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The Power of CranioSacral Therapy: Letting My Body Speak

by Caroline Ratner(more info)

listed in craniosacral therapy, originally published in issue 192 - March 2012


There are very few times in our busy lives when we have the opportunity to just be held, safely, in silence with no need to give anything back but it is something we all need but most of us never have the opportunity to experience. This is Cranio Sacral Therapy - CST.

CranioSacral image

Cranial Sacral Therapy is all about stillness and giving your body a safe place and a platform to 'speak' while being physically held in a completely non-judgemental, gentle way. It gives us a space for our bodies to be held and heard without vying for attention with our thoughts, which usually take precedence over your body's needs. Most of the time our body is talking to us and we are not listening. We are attuned to our thoughts, and yet very rarely do we find the time, or even know how to listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us.

It is not like meditation and it is not like having a cuddle with a loved one. The closest thing I can describe the experience to is like being a baby, safely held by a parent or loving adult. A baby is not thinking about reciprocation, a baby is being held unconditionally. As a therapeutic experience it is hard to describe but the goal, if there is a goal, is to give the body space to express itself without our thoughts getting in the way; the benefits of CST can range from resolving long held issues and traumas, to engendering a sense of peace and wellbeing and a connectedness of mind and body that perhaps has long been absent.

A course of CST can help us let go of baggage, stop thinking in circles, relieve stress and teach us how to look at our life experiences in a detached / new way and help us come to terms with experiences and situations that we may have lived with for years.

I was fortunate enough to have a session of Cranio Sacral Therapy with a leading London therapist, Daska Hatton, who describes it as being "like psychotherapy for the body, but unlike any 'talking cure', it bypasses words by allowing you to tune into your body and letting it be heard as much as the words we hear in our heads".

Many of us have turned to traditional talking therapies to help us come to terms with our lives and culturally we are used to expressing ourselves with words, but our bodies hold onto to our pain and experiences, even if we feel we have let go of emotional issues and blocks through talking.

Daska is based in London, she practises in Notting Hill and at the Neal's Yard Treatment Rooms in Islington. Daska's approach to the world of CST has been informed by her long standing practice as an Alexander Technique Teacher and has a very down-to-earth, practical approach to this remarkable therapy, and is insistent that a course of CST isn't like waving a magic wand that can cure all your ills, but it can certainly help you come to terms with issues that you may have struggled with for a lifetime that impact on your body and that we are often unaware are present and driving us.

As Daska explained to me, "Often we physically react to events in the same we have done for years and years, without even realizing what we are doing, although the physical reaction is probably no longer appropriate to our current circumstances and may be putting undue stress on our system; it is a learnt reaction. What Cranio does is allow you to tune into the way your body is feeling and it gives you the space to look at what is going on in a detached way, and lets you observe how you react, rather than just being reacting mindlessly in a way that doesn't serve you physically, emotionally or energetically and then we can let go".


Cranio doesn't demand anything, or make any claims; stuff either comes up or it doesn't. Sometimes the therapists connect very deeply with their clients, but Daska explains that sometimes she can sense a barrier between her and her client, as if there is a curtain and the body is saying "this is none of your business". A good therapist will always respect that barrier and will never push, but will just hold the client without judgement.

In a session of CST you lie fully clothed and the therapist stands behind you and holds your head in your hand, then she moves to your arms and shoulders and then she stands / sits and holds your feet; sometimes she holds your head for longer, other times she may gently touch other parts of your body. She is reacting to what she senses you need.

It sounds pretty basic, but the physical holding is the least of what happens during a session. Something rather extraordinary happens; as you lie there and tune into your body, words and images appear. At first Daska talked to me a little bit, describing how she picked up on tension in my jaw and behind my eyes, and that my throat was congested. I immediately started wondering what words I was not saying in life that would restrict my throat and make my jaw tight and almost instantly a name came into my head and a memory of something I had long forgotten appeared.

It could be that for some people CST is the perfect antidote to stress and too much over-thinking, which many of us are inclined to indulge in. As a therapy it requires nothing of you except you lie there and let the therapist hold you, either your head or your feet. With a skilled therapist, like Daska, you can feel a connection between the therapist and client almost instantly. She is very present and it is this presence that helps you feel safe and lets you really open up and listen to what your body is trying to say, but often we cannot hear because we are so busy listening to our thoughts. The therapist is not channelling but stays incredibly focused.

Often the sessions are held in silence but the therapist may communicate what she is picking up from the body. Daska told me that she felt that one side of my body was very much in the shadow of the other, which is true; physically that side of my body is weaker than the other and also, creatively (it was my right side), that part of my body is not as expressed as I would like it to be. This was helpful because it gave me an awareness of something I've 'known' but could not articulate and now can integrate. Since having the session I've been more aware of that part of myself and of letting my creativity emerge, and have felt more confident about expressing myself creatively.

As Daska says: "Craniosacral therapy can't heal someone with a serious illness or a broken bone but it can help them come to terms with their situation. It is all about allowing people space and time to come to terms with what's going on, whether it is mental or physical, it is about healing and letting go of feelings we hold in our bodies that no longer serve us and living in the now.

"It can help us to stop reacting to situations that trigger emotions in the same was as they have done for years, reactions that may have been helpful at the time but no longer serve our best interests."

Further Information
Daska sees clients at Neal's Yard Therapy Rooms in Islington and in Notting Hill. Please contact Daska on Tel: 07899 862126; daska@daskahatton.com  www.daskahatton.co.uk  

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About Caroline Ratner

Caroline Ratner is a freelance journalist who writes about health matters for a number of publications. She is also features editor of an online health busines journal and have written for most national newspapers and many magazines, including Yoga Magazine and other lifestyle titles. She may be contacted via caroline@carolinecomms.com  www.carolineratnercommunications.com

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