by Amber Leigh Wolf PhD
Soft music and the sound of water enriched the ambiance of the treatment room for what was about to take place. Karl, a tall, swarthy Italian man, had been referred to me with symptoms of severe emotional hyperactivity. His doctor had postulated that Karl’s behavior might be linked to imbalances in his cranial structure that could be traced back as far as birth. Although I had similarly treated many patients before, on this day a phenomenon occurred, that shocked me and propelled me through a portal? of awareness that has remained open to me ever since.
As I cradled Karl’s head in my hands, my world seemed to stand still as a picture appeared before me. I was releasing his cranial base with my fingers curled under the thick muscle at the base of his skull. Were my eyes open or closed? I don’t remember. My energy melded through the feeling in my hands and quite suddenly I was witnessing a young Native boy dancing in a circle before me. Dressed in a breech cloth, and his long braid entwined with feathers, he held his arms straight out from his body and tipped towards the center of his dancing circle. The image I beheld was so real that I could “see” the dust rise up around the young boy’s feet.
As I “watched” the dancer, I continued making cranial adjustments to my patient. To my surprise, the picture became more clear and focused. I could hear drumming, and a voice in inside me was saying, “Soon this boy will die.” My hands moved almost involuntarily to the next cranial adjustment as again the picture shifted to this boy, who was now running as if his life depended on it. Just before he reached his parent’s lodge, an arrow cut him down, and stopped his warning of the imminent attack. The expression I witnessed on the boy’s face betrayed not only the pain of his mortal wound, but his anguish at failing to warn his parents.
Reeling from the impact of what I had witnessed, I was torn as to whether or not to share this with Karl. A yet greater force within compelled me to reveal what I had just seen. Tears streamed down Karl’s face as he listened. When he could speak, he told me that there was never a time that he wasn’t driven by a life and death sense of urgency. He also shared that he had always been drawn to the Native American culture, and felt at home when he visited the southwest.
This treatment began a process of releasing cranial pressure that helped him break his driving cycle of hyperactivity. That session four years ago, was the beginning of my of my ability to receive information and guidance when administering cranial sacral treatments. By accessing the portals to the super conscious, I have been able to provide help that patients regard as invaluable. I regard this ability a gift from Spirit, given for the benefit of bringing healing to those I treat. To me, this is a sacred trust. In order to understand how the portal to the super conscious opens, an understanding of the cranial sacral system is necessary.
It was osteopathic physician William Sutherland, in the early 1900s, who conceived the remarkable theory that the bones of the skull were not fused shortly after birth, as commonly believed. Instead, he postulated that the 14 bones of the skull were free to move and connected by a pattern of zipper-like sutures that allowed their movement and adjustments. These sutures form meeting places of the skull and jaw bones, and also points of stress release, should an impact occur.
Osteopath John Upledger, in 1971, observed first hand, during surgery, the movement of this system. “I was assisting a neurosurgeon … My task was to hold the dural membrane still with two pairs of forceps … But the membrane would not hold still. I was embarrassed because I could not carry out such a simple task. It became apparent that the movement of the dural membrane was rhythmical at about 8 cycles per minute.” He left private practice in 1975, to study and do research into cranial osteopathy. It was Upledger and his team of researchers, who demonstrated how this system could be used to evaluate and treat malfunctions involving the brain and spinal cord.
Healthy cranial sacral fluid is in constant motion, bathing the brain and spinal nerves all day long. Within a balloon like membrane (or dural tube) that protects the spinal cord, this fluid moves in a wavelike motion that is unconscious and involuntary, at about 6 to 12 cycles per minute. To an experienced practitioner, this motion is palpable and can be differentiated from the respiration and pulse of the body. Sutherland, Upledger, and others discovered that when injury, trauma or stress impairs the fluid’s motion, or moves the cranial bones out of alignment, illness and psychological problems result. These traumas can create symptoms lasting far beyond the original injury.
Cranial Sacral Therapists believe in the natural ability of the patient’s body to regain health. By balancing the cranial sacral fluid motion, freeing the dural tube of restrictions,and realigning the cranial bones, the patient’s natural healing response is activated.
It is possible to correct restrictions in the cranium, sacrum and dural tube to relieve symptoms of pain, illness and dysfunction by manually adjusting the bones of the skull and releasing the myofascia.
Before I begin an initial examination and treatment, I ask for direction and guidance during the session. Sometimes this is done quietly within, or at other times together with the prayerful intent of my patient.
During an actual treatment, the patient lies prone on the treatment table. I cradle the patient’s head in my hands and palpate (like taking a pulse) their cranial rhythm, or wavelike motion to test for restrictions in the system. My touch is very light, usually no more than five grams of pressure; the weight of a nickel. This is enough for me to start receiving signals and information from the body’s “inner healer.” Guided by these messages, I will make gentle adjustments to the cranium (skull), sacrum (or tailbone area), and spine. This allows for corrections of energetic or physical restrictions.
As soon as I begin to feel the release of the muscles at the base of the skull (cranial base), the portals to the patient’s super conscious (and unconscious) begin to open.
As the cranial base begins to release, the patient drops into a deep place of relaxation; an alpha brain wave state. At this moment, typically, the wavelike motion of the cranial sacral fluid stops. This phenomenon is called a still point; a therapeutic event. It is during this natural, altered state of consciousness that the portals to the super conscious and unconscious are accessible to me.
I feel as if I’m holding a large book in my hands, and the cover has just opened to reveal the table of contents of the patient’s Inner Being. This source of intelligence can determine the treatment priority. The most vital, and perhaps most pressing issues to the patient seem to stand out in “bold type.”
Through the ages, authors, prophets, and scholars have categorized consciousness on three levels, i.e., id, ego, superego, Father, Son, Holy Ghost; earth, heaven, hell, body, mind and spirit, unconscious, conscious and super conscious. Ordinarily, these levels of consciousness are separate, and not easily accessible. They communicate only indirectly with us, if at all. We have used various means to explore these states of consciousness, including dreams, hypnosis, psychotherapy, drugs and meditation. The still point resulting from cranial sacral therapy appears to dissolve barriers between the states of consciousness, tapping into the most deeply internal states of being, allowing for exploration, discoveries and healing.
It is said that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step. In my case, I didn’t even recognize the journey until I was slammed into another state of reality.
In 1994, my life was almost ended by a violent car accident and I sustained painful and debilitating head and brain injuries. As traumatic as the accident was, at the moment of impact, I heard loud voices sufficient to overcome the crushing sound of the cars colliding. They said, so that I could hear, “You will survive!” I now know that these were the voices of my Guides and I was mighty grateful that they were with me on that day. What followed that injury was four long years of treatment and rehabilitation, and yes, transformation.
Because of my injuries, I sought out someone I knew who was a chiropractor, who also did cranial sacral therapy. I had been working on my PhD, in Holistic Science which was interrupted by the accident. The benefit I received from the chiropractor’s cranial sacral treatments inspired me to study with him, and then through the Upledger Institute, and other private teachers. Also, as a part of my recovery, I had Pilates sessions 3 times a week, which helped me recover the balance of my brain hemispheres, and my physical body. This amazing work also inspired me to train as a Pilates instructor.
It was the retraining and recovery of my body/mind connection that lead me to deepening trust in the wisdom of the Inner Being; the voice of knowing that we all carry within us. This guidance has become an integral part of my work with patients; where to put my hands, what cranial adjustments to make, and perhaps, questions to ask the patients. As my work continued, the guidance took a more dramatic form, and I began to receive detailed pictures or movie-like scenes, and specific instructions concerning the use of aromatherapy, healing stones, diets, exercise programs and color therapy.
In response to my patients’ requests, I began to tape record these detailed sessions. I was always in an altered state when this information came, so that tape recording was a wonderful solution that gave the patients a study of their session.
On some occasions, patients would see me for one session, and take time to digest and integrate the information and healing they received. Others come for treatment on a regular basis.
Following is a brief account of my treatment of Joyce. Hers is typical of the healing that people have experienced when the portal to the super conscious is opened.
Joyce came me to see me for chronic headaches that she had been having for years. On the phone she told me that she knew there was a “deeper” cause of her headaches, and really was ready to know what that was.
The day she came to see me, Joyce had a headache, as usual. As she tried to relax on my treatment table, the room suddenly seemed close and still. I felt such presence of energy that the large room seemed crowded. The look on her face told me that she was excited and hopeful. I carefully explained to Joyce that I didn’t know exactly what would take place during her treatment, but I did have very strong intentions for her healing. She agreed to just be open and receive whatever healing and guidance came through for her.
I placed my hands under her head, and began releasing her cranial base. No sooner did I feel the first “let go” of the muscle tissue at the back of Joyce’s neck, that she went deeply into still point. The hair on the back of my neck rose, and I heard my voice saying, “Joyce, we have been joined by a healing guide, who is extending a shaft of golden/white light into your abdomen.” With my eyes closed, I could see the shape of a form standing by the table with a moving beam of light directed into Joyce’s body. I watched the healer “stir” the beam around in Joyce’s belly for some moments.
I then asked Joyce if she had been having any stomach problems, or anything related to her cycle. Tears, at first softly, began to run down her cheeks. Soon she was sobbing, and through her tears, told me of her hysterectomy seven years ago. She said that she felt as if the doctors she had seen had betrayed her, and that she didn’t really need the surgery, but did it for convenience. She had regretted it ever since. I asked her if she had ever grieved for her lost body parts, and womanhood. She answered that she had cried a lot, but hadn’t gotten any further than that.
Joyce immediately got very quiet, and I could feel her “healer” getting ready for the next move. I shifted my hands to the position that I was guided to. Joyce took a very deep breath and her cranial rhythm stopped; still point. Then I was seeing a moving scene of Joyce walking alone through a forest, holding a black candle and a box. She placed the box on a tall stone altar, and blew out the candle. Darkness. Joyce took another deep breath, then her eyelids fluttered and opened.
In this moment her face was soft, and angelic. I asked her how she was feeling. “No more headache! Maybe forever.”
I received a grateful email from Joyce two months later. A few days after our session she had taken some time for a grieving ritual that left her feeling free of the anger and resentment from her surgery. And, guess what? No headaches in over two months!
As I read her email, I said a silent prayer of thanks for Joyce’s healing.
Upledger, Vredevoogd, CRANIO SACRAL THERAPY, Eastland Press