In this third part of the series on foundational aspects of Craniosacral Therapy, I am going to elaborate on the bodymind continuum. While craniosacral therapy deeply affects the physical body (read more about the basic anatomy of CST here), it is also one of the best therapies that I have found to work with the bodymind continuum. True healing is expressed when there is harmony between all aspects of oneself – Mind, Body, Soul.
The BodyMind Continuum
So, what is the BodyMind continuum? I am using this term to indicate that the physical body and the mind (emotions, thoughts) are not actually separate. In Western culture, we have separated the body and the mind, which has created a dualistic way of working with physical and mental/emotional challenges. There is much new science (check out the study of psychoneuroimmunology) suggesting what traditional healing modalities have known for a while: that the mind, body, and soul are, in fact, intricately connected. Healing one cannot happen without engaging with the other.
One of my teachers, Chas Perry said it like this: “When you go deep enough into healing the body, you will encounter the mind. When you go deeply into healing the mind, you will find the body.”
Many of my clients come seeking relief from a specific physical symptom, i.e. a headache, neck or back pain, knee stiffness, menstrual cramping, irregular cycles. Or, they may have more complaints in the mental/emotional realm such as anxiety, depression, or difficulty processing stress. Often, as the process of healing unfolds, working with a challenge that presents as a physical symptom will often eventually include some sort of memory, belief, or emotion also involved. This is especially true when the physical sensation is the result of some sort of trauma (whether emotional, physical, spiritual).
Stored Experience – The Stories that our Bodies Tell
Over the course of our lives, we have all kinds of experiences. Some of these are positive and some are negative. Our experiences, our emotions, our beliefs – these all influence how the physical body is formed. Most of us have experienced some sort of trauma in our lives and this memory is stored in the tissues of the body. In craniosacral therapy, the trauma is first identified in the tissues by noting patterns of tension, stuck energy, and areas of pain and congestion.
This quote from Wisdom in the Body by Michael Kern explains stored experiences in the body well:
“The body never lies- it forms itself around who we are inside. If we carry our head low, have tight shoulders, a collapsed chest and walk with a heavy step, these can all reflect feelings of weakness and resignation. In contrast, if our head is carried upright, our shoulders are straight and flexible, our chest is breathing openly and we walk with a springy step, these indicate both confidence and vitality. If we hold ourselves in the world in a certain way due to our beliefs, fears and emotions, the very tissues will take a form that supports this state of mind.”
The significance that this plays in the role of healing is that if our emotions, beliefs, and experiences can influence our physical form over time, then we can work to recreate our body by paying attention to emotions, beliefs, and by releasing the patterns of experience that the tissues hold.