What is a CranioSacral session like, and how does it differ from massage? A CranioSacral session is one of the most deeply profound modalities of massage I have ever had the pleasure of receiving, as well as giving.
First, from the receiving perspective: With massage, your muscles are continually being manipulated with the intent to relax. With CranioSacral, you invite your body to release and relax itself. You commune and listen to your body, and let it guide you towards healing and embracing wellness. Sometimes the body is not ready to release an area, and this can be for a wide variety of reasons. To remove or release a blockage before the body is ready can cause great distress to the body. Both the practitioner and recipient need to listen and communicate with the body to determine to what extent it is ready to release.
For being so seemingly light of touch and subtle, to me, it can seem more relaxing than sleep. Like a meditative state, it’s almost trance-like. I find myself being able to delve into my body, into the cells themselves, and reach beyond into the nothingness, and then find the energy that fills and flows within my body. Because it is about listening to the body, and letting the body guide and direct the practitioner, every session is unexpected and different. A CranioSacral session leaves me feeling quiet, calm, and centered, yet very awakened and alert.
On a physical body level, you unwind. Blockages unrecognized normally are opened and cleared. Mentally, receiving a session is similar to a deep meditation in which you are acutely aware and all that exists is the present moment to moment. Emotionally, you can listen and hear the messages that your body has stored within it for you. Spiritually, you are given an opportunity to connect to your Inner Physician, that part of you that knows exactly what ails you and what you need to heal.
On a purely physical basis, one of my favorite parts of CranioSacral work is the amazing relief it can give for jaw pain. Anyone who has TMD, TMJ, or just clenches their jaw during sleep or stress, understands how awful this pain can be. CranioSacral has some marvelous inter-oral techniques that can unwind and release a tight jaw. It’s wonderful to experience especially after a visit to the dentist, or a long night of clenching and grinding in your sleep. Many remark after a session of how they feel more open and more “space” in their body, especially in the head.
It’s always amazing to me how much movement and shifting I can feel taking place within my body. I know many who report seeing a rainbow of colors or lights in different areas of the body. While I haven’t had this experience, I do “see” the shifts as they happen. It’s really neat.
From a practitioner’s point of view: I approach each body with respect and reverence. It is a great gift to be invited to participate with a person on their healing journey. I acknowledge that I am there to assist them on their journey and tend to their needs. It is not mine to decide where it is they need to go and take them there. It is my place to listen deeply to the person and their body, and remind them of it’s inherent healing ability.
In massage, there is often an agenda: Get the person to relax. The therapist takes on this responsibility, and does whatever they deem necessary to get that job done. It is like barging into the body, and giving commands and directions like a foreman would direct his construction team. With CranioSacral, I, the practitioner, come to the body as a guest to the home of the body. I knock on the door and wait to be invited in. I sit patiently and quietly and listen to the homeowner, who guides me through the home of their body.
I only go where invited; just as you can close a door to a room you don’t want a guest to see, you choose what areas of access I am given. I have had clients who were concerned that I was going to see into the deep dark parts of their soul; that’s not how it works. I do not trespass or stumble into areas of the body or psyche.
It is important for the practitioner to remain in what we call a “neutral stance” for the full session. It is not about pushing or pulling the person in any way; it is about deeply listening and then responding appropriately.
Here’s what to expect in a session beginning to end: CranioSacral is preformed through comfortable clothing. Many wear yoga pants and a t-shirt. CranioSacral is done in the prone position — with the person lying on the back, facing the ceiling. We begin the session by me listening to you verbally; we discuss what is going on with your body, what you want me to address, and what your personal goals for the session are.
There are multiple ways I can and do assess the body, which may include me asking you to stick out your tongue, or just having you stand while I scan your energetic/magnetic body.
I usually like to begin having the person face down, and doing Shiatsu techniques. This helps to ground and center a person into their body. I then have the person turn over, and then we begin the CranioSacral session. The session may be done on the purely physical level, or we may explore the emotional and spiritual depths of the body. We may dive deep down, and resurface, and bob up and down in the layers of the person, depending on what they want and need. I often share the impressions I receive, and let you decide what to do with them.
At the end, I help you to re-ground and re-integrate. I leave you for a few minutes to let you absorb and regroup from the session. We then discuss how you feel, impressions you received, and you go on your merry way. I recommend not planning anything after a CranioSacral session, as it can be so profound that you may want to take time to yourself to journal the experience.
When should you get a CranioSacral session? CranioSacral is a great idea whenever you feel a need to explore and integrate yourself. It’s helpful for if you’ve just been to the dentist and need relief from jaw pain. It’s wonderful to receive one previous to or following a magickal initiation or spiritual transformation.
It’s a good idea if you want a calming and centering, yet a very deep and profound experience of bodywork.