For the last four years, I have been
studying Craniosacral Therapy (CST) with Carol Gray - the director of the Carol Gray Center for CST Studies.
Carol is an extraordinary teacher, with students in over 30 states and on four continents.
Thanks to her patient guidance, I’m now certified to give CST treatments to my musician clients and to the general public!
FINISHING UP THIS FOUR YEAR TRAINING...
My final push for certification after finishing all the class work last year involved several layers of independent study and session work. This eventually involved working with many musician friends!
I researched and wrote four in-depth reports on topics outside of the regular class study materials. These reports mostly revolved around a specialized branch of cranial work known as Biodynamic Cranial Osteopathy.
This field involves some fundamental practices that mirror experiences I'm familiar with from years of Kundalini Yoga and meditation work.
Other certification requirements beyond these reports included a 40 question written essay test, giving 40 documented individual CST sessions, and conducting six in-depth case studies. My final certification documentation (shown here on the right) ran to 275 pages!
Once the written materials were submitted and approved, I gave a two hour practical demonstration test session. This was immediately followed by a four hour oral review covering all 275 pages of the written materials, and details of the practical exam.
CASE STUDIES - A WIDE VARIETY OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS ISSUES
I found the case studies I ran to be absolutely fascinating! They involved working with musicians and non-musicians alike, on a remarkable variety of health issues: birth traumas, unresolved automobile whiplash injuries, issues around surgery complications, multi-layered injuries and regressions around domestic violence and abuse... and the list goes on and on.
Of course there was structural work to do that went along with the emotional integration work. Hip, SI and pelvic issues, back pain, stiff shoulders, neck issues... you name it! And of course, there was a wide selection of cranial lesions and asymmetries that needed attention.
It's fascinating to witness how these issues can permeate one's existence - over years and even decades - and how clients may or may not deal with the physical and emotional components involved as coming from the same source.
I'm reminded of a quote from Dr. Fritz Smith - the founder of Zero Balancing - work that is a lovely compliment to CST:
An article on ZB for musicians I wrote for Dr. Liz Zenger's blog can be found HERE. Liz is one of my Zero Balancing instructors.
A PIVOTAL CASE STUDY FOR INFORMING MY WORK WITH MUSICIANS
Perhaps the most demanding case study for me to take on was eight sessions with a musician client from out of state who had not been able to perform for four years due to ongoing Bell’s palsy symptoms.
This experience opened the door to identifying, assessing and starting to treat various forms of focal dystonia, which is a fairly common ailment among musicians. (Yes… the subject of this case study recovered. As of our final session, he was pain free... and playing with more ease and range than he had enjoyed for years!).
The issue of focal dystonia - including cervical dystonia, laterocollis and peripheral neuropathy - now come up to varying degrees regularly in my work. These issues are already a primary focus of my practice with musicians. I hope to finish my first blog post on this in the next few weeks. More to follow here soon.
HOW DOES CST HELP MY MUSICIAN CLIENTS?
Musicians often have issues in performance that center around cranial lesions. They also often experience misalignments and hold excess tension in their bodies from repetitive stress… often in their hips, shoulders, ribs, neck, head, etc. Playing with excess tension requires more effort, which can inhibit one's breathing and adversely affect our natural body resonance. Plus... it's just plain uncomfortable! CST can provide immediate relief!
Players who are more connected to themselves connect better with others. They feel better, and play with more vitality and projection.
After my clients receive a CST session, their body parts - and entire body -move with more freedom. Their ribs, scapulae, shoulders and other joints free up, and the breath becomes more effortless - flowing easily all the way up to the top of the lungs without constriction. Itamar Borochov CST video
Most players are not aware of the immobility and excess tension they have been holding that inhibits the breath… until it is gone! CST allows musicians more freedom - and a more intimate connection with their audience... and to themselves!
SO WHAT IS CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY?
Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on system of bodywork that has grown out of the practice of Osteopathy. It was popularized by Dr. John Upledger - a visionary osteopath who passed in 2012. My teacher, Carol Gray, worked with Dr. Upledger as his teaching assistant.
In CST, the practitioner reads a palpable rhythm in the membranes, fluid and bones that surround, nourish and protect the brain and spine (the central nervous system). This rhythm - and slower, more subtle CST rhythms - can be felt throughout the entire physical body.
CST encourages the release of tension and habitual patterns of holding to allow for greater ease of function and mobility throughout the body. Areas of congestion or discomfort caused by injury, illness or just the ordinary stresses of life can be felt and treated through CST. Positive results are often immediate… typically experienced during and after just one session.
A common benefit of CST is a rebalancing of the autonomic nervous system. This can lead to experiencing a heightened feeling of peaceful relaxation and integration. Musicians sometimes describe this expansion as similar to that which some experience during rare, peak musical performance situations.
WHAT TYPICALLY COMES UP DURING AND AFTER A SESSION?
Everyone will have their own unique response to each session. No protocols are followed in this work. Each session is a spontaneous improvisation between the client and the practitioner.
Having said that, clients often say they feel lighter, more fluid, and at the same time more grounded and connected to themselves and their environment after a session. Standing and walking noticeably taller - with a very big smile - is very common!
Stored emotions can come up in treatments. One may experience physical, psychological and/or emotional releases during and after the treatment. It can be common to relive past experiences from long ago during a session. This work can be done in silence, or in a dialogue with the practitioner. The client’s comfort level during the session should always dictate how the session unfolds.
One may find oneself remembering things that have been stored in body tissues during or after the treatment. Sometimes these are memories one has held for years or decades.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON, PRACTICAL BENEFITS OF CST FOR MUSICIANS?
A common and immediate benefit of this work is the ability to experience and enjoy a more effortless and complete way to breathe.
Getting off the table, one typically feels a more effortless physical alignment that is lighter and freer. One's voice - both spoken and through an instrument - often has more depth and resonance. This can be heard even in the first notes one plays after a session. Click picture for video!
COMMONLY EXPERIENCED RELIEF FOR WIND INSTRUMENT PLAYERS
There are several CST techniques that often help wind players quickly resolve issues they often have struggled with for months or years.
Freeing lesions in the muscles around the hyoid bone in the throat can be a revelation. This can immediately clear some of the hesitation in swallowing many musicians over time have just learned to live with. Releasing the hyoid - the bone to which the tongue anchors - can also quickly clear chronic tonguing issues!
Other work with the throat, jaw, and in the mouth can release held tension that often interferes with all areas of performance.
TMJ work frees the jaw, where many hold tension from grinding the teeth at night. Floor of the mouth work can quickly release tension that opens one's sound for more depth, ease and resonance.
NINE KEY POINTS TO KNOW ABOUT CST
1. All body parts (bones, muscles, organs, etc.) should move independently of their neighbors. When body parts don’t move independently, the restrictions interfere with proper body functioning.
2. CST practitioners use a gentle, subtle touch to assess whether the body has normal movement. We search for areas that have restricted movement... physically and energetically. Extremely gentle release techniques are used to restore mobility when restrictions are found. The immediate effects can be very pleasant.
3. CST is gentle. The treatment doesn’t hurt.
4. You leave your clothes on during the treatment.
5. Your health history is written up on an intake form, and your progress in following sessions is recorded for future reference.
6. The Craniosacral Rhythm (CSR) is one of many assessment and treatment tools used. The CSR can be felt anywhere in the body.
7. There are many layers a practitioner can tune into when palpating the Craniosacral rhythm. The slowest and most obvious is the approximately six second per cycle rhythm corresponding to the ongoing production and reabsorption of the Cerebrospinal Fluid.
8. This roughly six second bio-mechanical rhythm - and slower, bio-dynamic rhythms that the body follows - are based in a fascinating phenomenon that the founders of Osteopathy referred to as the “Breath of Life.” This “Breath of Life” has been known by different names in many cultures throughout history. The Tibetan Buddhists refer to it as the “Unconditioned Winds of the Vital Forces.”
One physical manifestation of the "Breath of Life" can be seen in the 100 second reciprocal flow of protoplasm in Dr. William
Seifriz's "slime mold" protoplasm video from 1954. (Gotta love academic visionaries!). This was recorded a year before he passed, and has been preserved and posted on YouTube by the Alexander Lowen Foundation.
9. Finally, you may find yourself remembering things that have been stored in your body tissues during or after the treatment. Sometimes these are memories you have held for years, decades or more. This is normal.
Thanks for reading this long post! If you have any questions, or would like a free consultation before scheduling a session, just email me at: dave at davemonette dot com
Filling out the intake form below is the first step in a consultation... and it's free! Just copy the form below, fill it out, and email it via the above email link.
Here's the CST INTAKE FORM to fill out prior to your first session with me
TWO FAVORITE QUOTES FROM LEGENDARY OSTEOPATHS...
“...but I do know that in the transmutation process... there is a great deal more that goes on than the loss of a pattern of dysfunction. There is a rebirth... a regeneration of physical, mental and emotional structure... a total capacity for full, constant functioning. It is serene, eternal, and can be measured objectively and subjectively. Just ask the patient. He feels like a new person. And why not? He is...”
Dr. Rollin Becker, D.O.
Pioneer in Cranial Osteopathy
"Be still and know..."
William Garland Sutherland
Father of Cranial Osteopathy
MISCELLANEOUS CLASS PICTURES!
Here are group pictures from some of Carol's classes I attended. I'm pleased that some of these very bright people are now friends and colleagues!
Here's the CST INTAKE FORM to fill out prior to your first session with me