Originally posted February 27, 2018.
People ask me to explain craniosacral to them all the time.
Craniosacral is your body talking to you
Touch modalities synthesize feelings of physical pain and emotional distress. Massage has been shown in numerous studies from researchers such as Tiffany Field, Ph.D. of the Touch Institute to elevate mood, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and promote the relaxation response.
Current trauma therapies, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Somatic Experiencing® (SE) work at the intersection of neurobiology, physiology and psychology.
In the 1990’s, The research team led by Candace Pert, M.D., discovered that neurotransmitters, our Molecules of Emotion, were misnamed. This team found that neurotransmitters are not just created in the brain but are manufactured in multiple places in our bodies, including the gut and immune system. 90% of our serotonin, the molecule of mood, is created in the gut.
Now, current research has found there is a group of over 100 million neurons in the digestive system lining called the enteric nervous system or the “second brain.” It’s been discovered there’s constant back and forth communication between the gut and the brain via what’s called the gut-brain axis (GBA). The vagus nerve is one of the mechanisms that wanders from our brain throughout the major organs of the body.
So, it’s not a surprise that wordless physical trauma and emotional pain can be stored in the soft tissue of the body. I’m a great believer in the mindbody connection.
Here’s a clinical example, one of my clients, who has given me permission to anonymously use parts of her story here.
She had been very ill for about two years, with various digestive issues. She had been abused as a child and had done alot of emotional work around her abuse issues, but old feelings still came up when she felt marginalized at work. She was a high functioning banking professional, in a group of good men, but there was underlying implicit bias. She had seen younger men with less qualifications promoted over her, although she was well respected and treated well.
Two years ago, she had an episode of a bleeding colon, due to underlying health issues, which she had dealt with over the course of time. She was feeling better. But she had a nagging pull in the place where the bleed had occurred in her descending colon. She still felt traumatized by the event, as the event itself had been very painful. She described it as more painful than childbirth.
Given her traumatic background, she was concerned that her anxiety around this physical feeling could escalate it and cause it to re-occur. Talking about it was not really helping. EMDR might have been a good choice, but I felt that a craniosacral session might work out both body and mind trauma associated with the event. We decided to try a craniosacral session to release some of the muscular and fascia restrictions that might still be held in the area.
We started by releasing her neck and shoulders but she asked for work on the descending colon area. When I touched the area, and asked what she sensed, she said the area was filled with anger. I asked her if there was any color or form associated with the emotion. She immediately replied, a big green ball is inside the skin there. I asked her to tell me about the big green ball, its size, name, etc. She said its name was Fred. I asked her if Fred needed to stay inside or if she could ask him move out a bit. She asked him to move out and he slowly did….
The session went on like that for a while, with the anger taking form and eventually moving out of her body. We did not judge, analyze, shame or endlessly discuss the anger or her. We just let what was happening unfold. We processed the work briefly after the body work was done.
It has been a whole year since the craniosacral session now and her physical nagging feeling is gone and so is her fear that it could re-occur. It’s a non-issue in here life. Did the trauma not happen? No, of course not. Bu she was able to change the ways she felt and thought about it and it became manageable.
We just let her body talk to her.