Craniosacral Therapy Part IV: Trauma, Resolution, and Resources

I briefly mentioned trauma in the last post about the Mind Body Continuum and I would like to expand on it in this post.  Craniosacral therapy is an excellent therapy for all types of trauma, whether emotional, spiritual, or physical.  Due to the inherent respect of craniosacral therapy, a safe space is intentionally created by the therapist which will allow the body to follow its inherent wisdom in finding resolution for unprocessed trauma.

“Trauma is altogether a more severe form of stress and it is always unpleasant.  Although trauma is also perhaps an unavoidable part of life, it too can lead to great benefit if its effects can be resolved.  Trauma may occur as a single powerful and overwhelming event or as a series of repetitive stressful experiences.  A car accident, a fall, an emotionally cold parent, a tooth extraction or a difficult birth are common examples.”

-Michael Kern, Wisdom in the Body: The Craniosacral Approach to Essential Health

The Body and Resolution of Trauma

The body plays an important role in the resolution of trauma.  So often, trauma is addressed from a talk-therapeutic angle.  This can be helpful, but it does not address the root of the trauma, which is often stored in the body.

“Trauma occurs when an event creates an unresolved impact on an organism.  Resolution is accomplished through working with this unresolved impact through the felt sense.”

-Dr. Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

We, as humans, have inherent wiring that is intended to keep us safe in times of stress and trauma.  This is part of our most instinctual nature.  When this process is started but unable to find resolution, the impact of an event may become stuck in the tissues, membranes, and organs of the body.  This typically happens when a body is already under stress or has already experienced some trauma.  The body can be assisted in the process of creating resolution by a skilled professional.  This doesn’t have to involve reliving a traumatic experience.  Actually, one of the most helpful ways to find resolution with past trauma is to pay attention to how the body responds in the present. Craniosacral therapy can be supportive in the process of releasing the energy of and physical impacts of trauma from the tissues, fluids, nervous system, brain, and organs of the body.

What is really in the Shadows?

I took a picture the shadows that my candle was casting in the wall the other day.  It inspired me to write this post because the shadows cast on the wall are a good metaphor for some of the information that gets trapped in our bodies.  This information, can feel very big and scary (just like the shadows on the wall).  However, when we begin to look at these stories more closely, we often find out that it may look, feel, or be different than we had expected.  The shadows being cast on my wall were simply larger, more ambiguous versions of the books on my shelf.

“We must cultivate the courage to look deeply, with clarity and courage, into our own suffering.  We often hold the tacit assumption that all of our suffering stems from events in the past.  But, whatever the initial seed of trauma, the deeper truth is that our suffering is more closely a result of how we deal with the effect these past events have on us in the present.”

Dr. Peter Levine, Healing Trauma: a Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of your Body 

Creating Safe Spaces

When working with trauma, it is vital to create a safe space.  The brain is hardwired to keep its human being safe and if it does not feel safe it will not relax in a way that is necessary to release trauma from the tissues.  Parker Palmer, founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal, said that a safe space intentionally does not have any of these four things: fixing, advising, correcting, or saving.  At the core of craniosacral therapy is the belief that every body has an innate healing wisdom.  This wisdom directs the unique process of healing in each client.  It is the therapist’s role to listen, follow, and support when necessary.

Resources are your best friend!

When working to resolve old trauma, it is vital to know your resources!  Reaching out for support naturally begins to break the cycle of trauma.  Resources can come from a variety of sources, but they must mean something to you and they must allow you to feel safe.  It is helpful and important to set up both internal and external resources.  Internal resources may be cultivated by learning to practice meditation, using guided/non-guided imagery, or other ways of paying attention to your breath.  The breath becomes an anchor for the present moment, which is vital in working to create resolution with trauma.  Self-care practices such as yoga, taking a hot bath, walking in the woods, or anything else that feeds your soul are also important.  Creating a support network with friends and professionals may be necessary for you as well.  This is where knowing your limits can be helpful.  When you feel your edge, don’t try to push yourself over.  Seek an experienced professional to support you and witness your process.

“In short, trauma is about loss of connection – to ourselves, to our bodies, to our families, to others, and to the world around us… Our choices become limited as we avoid certain feelings, people, situations, and places.  The result of this gradual constriction of freedom is the loss of vitality and potential for the fulfillment of our dreams.”

-Dr. Peter Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of your Body