Learning to Listen with Craniosacral Therapy


Craniosacral Therapy is Listening & Following

Craniosacral Therapy (CS) works through listening and following. As a practitioner one encourages the body to open and release, but then mostly just listens to & follows where the body goes in response.

Beginners Listening

So to do good cranial work, one is learning to listen through our hands. To start with we listen to the cranial rhythm and bones, where they want to subtly move. Then we learn to listen to the muscles that are moving the bones. Then to the soft tissue behind the bones.

Listening to The Non-Conscious Person

However, as one’s listening ability improves, one realises that the body doesn’t move on its own, so we must be listening to the non-conscious mind of the person we are working with. This opens the doorway to working closely with the person’s thoughts and emotions. Then, as with the bones, we can follow the thoughts and emotions as they move.

Fundamental to this is realising that listening & following the bones as they move leads to them releasing themselves. What this tells us is that the non-conscious mind of the person knows better how to release than we do. So if a therapist is able through their hands to listen and follow our non-conscious mind, then our non-conscious mind will be able to do what it needs to release our body. This is an astonishing thing.

The Non-Conscious Me knows what to do

Even more astonishing was John Upledger (who was one of the foremost Cranial Osteopaths in America) discovering that following the mind and emotions in a similar way enables them to move and release as well. Doing this also helps the body to release. He called this inner part of us who seems to know what to do our Inner Physician. He called the movements we do to release Unwinding.

Listening Connects Us Profoundly

As one listens more & more to other people through one’s hands, another thing happens. We realise that the more we listen, the more we seem to merge with the other person, & seem to be connected with them in a profound way. When this happens, we become more aware of their world as they see it, as if we are part of them experiencing it, or as if we are in their world with them. To begin with this is a vague, subtle and occasional thing. But as our listening improves it becomes more real, more powerful and more often there. Eventually it becomes the reality in which you listen, and you are able to easily listen as a stream of consciousness for hours at a time with someone. Upledger described it as ‘melding’.

A lot of people on the receiving end feel this happening, and feel it as a profound experience themselves. In fact some feel that this ‘melding’ is the most important part of what is happening to them. They feel that being listened to is as important as how their non-conscious responds. They realise that listening itself is the driving force for all that happens in this space.

Listening To Me

I work in this way every day. What I find is that people don’t know what listening to themselves is. Usually in my work, the first obvious body movement they make is in moving their head. When their head begins to move, they almost always feel it as me moving their head. It can take quite a while for them to realise that it is their non-conscious moving their head. Then they can begin to feel the sensation of their non-conscious moving their head, & begin to listen to it more. This is the beginning of them listening to themselves.

Listening Long Enough To Hear What Our Mind Is Telling Us

If they are willing to keep learning to listen to themselves, it can expand, so that they begin to feel & hear WHY their head is moving. This opens them to a whole new world – the world of their non-conscious mind! There is always just 2 reasons why they are moving their head. One is to move to free off physically. The other is to move the head into the position it was in when their body became stuck. This could be recent, like a car accident, or in the far past, like when they were born. It could be emotional too, like their dad shouting at their mum when they were small. The only way to find out exactly why their head is moving is for them to ask it, & be quiet enough for long enough to hear the answer their mind will certainly give them.

Listening Is Unwinding

Over a lifetime we have wound ourselves up, and been wound up, and found ourselves locked up inside, and lost the key. Cranial work gives us a key; a way to begin to unwind the torsions & traumas of a lifetime. If we are willing to keep at it, it can teach us the tools of Listening and Following. These tools are a powerful solution to so much of what is wrong or difficult in our lives.

Sharing Listening With Others

Cranial work is an amazing place to actually feel through physical contact someone else listening to us and following deeply. Then we realise we can get that feeling away from cranial sessions. We start to listen to ourselves on our own. Once we learn to listen to ourselves, we can be willing to listen to others too. We realise that listening to another person allows that person to exist. This can have a profound effect on our relationships with our partners, children, families and friends.

New Attitudes

Listening tends to lead us to new attitudes:

From me & you, to us.

From doing to, to doing with.

From feeling fundamentally separate to feeling connected

From feeling lonely inside to feeling caring.

From solving problems to listening with the person.

From anger to openness.

From being self-oriented to being inclusive.