We are all familiar with stress and know the feelings in our body and mind that are associated with it. Although we may have developed some strategies to deal with everyday stresses, we can still get overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, nervous tension, worry or depression when faced with a crisis situation or pending deadline. In this sense, every challenge can potentially cause us stress. However, it is not just the situation itself that causes us stress, but how we respond to it that ultimately determines our feelings.
Stress can to some degree be positive. It can influence our motivation to undergo change or to take on a challenge that we want to master. Through these challenges we grow in strength and confidence. A positive stress can be a spark for our creative potential or an adaptation to our internal or external world. The difference between stress causing us overwhelm and frustration and a more beneficial outcome, such as a positive change or adaptation, lies in our available resources that help us process these forces.
A resource is defined as anything that supports our health. It can be a good memory, a calming vision, a certain beloved person, or an inner psychological capacity from which we draw strength. As resources create physiological responses, they can shift our experience immediately, providing us with a new orientation, a feeling of softening or one of expansion. Resources connect us to our deeper being, help us to be present and give us the capacity to relate to circumstances without being overwhelmed.
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy works effectively with those resources, either by building them or by re-connecting you to already existing ones. For example, if you present to a Craniosacral Therapist with overwhelm, anxiety or depression, the priority of the treatment would be to help you build and develop resources in your body and external field, that then can provide a solid foundation for the balancing of the experienced stress and the consequent expression of health.
If we are in a state of anxiety, fear or depression our central nervous system is on alert. We are sensing some degree of danger and our body responds with an activation of the sympathetic nervous system (a branch of the central nervous system). This so-called stress response includes a tightening of muscles, a rise in blood flow to the extremities, an increased heart rate, more rapid breathing and alert senses, while simultaneously a down regulation of the parasympathetic nervous system (another branch of the central nervous system) occurs. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxation, the digestive and sexual systems, all of which are not necessary for immediate survival.
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) can reverse these reactions. During a BCST session, a therapist helps a client to regulate their nervous system. This is facilitated in a few different ways: a) the conscious presence of a calm person is settling to another’s nervous system through sensory awareness, b) the therapeutic touch further settles a person’s nervous system, as touch is from an evolutionary point of view, a regulating mechanism for our survival, and c) the therapeutic process leads to a further relaxation and deepening into stillness.
During the therapeutic process, the therapist engages the client’s resources or helps to establish new resources. As the system begins feeling safe to let go of the stress response, the sympathetic nervous system down regulates and the parasympathetic nervous system up regulates, so they come into a state of equilibrium. At this point, the client usually drops into an even deeper state of stillness and further relaxation of the whole system. This allows for a shift in mental, emotional and physical processes and the body-mind comes into a state of balance.
After a session (or a series of sessions) a client often feels deeply resourced, connected, calm and focused and can see their situation from a different perspective. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy supports a client to have a more positive response to stress and allows a person to deal with it from a more spacious and deeply centred place, while having access to resources that nurture and balance the whole system.
Kern, M. (2005). Wisdom in the Body. The Craniosacral Approach to essential health. North Atlantic Books.
Sills, F. (2012). Foundations in Craniosacral Biodynamics. The sentient Embryo, Tissue Intelligence, and Trauma Resolution, (Vol. II). North Atlantic Books.