What sets Elemental CranioSacral Work apart?
This work is essentially the outgrowth of my own experiences living with this work. For me, Elemental CranioSacral Work isn’t so much a method of technique, but a Way of being with myself and other people. As such, it doesn’t lend itself very well to objective classification, much as John Upledger’s work focuses nearly exclusively on the medical outcomes suggested by its skillful application.
I would like the reader to consider, that as a practitioner of my style of work, I am a human being first, a scientist, second. It cannot be the other way around. The benefits of a science-first approach are nearly self-evident. Our world is constructed that way. If, for example, I see a snake upon the ground, my first thought may be, “Is this a poisonous snake?”, continuing then down a line of questions that may hopefully lead to my safe evacuation of the area. In a treatment setting, in my office, I keep that scientific approach clearly in mind, but it is not alone in its efforts to win my attention. I must consider my feelings.
For some reason--though it may surprise the reader because of my verbose writing style--I have never really had thoughts that exist in words. I feel, and then I form words around my feelings. I wouldn’t ordinarily disclose something of this nature, because it seems strange even to me, but I am told by people that this quality I have is rare, or unknown altogether. Consequently, my work is the same. I feel, then I think.
When I studied the Feldenkrais Method from 2013-2015, I found that Mosche Feldenkrais (the founder of that method) must have operated in a similar manner, though he never struck me as having been a feeling man. His principle was to form theory after the experience. Too often, he felt, our society forms theories and then seeks to “back up” the theories with experiences (or trials), which inevitably lead to faulty conclusions. We as humans do tend to rather unconsciously rig or slant trials and experiences in order to validate what we hope to be true; it is no fun to be wrong, and even the appearance of being “right,” is often too wonderful to pass up. We play “yes men” to ourselves. He was right. We do that.
So, with Elemental Craniosacral Work, we do not “link up proofs.” We approach our clients, human being to human being--I call this humanistic work! Now, I am not saying other methods do not do this. Far from it! I am saying that, for me, feeling comes--at the least--first. Feeling is the fire of intuition. But feeling must be cultivated and nurtured within the practitioner for it to be harnessed professionally. George Lucas had it right, when he made his Jedis powerful through their control of their feelings and the Dark sided forces unbalanced by their lack of control of theirs.
In general, the Upledger Institute teaches biomechanical Craniosacral Therapy--and admirably so. They often work to bring balance to the Central Nervous System through still points and fulcrums; it seems to me very Left-brained work, as it is taught. That is, “if A is out of place, put it back.”
Hugh Milne, my teacher, instructs many students around the world in a method he calls Visionary Craniosacral Work. His work is called functional, because it seeks to aid the relational components of the cranial mechanism within the whole. “Every drop knows the tide,” said William Sutherland, D.O., the founder of Cranial Osteopathy. Milne puts great stock in the usage of the inner channels of perception, and his work is often considered quasi-shamanic. It is brilliant work, and has formed the basis of much of my own practice over the years.
Charles Ridley and Giorgia Milne (another dear teacher of mine) have taken the later writings of Sutherland and those of Rollin Becker D.O., and continued their line of thought into what is known to them as Biodynamic Cranial Touch. Interestingly, many schools offer variations on this biodynamic work--including the Barral Institute, which partners with Upledger--but I can only speak to the formers’ offerings and “transmission.” In this beautiful style, the practitioner seeks to find her own innate stillness--in essence becoming a living fulcrum, or still point, around which the client can peacefully reorganize their own Nervous System and being. This method is almost entirely unscientific to an untrained recipient or observer, though much knowledge and skill is imbued within it, and required by it to practice it well.
My work combines all of these. But it is not the smelting of many styles that make the work. We still work within a medical framework, using perceptions throughout the realm of human ability, sourcing the stillpoint fulcrum from with the practitioner. To these I add an implicit intention of calling upon the inner resources of the client, along with the elemental components of Nature, to which we are inseparably linked. Lying on a massage table, we are often off the ground and alone, with someone we often trust very deeply, guiding us through our embodied experience. But there is more, and we are not alone! There is Nature, ancestors, and truly Worlds that swirl in eddies and currents through and around us (I call them Arcs and Helixes), and these can be linked into. They are the way Nature (or “the Mind of Nature”, as Andrew Taylor Still calls it). I know this because I, and others, have felt this--we all have! My feeling compels me to know this, and to date, my mind still struggles to identify the evidences of my touch, my heart-sense, my inner vision, my nose (yes!), my inner ears, and more. I know because I feel. And I know it works. These phenomena are true. People heal by them.
At some point the mind--the scientific mind--must stand down. It cannot keep up with the overwhelming experience of feeling, nor can it hope to be a guide where none have ever gone before, which is often what happens in treatments that delve into the subtle micronic world of Cranial Wave impulses. The mind is like an ocean voyager from the 18th century, traveling to distant shores unknown, with incomplete star charts and myopic books, claiming lands that already belong to others, misunderstanding what is only half-perceived, half-observed--a colonizer!
Yes, we study anatomy, intently.
Yes, we learn neurologic relationships.
Yes, we treat symptoms.
First and foremost, we treat people. And we treat them with an eye towards their holism, internally and externally. In brief: “who is this person, in Nature?”
The key, and final point, is this: to my knowledge, all schools of Craniosacral healing involve the teaching of stillpoints and/or tidal rhythms (the fluctuations of the Cerebrospinal fluid). I acknowledge and teach them as well. I also teach that there exists movement above and beyond, primary to all other patterns, that seems to be the wellspring from which all movement, and even what we regard as stillness, flows. It is Source. Life is movement. In stillness, still, life flows