By Tammy Stone Takahashi
I’m almost halfway through my Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist training.
BCST is a very gentle, light-touch therapy that involves cultivating a shared space with the client, orienting to the natural and original health in their systems (we all have it, or we wouldn’t be here!) and facilitating the emergence of the client’s own natural healing capabilities.
What winds up unfolding is a very special and unique process where, without any manipulation of the person’s body/system, they begins to unwind and relax, allowing for a whole host of wonderful things to happen. Conditioned patterns and traumas come to the surface and dissolve, and the body starts to “come online” and feel more potent and rejuvenated. It’s amazing to experience, both for both people in the room. And in many ways, we are—and are functioning—as one.
Just like in life.
We really are all connected, though of course some connections are stronger than others. There’s a Buddhist teaching I love that really emphasizes this, and helps us cultivate compassion: we are asked to contemplate this: that all beings on Earth have at one time or another been our mother. They have all taken the time to love us, nurture us, cared for us when we were vulnerable and couldn’t take care of our selves…and loved us unconditionally.
Trying to really feel this has the effect, over time, of filling us with warmth, empathy and compassion for everyone we meet on our path. Being able to greet everyone as a fellow sentient being with whom we once shared a beautiful relationship is such a meaningful way to generate kindness and spaciousness in our relationships, with friends and strangers alike.
Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, this exercise is extremely powerful.
A person you meet may not have actually been your mother in some past lifetime, but they are certainly someone who has the attributes of a mother, a daughter, a brother, a human: they were born into a harsh, difficult and sublime world, just like you. They yearn to be loved, just like you. They have had their share of suffering, and also of joy, just like you. While our differences should—must—be respected, acknowledged and embraced, our similarities are powerful entry points for connection.
As a species, humans are built for connection, and thrive in relationship. From the moment we are born, we depend on our parents or caregivers for our very survival. Our tiny little selves know, at a physiological level, how to relate to our parents in order to get the attention we need. How our earliest relationships develop affects our ability to—and how we—relate to others later in life, as well as the kinds of tension patterns or traumas we store in our bodies.
All this manifests in some form or another later in life, and therapy modalities like BCST, are some of the powerful ways we can come to recognize and release these traumas at the physiological, and also deeper levels. A huge part of a Craniosacral therapist’s job (especially the biodynamic approach, which focuses more on creating a relational field and less on manipulation of physiological structures), as with all therapists and healers, is to create a safe and comforting space for the client, so that their systems can relax enough to generate release and healing.
Scientist and professor Dr. Stephen Porges has become well-known of late for his polyvagal theory, which teaches that not only do we have a sympathetic nervous system (that ramps us up and activates us for fight and flight) and a parasympathetic nervous system (which allows us to rest and digest, and in extreme states of stress, dissociate and freeze), we also have a social engagement system. This is a nervous system response, associated with the vagus nerve, which involves the interplay between activation and calming responses as we navigate our relationships.
This theory emphasizes that neurologically, we not only evolved to run or freeze in dangerous situations, but to regulate our emotions and social connections for our safety and survival.
We all know how soothing it feels to be in the presence of someone we love and find comforting, and how difficult or threatening it feels when we are in conflict with someone when we don’t feel safe. We also know what it feels like when we are talking to someone who is truly present for our conversation. We know…and our bodies know.
It is, quite simply, a sacred act to truly be there, to acknowledge the presence of a person, on the treatment table or in life, just as they are, with no judgment, only compassion. Doesn’t this sound a lot like the popular practices of mindfulness and present moment awareness so many of us strive to achieve today?
It is no simple task to just “be there” in full acknowledgement of another human being, but I can imagine nothing more beautiful. What is acknowledged, seen and rendered visible, feels safe enough to thrive—we see this with animals and plants, too. We’ve even seen it with close-up views of water crystals. For me, being there is all about listening. It’s about training the mind and self to slow down, become still, and create a sense of spaciousness within the self that allows for a full and rich experience of the person we are with.
When we listen, with compassion and no preconceptions, we can create a space of allowing for whatever is going to unfold. We are not reacting, but accepting what is present, and responding in kind, so that the other person feels held, and met.
Amazing things can happen from this starting point.
Listening brings about profound change and healing. As we learn to listen, maybe through meditation, maybe through contemplation, maybe by just slowing down a little, we discover worlds deep inside of ourselves and then others, and it is in these deep spaces that kindness and love are found—and these are always seeking expansion.
All we need to do is listen.
After a profound practice session in my last training, my partner and I emerged feeling calm, more whole, and more peaceful, grounded yet light and free. In that moment, problems seemed to have withered away, leaving vastness and possibility in their wake. We marveled: what would it be like if everyone in the world were to experience this kind of treatment, this amazing feeling all at once?
It would be a revolution of light, peace and love. The shadows, met with courage and equanimity, would naturally, slowly and gently, disappear.
In these extreme times fraught with divisiveness, conflict, fear and rage, it feels all the more important to remember how integral it is that we slow down, and learn to halt our reactivity so that we can truly begin to listen. Listening without judgment, but with an openness and curiosity toward others, is a necessary first step if we are going to come to understanding, cooperation and peace. This is true between people, communities, societies and nations.
We need to feel the one in the two. We need to listen to ourselves, and then to each other, and remember that peace is far more desirable for us than the alternative.
I truly feel like it would do us all a world of good to play around with the concept that we are all One. It’s easy to either rush into conceptual belief of this, or to dismiss it entirely. Instead, let’s engage with this notion. Let’s take time to really be in the space of others, turn off the judging mind, and tune into our deepest capacity to listen, to dissolve into the space between us.
This is how we heal the world.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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