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.