Craniosacral Therapy (CST), or Cranial-Sacral Therapy (also CST), is a form of bodywork focused on the gentle manipulation or massage of the sutures of the skull that enclose the brain, also known as the cranium, and the improved regulation of cerebrospinal fluid as it supports the brain and travels through the spinal cord to the base of the spine, known as the sacrum.
Cranio Osteopathy is the original practice developed by William Garner Sutherland in the nineteen-thirties that Craniosacral Therapy is based on. Craniosacral Therapy itself was developed by John Upledger, D.O., in the nineteen-seventies with the hope of improving cerebrospinal fluid flow and circulation.
Intuitive Craniosacral Therapy (ICST) is a natural extension of craniosacral practice, and is the form of therapy practiced by Andrea Carver, L.M.T, C.T.. Along with attention to the cranial sutures and improved cerebrospinal fluid flow is the focus on what ICST practitioners call the cranial wave, also known as the body’s breath or life force.
The cranial wave, or cranial rhythmic impulses, that flow through the body are one of an ICST practitioner’s main focuses. This wave, or these rhythms, are an intelligent form of communication, or a subtle voice of the spirit, referred to as prana by the Hindus and as chi by the Chinese. This concept of a life force exists in most of the ancient cultures of the world, and is the life giving, vital energy force that unites body, mind, and spirit.
In addition to the basic components of craniosacral massage and manipulation experienced in Craniosacral Therapy, Andrea also integrates the additions of many modalities and focused intuition in listening to and balancing the body’s cranial wave, combined with analytic discussion and relaxed meditation to allow for a more flexible and holistic experience for the client. To help one better understand the process of ICST, we must break down what occurs within the human body. First, life experiences that include stress or trauma may alter the energy field of the cranial wave, changing the body’s natural, healthy state, often for the worse. Here’s how that happens.
Through each person, rhythmic movement in the form of the cranial wave flows to the cranial bones, especially the larger bones that make up the base of the cranium. When an individual experiences stress or trauma, one can clinch or grind his or her teeth at night, causing the zygomatic (cheek) bones and mandible (jaw) to have minute changes which affect the ebb and flow of chi, which in turn, affects the position of the cranial sutures, resulting in imbalances of the cranium.
When the cranial sutures are out of alignment, it can cause blockage in the occiput of the head (protruding bumps in the back of the head) and cause pressure in the head, neck, and shoulders. The occiput and sacrum (tailbone) are storage tanks for our negative emotions. When the sacrum is jammed with negative emotions it can also cause pressure in the lower back. This inhibits the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid which gives nutrients and blood flow to the brain.
Inhibiting the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the brain may cause feelings of frustration, anger, anxiousness, depression, and/or scattered thinking, which results in an inability to focus or think rationally. When the occiput is released from stress, tension and trauma, it allows the cerebral spinal fluid to circulate more freely giving nutrients to the brain to aid in a calming, peaceful, relaxed state of mind. The ebb and flow of the chi, or cranial wave, can then be gently corrected to complete the process and return a person to a more improved state.
In short, Andrea combines technical physical movements and techniques of the head, spine, and sacrum with intuition and discussion to best meet her clients’ healing needs. As a practitioner, she perceives with her inner eye, listens with her inner ear, and feels with her spiritual heart, accessing all avenues of intuition to meet the specific needs of each client. This process of ICST allows the person experiencing craniosacral work to have a transformative experience, seeing for themselves how emotional blocks can be cleared. By integrating different modalities, Andrea is able to assist her clients in releasing blocks that are stored in the body, mind, and spirit, allowing for new insight and increased awareness.
Cranial techniques can have widespread and profound effects on peripheral circulation and general well-being because the specific techniques access particular brain structures and psychological states by:
unblocking and directing chi
applying gentle mechanical pressures which improve the position of cranial bones
causing improved hydraulic flow patterns in the cerebrospinal fluid (which reduces muscle tension)
releasing tension to allow for heightened spiritual awareness
The cranium is obviously an important bone in the human structure. Bone itself, has a spiritual component. It represents our freedom to move and express ourselves. Likewise, our cranial bones can reflect our attitude. They sometimes get stiff and stubborn, like our moods. The opposite also applies. The more open and relaxed we are, the more pliable our cranial sutures (or fibrous joints of the skull) will be. Literally being free and open in the head allows us to be free and open in our attitudes and perceptions. Thus, when gentle pressure is applied to balance a cranial bone, it can literally bring about profound changes in our consciousness.
Craniosacral Therapy traditionally focuses on the head, spine, and sacrum. The intuitive component allows for focus not only on the mechanics of the body but the matters of the heart and soul as well. Combining both the analytic understanding of how things happen in life, and the intuitive perception of how things are really felt and experienced, Andrea is able to reach the heart of the client’s issues and assist in actual healing. Using sensitive, hands-on, body work (which means energetic, non-invasive healing components that aid in the movement of chi), combined with the meditative use of the inner eye and inner ear (or intuitive abilities) allows for greater results in less time during an ICST session.
Through vast experience as a craniosacral therapist and through Andrea’s own life circumstances, she has witnessed how our health conditions can be greatly influenced by our emotions. Emotions are first created in our mind and are often left to stew inside us for a period of time. When they are left unaddressed and unbalanced, they can eventually weaken our physical well-being. Spencer W. Kimball put it this way:
"Our ills are usually of our own begetting. They must be corrected by ourselves. A man [or woman] is the master of his [or her] destiny, be it good or bad. A man [or woman] has the inherent capacity to heal him [or her]self physically. A doctor may cleanse a wound, sew it up, bandage it well, but the natural power of the body must do the healing. Likewise, a healing process in the spirit and mind must come from within, from self-will. Others may help to cauterize the wound, suture it, and provide a clean, proper environment for the healing, but the body, with the aid of the Spirit, must heal itself."
In essence, Intuitive Craniosacral Therapy works because the client and practitioner work together, with the divine source within each person, to allow the process of healing to take place.
The English equivalent of the word chakra in Sanskrit is “circles of light.” In the Egyptian language, it translates as our “soul centers.” Thus, the chakras are spinning vortexes of energy, or spinning wheels of light, that serve as a map to our inner worlds, or the soul centers of each of us.
These chakra energy centers — of which there are seven — run along our spinal column, from the base of the spine to the top, or crown, of the head, following exactly the same route as our cerebral spinal fluid. The goal of intuitive craniosacral work is to restore the body’s natural state of homeostasis through clearing and balancing the chakras to allow for smoother cerebral spinal fluid flow.
The cranial wave running through each of us is assisted by having fluid chakra energy to work with. If individual or many chakras are blocked, the cerebral spinal fluid becomes stuck and stagnate, getting stored in different chakras, instead of moving fluidly as intended.
Each chakra radiates its own color or light, echoing the seven colors of the rainbow. When negative emotions are released from each chakra, the chakra spins. The faster it spins, the more energy the chakra receives and transmits, producing energy in the form of color. The open and properly functioning chakra spins fluidly in a clockwise direction. If one is blocked and non-functioning, it spins in a counterclockwise direction. Because of these known clues of functionality our body provides us, chakras can also be worked with and balanced. Essentially, our chakras hold the keys to our relationships with ourselves and how we experience energy.
The chakras are openings through which our attitudes and belief systems enter and act as creators in the structure of our bodies and minds. They are able to do this because energy runs through our chakras and is distributed to our cells, tissues, and organs, impacting each of them in particular ways.
Each chakra in the body is recognized as a focal point of life-force, and each chakra relates to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energies. The chakras are the network where the body, mind, and spirit interact as a holistic system. The seven major chakras correspond to specific aspects of our consciousness, have their own individual characteristics and functions, and relate to particular glands in the endocrine system. The main purpose in working with chakras is to create balance and wholeness physically, spiritually, and mentally.
Becoming aware of how our chakras affect the different parts of our bodies brings insight into how we can influence our bodies, minds, and spirits, and in turn, our life circumstances, for better or for worse. Fundamentally, the chakras are the energy centers that help aid our overall health and well-being.