Massage & Bodywork

May | June 2014

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flow the therapy itself, which is the way Upledger practiced. After more than a dozen years in CST, the techniques are second nature for my hands. The concept of adding zero grams of pressure, to just meet the tension in the tissues without adding to their burdens, is deeply ingrained in my nervous system. At this point in my practice, I don't use the techniques often, though they always inform my touch. For those of us who move on through the curriculum to become craniosacral therapists, the protocol techniques function like scales, drills, and theory function for musicians: they keep our skills sharp, but aren't the "music we play." The upper levels of the Upledger curriculum stress precise, noninvasive palpation, following nuances in the craniosacral rhythm to engage with each body's inner wisdom and unique process of healing. Therapists learn to support and track changes in tissue, fluid, and energy with their refined palpatory skills. The work is no longer about applying force (even force as little as a gram), but about becoming exactly what the body needs in that moment: perhaps a barrier to work against, an aide to bolster, a supportive companion, an enhancer, and a knowledgeable, nonjudgmental witness. Like Savant, Vogel, and Mackinnon, I had a lot of encouraging success with clients while mastering CST techniques. But when I gained the skills and depth of experience to practice the therapy, my clients started to experience astonishing benefits. For example, my client Paul has had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) since his mid-30s, after contracting a fungal infection deep in his lungs. When he first came to me, he presented with the immobile, barrel-like chest that's common in folks who have trouble breathing. During his first session, his respiratory diaphragm and the tissues it attaches to softened markedly. Slowly, his breath deepened and quieted. Paul was nearly asleep when he came to with a start. He suddenly realized he couldn't hear his own wheezing; it had become so familiar, he was frightened for a moment at its absence. As he settled into his body sensation, he realized that while he couldn't hear his breath, he could feel the motion of it. After more than 30 years of labored breathing, he was filled with new, relaxed, pleasant sensations. Paul was able to immediately get permission from his doctor to stop using his breathing machine at night, resumed hiking the local hills, and noticed a big improvement in his golf game. At a subsequent session, I was working at his diaphragm again when I noticed a slight tightening of his hamstrings and calves. Curious about what was happening to him, I asked Paul what he felt. He was silent for several moments, and then tears began to run down his cheeks. He told me how he had loved bounding up hills before he got sick, and how, because it was so difficult for him to catch his breath once he became winded, he had shortened his strides for decades. Paul hadn't realized that his entire body had adapted to his breathing problems, but on the table he could really feel it. Over several sessions, we worked with his newly free breath and his shortened limbs. They slowly lengthened, and his stride and arm swing increased dramatically. He now comes for occasional "tune- ups" to keep his tissue supple. THE POWER OF TOUCH I'm inspired every day by what the Upledger Institute calls "the power of a gentle touch." Moving my practice from a "doing to" approach to CST's "supporting and being with" approach empowers my clients in ways traditional manual therapies simply aren't set up to do. I find this process-oriented work to be extremely effective and efficient. But both ways of working are needed in the world. CST techniques help clients get more out of their sessions, with less effort on everyone's part. I encourage you to add them to your repertoire. And for some of you, like me, CST will become a passion. I welcome each of you to CST, however you wish to practice. Robyn Scherr, CMT, is diplomate-certified in CST, the highest level of education in the field. In practice since 2001, Scherr uses craniosacral therapy to help her clients recognize and respond to their bodies' unique needs, harnessing their inner wisdom and resilience to create lasting change. Find out more at I t p a y s t o b e A B M P C e r t i f i e d : w w w. a b m p . c o m / g o / c e r t i f i e d c e n t r a l 65

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