CranioSacral Therapy: Integrating the Mind and Body

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) radically changed my life and allowed me to heal in ways that I didn’t even know I needed when I got started. Most importantly, CST helped me to understand and honor the mind-body connection, appreciate my body (which I previously thought was failing me), understand how life events and thought patterns were affecting my physical body and ultimately, helped my nervous system move out of a chronic “fight or flight” state.

What it is

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tension patterns in the body to support whole-body health, using the craniosacral rhythm that flows from the base of the cranium (skull), down to the sacrum (tailbone), via the spinal column. Patients find it extremely relaxing as it helps people to ground deeper into their bodies.

Energy blocks and tension patterns can form in the body from the time of conception. Using a very light touch (5 grams of pressure) that bypasses the autonomic nervous system,  a CST therapist can help your body’s own systems to clear physical and emotional blockages to bring the body back into balance. CST also helps patients to understand and honor what the body has to say – aka working “with” your body instead of pushing it.

CST Works with the Nervous System

CST helps to balance both parts of the nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system scans our surroundings and activates the fight or flight hormonal response when a threat is detected. The parasympathetic nervous system slows the fight or flight response so that our bodies can rest and digest, as well as repair and heal. Living in a chronic state of fight or flight over time can manifest in neurological conditions, feeling constantly tired and wired and various disease states due to altered hormonal and chemistry levels.

CST works with the vagus nerve, which starts in the brain and connects many organs including the heart, lungs and digestive tract. The vagus nerve is in charge of the parasympathetic nervous system, and for helping us to reset after stress.

CST is Used for Many Conditions

CST can be particularly effective at supporting individuals with chronic headaches and migraines, neurological issues, concussions, TMJ, trauma, PTSD, pain from TMS, fibromyalgia or complex regional pain syndrome, injury, anxiety and many other conditions. CST is also helpful for infants and young children with social anxiety, ADD, ADHD, Autism, tongue tie and other early childhood challenges.

CST is a complementary tool to use in tandem with talk therapy or mindset work so that new cognitive shifts can be integrated into the body and spirit, helping all parts to work in harmony.

CranioSacral Therapy and TMS

My belief is that many conditions that affect the body are some form of TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), regardless of the specific, scientific diagnosis. TMS originator Dr. John Sarno, advises against receiving physical treatments for TMS, however my belief is that when we support the body, we support the mind and spirit as well. CranioSacral Therapy is different from other forms of bodywork, because of the emotional release that often accompanies a physical release. Shifts made through CST are usually permanent, which differs from most other physical treatments that may serve to reinforce mind-body illness patterns. Lastly, research around CranioSacral Therapy was beginning around the same time as the discovery of TMS, so I suspect that the treatment was not known or well-known to Dr. Sarno at the time that he developed his methodology.

The Details

The body does not lie, and while you may have resolved old wounds within your mind, your body may still have some of those memories stored in the form of a tension pattern or energy block in the tissue. If you feel like you have worked through issues within your life, but old memories or beliefs still keep coming up, it is likely that those feelings simply haven’t been released by the body.

It’s also important to know that the body doesn’t know the difference between an actual event and a belief or fear. We often use our rational, adult brains to process things, but our body may have a different option. CST helps to unify thoughts and beliefs between the mind and body so we can live in harmony with all parts of ourselves.

Curious to Learn More?

Want to find a therapist?

The Upledger Institute is the governing and training body for licensed CranioSacral Therapists. Use their therapist locator tool to find therapists near you. The tool will also show you how many trainings a therapist has completed and if they are certified to assist or teach CST. Like any other kind of therapy, finding a therapist that you feel comfortable with is often more important than their qualifications.