nervous system is essential to CST for the trained therapist’s hands are able to evaluate how well the body is functioning by feeling the craniosacral rhythm, a gentle motion that can be felt throughout the body.
It would be an injustice to Mackinnon, her book, and CST to attempt to discuss the different facets of this therapy in a blog post. It would also be quite a challenge as Mackinnon deftly explains and explores the many facets of CST. Not only is her book readable but it is an engaging and thoughtful presentation. This is a book I recommend for anyone who wants to know about CST, either as a client or as a professional. Mackinnon covers it all.
She provides an in-depth discussion of a ten-step, CST protocol as well as what to expect in a session and how to prepare for a session. Each chapter includes fascinating case studies of an array of conditions that have been helped by CST. Mackinnon never presents CST as a panacea but rather as a viable, healing modality.
Mackinnon studied with the Upledger Institute, and in addition to discussing the training in various modalities that one should consider requisite in a craniosacral therapist, she includes a fascinating chapter on accessing and using what she refers to as our inner wisdom.
While CST is based upon the premise that our bodies can heal themselves, it does not mean that the body cannot use some support, even from allopathic medicine. Thus, regardless of the healing modality, it is essential to access that information within our bodies, which is not always easy.
There are various practices that help us do just that including tai chi, yoga, meditation, and CST. “We often need support to reach our inner wisdom, to allow us to move beyond our logical or rational minds” (Mackinnon). An increased level of awareness allows us a deeper sensitivity to what is occurring within our physical bodies.
Having had a regular meditation practice for just over a year and for a much shorter time, a yoga practice, I am encouraged daily. Beyond what meditation gives me, I am beginning to see the effects of having a regular yoga practice, especially for discomfort, stiffness, and flexibility. In particular, there has been real progress with the neuropathy in my legs.
CST is not covered by most insurance companies, although it is certainly complementary to allopathic medicine. Craniosacral therapists often are also licensed as massage or physical therapists. Mackinnon provides an excellent glossary and list of resources. The Upledger Institute website is among them.
Perhaps what most convinced me to start looking for a craniosacral therapist is the following from the late Dr. John Upledger: “‘the therapist does not heal or cure. The healing is done by the patient using the help and facilitation of the therapist.’”
I will keep you posted.
(All quotations are from the Hay House print copy of From My Hands and Heart by Kate Mackinnon, 2013. As a Book Nook member, Hay House has provided me a free copy for review. My review is to be posted on my blog as well as on at least one commercial site.)