Craniosacral Therapy - The History of Craniosacral Therapy

THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF CRANIOSACRAL WORK
extracts from 'Wisdom In The Body - The Craniosacral Approach To Essential Health'
by Michael Kern, published by Thorsons/HarperCollins


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Cranial movement.

Experimenting on his own head, he tightened the straps, first in one direction and then in another. Within a short period of time he started to experience headaches and digestive upsets. This response was not what he was expecting, so he decided to continue his research to find out more. Some of his experiments with the "helmet" led to quite severe symptoms of cranial tightness, headaches, sickness and disorientation. Of particular interest was that when the helmet straps were tightened in certain other positions, it produced a sense of great relief and an improvement in cranial circulation.

After many months of pulling and restricting his cranial bones in different positions with these varying results, Dr Sutherland eventually stopped this research, having convinced himself that adult cranial bones do, in fact, move. Furthermore, the surprising responses that he felt in his own body had shown him that cranial movement must have some important physiological function. Sutherland spent the remaining 50 years of his life exploring the significance of this motion.

Historical acceptance.

Although most Western countries did not recognize cranial motion, this possibility was not new to other cultures. There are various Oriental systems of medicine such as acupuncture and Ayurveda which have long appreciated the subtle movements which occur throughout the body, caused by the flow of vital force or life-energy. This has also been traditionally taught in Russian physiology. Interestingly, anatomists in Italy in the early 1900s were already teaching that adult cranial sutures do not fully fuse, but continue to permit small degrees of motion throughout life.

Cranial manipulation has been practised in India for centuries, and was also developed by the ancient Egyptians and members of the Paracus culture in Peru (2000 BC to 200 AD). Furthermore, in the 18th century, the philosopher and scientist Emmanuel Swedenborg described a rhythmic motion of the brain, stating that it moves with regular cycles of expansion and contraction.

Tissue breathing.

From an early stage, Dr Sutherland understood that he was exploring an involuntary system of "breathing" in tissues, important for the maintenance of their health. At a fundamental level, it is this property to express motion that distinguishes living tissues from those which are dead. Dr Sutherland perceived that all cells of the body need to express a rhythmic "breathing" in order for them to function to their optimal ability. Much of his research was carried out by combining a profound knowledge of anatomy along with an acute tactile sense. He started to realize that these subtle respiratory movements can be palpated by sensitive hands. He also discovered that this motion provided a wealth of clinical information.

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