Crown Shyness

River of Blue.jpg
Photo Dag Peak

Back in November, when my autoimmune disease – quiet for nearly twelve years – began to make itself known, I watched my life slowly go off the rails. The craniosacral practice I loved, the people I wanted to see, the public events that lifted my spirits, everything went silent as my disease became all encompassing. First housebound and then hospital-bound, I spent most of December, January and February recuperating. I joked with my sisters that I was earning a black belt in convalescence, a gold metal in lying around.

I never thought this would be useful.

Just at the moment I was ready to return to seeing clients, the world met the coronavirus. We’ve all now been blindsided by this confusing, upside down landscape: We need one another but have to be separated. We have time and space, but no assurance of income. We are all so alone, together.

But if being housebound taught me anything, it’s to look outside, to find solace in nature even if you aren’t actually able to go there. And so this morning, cycling through what my daughter calls “world cancellation,” I suddenly remembered trees.

We know that trees send messages underground to each other, that they pump nutrients to young sprouts, that they are in constant communication. But they also engage in a funny kind of dance called, of all things, crown shyness. Crown, or in Latin, as fate would have it, corona.

Perhaps you have seen these images before, of tree canopies that create elaborate green puzzles of almost-touching crowns. There are different theories about why they do so – to nourish the young plants below, to maximize resource sharing and reduce competition, to let the light through – but in any case, the limbs and branches maintain a safe distance for the benefit of the whole ecosystem, even as the roots embrace, invisibly, beneath the surface.

This rainforest canopy at the Forestry Research Institute Malaysia shows crown shyness in Kapur trees.
Photo: Mikenorton

I cannot wrap my head around this time, but my heart is on board for crown shyness. Here we are, creating space at the crown – our coronas, you might say – to keep our distance for the sake of the whole species. But that is only part of the picture.

Because even as our limbs sway separately, spaciously, allowing future growth, our roots aren’t shy at all but deep and intertwined – connecting invisibly below the surface, showing us that we are in this together.

New Offering

In the spirit of crown shyness, I’m offering 45-minute online sessions to support health and connection from afar. Depending on your needs, these sessions may provide some combination of active listening, energetic support, embodied writing prompts or movement and meditation guidance.

Please visit this link to schedule.


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? 


“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?”


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


“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.


“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!