Are you one of the millions whose worries seem to have worries of their own?
Thanks to the pressures of living in a highly competitive and unpredictable world, many of us are trapped in a cycle of chronic anxiety from which there seems to be no relief. But does constant stress have to be the new norm?
Cranio-sacral therapy could be your answer to change the status quo. Over 20 years, I have offered therapy to many people in Asia, suffering from anxiety. I became interested in Cranio-Sacral Therapy when I worked with one of Hong Kong’s first Cranio-Sacral Therapists Suzanne Scott-Chapman at her clinic Body Care in the 1990s. As there were no courses in Hong Kong at that time, I travelled to the USA to Louisville Kentucky to take my first course in 1998.
This therapy offers a means to find inner-balance and relief from the stresses of modern life.
Cranio-sacral therapy is a subtle and profound process. It’s not massage, it’s much more gentle. It can be hard to put into words. Utilizing a gentle, light touch I work with the patient’s Cranio-Sacral System (CSS) which comprises of the skull, spine, sacrum (tailbone) and the bones in the face as well as surrounding membrane and fluids. I listen to the body by following the subtle energy systems of the CSS, I find out what the body needs. In many ways, you take the lead.
This delicate therapy can help ease anxiety and its related symptoms, such as twitching, pain or constipation. People with high levels of stress hold tension in their body and their sympathetic nervous system becomes overactive. This manifests as sympathetic stress patterns and has further effects on the rest of the body, leading to areas of weakness. Many clients come to me with digestive problems, neck pain, headaches and teeth clenching.
Monique was a perfect example of someone suffering from sympathetic stress patterns. An expatriate living in Hong Kong, she was working in a high pressure management role. She first came to my clinic suffering from chronic stress and anxiety. She was also experiencing muscle spasms and stiffness in her arms and hands. Her stress levels had also begun to affect her personal relationships. She mentioned that when her anxiety arrived, her sense of humour disappeared. She had tried many different therapies to try and relieve the problem, but had no luck.
The magic of CST became clear after only a few sessions.
“Each of Christiane’s Cranio-Sacral Therapy sessions allows my body to release tension at a deep level, working for several days afterwards. The pain in my arm and hand reduced significantly over a period of five or six weeks. Since my sessions with Christiane I am better able to cope with day-to-day stress, helping me to keep my sense of humor,” says Monique.
So, how exactly does CST work?
The answer lies in your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which consists of the Sympathetic Nervous System and Para-sympathetic Nervous System. Both of which work at an involuntary, unconscious level. Made up of the brain, spinal cord and a complex system of nerves, the ANS controls the majority of functions our body and mind perform.
In life threatening situations the Sympathetic Nervous System is the survival mechanism that triggers our fight or flight response. High levels of anxiety in daily life over activates the SNS, causing the release of stress hormones. This means you could be doing something perfectly ordinary, but you start to sweat, your heart pounds, breath quickens and muscles tense.
Once over-activated, the Sympathetic Nervous System continues to produce stress hormones long after the perceived danger has subsided. In addition to routine pressure and underlying concerns about work, family, health, your nervous system becomes frazzled and overworked. Anxiety doesn’t remain in the mind, it affects your usual disposition, sleeping patterns and ability to concentrate.
Many preach ‘self-care’ as the cure to anxiety and stress, and of course, your body will always be grateful for a healthy diet, adequate sleep and exercise, but sometimes, a little extra help is needed to break free from the physiological cycle of stress.
Cranio-Sacral Therapy uses specialized techniques that enhance the function of the para-sympathetic nervous system, whose primary job is to relax and regenerate your body and mind after periods of stress.
In many cases I use a technique called Stillpoint: a process that occurs naturally when our “cranial waves” are inactive. Deep sleep has similar restorative effects to this process. When we are anxious this recuperative state happens less frequently. Using Cranio-Sacral Therapy we create a therapeutic interruption of the stressful Cranio-Sacral Rhythm, reminding the body of its natural ability to rest.
Stillpoint can be compared to a meditative state in which big sighs of breath relax the mind and body. Blockages are alleviated and energy can flow freely once more. A Cranio-Sacral Therapy session induces a liminal dream-like state. You may experience a floating sensation, waves, tingling, heat, changes in breathing patterns, twitches and occasionally emotional releases. Some see colours and visions.
Anxiety had become Monique’s status quo, it was no longer solely in her mind, it was present in her body. Find a new rhythm, there’s no need to accept anxiety as your normal. Restorative, powerful and relaxing, why not explore what Cranio-Sacral Therapy could do for you?