It is common for people to come for a craniosacral therapy session and not feel much in their body. They are often surprised when they get a sense of release or resolution. The ability to feel the body is not taken for granted. Many people have a body the same way they have a car - it's there but they only connect to it when a) they need to get somewhere or do something with it b) it breaks down. The body meanwhile, is doing everything it can to keep us alive. The reason why alot of people end up seeking treatment is because of a disconnect between their mind and their body, which makes them feel threatened and scared of their own body. For people who have had chronic illnesses or very difficult early life experiences or perhaps injuries that they haven't managed to shift, the disconnect is deeper and more prolonged, and so is the mistrust of the body. In this article I talk about the journey of healing as a journey of feeling. This is not just feeling the physical sensations of the body but also feeling our own emotions.
Feeling is a spectrum all the way from being numb, blank or dissociated to feeling deeply and widely vibrantly with an inner knowing of the intelligence and information carried within all senses of feeling.
As I work with clients they gradually develop more ability to feel, along with that, deeper insight arrives and they are able to reconnect with themselves in ways that often change their entire lives and perspectives for the better. Often people arrive numb from the neck down, completely living life from their minds whilst their body screams for them to pay some attention. Whilst the body is screaming the mind says 'don't feel your body, it's too much, it will overwhelm you' which reinforces the disconnection and the screams get louder. Eventually the only option is to shut down, numb and disconnect. Craniosacral therapy helps people become more embodied and connected.
Here are some facts about feeling:
1. Feeling is not easy for people who have had difficult lives or are suffering with persistent injuries or illness. Sometimes they have learnt to stop feeling certain emotions or sensations in their body from an early age just to survive, or to keep going. I hear this alot in my practice from men are scared to feel angry because they don't want to come across as violent and risk not belonging, or for women who are having trouble feeling sadness because they are scared to be seen as weak which then makes them vulnerable. There's so many reasons why it's difficult to feel - feeling is a journey of healing.
2. Feeling is a spectrum but everyone feels differently. Two people can go out in the rain and one feels shivering cold and another feels like it's just a little damp. Feeling is unique, there is no right or wrong way to feel. This means each client needs to be met for the individual they are - no two people's back pain will feel the same. One person might feel frustrated with the tight ache whereas another might feel completely debilitated. Working with bodies and minds and hearts all day it is really clear to me that there are no two people who express in the same way - there are similarities for sure, but nothing is ever duplicated. As a therapist I try my best to meet that individual for who they are not who I think they are.
3. Feeling is the realm of intuition and deeper knowing. It is the language of the heart and of the body. When intuition has been buried and a person has been heavily led by their mind for their entire lives, the messages of deeper self knowing - that answer the questions 'why is this happening to me' become obscured. This means a person starts to become distant from their 'why' and they start to give up their inherent power, becoming more of a victim to. their illness or condition. Therapy can help a person reconnect with their deeper knowing, their inherent understanding of who they are.
4. Feeling becomes more natural the more we allow ourselves to feel safe. As you build trust with a therapist you can let yourself feel more of what is arising in your body. There is less need to censor yourself, to try to understand a particular feeling and more ability to just express. Honestly, this takes time. Most people think they are trusting and easy going but when it comes to the depth work of allowing their body to take over and surrendering their mind, usually fear comes up. Feeling safe and held means a person is more likely to feel resourced enough from within, to step into the unknown of exploring an aspect of their sensation that is perhaps new or feels threatening. As a therapist my job is to make sure you are always safely and compassionately held so that you are free to feel.
5. Feeling is the primary way the body and the heart heals. That is why our body produces sensations when it is healing such as pain, heat, tightness etc - it is the way our body communicates with us. The heart heals when it is allowed to be felt, and given the space to be free to do that. A heart that is not allowed to be felt is a heart that is being shut down.
Feeling is the ultimate liberation. I've had some clients so willing to feel their stuff they've been howling, shrieking or sobbing. They've curled up and uncurled and their bodies have shaken them. I have other clients who are feeling so deeply that their entire body is still but their heart is doing somersaults inside their chest, the feeling is so deep that it cannot be expressed easily or articulated. Feeling is different for everyone. Feeling resistance to wanting to feel emotions is also, believe it or not, healing! I always invite my clients to feel anything, there is no 'thing' to be felt, but rather just to notice whatever is arising within them - sometimes they will say 'i'm noticing how hard it is for me to feel anything right now' and over time they will become aware of the voice that is simultaneously playing in their head telling them that if they feel or share their feeling they will become vulnerable or will be judged.
Feeling is healing. We do not have to re-experience trauma to heal. But we do need to be willing to feel. This means, more than just physical sensation. True depth of feeling occurs when sensation and emotions and mental awareness can be integrated and allowed.
Here is a common case:
James (client name changed) comes to see me because he is feeling stressed with work and isn't sleeping at night. He mentions in passing that his right knee is very stiff and as a result he has stopped running which used to be his way of winding down after work. When I ask him how long he's had the pain in his knee for he says about 4 years. By tuning into his body, it becomes clear that the knee stiffness is actually a pervading right side stiffness as a result of compression in his lumbar spine which felt like a very old injury that was never resolved. As I enquired about the injury James confirmed that yes he had a skiing accident when he was in his early twenties. He had some physiotherapy for it but he never enjoyed skiing after that. Again, another passion that had to take a back seat. Gradually, work took over and James the sportsman became James the keyboard warrior, ploughing all his energy into writing corporate contracts at his law firm. He missed his running and skiing. I noticed he also missed being in his body - feeling the sensations of movement and the mind-body connection. As a result of not fully resolving and rehabilitating the lumbar spine, and long days in the office sitting down as well as not having an outlet to discharge stress, his lumbar spine had continued to compress eventually leading to a stiffening in the right leg. We worked together over many sessions to help James bring awareness to what he felt , both at a physical and emotional level. It was when he finally made contact with the sensations of the ski accident and how scared and frozen he felt in that moment, as well as the isolation he felt not being able to join his friends for their bi annual trips, that he started to understand his emotional world was just as important to feel as his physical body. As he began to acknowledge, so did his body, and eventually his lower back was fully released and his knee felt 'better than ever'
As you can see, it's a journey. As therapists we can't just work on the physical body without addressing the life experiences of a person.
Lots of people prefer a quick fix. They're busy and in pain. The truth is, you will spend a lifetime fixing and patching yourself up as long as you leave the root cause untouched. Your body is not a car - you cannot take it to a mechanic for a quick fix up. It is a fine tuned intelligent, feeling, moving, sensing, spirited being that should be met in all its entirety to get the lasting resolution it deserves.
If you are looking to heal and would like to understand how craniosacral therapy can help you, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org