In New York City, there is a CranioSacral therapist I know named Deborah Badran. She combines CranioSacral therapy with her work as a doula for birthing mothers. That CranioSacral can be married with the needs of mothers in labor Deborah proves beyond reasonable doubt. After using her CranioSacral skills to re-position a baby in the mother’s womb or silencing a screaming mother, I am certain that more than one obstetrician has squinted at her suspiciously and wondered, ‘Is she a healer?…or a magician?!” Deborah is one of these energy workers where it is not quite clear.
The origin of CranioSacral as a therapy traces back to the beginning of the 20th century, when William Sutherland first discovered that our cerebrospinal fluid circulates and has a pulsing rhythm. When a CranioSacral therapist works on you, holding your head in their hands for often long periods of time, they are tuning into this deep rhythm. CranioSacral therapy is like eavesdropping; the therapist sinks deeper and deeper into a stillness where they sense the cerebrospinal fluid and the deeper structures within the nervous system.
Sutherland was confronted with a paradox. He could clearly feel the pulse of motion of this fluid, yet no muscles or other structures exist that cause it to circulate. There are no moving muscles inside the nervous system. What then makes it circulate? He reasoned there must be some unseen, vital force that causes this circulation, and he named this “the breath of life.” Our cerebrospinal fluid pulses at the very core of our physical being.
The school of CranioSacral Deborah trained in, the biodynamic school, is closely associated with Sutherland’s ideas of “the breath of life.” This school seems to eavesdrop a bit deeper, crossing over more into the immaterial realm where the vital energies reside and working with them. The other CranioSacral school is associated with Upledger. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a lot of dialogue between the two schools. They do have different perspectives, but we can say that CranioSacral is wide enough as a discipline to happily contain them both. Some therapists, such as Deborah, seem happy to teach to both camps. The Upledger strikes me as a bit more technical in its approach. I suspect both schools have something to learn from the other.
I think it’s useful for people who use CranioSacral therapy to be aware there is a difference between people trained in the two schools. I stop short of forming opinions about which is better. Talent, good training, and hard work in perfecting the skills are in my mind the more critical factors in choosing a CranioSacral therapist. I suspect that certain problems might more ideally suit one or the other. For now, it’s difficult to know.