Not fixed

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On a rainy Wednesday, tucked up in my third floor office, a client tells me she’s feeling better. Much better. She can recover from setbacks more quickly, she feels a vitality that’s been missing these past years. She’s caught herself laughing.

But.

She wants to know if she’s fixed now. If it’s this craniosacral work that’s made the difference. Or is it random. Or the dietary changes. Or just feeling less jangled by the world.

“Hm,” I say. “What a good question.”

It is a good question. So often, when we’re sick or depressed or feeling broken in some way, we want to be fixed. We want clear lines that explain neatly how we got here and then lead us, step by step, out of the discomfort.

But English is beautiful sometimes.

Because fixed has several meanings:
We can fix as in repair or mend. Our water line, the broken coffee mug, the ear of our child’s rabbit stuffie.
But fixed is also fastened in place. As in stuck. Unmoving.

In this sense, fixed is actually a very good description of what happens when we aren’t well. Whether we’re talking about a group of muscles or a sense of despair, in very real ways recovering our health means we need to become UNfixed.

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We are dynamic. Every part of us – every part – wants to move. And so our metaphors for health demand the same. What if we saw ourselves not as broken, but as stuck – fixed – in certain places, and then looked for movement? What if we supported the veins, tributaries and currents of health?  Doing so might take us a little further afield, to include in our conception of health all the ways we feel in flow. What we eat, how we sleep, who we share ourselves with, what we let go.

So is my dear client “fixed” now? I’m not sure. I can say that the life she’s describing  – more vital, quicker to recover – sounds a lot more buoyant.  And that seems like something to celebrate. IMG_6976

Trashcans and hurricanes / explaining craniosacral therapy to an 8-year-old

IMG_5378If you are in my line of work, there is a thing that happens at parties and barbecues: Someone asks what you do and as soon as you say the words biodynamic craniosacral therapist, you’ve… lost them. Aren’t you, dear reader, losing a bit of interest even seeing that phrase? Biodynamic craniosacral. It’s such a mouthful that it buries itself.

And then, on the way to school, passing wild turkeys and frozen fields, my daughter asks a question from the backseat that gets to the heart of this problem.

“But what do you really do? When you work it looks like… nothing.”

I started studying craniosacral work in 2012, and just finished a two and a half year deep dive certification in this particular approach. Every day I see how powerful the work is, but I have not cracked this particular code: How to simply explain what it is.

Because an 8 year old? She doesn’t want to hear about the relational field and down regulation, she could care less about cerebrospinal fluid and the sphenobasilar junction. And if you can’t help a kid understand what you do in practical language, can you really explain what you do?

I take a breath. “Well…” How do I convey the idea of energy? 

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“Let’s say there’s a hurricane, and it blows over the trashcan. It just topples over and starts sliding across the street. What would happen if you walked out in the middle of the hurricane and stood it back up?”

“It would knock over again.”

“Right. And again, and again. As long as the hurricane’s blowing, the trashcan’s going over.” I check the rearview mirror to make sure she’s still with me. “But, what if you could talk directly to the hurricane? What if you could understand energy – forces that are everywhere and invisible, but not always as loud as a hurricane – and help the hurricane start to calm. Then what would happen to the trashcan?”

“It would just stay put.” We’re getting somewhere. Energy precedes matter is a fundamental principal of biodynamic. If we talk to the underlying patterns, we influence everything else, trashcans included.

“And what if we zoomed right in – on this steering wheel, or my bag here or your leg. What would we see?”

“Dust.” This is… so true. It’s February after all. I keep going.

“Yes. And if we zoomed in *even* further than that? Just kept zooming in and in?”

“Atoms.”

“Yes!” I’m trying not to get overly excited“Ok, and if we zoom in on the atoms, what do we see?”

“Electrons?”

“Right! We’ve got these electrons spinning round and round protons and neutrons. We’ve actually got – when we get right down to this atomic zoom level – we’ve actually got much more space than stuff. If we focus on the space, we influence the stuff.” We are more space than matter. In cranio, we’re less interested in the conditional adaptations than the health that underlies it all. We focus on what is well, on what organizes health. I think she’s getting this.

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“So, you speak the language of energy? Like, you know the words and sentences to talk to energy?” Kids are quick.

“Yes. But language is a lot about listening. You know how there are certain people you want to talk to and certain people you…don’t?” I parody an awkward adult to show what I mean, “‘Do you like school, little girl?‘ In cranio, we want to listen in a way that makes you comfortable enough to come out of your shell, so that we can have a real conversation, and maybe shift things together.” Establishing resonance. 

So there, in 5 minutes, is a beginner’s guide to Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy: trashcans, hurricanes, dust, listening. Easier to follow, right?

Maybe I’ll try that at the next barbecue.


Two upcoming Root Therapy events:

  • There are still a few available sessions for the lower cost clinic on March 30th (45-minute sessions for $40). Please be in touch if you’d like to schedule one.
  • We’re still buzzing from the wonderful Embodied Writing: Seasons series that wrapped up earlier this month. The next Embodied Writing: Seasons series will run in April – be sure to sign up for the newsletter if you’d like to know when registration opens!