Thursday Tidbits: The Gentle Touch

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. waters of forgiveness

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.

Meraki Moment 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.)

Maybe Not Such a Mystery After All

Green Mic 0713“By chance, I encountered the lost lady. At that time I still believed in chance. A candle burned, and by the light of the flame I embarked upon the soul’s solitary adventure” (The Greening, p. 6, Margaret Coles).

I have always believed in chance, always loved the mystery as well as the possibility of it. Mystery and possibility wrap round each other easily, sometimes magically and other times, mystically. It is not surprising that I enjoyed Margaret Coles’ The Greening.

At the heart of The Greening is another, actual book, Revelations of Divine Love by 14th century anchoress Julian of Norwich, who took her name from the church that housed her for forty years, St. Julian’s.

Glen at Mic 0713

As an anchoress, Julian was “a woman who devoted her life to prayer for the community.… She had [sixteen] visions…in which she received a series of messages”; she spent the rest of her life writing about these visions (The Greening, p. 11). She had a lot of questions.

The fact of Julian is the heart of Coles’ novel, and while the plot does get away from Coles from time to time, my fascination with Julian’s belief in a loving God and a human life of impermanence kept me patient with the novel.

Yet again, I was reminded of the overlapping of Christianity, Taoism, and Buddhism, and that “the divisions between the faiths are pointless” (The Greening, p. 210).

The Buddha said, “I teach one thing and one thing only, suffering and the cessation of suffering.” In the Tao, “the ten thousand things rise and fall, while the Self watches their return” (Lao Tsu).  Julian’s famous words reveal the same: “‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well’” (The Greening, p. 65).

Just as the Buddha did not say that he teaches pain or the cessation of pain, just as the Tao accepts that moments rise and fall, so does Julian acknowledge that pain and pleasure are part and parcel of the human experience:  “he did not say, ‘you shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work weary, you shall not be discomforted.’ But he said, ‘you shall not be overcome’” (The Greening,  p. 233).

What Coles captures in her novel is what has intrigued scholars for over 600 years about Julian of Norwich’s message: “’God tells you that you are beloved through all eternity and held safe in an embrace that will never let you go. But the love he offers requires us to turn our lives upside down’” (The Greening, p.87).

Julian’s vision of God is one of love, compassion, gratitude, and equanimity completely contrary to the turbulent times during which she lived. She understood that her revelations were in direct contrast to the very church that housed her. Yet, she wrote.
Path in Mic 0713

The “chance” of the lost lady’s writings surviving six centuries of territorial uprisings, sacking of monasteries and war after war seems slim but Julian’s revelations not only survived but after 1901 have remained in print and the subject of scholarly study.

That Margaret Coles chose Julian’s revelations as the heart of her novel is an intriguing concept. It is not a quick read but it is a thoughtful interweaving of Julian’s writing throughout the novel. The plot reveals the lives of two women–both find love and loss–but it is what they find in their individual quests that twists the story.

The plot strains at times and may be unnecessarily complicated but if one is looking for the greening of one’s soul, one will find one path to it here. For another, there is always Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love.

Here are some related links including Wikipedia as well as two other reviews.

Julian of Norwich

Cozy Little Book Journal

Dr. Teresa Meehan

A Note About Book Nook

About a month ago, I applied for membership in Book Nook, a community of bloggers that review books for Hay House Publishing. Hay House provides reviewers free copies in exchange for a review, favorable or unfavorable.

Hay House publishes an array of writers including Wayne Dyer, Anita Moorjani, Doreen Virtue, Julie Daniluk and, of course, its founder, Louise Hay. These writers’ subjects range from the Tao to angels to nutrition to near-death experiences.

Beyond indicating that Hay House has provided a free copy for us to review is the agreement that we will post the reviews on our blogs as well as on at least one commercial site.