In my last essay, The Evolutionary World Inside Our Brains, I explained briefly the amazing complexity of our brains as they regulate our internal homeostasis and coordinate functions throughout the body, while simultaneously creating our three-dimensional world as we perceive it. What I presented just barely scratched the surface. There is so much more, and new discoveries and insights come about every year. What I want to address this time is the amazing intelligence beyond the brain, what we CranioSacral Therapists call the “Inner Wisdom.”
Think about the miracle of one single fertilized cell growing into the complex body you inhabit at present, a cell community of somewhere between 50 to 70 trillion cells, all containing the exact same library of information we know as DNA. And yet from that first, single fertilized cell, your cells differentiated into such varied tissues as the retina in your eyes, the enamel of your teeth, liver lobes, blood cells, and toenails, to name a few. What guided the process of growth and specialization? What directed the body of a nerve cell in the spinal cord to extend its axon to exactly the same muscle in your foot as in mine?
At present we do not have a scientific answer. Whatever it is that directs our growth and evolution, it is not measurable with our present technology. Ancient wisdom traditions speak of the oak tree being already present in its entirety within the acorn. In modern terms we may think of it analogous to a hologram. Each fragment of the hologram contains an image of the entire picture, not just one aspect like a puzzle piece. So even at present, theoretically every cell in your body contains the blueprint for the entire body in its DNA. Yet under normal circumstances, the retina will not turn into enamel. It follows its own function faithfully for the benefit of the whole body.
Down to the smallest cell and its components, your body is processing information and making decisions. Intelligence is not the same as consciousness. So bear with me as I claim that Consciousness, or Inner Wisdom, is present in every cell of your body, without exception. This is opinion, not scientific fact. In my opinion, Consciousness is the basis of all being, and it presents itself in as many variations as the vibrational spectrum of the Universe. We experience just a fraction of what is there, but that does not diminish the value of that which lies beyond our perception.
If consciousness is the basis of every cell in your body, then each organ or tissue has its own, more complex consciousness. This in turn is part of the whole body consciousness. And extending outward in the human community, the individual is part of the collective consciousness of the family, the community, the culture and the whole of humanity. No one exists outside of the context of the whole, yet each may be addressed individually. As one bully can affect a lot of people in the neighborhood, one cell gone cancerous can affect the whole organ if not addressed appropriately.
So can we address a single cell or a specific organ that is acting up using not laser beams but consciousness, i.e. Inner Wisdom? As CranioSacral Therapists we say: “Yes, we can.”
In our normal waking consciousness we are mostly tuned to the outside world, hung up on the past, and projecting into the future. But in a state of grounded mental relaxation, we can tune into the consciousness of an organ, body part, tissue, emotion, personality aspect or archetype. In a state similar to visionary dreams or deep meditation, we can access Inner Wisdom itself, as well. More uniquely personal than any professional advice, our Inner Wisdom offers meaningful explanations and suggests plans of action that are in accordance with our soul’s purpose.
But how can we be sure that we are not just making stuff up when we are in a dialogue with our heart, the Wounded Child, or our anger, for example?
This is where CranioSacral Therapy (CST) has the most elegant and beautiful tool at hand, quite literally. During a treatment session, the therapist’s hands are monitoring the client’s body for the quality of what we call the Significance Detector (SD), which tells us what is meaningful and what is not. What is a Significance Detector?
The CranioSacral Rhythm (CSR) is a cyclical expansion-contraction motion of the skull and spinal cord, which is caused by a production-absorption cycle of the cerebro-spinal fluid inside the brain cavities. This expansion-contraction occurs normally with a rate of 6 to 12 cycles per minute. For a trained hand it is palpable anywhere on the body. During a CranioSacral Therapy treatment the therapist continuously monitors the rhythm. Occasionally, it comes to a spontaneous, abrupt stop. This is called a Significance Detector. At that point a therapist trained in Somato-Emotional Release may ask a question such as: “What are you noticing right now?” This is intended to bring conscious attention to what might be fleeting images, thoughts or feelings in this moment. Inner Wisdom is bringing them up from the non-conscious to the conscious mind. Like dream images, if you don’t catch them, they might be gone without delivering their message.
Many times, a novice client to this form of treatment will not be aware of anything happening other than feeling deeply relaxed and possible slightly annoyed by the question. But with a little experience, it becomes easier to catch the image or feeling before it is gone, just as the practice of dream journaling becomes easier over time.
The image, memory, words or feelings that came to mind at the instance the SD signaled relevance, may appear nonsensical, whimsical or meaningless at first glance. But exploring the image not through rational thinking but with intuition and an open mind will reveal layers upon layers of meaning, often times leading to profound revelations which in turn lead to healing.
The CranioSacral Therapist is participating in the process not as guide or counselor, but as observer and body worker. We are the hands of Inner Wisdom; we follow the Inner Treatment Plan. We do not attempt to direct where the treatment “should” takes us. We do not make value judgments, or suggest strategies and solutions. We do not analyze.
Our hands listen to the body tissues and the SD, and with the gentlest touch we follow the physical, emotional and energetic releases of tension that happen in the process from superficial to deep. We ask questions only if necessary to clarify messages, get into more detail, or focus attention back from distractions when the SD indicates that the dialogue is going off topic. When that happens, the silence of the CSR starts to waver and quiver before the rhythm comes back on. When our attention returns to the focal point of significance, the SD becomes still and deep again. Now we are tuned again to Inner Wisdom.
Messages from Inner Wisdom seldom appear without encountering some resistance from another aspect of the psyche. Otherwise we would never run into trouble. Until we have reached absolute enlightenment (if there is such a thing while in physical form) we will have to deal with resistance. This is not as bad as it sounds. Even resistance has at its core a positive intention. It means to do the right thing, and often is simply not aware that its actions are now obstructing growth and getting in the way of happiness.
Let me give an example: During treatment the therapist’s hands are guided to the heart. Instantly the CSR stops and goes into a profound SD. The therapist asks: “What is going on here?” The client responds e.g.: “I feel sad.” “Tell me more about sad”, might be the next question, or “What does sad look like?” The answer could be: “Sad is hiding behind a huge wall. I can’t see it, I just feel it.”
Further internal dialogue may reveal that the heart has been walled off for protection after a devastating experience years or decades ago. Now Heart wants to expand, open up, and let its light shine brightly. Resistance shows up as rage. Rage will not let Heart take down the protective walls. It is concerned about more damage and suffering if Heart is not guarded behind walls. In order for Rage to allow any opening of the heart, it first needs acknowledgment for a job well done. Rage kept the person from falling into a catatonic depression, or committing suicide. Rage provided the energy to move on and take a pro-active stance towards survival. It is not aware that circumstances have changed, and at this point it is acting like a bull in a china store. A new, potentially very supportive relationship with a gentle and safe person could be at risk if Rage does not scale down its presence.
Through skillful negotiations between one personality aspect and another, conducted by the client’s Inner Wisdom, a new balance can be found between the need for protection and growth. Rage may agree to step back from active duty, but remain on call for situations of true danger. It may actually be relieved to get a break, because it is exhausted from being on the job non-stop for years or decades. It might call in Discernment to take its place protecting Heart, while Rage itself gets ready for retirement in Florida.
Much of the inner dialogue may happen without a spoken word and at a pace much too fast for communication between client and therapist. The best we can do as therapists is to stay out of the way when Inner Wisdom is doing its thing, and only assist when the process gets stuck. It never ceases to amaze us how ingenious and effective Inner Wisdom’s solutions are to the most rigid blocks in the way of growth and personal evolution.
A compassionate attitude towards even the peskiest resistance will make it easier to integrate the whole into a situationally appropriate support system without the bull in the china store. This is an ongoing, never ending process, and a life skill. Like any other skill, it grows with practice. With endless patience Inner Wisdom presents us with just the right circumstances for practice, again and again, until we get it.
Treatment with a CranioSacral Therapist trained in Somato-Emotional Release is a way to open the door, but we all have to go on our own journey. Ultimately one learns to apply the inner awareness of what is significant and real, along with the inner dialogue skills, without dependency on the therapist.
The ultimate goal of CranioSacral Therapy is Self Realization. To me that means being tuned into the Inner Wisdom and the Wisdom of the Universe continuously, not just every now and then, but as a new state of “normal”.
CranioSacral Therapy is one of many, many paths toward that goal. It happens to be the path I was guided to travel, with great results. For that reason I became a CranioSacral Therapist myself, and it is my pleasure to open the door for my clients to go on their own journey towards healing and personal evolution.
Shana Dieterle, PT, CST, is a CranioSacral Therapist practicing in Missoula, MT. She has trained with the Upledger Institute International and is presently working on her Diplomate certification. It is her pleasure to explore the amazing health benefits of light touch therapy to optimize brain function and self-healing.
For further information and contact information, go to www.ShanasHeartofHealing.com