To those who have never received a craniosacral treatment, the term "unwinding"of the neck and the head will probably sound really strange and possibly even painful. It is a term used to refer to gentle manual work in which the weight of the head is fully supported by the therapist's hands. The hands gently cradle the base and the back of the head, acting like a sling. In this way, any movement in the neck is completely weightless, allowing full freedom and flow which would otherwise not be possible.
The unwinding process can be performed on any part of the body - frequently on restricted shoulder, hip or knee joints with reduced mobility, but it can also be applied on individual organs. However, it has been my experience that the site most likely needing this form of deep work is at the base of the skull. The weight of the head is here supported by the first few vertebras and the amplitude of frequent movements is rather extensive to allow us to freely observe our environment. This puts considerable strain on the supporting structures.
This anatomic area is also where the Vagus nerve exits the skull on it's way to the lower part of the body, supplying all the vital organs in the chest and the abdomen. The Vagus nerve is responsible for the parasympathetic function - rest, relaxation, repair, balancing, slowing down and healing of the organs of the cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive and immune systems. It is therefore vitally important that its path and function are clear and unrestricted.
In our modern lives, we also put additional strain on the neck area with frequent and extended use of electronic devices. And most of us are in a state of constant low-grade stress in a demanding work environment, pressured to multitask and meet tight deadlines, managing less than harmonious relationships and subjected to negative, worrying or threatening news. All of these stimulate our built-in and highly developed fight or flight response (sympathetic function, working in opposition to the parasympathetic part of the nervous system). When in this state, it is natural for the body to adopt a posture which puts additional stress and rigidity in the base of the head and the neck area.
It is important to understand that in the craniosacral treatment no movement is ever forced and there is never any manipulation or sudden movement. The impulse and guidance is sourced by the innate stimulus from the patient's body and only supported and followed by the therapist. As you experience the process, you will have an impression that a force inside you other than your own is moving your head, neck or limb - an involuntary process, rather than it being induced actively and deliberately either by yourself or by the therapist.
The tensions identified in the craniosacral treatment have likely accumulated over a long period of time - often a life-time of strains and stresses, which the body was never able to resolve and release on its own. Yet, the state of deep relaxation induced by the treatment gives the body a unique opportunity to stretch and straighten out the tensions in a weight-free movement with unrestricted amplitudes.
At the end of the treatment, patients are often met with newly found sense of clarity and weight lifted off their neck and shoulders. I have often heard them report being able to breathe more deeply and freely and experiencing a unique sense of lightness and calm, a sense of things simply falling into place.
I hope you have found this piece interesting and informative, any comments are welcome. Here's to your personal health and wellbeing!
Founder of The Healthy Essence