Visionary Cranio-Sacral Work (VCSW) was created by Hugh Milne, a third-generation Scottish osteopath with whom I studied from 2008-2012. VCSW combines sensitive, hands-on bodywork with meditative use of the inner eye and inner ear. Techniques are drawn from three principal traditions: osteopathy, energy work, and Taoism.  A supremely gentle approach, it is a way of "doing 'non-doing.'" It honors both the analytical understanding of how things happen, and the intuitive preception of how things really are. Combined, the soul can be touched and real healing can occur.

VCSW sees body structures as not simply muscles and bones, but aspects of consiousness. The structures are in dialogue with each other through the medium of their shapes and the ebb and flow of the cranial wave. Seeing, hearing and feeling this dialogue is the visionary work.

The analytical and intuitive both have to be understood. They complement one another, and one or both may be needed to bring a particular situation into resolution. At its highest levels, VCSW intertwines knowledge, perception and intuition.

Visionary Cranio-Sacral Work

Osteopathy was developed by Andrew Taylor Still, an American physician and surgeon, in 1874, and has since spread worldwide, particularly in Europe. Osteopathy emphasizes the relationship between structure and function in the body, and addresses medical disorders through the manipulation of bones, joints, and muscles. Cranial Osteopathy is a specialization that was introduced in the 1930s by William Garner Sutherland, an American osteopath and visionary. Cranio-sacral work is an evolution out of Cranial Osteopathy, and has traditionally focused on the bones of the human head, vertebral column and sacrum, as well as the soft tissues within these structures, including the brain, central nervous system, cerebrospinal fluid and various membranes.

Origins of cranio-sacral therapy

The cranial wave

The cranial wave is used as a "listening post" in cranio-sacral therapy, much as an acupuncturist assesses the radial pulse. The cranial wave cannot be felt except in a meditative state. This wave has been likened to running water under ice, or like the feeling of wind blowing through lace curtains with a hand against the fabric, without obstructing the air's flow.

The cranial wave is a subtle voice of the spirit, what the Hindus call "prana" and the Chinese call "chi": an ordinarily invisible energy field whose activity gives us life. When the cranial wave is shut down, the vital functions of the body, lacking their source of ignition, cease, and the person dies.

Cranio-sacral work mediates between the bones and the brain. It is based on a thorough knowledge of cranial and sacral anatomy and requires sensitivity of touch to enable the practitioner to discern, and then optimize the functionality of the bones impacting the brain and central nervous system. Any displacement of one or more cranial bones can manifest in the body as pain or dysfunction.

With cranio-sacral touch I have helped people suffering from chronic headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, post-operative dental trauma, whiplash, sinusitis, even Bell's palsy. This powerful yet subtle modality only employs five grams of pressure (the weight of a nickel), and uses gentle, non-invasive techniques with the client fully clothed. The goal of my work is to switch off the body's "fight or flight" response due to physical, mental or emotional stress and subsequently engage the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for repair and restoration. It is by bringing the body back into alignment and creating deep stillness that profound healing can occur.

What is cranio-sacral work?