"Wow. He is just an entirely different person."
She was telling me how amazed she was that my husband had changed so much since she'd last seen him a few months before.
My husband is a veteran and has PTSD. When we first met, he would bounce from one conversation topic to another, often bogarting the conversation without meaning too. He had severe nightmares, couldn't tolerate loud noises, and self-medicated in anyway he could. He was a deeply empathic human who just couldn't seem to find any ground.
I fell in love with him quickly and wanted to do anything I could to help him. I had been apprenticing with a Master Craniosacral Therapist and the work we were doing was healing my own deep wounds around fear and abandonment. When I approached her about craniosacral techniques for PTSD, she smiled a wise, knowing smile. It was exactly what we'd already been working on together.
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle hands-on technique. The practitioner's hands are lightly placed on the head, shoulders, and feet to release trauma in the nervous system and to teach the cerebrospinal fluid how to find equilibrium. This technique has proven to be one of the best for alleviating PTSD.
Curious about why that would possibly work? Well, the function of the central nervous system (CNS) in general is to keep you alive. Included in this is a built-in ability to sense and judge danger vs. safety. When you are in danger, your sympathetic nervous system turns on and you prepare to either fight or run away. When you are safe, you can rest, and so the sympathetic nervous system turns off and the parasympathetic nervous system turns on.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs when your sympathetic nervous system has been activated for so long that it no longer knows how and when to shut off.
This is common among veterans who have been under the constant fight-or-flight pressure of combat and survivors of sexual assault who continue to live in fear. PTSD also appears among people who have lived under years of stress from highly exhausting jobs or emotionally volatile relationships.
If there is no rest period in which the parasympathetic nervous system can turn on, past injuries and traumas continue to be stored long-term in the tissues of the body. And, unfortunately, there is a limit to how much can be stored in the tissues before the system starts to break down -- thus the neural misfiring / flashbacks that occur with PTSD.
Our saving grace is that the body is always oriented toward health and does its best to keep you functioning at the most optimal state possible given the conditions it is living with.
Biodynamic Craniosacral therapists are trained to put their own nervous system into the parasympathetic state and maintain that state at will. Since our nervous systems are built to detect what is going on in the external environment, we are also able to detect and mirror other nervous systems nearby, and Biodynamic Craniosacral therapists use this to lull the client into a parasympathetic state. The client’s nervous system, when in a calm environment and in gentle contact with the practitioner, will eventually begin to copy the practitioner’s nervous system.
No manipulation or deep pressure is necessary when you tap into the parasympathetic state and afford the body the time and space it needs to start repairing the damage that has built up over weeks, months or decades.
As the client experiences their parasympathetic response during the sessions, long-term traumas can be released from the tissues. This sometimes manifests as jerking of the limbs, muscle twitches, or the bubbling up of old memories. Allowing all those neural responses to move through the system without trying to control them, the client experiences less sympathetic nervous system build-up. The client also becomes more aware and capable of returning to the parasympathetic state on their own.
After a few weeks of dating and a thumbs up from my teacher, I began holding my husband's feet in the evenings for just 15-20 minutes. I dropped down into the parasympathetic state and waited. Sometimes he would twitch. Sometimes he would cry. Sometimes he would fall into a deep sleep. After I would let go of his feet, he would eventually "wake up" with a meaningful shift to share with me.
If I hadn't personally seen this work transform my husband, I wouldn't be such a passionate advocate for it. But seriously -- it WORKS. He is still just as bubbly and curious about everything, but he has ground underneath him. He can calm himself when he begins to get nervous. His nightmares are few and far between. He can look you in the eye and has tons more confidence.
As with all deep neurological issues, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is not a miracle cure. It takes repetition and patience and an ownership over your own healing. However, it is possible to feel like "yourself" again -- and to even feel like a more powerful, grounded version of yourself that you didn't even imagine could exist.
If you'd like to chat more about Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy techniques or my personal experiences, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because I feel so passionately that veterans can benefit from Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, I offer 75 minute sessions on a sliding scale of $60-$100. You can schedule a session here, if you are interested.
If you have your own stories, please share them below! We'd love to hear more about you.