My process of learning and applying craniosacral concepts in the classroom and clinic has changed in many ways since I first set upon this path. One thing that has not changed, however, is the significant benefit that I receive from listening to recorded meditations from the teachers who have influenced my approach to the work.
Every day I listen to an audio track with a meditation or teaching related to craniosacral therapy. I have found that after lunch is a good time, but before bed can be just as fruitful. Being reminded of the fundamental concepts of the work by re-experiencing my teachers via the spoken word has been a helpful habit for me. This time continually proves to be a source of education, inspiration, and grounding.
Here are some of my favorite meditations – the ones that have stood the test of time. It was not easy to choose out of so many good options, but I narrowed it down to just six (listed here in no particular order.)
Dr. William Sutherland – Alternating Lateral Fluctuations of the CSF
Technically this isn’t really a meditation, but I sometimes use it as one. In this recorded lecture from 1950, Dr. Sutherland discusses a painting his wife made of a house under the water, using it as an image to facilitate understanding of how tidal movement relates to the architectural structures of the brain. Yes, the language is a bit antiquated. But he relates his ideas clearly and I like the feeling I get from this recording of being so close to the source of the modern unfoldment of primary respiratory work.
Dr. Sutherland made a series of 10 vinyl recordings from 1948-1950 elaborating on Osteopathy and his own cranial hypothesis. They can be difficult to find. You might have luck checking with your closest Osteopathic College library.
Hand Protoplasm – Michael Shea
This is a simple meditation that opens the hands and sensory cortex to the world of fluid sensations. Michael takes us through a systematic melting of the tissue structures in the hands and delivers us into the embryonic world of protoplasm, membranes, and primary respiration. He weaves into the practice some information explaining embryonic growth patterns. Michael’s patience with the process is a lesson in itself. I borrowed the idea behind this meditation and tweaked it a bit, making it a foundational skill for my first biodynamic class.
Available at www.michaelsheateaching.com/store
The Four-Chambered Heart – Hugh Milne
One fateful day in 1998, while sitting in a massage school classroom, a fellow student walked up to me and casually slid a cassette tape across the massage table. She smiled knowingly, saying “Check this out, Ryan. It’s right up your alley.” It was a bootleg recording of Hugh Milne’s “The Four Chambered Heart.” Something in her look told me I should check it out soon, so during lunch break I sought privacy in an underground parking garage and stuck it in my truck’s tape player. As soon as I Heard Hugh’s voice something shifted in the middle of my body and I knew I would travel wherever I needed to go to study with him. What can you say about Hugh? Meditation master? One of the greatest healers of our generation? A fearlessly original human being? All of this and much, much more.
The four chambered heart has been called a masterpiece by more than one craniosacral author. In it, Hugh takes the listener on a journey through the chambers of the heart and the corresponding energetic/archetypal properties of each – open heart, full heart, clear heart, and strong heart. In his own inimitable way, Hugh takes us into a place of deep resourcing and calls us to look inside with courage and live more fully in the true domain of the healer … the heart.
Hugh Milne’s meditations are only sold at Milne Institute classes.
Perceptual Studies number 2 – Jim Jealous, D.O.
As a therapist, it is hard to listen to Dr. Jealous’ commentaries without feeling like a bastard child of Osteopathy. He makes it very clear that his teaching is not intended for non-Osteopathic ears. But through his landmark CD series our ears do indeed hear his teachings, providing us a glimpse into the world of biodynamic Osteopathy. Myself and others have found that most of what he offers in these lectures is directly relevant to the daily work of a biodynamic craniosacral therapist.
Perceptual Studies number 2 is not really a meditation, per se. It begins as a lecture and segues into a contemplation on the architecture of the human psyche. This talk has repeatedly fostered clarity in my understanding of the internal dynamics of the human identity and the forms of physical motion originating from its various depths.
The Sea Sponge Series – Michael Shea
It is no secret to readers of this blog that I dig Michael Shea. I just get him. He makes sense to me. I appreciate the contributions he has made to our field through his teaching, writing, and recordings. Of those recordings, I have found The Sea Sponge tracks amongst the most enjoyable. In this series of meditations recorded over four consecutive mornings at a class, Michael leads us on an imaginative exploration of tidal oceanic movement by exploring the open cellular nature of the sea sponge. This meditation is good for building a healthy sense of buoyancy and facilitating transparency in the body.
Available at www.michaelsheateaching.com/store
Cranial Sutures – Hugh Milne
In this meditation, Hugh takes us through a tour of some of the major cranial sutures and their related structures. Part anatomy exercise and part spiritual practice, this journey fosters increased self-awareness of the physical location and energetic qualities of the bones and sutures of the neurocranium. Hugh’s systematic meditation reminds me just how much control I have over the patterns of tension within my own soma, and how precision can add power to the therapeutic interaction.
Available exclusively at Milne Institute classes.
I’m always on the lookout for new meditations related to craniosacral therapy. If you’ve got some favorites, please send them my way!
Ryan Hallford is a craniosacral therapist and educator. He offers certification programs in basic and advanced cranial work through the Craniosacral Resource Center in Southlake, TX. www.cranioschool.com