Instant Relaxation: The CranioSacral Rhythm Still Point
According to John Upledger, D.O., "the brain and spinal cord - the two major components of the central nervous system (CNS) - require a carefully controlled physiological environment in order to develop and function efficiently and effectively. The CranioSacral system is largely responsible for providing this environment."
The CranioSacral system is the "physiologic system of cerebrospinal fluid and the dura mater membrane as well as attached bones, sutures, and vessels" (the Free Online Medical Dictionary). The brain and the spinal cord are contained within the dura mater membrane of the CranioSacral system.
According to the Upledger Institute "CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance.
"Using a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams – about the weight of a nickel – practitioners release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. CranioSacral Therapy is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and it's effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction."
There are several core techniques used in CranioSacral Therapy (some of which are energy-based). One of them involves inducing a 'still point' in the CranioSacral rhythm.
The Still Point
The CranioSacral system pulsates at a rate of 6 to 12 cycles per minute in healthy individuals. Inducing a 'still point' in this rhythm basically causes the CranioSacral system to reset itself. When the 'still point' is achieved you feel a deep sense of relaxation all over the body.
The neat thing about CranioSacral Therapy is that you can do some of the techniques on yourself. And yes, you can induce the CranioSacral rhythm 'still point' on yourself.
The book Craniosacral Therapy, by John Upledger, D.O. and Jon Vredevoogd, M.F.A., outlines a method of inducing the 'still point' on yourself using two tennis balls and a pair of socks. Here's what you do:
(1) Take two tennis balls (or racket balls) and place them in a sock so that the balls are touching.
(2) Tie up the sock so that the balls remain in contact.
(3) Place the sock with the tennis balls in another sock and tie it up tight also.
(4) Lie on your back on the floor or a bed and place the tennis balls (in the socks) under your head so that the weight of your head rests on the tennis balls.
(5) The tennis balls should be placed "at the top of the occipital bone (but below the lambdoidal suture). This is in a slight depression in the skull just above the slight bony prominence, which in turn is just above the attachment of the main neck muscles. The level is slightly above that of the ear openings."
Rest comfortably on the tennis balls for 15 minutes.
At some point during the 15 minutes you should enter a state of extreme relaxation. You will start breathing deeply and you will feel different parts of your body releasing.
The first time I tried this my sacrum released with a few loud cracks!
Because the CranioSacral system is ultimately tied to all of the fasciae in the body, inducing the 'still point' can release tension at almost any point in the body. You can do this daily or even several times during the day if you wish. (Obviously if you have any head 'issues' you should not try this.)
Upledger and Vredevoogd mention that inducing the 'still point' is useful for acute systemic infectious conditions (two or three repetitions of the "induced 'still point' will usually lower fever. Still points seem to help the patient pass through the 'crisis' phase of an infectious illness. The antifebrile effect is usually seen within the an hour after treatment and is usually long lasting."), chronic pain problems, autonomic nervous system dysfunctions, and rheumatoid arthritis.
This "technique is, quite simply, an excellent 'shotgun' technique for a multitude of problems in that it enhances tissue and fluid motion and restores flexibility of autonomic response." "It relaxes all connective tissues of the body and therefore benefits acute and chronic musculoskeletal lesions. It is effective in degenerative arthritic processes, in both cerebral and pulmonery congestion, in regulating labor and as a means of reducing dependent edema."
(Inducing the 'still point' is actually Step 1 and Step 10 of the standard 10-step CranioSacral Therapy procedure practiced in spas and care facilities around the world.)