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Inner John

Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle touch therapy developed through the work of Osteopathic physician Dr William Garner Sutherland. Craniosacral Therapy works on the principle of inherent health, that no matter the situation there is potential for the body to heal itself from both physical and emotional pain, stress and trauma. Our nervous system is in constant assessment making intricate changes within our bodies keeping us as healthy and safe as we can be at that very moment in time. When we are not able to deal with challenging life events resourcefully, they can become imprinted into the nervous system causing points of inertia. These ‘blockages’ prevent the optimal communication between the central nervous system and the brain’s ability to assess, regulate and generate appropriate responses. This gives potential for ill health and physical and emotional dysfunction. It affects the efficiency and functioning within the systems, tissues, fascia, organs, and fluids. 


Let me take you back to the early 90s to the TV show The Gladiators. We firstly must remember the referee John AndersonGladiators are you ready?’ Anderson was the grounding and organising force of the show, he oversaw the contestant and Gladiators. He mediated and organised the start and finish of each game and made sure that everyone played fair. He managed the unruly and aggressive behaviour and stopped people from cheating. We then have the Gladiators, each one with their own personality and set of skills. Some were better at stamina events, some at strength-based challenges, some speed and others agility. There were calm and unassuming Gladiators and then some over reactive and explosive ones. They were strong alone, but sometimes the combined force of the Gladiators would be enough to flatten a contestant in seconds.


As in any situation, every Gladiator had their moments of losing their temper, using some inappropriate tactics, but overall, they played fair except for one Gladiator called Wolf*. A muscly, curly haired man who always seemed angry, he was very reactive, he would always go over the top, break the rules and cross the boundaries of appropriate Gladiator behaviour and good sportsmanship. Anderson was forever telling him off, disqualifying him and making him sit out of a game because he couldn’t control himself. Sometimes other Gladiators would join him, but more than not, the other Gladiators looked on, shaking their heads and giving disapproving looks.


"Where is this all going?" I hear you asking


Within our systems, we all have an inner John Anderson. Our inner John Anderson is our Self. Psychotherapist and creator of the Internal Family Systems method Richard Schwartz says that we all have a Self and the self is made up of 8 Cs. These are Compassion, Creativity, Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, Calm, Connectedness and Clarity. This is our foundation, and we always have potential to return to these. It’s that moment when you’re thinking, “Could life get any better right now?”  When all of the internal noise and chatter has quietened and we just feel a sense of contentment. Within our bodily systems we have reached an equilibrium and everything is communicating and working effectively and efficiently. Our mind has slowed and calmed.


We also have access to a team of gladiators which are our emotions: anger, jealousy, contentment, anxiety, fear, joy, and so on. The gladiators can also be our habits, patterns and character traits. They are all there within us and dressed in their spandex suits ready to come out as one or a team when they’re needed, but John will be there overseeing and reigning them back in as each game finishes so we can integrate and process our life experiences.


The problem arrives when we lose sense of our Self; we lose the grounding and calming influence of our inner John Anderson.


One-off events or accumulation of stress over time can lead to us embody the effects of physical and emotional trauma. It’s held in our tissues and triggered in our mind and remains like a sprinter at the starting blocks waiting for that signal to go to set it off again. At the time of an event, the emotions and reactions can be very effective in protecting us. Feeling scared gives us the signal to run and escape, dread to keep us mindful of events we may be walking in to and worrying about.


They are helpful states to be in during that moment or for a period of time so that we can navigate through it. If we don’t re-connect to John, if we don’t regulate the systems; what was once a state, can become a trait. We become those feelings and our interactions with the world will be shaped by them. We’ll live in a state of fight or flight or even freeze which can be incredibly draining and lead to physical pain and emotional ill health. Tinnitus, migraines, neck tension, anxiety, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, depression and more. We all know that short tempered person, someone who always over-reacts, your brother who repeatedly gets ill, or your mum who has eczema flair ups when she’s stressed. We ruminate, we repeat unhelpful patterns because the body works through habits. The brain’s default is those held experiences and emotions because they’re the easiest ones. We’ve built these pathways, we know them and they’re there waiting for the start whistle.


Craniosacral Therapy helps you to find, restore and reconnect to your Self by assisting the down regulation of your nervous system. We may not know our self, we may have parted ways many years ago, but it’s definitely there. The firm voice of our self commands the attention and gathers all of the Gladiators. In returning to the self we can quieten the noise and return to stillness. From the safety and the stillness of the present emerges the embodiments of our past experiences. The untamed Wolf and his friends are roaming freely around the woods, but rather than pushing you in to be ravaged, the reconnection to your self and with the support of the therapist is like having your hand held and supportively and cautiously entering the woods to discover what the Wolf really wants.

Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness. Peter Levine


 What are they trying to tell us?

What are they showing us?

What do we need to resolve?


 We start with tracking sensations, there may be images, memories, stories we can re-visit. The experience isn’t linear and we may visit things from our conscious and unconscious mind. "I don’t know why that came up!" "I haven’t thought about that in years."


Trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also that imprint left by that experience on the mind brain and body. Bessel Van Der Kolk


We approach with Compassion, Creativity, Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, Calm, Connectedness and Clarity. We can’t change the event but we can change how we react. Can we build awareness to recognise the accumulation of stress, can we identify our triggers, our habits, the cycles we go through and our thought processes? We learn to trust our self with greater confidence and conviction as we experience new challenges.


We can work to tame the Wolf, to stop his followers and to put John Anderson back in front of the camera. We’re not wrong for feeling all of the emotions we experience. The more we can experience the better. Living with just the option of a happy or angry state would be pretty dull. For our physical and emotional health and wellbeing we need to be able to meander through the full scale of emotions, but to know that we will always have our John Anderson present, holding the end of our extendable dog lead, gently guiding us back to our Self. An awareness of our self to pull us back in to reconnect, to regulate and process our life experiences, to learn and move on to the next moment with a greater sense of who we are rather than a state of being stuck. 


We’re used to manual therapies such as Chiropractic and Osteopathy and we’re used to talking therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), counselling and psychotherapy, but Craniosacral Is very different.**

It supports the body and nervous system to use its unique power to heal itself. We’re not forcing or applying pressure to a system that may already be in shock. You’re invited to share your story. "How much do I need to tell you?" and my answer is “What would you like to tell me?"


We work through tracking sensations within the body as the process of connecting to the unresolved energies within your system. With time, we start to find clarity, we move through the symptoms to find the root cause of our complaints. It’s a steady and supportive process, it takes time and effort. We never really know what we’re holding, what events shook us and how their echoes are still held months, years and even decades after the event.


As we progress, we may find the words, find the trust and confidence to share. We as therapists are trained to listen to your stories, and experiences in a safe and non-judgmental environment. To help you to make sense, to explore and to approach your thoughts and feelings from a new perspective. We work together helping you to become an empathetic witness to your own story.


If you have any questions about the work or are wondering if it could help you or a family member; please get in contact.


*(I understand that Wolf is a character and it’s staged and produced, but we’ll stay with for the purpose of this example.)

**I highly recommend all of these treatments and therapies and they have supported so many people back to health. I currently receive regular Chiropractic treatment and I would say that Craniosacral Therapy and any of these therapies massively complement each other.


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