Inner Spring Cleaning
It’s springtime, so that means spring cleaning! Dusting those hard-to reach shelves, reorganizing drawers, sorting clothes and bringing all of our accumulated, often forgotten STUFF into the light so we can appreciate what we need, and discard the rest.
So how about some spring cleaning for your body? It is a given to those of us in the yoga community that our body stores toxins, emotions, trauma and pain. Even long ago events can still be held in the body on the physical as well as spiritual and emotional plane. A mindful yoga practice can help ease this burden. But sometimes, gentle hands-on therapy is needed to get at those areas that are hard to release on our own.
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) has a complimentary modality called Somato-Emotional Release (SER). Developed by Dr. John E. Upledger from the 1970s through his passing in 2012, both CST and SER tap into the fluid-filled membranes, or meninges, that enclose our brain and spinal cord. There is a rhythm to the fluid as it fills and empties out of the dura mater - Latin for "tough mother”- a dense layer of connective tissue that adheres to the inside of the skull, supports the hemispheres of the brain, and travels down to the sacrum. The filling and emptying phases can be felt by a trained hand anywhere in the body, just as you can take your own pulse in various locations if you know how. It is a semi-closed hydraulic system.
In CST, practitioners like myself are sensing the quality and rate of the CS rhythm, and then encouraging positive change by feeling and following the subtle vibrational movement in the bones of the head, jaw, neck, and spine. What the brilliant "Dr. John” discovered in his many decades of work is that the CS rhythm can spontaneously stop for several minutes. It just turns off very suddenly. He found that this was an indicator of a deep processing of energy in the tissues. He called it a “Significance Detector” and it was his way of knowing to pause and ask the client “What is coming up for you right now?”
Often, the client shared a pivotal and unresolved moment from long ago, as with the woman suffering from Glaucoma who had seen her mother cheat on her father as a 4-year old child, or the man who replayed a scene from his infancy when his father grabbed his tiny wrist and said he would break it if he didn’t quiet down in his stroller. The replay of these emotional episodes was accompanied by whatever feeling they were experiencing at the time. The woman felt shame. The man felt angry that his father was not giving him enough attention.
After the emotions came up and were acknowledged, the tissue under Dr. John’s hands softened, and the CS pulse came back on. The cycle was complete. Dr. John reported that the woman with Glaucoma went back to her doctor and her eyes were normal. The man was able to identify and release his anger towards his father and approach their relationship as a fully embodied adult, not as a fearful child.
Now this might not seem like something you want to do... after all, most people avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings. So I will share my experience during a session a few years ago. My trusted CST practitioner had her hands on my liver and a scene popped into my head, a mini-movie of something I could not possibly remember consciously since I was just a few days old. But there it was: I was just home from the hospital, wrapped in my cozy blankets, and being held by my mother. She was presenting me to my very religious and somewhat stern grandfather. He took me unwillingly into his hands, shook his head in disapproval, and handed me right back to her. I was just not good enough. I was a girl, and thus a deep disappointment to a man who had hoped that his only son would produce a boy to carry on the family name.
My adult self cried for that poor infant who felt so unwelcomed into the family. But it was not painful or embarrassing; it was like I was watching a sad movie in a dark theatre where I felt safe in letting go. And my liver began to move and soften, unloading years of not feeling good enough. What a huge relief!
If you want to try a little spring cleaning for those dusty corners of your emotional body, please consider purchasing a CST 3-pack so I can fully support your process. Isn’t it time to let go of all that STUFF you don’t need anymore?