Just the other day I was asked by a patient what craniosacral is while giving them a session. Each time I am asked this question I give a different answer. The breath of life is expressed in so many different ways in all of us. It is like asking different people to describe a mountain range. Many descriptions may have similar characteristics, yet each will have their own illustration. What arose is describing it in terms of stengthening one's midline first, and then helping others strengthen their midline.
When it comes to Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy it probably confuses the public, as so many teachers and practitioners have different ways of describing the work through their own lens. To top that off teachers can change their definitions with time, and who they are describing the work to. I certainly explain biodynamic craniosacral therapy differently to a yoga instructor versus an engineer.
We are trying to describe a right brained experience in a left brained culture.
I have taken this powerful and deep work out into my day to day living, applying the same principles to my relationship with work, the world, nature, and my family. What I keep noticing is that the more I orient to my midline, the more differentiated and neutral I can be in an environment where things can sometimes feel upside down. This keeps me more centered during rough seas. Not unlike a punching bag that has sand at the bottom that grounds it back to its midline when a strong wind or punch comes along.
When I pop out of my midline in an energetic way I don’t feel as neutral and centered, and can be pulled away from The Source. I noticed I become more in reaction to what is happening in the world when I am not oriented in my midline. Staying in my midline by holding an awareness of my spine allows me to stay present, and feel less overwhelmed. Some days are better than others, as we all know.
What do I mean by midline? As a Chiropractor I orient to the midline which is the spine. We spend years studying, and working on people’s spines. That is the core of my profession. This is not how I thought about it when I was 21 years old and just beginning Chiropractic school. The spine is the physical and energetic midline of the body. It is the original embryological place where the energetic blueprint is laid down by the Breath of Life to attract our cells to organize as a human body. Our original blueprint is always being expressed each and every second. The more you focus on your original blueprint, the more you are strengthening your relationship to a greater wisdom and Health rather than life circumstances and genetics. Recent science shows that our genes load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger. This magical blueprint is within us all before life has epigenetically shaped us; the spine and midline connect us all to the Breath of Life/ The Source.
This bioelectric blueprint is an embryological fact. It is the the root of biodynamic craniosacral therapy where we focus on Health rather than what is wrong. We use the word Health interchangeably with the original blueprint/ or architectural energetic plan.
Here is a video of the bioelectric signal/original blueprint being laid down to form a tadpoles eyes:
When I started experimenting on my midline I began noticing that it had a calming effect on myself, as well as people around me. It did not matter if I was sharing a conversation, or giving a treatment.
When I stepped out of my midline and strongly oriented to an emotion, or mental state, I would feel the energy field become more activated by noticing buzzing sensations, and speediness. I think this is what animals innately feel all the time. We can learn a lot from them.
One of the powerful aspects of orienting to my spine is that it is a physical place. The energetic field is quite strong here in the body. That concept is derived from Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine which are both 5000+ years old...
If you don’t consider the body having an energy field that directs our cells to function, then you are looking at our alive body as if it was a cadaver.
This is a klemerism
If you want to experiment, try noticing where your spine is at first on your own. Then when you are relating to someone, hold both an awareness of your own spine, and body. See if you can notice how the interaction feels. Try just doing that for a while, and then do the same practice and include the other person’s spine, energy field/biosphere around their body, and add in what they are saying, and hold both by bringing your awareness especially to your midline/spine, and theirs. Let the conversation go back and forth noticing all of this. What you may find is a sense of settling between you both. The conversation may deepen, and be more connected
Here is some more science on the presence of energy fields...
This is famous author Dr. Rupert Sheldrake explaining
Morphogenetic energy fields.
He says: “Morphogenetic fields are regions of activity that shape developing organisms. Morphogenetic fields play the role of architectural plans, they are invisible formative influences that shape organisms as they develop”
You can practice this by listening to the recording below when I lead a meditation on the midline in one of my classes.
Stay in your midline, and enjoy life,
In health, Dr Kate
For Cranial Geeks… like myself:
The Palatine Bone and Social Nervous System Activation Titration.
I wanted to share some recent insights that I have been noticing in clinical practice recently. One of the perks of seeing a lot of cranial clients each week allows me to see patterns and receive ‘intensive classes’ from the Breath of Life. If you have not taken a training and do not know some of the jargon, I apologize. One of my goals in life is to write a book that anyone can understand Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy.
Here is some basic jargon.
The Breath of Life is the Intelligence that underpins and connects all life, and creates Primary Respiration which is a quantum/energy breath that breathes intelligence into our body and biosphere.
Biosphere: is the energy field around our body it is about 10-15 inches off the body all around it.
Titration in biodynamic craniosacral therapy: is term that describes following the pace of the body to discharge any holding from a trauma in the tissue field. It is done at the pace that is not overwhelming in any way to the client. It happens in the midtide layer, which is a natural resource that requires settling and grounding to drop into. There can be emotional, spiritual, physical, and /or mental levels of titration.
What the Breath of Life Taught Me
Many times The Breath of Life teaches me things in clusters by showing me patterns in groups of patients. Often I will get a stream of simular cases in the same day. Last week I took a "class" from the Breath of Life about the social nervous system; specifically on the trigeminal nerve. The social nervous system is not just about the vagus nerve… it also includes the V (trigeminal), VII (facial), IX (glossopharyngeal), and XI (spinal accessory) nerves.
During several sessions, I was pointed to inertial fulcrums in the palato-sphenoidal area. I noticed my clients systems were to titrating mild tissue activation, and emotions in the spheno-palatine region. Tissue activation is noticed as heat, cold, buzzing, sparkling, or other sensations. At first the bones would work on the level of motility, then mobility, and then the nerve would start to titrate back through their cranial vault. After titrating the brainstem nuclei the midtide or long tide returned and the session would be complete.
These patients all had a theme of chronic sympathetic activation, and anxiety. They were stuck in activation, but they were functioning in their day to day life. They were resourced enough to titrate. These people are New Englander's; when on the table they often have a hard time settling. I felt that titrating the area around the palatine bone was a way to quickly access and override their “stinking thinking.” The largest block that I see in my practice to healing is dealing with dysregulated minds. People do not take the time to stop thinking so darn much, and their phones have a lot to do with that habituation. ( But that is another blog)
The palatine bone is near the maxillary/sensory branch of the trigeminal nerve, and is sandwiched between the the maxilla and sphenoid bones.
I created a new kind of cranial hold that worked really well for me.
I have tried other social nervous system holds in the books, but this one was more comfortable for me. It engaged the back of the palate and upper back teeth, the TMJ, the cranial base, and the brainstem with its nuclei. It is a very holistic hold.
The hold is to gently place your thumb and 2nd finger in front of the clients ear with the client supine position, and then put the 3rd, 4th, and 5th digits on the temporal and occipital bones behind the ear. I am not one to get super literal about working with inertial fulcrums, especially in the mouth. What I have found is if you know the anatomy visually you do not need to be right on the anatomy. Often times you cannot be right on the anatomy that is holding an inertial fulcrum anyways. Clients nor I settle very much while working in the mouth, so I rarely use that type of contact. I find that you end up only being able to tune into the CRI, and that is not where we work. I have to be super comfortable because I don't move around a lot during sessions.
Background for Learning About This Anatomical Area
I will admit that the palatine is my favorite bone. (I know we are not supposed to have favorites but…) After having some huge releases titrated here myself from past cranial sessions I have found it to be a super charged area for many.
At 13 years old I had headgear, braces, a retainer, a sadistic Orthodontist (just kidding); I also, chipped my front tooth playing tag on a playground in 5th grade. This was also coupled with a sudden death in my family at 8 years old.
After I had my wisdom teeth out at 32 years old, I learned that it was not a good idea from my Harvard Dental School graduate Uncle Paul. I had followed my Dentists recommendations before consulting Uncle Paul and regretted that. My Uncle said I could have left them in, and just made sure they did not get impacted by checking them each year. I bet my Grampa, a Gloucester Dentist would have concurred with Uncle Paul. Can you notice all the layers that influenced my palatine bone and social nervous system?
Currently I have some chronic sinus drip, even though I do not eat dairy.
The Maxillary branch of the Trigeminal nerve /Indirect Palatine Bone hold I made up supports a lot of discharge and titration on many levels from the sandwiched area of the sphenoid-palatine-maxillary bones, and the nerves related to them. There is a strong connection into the brainstem nuclei from here through the nerve. This can be a powerful shortcut for titrating one of the nerves of the social nervous system. Supporting this process can really settle things down. If you notice some inertia in the area of the cranial base and sphenoid see what organizes it; this palato-sphenoid connection may be the primary fulcrum. The session was directed by the breath of life, and was very powerful and safe. The Breath of Life seemed to understand as the practitioner that I knew the anatomy, had a lot of personal experience with this area, and that I am regulated, and grounded (most of the time :). It knew that I was the person that could support healing this particular issue.
I notice when I get super stressed, or feel some strong emotions arising, that my jaw feels tight, and the spheno-palatine area can feel like a vice is tightening there. Most of the time I can soften when this happens, and orient to the tides and motility. When I can’t, I go get a cranial session. Can you imagine how hard it could be for the person who does not know how to soften their system and regulate their nervous system? Maybe they could experience a tooth ache, or sinus pain, or even trigeminal neuralgia could arise.
Supporting titration here can help lower the level of sympathetic activation in the overall nervous system. Especially a nervous system that habitually is in that space. As I work I keep checking to make sure that my patients are not going over the waterfall and getting overwhelmed emotionally. This was not happening during these sessions, even when some of the titration was emotional. It is very safe to use this hold if you stay grounded and wide with your focus while relating to their whole system in the midtide. That is how we teach practitioners in this work.
Social Nervous System
We do know that the social nervous system is our highest and brightest way of coping with difficult times. We connect and Co-regulate by hugging someone, talking with a safe and supportive person, holding hands with someone, or getting a cranial session. It seems that the palato-sphenoidal relationship can be a direct line to helping people’s entire system titrate old imprints, and learn a felt sense in their body of safety and settling. I do believe that since it is in direct relationship with the sphenoid and brainstem nuclei the effect can be global on a persons system. However as we know any inertial fulcrum that re-integrates into the wholeness of one's system can have this affect.
Stimulate social nervous system sensory pathways.
The social nervous system was developed by Stephen Porges. It is a new concept in understanding our nervous system. Our first choice when faced with something that is potentially scary is to connect with others, and co-regulate. We check in with each other to see what that noise was, by using our voice by asking: “did you notice that too”? We are looking for support from our pack, as there is safety in packs. Animals show us this daily. The Canadian Geese fly in formation above us in the sky, wolves live in packs, and horses live in herds. We are wired the same way as them.
The social nervous system is comprised of cranial nerves V (trigeminal), VII (facial), IX (glossopharyngeal), X (vagus), XI (spinal accessory). The nerves of the social nervous system are responsible for head turning, muscles of facial expression, muscles of mastication, middle ear muscles, larynx and pharynx, heart and bronchi, linings of the oral cavity, nasal cavity, and sinuses, the teeth, the sutures, the dura, and the skin and arteries of the cranium.
When we experience our environment as safe, we operate from the social nervous system division which is a good thing. When we have to fight or flight from a threat, this is because the sympathetic nervous system approach has taken the forefront. This can be good for our safety. When we freeze and dissociate before we are about to be a predators kill, this is useful as it numbs us out from the suffering about to happen. The problem arises when we tend to get stuck in one of the lower brain modus operandus, and lose flexibility in our nervous system amidst these three levels.
Our work as Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapists we strengthen the Social Nervous System through the body = by focusing on the brain stem. This is our reptilian brain and is not under conscious or emotional control. We titrate inertial fulcrums/ trauma by combining having our client notice and name physical bodily sensations, and then their resource. As biodynamic craniosacral therapists we orient to and magnify natural resources that arise from the Breath of Life. These are the Long Tide, the Mid Tide, Dynamic Stillness, and Stillpoints. In the process of working with the ‘felt sense’ in the body, physical discharge of the trauma arises. We help discharge/titrate physical sensations and emotions through the body and biosphere. This is called bottom-up processing.
Craniosacral is a very powerful way to support nervous system flexibility, and especially strengthen a sense of safety in relation to another person/the cranial therapist. This is one to the few therapies that can touch this part of the nervous system. Supporting the body in learning to know what it feels like to be safe. We can “re-member” that feeling of safety. Noticing the body sensations helps to regulate the brain and nervous system.
“There is a strong neuroanatomical and neurophysiological justification to predict that stimulation of the vagal afferents would change activity of higher brain structures.” Porges
To Review, The Trigeminal Nerve Points to the Power of Supporting its Titration.
The trigeminal nerve is the principal sensory nerve of the head innervating the skin of the face, mucosa of the mouth, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, and most of the dura mater and the cerebral arteries back to the brain stem.
The sensory ganglion of the trigeminal nerve is huge, which explains all the work it does for us. The sensory input from the mouth, sinus, and dural areas has powerful implications. Titrating the activation that has been locked in inertial states from this area can be a shortcut to helping a system settle more deeply and become more resourced.
The sensory component of the V/5th Trigeminal Nerve carrying sensory information from the dura to the brainstem nuclei has powerful implications. This can support titration of the dural tissue through this nerve. Resolution of inertial fulcrums on this level would affect the cranial bowl, the dural tube, and have full body implications.
Biomechanics surrounding the V/5th Trigeminal Nerve
The sphenoid bone articulates with the palatine bones via pterygoid processes of the sphenoid bone. It is a gliding kind of connection between the two bones. This joint relationship helps diminish the force from chewing food to be translated into the sphenoid bone/cranial base.
Things to note about the Maxillary Branch of the Trigeminal Nerve:
We support regulation by non-verbally changing the radio station.
An old Osteopath in England I took a class with said “fear shuts down everything”. You cannot access the Health when a person is afraid. I have felt fear in my clients. You cannot access the tides. The dura feels stiff, hence the nervous system has lost its fluidity temporarily. That is why we teach them about settling, and resourcing, as well as other self emotional regulatory skills.
In these situations as practitioners we resource and reconnect our client’s system to the Breath of Life, by being anchors for them to go into resonance with. We do this by taking the lead and non-verbally orienting our own system to the tides and stillness. This helps shift them off the nightmare radio channel they are on. They have to drop below their ego to follow you there. That may take time and regular appointments. Sometimes they cannot do that, and you don't see them again because they want their mind to be in control and cannot surrender. If they are not patient to give the work time (usually at least 6 sessions to start settling into what our work is really about ) they give up. Strong minds are the largest block to healing. We act as guides to help change the radio station playing in our clients nervous system, and teach them to change the station on their own eventually. In doing so we can clarify, titrate, and support connecting to one’s inner Health and Intelligence.