In the spring of 2020, maybe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, maybe not, there is occurring a surge in the promotion of distance healing using "Distance CST." It is offered online connecting the patient to a therapist in a variety of ways. Folks are talking about it to such an extent that I thought I would share some thoughts. Apparently by phone, Zoom, Facetime, Skype or other platforms the therapist is saying that they can contact and connect with a person from any physical distance (across the state, country or around the world) and deliver beneficial CST with a form of connection/release/balance of the craniosacral mechanism and thereby effect healing, well being, CS rhythm, function, balance and the like. It is being referred to as "Distance CST."
Coming from a physical therapy perspective I have always loved CST and the beautiful, powerful light touch connection one has with the patient and the intelligent, conscious, vital Inner Wisdom of the craniosacral system. In most fundamental ways one can monitor the rhythm and gently influence a change by way of a stillpoint, fascial release, or lymphatic flow enhancement, setting up healing and personal growth. At a deeper touch level and through deep physical and intentional consciousness connection and with the permission of the most inner places of consciousness, the body can be willing to trust the touch of the therapist enough, to open to a place of physical, emotional and spiritual restriction. This deep contact can present the owner of the body with a moment of quiet, profound reflection and opportunity to continue to hold on to a painful, problematic posture, feeling, belief or not. At these sacred times, sometimes changes can happen and a chronic pain, emotion or negative personal belief, which had been a source of great suffering sometimes for years, can shift and move to a place of new awareness, healing and change. This occurs because the Inner Wisdom feels safe enough and encouraged enough that a change is possible because of the non-judgmental conscious physical intentional touch connection. Craniosacral stands along in this regard, in my view, as having profound potential for somato-emotional change based on the assurance of personal support offered by the quality of touch, awareness and presence of the therapist. The intimate contact within the session, coupled with the intentional presence of the therapist, makes the patient and their Inner Wisdom feel safe enough to face one’s fears, anxieties or emotions and decide, with that compassionate touch support, if those feelings are worthwhile holding on to or not. The biodynamic folks have a beautiful way of light touch contact and cultivating deep presence to foster healing. With or without touch, but in close proximity to the patient, they focus on melded intention to encourage the Inner Wisdom to move toward the greatest good and healing for the patient. Close interaction is often based on synchronized breath, recognized cranial rhythmic shifting fulcrums felt by that close proximity and/or touch, creating neutral space for the body to naturally shift to a point of health.
Having said that, I know my teacher, John Upledger, would always say intention is everything. If one could make a deep connection with the power of the body to heal itself, it would. Intentionally connecting to the craniosacral rhythm by touch is a vehicle to do that. Presence and conscious intentional connection on and off the body are essential for healing change. Dr. John allowed me to speak about the power of intention in his books by including an essay I wrote several years ago entitled, "Is Intention Placebo?" In it I cited a study in which either a placebo or morphine were given to patients with post operative spinal pain. In this double blind study the placebo (in this case a sugar pill) was 70 percent as effective in elevating pain as morphine. The point being if the patient was convinced something powerful was happening, something powerful did in fact happen, in this case, pain relief in a high number of patients. The thought was enough to trigger an autonomic nervous system response to lower the appreciation of pain and bring some quantity of rest, relief, comfort and healing. In many cultures distant prayers (intentions) are directed to others and they are received and beneficial effects are felt. I believe an honest and open conversation between two people from a distance can, in and of itself, be beneficial, healing and helpful to others. As two old friends might console each other over a tragedy or misfortune in person or by phone. For years we have taught in our curriculum that great benefit can be had by being a good listener to a person relating some grief, pain or loss. If someone who has suffered can know that someone else in the world has heard them and knows how badly they have suffered, the negativity of that suffering is discharged to some degree. I witness this happening daily in CST sessions.
I believe therapists and others can be of great benefit to those dealing with pain and suffering by intentional listening by phone, Facetime, Skype or teleconference. I do not in any way want to discourage the practice of global prayer and intentionally spreading of hope and well being. But I would respectfully ask that it not be called craniosacral therapy. Call it distal intentional healing, intentional listening, cultivating positive intentions -- something other than CST. I do not believe we honor Craniosacral Therapy or the voice of the physical CS rhythm, the consciousness of the Inner Wisdom available by that sacred intentional touch contact and the important position this beautiful therapy holds in the realm of manual therapy by doing some sort of distance rendition. I hope we never lose sight of the importance of touch and direct contact. CST is a sacred dance. Like all dance it comes alive in person and with direct intentional touch in order to be what it is: a living present moment. In a time when we are forced to glove and mask let us not lose the craniosacral perspective of touch. Get ready therapists, colleagues and students! The world will need you and our gentle touch now and in the immediate future more than ever. We have a whole new world to mend. As Dr. John says, "Together, we can make it a touch better."
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