Cranio-Sacral Therapy & Somato-Emotional Release
Introduction Cranio-Sacral Therapy
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on technique, that seeks to determine the causes of pain and dysfunction, and encourages the body’s self-correcting properties. The therapy utilizes the craniosacral system, a recently discovered phenomenon, which involves the membranes and fluids surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal cord (the dural tube). It is a semi-closed hydraulic system extending from the bones of the skull, face and mouth (which make up the cranium) down to the sacrum and coccyx (tailbone) area.
John E. Upledger, DO, serendipitously discovered the CranioSacral system during a surgery in 1970. Though, like most doctors, he had been taught in medical school that the bones of the cranium fuse, and that the sutures become fixed shortly after birth, nonetheless, he observed rhythmic movement of the cranium and dural membranes, completely contradicting what he had been taught. That rhythm which Upledger felt, was distinctly different than the respiratory rhythm or the cardiac pulse. He called it the craniosacral rhythm, and through research in the 70's and early 80's, he determined that it results from the release of cerebrospinal fluid from the brain, through the saggital suture at the junction of the two parietal bones (at the top of the skull), and down the dural tube, at a rate of six to twelve cycles per minute. Furthermore, because the fascial network extends from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet, this rhythm could be felt anywhere in the body.
However, if due to trauma or injury there is any change to the normal rhythm: either to its symmetry, quality, amplitude or rate, a somatic dysfunction will result, causing pain, headache, inability to concentrate, irritability, palpitations or depression. Abnormalities to any of the body's structures or functions, whether the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, the blood vascular system, the lymphatic system, the endocrine system or the respiratory system, will usually influence the craniosacral system.
Therapeutically using a soft touch, initially no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, the practitioner is able to facilitate the release of restrictions to the craniosacral system and improve the functioning of the central nervous system. The resilience of the body and its ability to spontaneously release and recover from injury or trauma depends upon genetic, social and environmental factors as well as the load that the patient is already holding. When a physical or emotional trauma is so overwhelming that the body is no longer able to release it on its own, that trauma becomes encapsulated as an energy cyst. An energy cyst represents a localized area of increased entropy, or molecular disorganization. Though not actively aware of it, the energy cyst can weigh heavily on the patient, causing him to feel fatigue and dysfunction. Often, there are many layers of energy cysts, each needing to be released, but the body in its efficiency will only present one layer at a time. Though at times, the layers may seem endless, eventually they will be resolved. With each release, the patient usually feels a profound sense of relief, as if a weight has been removed!
By complementing the body's natural immunity and healing processes, CST is an effective tool to prevent illness, and to bolster resistance to disease. The basics of CST are easy to learn, and seminars are offered by the Upledger institute for both the professional and lay public. To date, more than 50,000 therapists have been trained in CST and other related modalities by the Upledger institute.
Some of the conditions that CranioSacral therapy is effectively able to treat include:
SomatoEmotional release (SER) is a therapeutic process that expands upon the principles of CranioSacral Therapy to help rid the mind and body of "energy cysts" (as we spoke of above). The most powerful determining factor causing an energy cyst to form is the emotional state of the victim at the time of an injury. Those who harbor anger, fear, resentment, depression and other negative emotions, retain the effects of injuries and accidents to a much greater extent than others. The body as a whole, as well as each of its cells, tissues, viscera and systems, have independent yet integrated consciousness, and each part to some degree is impacted by a trauma. Therefore, traumas can impact multiple systems. Amazingly, though, once negative feelings are discovered and released, the bodily dysfunction with its attendant symptoms are free to leave the body!
Although a reasonably healthy body can adapt to “energy cysts,” extra energy is required to perform normal bodily functions with the specific area of disorganized and uncooperative activity in its midst. As time passes, the adaptive ability of the body gradually loses its effectiveness. Symptoms begin to appear and, over time, become more difficult to suppress.
Through this therapeutic process, there is an internal tension of two opposing forces within the patient. Part of the patient wants to maintain the status quo. This is the “efficiency expert”. After all, the body is working, so even though that work may be inefficient and painful, why risk a change? The other force is the “inner physician”, that internal voice striving for improvement, and understanding that the energy cyst must be dissipated in order to rid the body of its source of dysfunction, and its need for adaptation and discomfort.
During an SER, the therapist melds with, and acts as a facilitator for the inner-physician, who wants to get rid of energy cysts, and even more, wants to prevent the formation of new energy cysts. To do this, he helps the body to expel them, by facilitating the somatic memory of the injury and thus end its suppression. This process is accomplished by touch, tuning into what the inner- physician would like to do, and assisting in the process. The usual result is that the patient's body assumes the position it was in when external forces were imposed upon it. As this occurs the tissues of the body relax, as the energy cyst is expelled. The therapist will often also feel heat radiating from the areas that had been retaining the injury forces, as well as a sense that the force of the traumatic impact is leaving the body along the same direction line from which it entered.
The SomatoEmotional Release process requires extreme sensitivity on the part of the therapist as well as complete trust from the patient. The process can be compared to playing a tape backwards, and once released, the patient is completely free of the trauma.
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