About Craniosacral Therapy (Cranio) and the biodynamic approach in Craniosacral Therapy

What makes the biodynamic approach in craniosacral therapy special

Craniosacral therapy is a very gentle physical body-oriented treatment.  It is based on working with the craniosacral rhythm. This rhythm can be felt in the fine pulsating of the cerebrospinal fluid.  It can also be felt in the movement of the cranial bones as well as in a very subtle movement that one can learn to sense in every part of the body.

The biodynamic craniosacral therapy or biodynamic approach in craniosacral therapy or called biodynamics (bios means life in ancient Greek, dynamics means power or strength in ancient Greek) connects with the formative forces. With great mindfulness and presence I connect with those forces that sustain and carry us.

In cranisacral therapy we refer to a rhythm that call ‘breath of life’

The craniosacral fluid nourishes, moves and protects the nervous system from the head (or cranium) up to the sacrum. The rhythm inherent within this fluid is often referred to as the ‘breath of life’, and is akin to the rhythms of the breath and the heartbeat.

Treatment consists of gentle physical contact guided by an empathic listening on a body-based level. Receiving this kind of a treatment can cause the following results: Body parts can respond with beneficial compensatory movements, tissue can pulsate and hardened parts of bodily tissue can come into awareness and start to melt. Through being treated in this way, the body learns to remember it’s innate original health. These initiated body-inherent responses can be deep and lasting.

For the last 10 years I have been studying biodynamics and working more and more with the biodynamic approach in craniosacral therapy.

The real explanation of craniosacral therapy takes place on the treatment couch

Craniosacral body work can only be verbally explained up to a certain point.  The real explanation takes place on the treatment couch through experiencing the results for yourself.

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917)

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still was an American physician, surgeon and the founder of osteopathy and osteopathic medicine.  As a son of a Methodist minister and physician, medicine and religion were already very intertwined in his upbringing. At a young age, Andrew decided to follow in his father’s footsteps as a physician. He was always looking for a deeper understanding of disease and new ways to restore health. He was also a deeply religious man, regarding spirituality as inseparable from the science of healing.

Before the Civil War, Still witnessed the death of his first wife, and two of his children. He remarried and after the Civil War, three of his children died from meningitis and another died of pneumonia. The experience of such extreme personal loss, despite medical care, left Still completely heartbroken. With earnest, he began to look for a new understanding of health and disease, and prayed intensely for new insights. A short while later, the basic principles of osteopathy opened up for him. He was shown in prayer that the human body works as a unified whole and has a tendency to regulate itself from the inside. He was shown that structure and function are closely related and interdependent, and that the mobility of all structures is a pre-requisite for the body’s health.

The foundation of osteopathy can also be applied to Craniosacral Therapy (CST).

  • The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind and spirit.
  • The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing and health maintenance.
  • Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated i.e. The anatomy, physiology, and structure controls the function of the body and/or the tissue.
  • The mobility of structures if important. Everything that lives flows. Mobility means aliveness, adaptability and health.

Quotes from Andrew Still:

“When every part of the machine is correctly adjusted and in perfect harmony, health will hold dominion over the human organism by laws as natural and immutable as the laws of gravity.

“Any variation from the health has a cause, and the cause has a location.  It is the business of the osteopath to locate and remove it (the cause), doing away with disease and getting health instead.”

“To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.”

Dr. William Garner Sutherland (1873-1954)

Sutherland was working as a journalist and editor of the Daily Herald in Minnesota, when he heard of a doctor who performed an art called osteopathy and surprised many people with it. That inspired Sutherland to study osteopathy at the age of 25. As he examined a human skull as part of his studies, he noticed that the temporal bone and its joints looked like fish gills. He concluded that similar structures would also have similar functions. He had a premonition that the skull moves, and that this movement shows a rhythm, a sort of pulsation. After this discovery, he devoted the rest of his life to the study of craniosacral work. Before he went public with the craniosacral approach, he had studied and worked with it for 30 years.

Thanks to his work we now know that the individual skull bones perform certain movements. Sutherland was very experimental and distinguished himself by his humour and attention to detail. After having followed a rather mechanical way of reasoning at the beginning of his work, his observations became finer and he was referring more and more to the spiritual level over the years. “Be still and know”, he said once to a particularly inquisitive student.

Quotes from Dr William Garner Sutherland:

 “Every drop knows the Tide.”

“Within that cerebrospinal fluid, there is an invisible element that I refer to as the ‘breath of life’. I want you to visualise this ‘breath of life’ as a fluid within this fluid, something that does not mix, something that has potency as the thing that makes it move. Is it necessary to know what makes the fluid move? Visualise a potency, an intelligent potency, that is more intelligent than your own human mentality.”

“The arterial stream is supreme but the cerebrospinal fluid is in command.”

Dr. John Upledger (1931-2012)

Dr. John Upledger, a powerful, charismatic man and rebellious genius, made a significant contribution to making Craniosacral Therapy so widespread and popular today.

Dr. John Upledger was born in Detroit, Michigan. He became a doctor of osteopathy, a general practitioner and a surgeon. In 1971, as a young osteopath assisting in spinal surgery, he was astonished to see a low, pulsating movement in the patient’s spinal meninges. He tried to keep the membrane still, but couldn’t because the pulse was so persistent. He dedicated his research activities to this phenomenon.

From 1975 to 1983, as a professor and clinical researcher at Michigan State University, he led a team to investigate this mysterious pulse and the imagination of Dr. William Sutherland in the 1930s discovered that the skull bones moved subtly and rhythmically. Through his research, he reformulated the work from a scientific perspective and developed CranioSacral Therapy, an offshoot of cranial osteopathy (or osteopathy in the cranial area) that William Garner Sutherland developed in the 1930s. He tried to frame the work in a purely scientific basis. With his multidisciplinary research team he had measured and documented the movements of the cranial suture.

In 1985, he founded the Upledger Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and the accompanying Upledger Institute, which trained therapists around the world. His institute was the first to train non-osteopaths in craniosacral therapy. He also founded the “SomaticEmotional Release” method and introduced trauma work, incorporating emotional work into CranioSacral Therapy for the first time. The Upledger Institute still exists today and continues to teach CST in the traditional way.

“What we do is remove obstacles, like removing rocks from the road.”

Dr. John Upledger

Rollin E. Becker, DO (1910-1996))

Rollin E. Becker was a remarkable practitioner and teacher of cranial osteopathy.
He was born into an osteopathic family, at the time of his birth, his father, Arthur Becker, DO, was a teacher under the guidance of osteopathy’s founder, Andrew Taylor Still. Rollin, after practicing for a decade, deepened his study of Dr. Stills writings, and also met and became a dedicated student of cranial osteopathy’s founder, William G. Sutherland, DO.The guidance of both Still and Sutherland led Dr. Becker to learn from the most authoritative source available, the living forces present within the living body.

He became a ceaseless observer, continually seeking an answer to the question: What is “health” and what is the most efficient and effective way to help bring it about?

In his lectures and writings, Rollin Becker taught in a way that encouraged his students to seek and observe those same living forces of health within the body that he had learned from. Rollin Becker lived the osteopathy that he taught, it being both simple and profound. His understanding of health and healing, and his capacity to apply it for the benefit of his patients and students, were profound. Yet this great depth of knowledge and skill were always delivered in the simplest and most direct way possible. He met the needs of each person who came to him as best he could and strove to learn something more about Life from each encounter.

He wrote “Life in Motion”:
The Osteopathic Vision of Rollin E. Becker, opens a door into a way of healing that is both practical and profound. Throughout its existence, the science and art of osteopathy has been passed on from hand to hand and heart to heart.