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History & Practice of CranioSacral Therapy

All forms of CranioSacral Therapy derive from William Sutherland, an osteopath and student of Andrew Taylor Still in the late nineteenth century. Since his pioneering of this healing work, others have further developed the field in their own directions, and these unique forms of CranioSacral Therapy are like branches of a great and majestic tree.

Upledger CranioSacral Therapy

Upledger CranioSacral Therapy was developed by Dr. John Upledger. John Upledger briefly encountered the work of William Sutherland during his osteopathic training, and then studied it further in postgraduate work with the Cranial Academy, Dr. Sutherland’s original training institution.

John Upledger adapted and modified Dr. Sutherland’s therapeutic techniques and also developed many of his own, and he continues to do so to this day. He also established the Upledger Institute, which trains CranioSacral Therapy students all over the world, and which has its own treatment center, the Upledger Clinic, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Upledger CranioSacral Therapy is based on perception and palpation of the CRI, or cranial rhythmic impulse, which is the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the borders of the dural and intracranial membranes. This fluid movement can be palpated anywhere on the body because of the body’s continuous connective tissue network (fascia). The subtle movements of the CSF create rhythmic changes in the tonicity of the nervous system itself, which via the peripheral nerves, cause changes in the tone of the continuous bodily fascia. Thus, the fascia reflects the rhythmic movement of the CSF.

What causes this fluid movement, according to Dr. Upledger, is the production and reabsorption of CSF. He suggests that the production is of CSF is cyclical, leading to changes in volume and pressure of the CSF within the dural canal of the spine. CranioSacral Therapists evaluate these subtle variations in our assessments and treatments.

Because, as part of Dr. Upledger’s vision, he chose to teach these therapeutic techniques widely to people of all backgrounds, he chose not to label the greater forces at work in this process, but rather to let people draw their own conclusions as to the involvement of more numinous causes in the movement of CSF.

Upledger CranioSacral Therapy involves a great many subtle structural techniques, but also, when indicated, Therapeutic Imagery and Dialogue. It is one of Dr. Upledger’s major contributions to the field of cranial therapies that he developed a process called SomatoEmotional Release® whereby the patient and therapist can engage together directly with the “inner wisdom” of the patient and access knowledge about the patient’s situation that may not be conscious to the patient. Thus many hidden dynamics and causes may be explored and resolved, thereby facilitating the healing of many challenging and mysterious problems.

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy

The Biodynamic form of Craniosacral Therapy has been developed primarily by Franklin Sills, with contributions from other sources as well. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy has as its foundation the concept of the Breath of Life as the foundational ordering principle of all life, including human life.

The Breath of Life expresses itself in form as motion. All our tissues breathe or are breathed by this Breath.

According to Biodynamic CranioSacral Therapy, the inspiration and expiration of the Breath of Life produces three different physiological rhythms, or Tides, all of which are palpable by the therapist:

  1. The cranial rhythmic impulse, expressed at an average rate of 8-12 cycles per minute,
  2. The mid-tide; a tidal rhythm that carries ordering forces into the body expressed at a slower rate of approximately 2.5 cycles per minute and
  3. The long tide; a deep and slow rhythmic impulse expressed about once every 100 seconds. The long tide is considered to be the first stirring of life and motion as the Breath of Life emerges from a deeper ground of stillness at the center of our being.

In the Biodynamic approach of Craniosacral work the subtle rhythms produced by the Breath of Life are regarded as expressions of health that carry an essential ordering principle, a true blueprint for health, which is carried and distributed throughout our bodies by our fluids, especially by our cerebrospinal fluid.

This blueprint for health is present from our earliest embryological development and it is this blueprint that maintains our health and acts as a flow of information in our lives, not only for physiological balance, but also for spiritual and mental health, as well as the fulfillment of our purpose.

In Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy we seek to free obstructions to this blueprint in order to restore health and function as well as freedom of purpose and well being. The free expression of this blueprint, conveyed through the fluids via the Breath of Life, naturally carries the patient to restored balance and harmony.

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