Practitioner and trainer Chintan, explains this therapy in the light of the life-events already described in this interview.
Could you please give us a short introduction to Biodynamic Cranio?
How can I summarise that? The biodynamic approach, with which I am working now, is based on the ‘breath of life’ concept. The breath of life is the universal creative and organizing principle that animates and sustains all living beings. When I hug a person or hold a dog or a cat, I am in contact with different manifestations of the breath of life.
The breath of life manifests as slow, subtle, rhythmic motions, similar to the tide, which are considered expressions of our inherent health.
Therefore, in Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy it’s not about treating an illness or discomfort directly, but first opening to the possibility of wholeness and health. That creates the conditions for the practitioner to orient and synchronise with the breath of life and its inherent intelligence and wisdom. In this way, we approach a healing process from a more ‘resourced’ space, as we call it.
Throughout a session, the role of the practitioner is to create and maintain a safe, spacious and negotiated holding environment so that the person can trust the practitioner more and more, and trust the deeper forces of the breath of life more and more. Sometimes it may take a while to build enough trust. This is when a verbal exploration becomes handy.
An important element is that, as we eventually move towards a sense of wholeness, we both – practitioner and client – get in touch with a more fluidic embryonic state. Often people report that they feel as if suspended in water. This is when the expression of the breath of life starts to clarify and enables the body to access its own self-healing resources. The role of the practitioner is then to support the action of the breath of life and facilitate a resolution from within.
Who invented it?
It was not invented, but discovered by W. G. Sutherland, an American osteopath. He realised that there are subtle rhythmic motions within the body that are not physiological, or the result of physiological processes, but are animated by deeper forces. He called this motion, ‘primary respiration’. He understood that there is a direct connection between the clarity of expression of these rhythms, and health. The clearer and stronger the expression, the healthier the person.
Sutherland developed various skills and techniques to support the restoration of a fuller, clearer expression of primary respiration.
Towards the end of his life he had an experience when he assisted someone who was dying. As the person was passing away, he had a direct experience of what he then called the ‘breath of life’. He understood that, ultimately, what drives these slow rhythmic motions is the ‘breath of life’. He used that term from the Bible.
In his last few years, Sutherland realised that all the techniques he had devised to create a clearer expression of primary respiration were not needed. He talked about an approach where no force from without is used. What was needed was to just stop Doing, stop improving, stop fixing and from a place of neutral presence, trust the capacity of the breath of life to initiate a healing from within. Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy evolved from that last part of his life.
Who brought Craniosacral Therapy to the world of Osho?
It was Bhadrena. At first I learned from her a craniosacral approach, originally taught by John Upledger, which has more of a subtle ‘doing’ quality to it. It’s still a subtle way of working, however the practitioner takes a more active role in initiating and supporting the healing processes, whereas in Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy the practitioner just offers a neutral, receptive listening.
The hand positions are not different, but the perspective is!
On the first day of that training I went up to Bhadrena and said to her, “This is exactly what I was looking for!”
It’s an approach to Craniosacral therapy where we orient to something bigger than the earlier form. We embrace a wider field of functions, orienting first to health and wholeness. It gives a frame of understanding, and of experiencing, that fits my life journey with cancer and what had happened to me. It helped me make sense of it all. I now understood what I had experienced when I was in hospital that night. So, I knew it well because I had had a direct experience of that basic life force, of that enlivening principle that we call the breath of life, including the stillness that underlies it.
That night in hospital I was in that same complete still state; a stillness which in Biodynamic Cranio we call ‘dynamic stillness’. In that dynamic stillness miracles can happen. This is the whole guiding principle of my work.
As if the practitioner was saying, Here I am, you have space. I see you. I’m with you. And then healing from within can unfold. The breath of life starts to initiate a healing process, for example on that frozen shoulder. Then whatever issues are held in that shoulder can start to dissolve.
If I focus on what doesn’t work, something is not clicking there. But if you focus on what does work, then it opens the door for deeper healing. This is why we call Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy a ‘resource-oriented’ therapy, because what we connect to first, in any session, is that life force, that resource, that alive principle we all have.
We don’t focus on the frozen shoulder, or a neck ache, or a backache that people bring into a session. We don’t work with things directly. You have a backache? OK, lie down, I’m going to hold your back and see what we can do. No. It’s, Let’s slow down and settle together, let’s create a safe holding environment, and from that place we start connecting with that enlivening principle and at the same time with whatever issue that is held in that shoulder.
That’s exactly what happened to me through Osho’s message and what the oncologist had told me. It was like, Let’s look at the positive side. Meditation, awareness and 50% chance to survive. And who knows?
Thirty-something years later I’m still here. What happened in my life gave me a clear understanding of the impact and importance of the kind of context we create around an illness, or a dysfunction, or a pain, or a discomfort. The way we look at it has a strong impact on healing or not healing.
If we can look at it in balance with a resourced aspect of our self, then something else can start happening in a wider context. It’s not just about fixing that frozen shoulder. It’s about opening to something bigger, and then the breath of life will start the healing process from within.
So the shoulder gets healed by this energy which you have helped to say yes to, because the energy is there already?
The forces of the breath of life are always there. This is why we’re alive.
You give it more focus.
Let’s say, consciously orient to it.
How do you feel while giving a session? Where do you go? What is happening in you?
The role of the practitioner is to invite that wider space I was talking about. (I always say that this work is my best spiritual practice!) Together with the client we have these moments where we fall into that stillness, which is the healing part of the session. Everything stops and something else can happen.
I suppose that sometimes you need your mind just a little bit, while thinking where to place your hands next? Do you have to use your mind or do you just know?
Through resonance, the hands perceive what is unfolding and then there is intuition. I remember one of the pioneers of this work… it was good for me to hear what he said once in a demonstration, “Well, I don’t know why I go there, but I feel my intuition guides me there.” I thought, “Oh, even he, after so much practice, is sometimes not quite sure what’s next, and then intuition guides him.”
When I received a session from you the other day, I didn’t feel there was another person in the room. I didn’t feel you were there. Only when you had to move your hand positions I realised, Oh, there is somebody!
What happens is, when we start the session we each have our own energy field, and as we settle deeper and deeper together, we start unifying. We don’t merge, but we unify; we start sharing the same field of energy. The boundaries between you and me start to become more transparent. Then you have the sensation of, Oh yes, we’re one in this moment. But we’re not merged.
What is the difference between unified and merged?
When we are unified each one keeps their own centre. The image that I have in mind is the Tarot card by Padma – it’s called Friendliness – where you have two trees next to each other. The trunks are separate, yet their crowns overlap. They are unified. Each tree remains in its own integrity.
Merging would be if one tree became the other. Then you don’t know what is what. In therapy this is tricky because then you wouldn’t know what you are feeling. Is it mine, or is it from the person on the table? It gets all mixed up and that creates an unsafe environment.
Whereas, if I stay in my centre and I hold my client’s centre in my awareness, we can start to unify. And I can make out the difference between what is arising out of me – because, of course, sometimes my own stuff can come into a session – and what arises out of my client. So, by keeping an awareness of my own centre and yet sharing that unified field of function, I can differentiate what is what and can keep a clear therapeutic relationship. I can differentiate what is mine and what is hers. Otherwise, in therapy, when practitioners and clients merge it’s a big soup. That’s when it becomes unsafe. That’s the difference.
As a practitioner what do you do in a session?
I don’t do anything. I usually spend the first five or ten minutes just holding the person from the side, or from under the head, or from the feet, and then, eventually, we start to get used to each other. Trust builds up, we start to settle together, and then after about five or ten minutes – sometimes even longer – the expression of primary respiration, this slow tide-like motion, starts to clarify and take front stage.
The way it expresses itself can have different qualities, or a different amplitude or drive. That tells me what’s happening, where it flows, where it doesn’t, where it gets restricted, where it gets a bit foggier. Then I wait a bit longer, and at some point the system starts to decide where to work. It’s not the practitioner that decides, Okay, now we’re going to hold you here, now we’re going to hold you there. The body has its own inherent intelligence. That intelligence will decide where to work, how to work and for how long. So, I just have to wait until the system engages in a specific spot and manifests what we call a ‘healing intention’.
Do you know where it is?
Yes, you can have an understanding or the intuition that, Oh, it’s happening here. Or at times it may not be that clear and then I can ask the person, What’s happening for you in this moment? They might reply, Oh yes, something is happening in my lower back. I don’t necessarily need to go and hold that place. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. So, the breath of life manifests a healing intention and then there are certain perceptions that give me an indication, We’re in this phase of the process, we’re in that phase of the process.
How do you know when a session is over?
The body gives clear signs. At some point, something lets go, reorganisation happens by itself, there’s a final settling, and then primary respiration takes the front stage again. That tells me it’s the end of the process. Sometimes it is not so obvious, but with a bit of practice you get a sense of Okay, that’s enough for the day.
It can be after 45 minutes, after half an hour, or after an hour. So, I just wait for the moment that the system gives a clear sign that the session is completed.
Part of me felt like the session was three hours long and part of me like, Oh, he’s sending me home already. It felt very short, because the mind was not there to track the time. It felt like an energy darshan.
Often people do get into this timeless space; that’s definitely part of the process. You get into this deeper, more expanded space where we’re in touch with what we call health, which is nothing but the expression of the ‘breath of life’.
You are a practitioner and a teacher, too.
Yes, I have been a teacher for a long time now. I teach in Europe, in Slovenia, Finland and Estonia, so far, and then in Taiwan and China.
My students are mostly bodyworkers who want to include this modality in their massage or physiotherapy practice. Some people do energy work and want to learn something that is a bit more body-oriented. Especially in Taiwan and China, I have people who want to learn, not necessarily to make a profession out of it, but so that they can support their families or their children.
Over the years I have noticed the amazing effect it has on family dynamics because it’s such a non-doing, loving way to hold somebody. It helps members of a family to connect differently – with a husband, with a wife, with the parents or parents-in-law. I’ve had so much good feedback and appreciation for that. It creates a completely different quality of connection, a way of being together and communicating through touch.
Is this a modality that once you have learned it you ‘have it’, or is it something that keeps growing?
As you guessed, it keeps growing. And clients are the best teachers. As I keep practising my perception keeps becoming more and more refined. It feels as if there are no limits to what we can perceive. That’s good news! What I can perceive today is more than what I was able to perceive a year or two ago. I often compare it to a musician. The more he practises, the more subtle the nuances he can express through his instrument or his voice. It is the same in Biodynamic Craniosacral. The more you practise, the more subtle are the nuances in perception you can become aware of.
For me, this is the fascinating aspect of this work. There are always new horizons to explore, a limitless field of experience.
Now off to my next session!