Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the brain; it’s role is to nourish, detoxify, and protect the central nervous system. Similar to a toilet tank, this fluid fills and drains at around 8-12 cycles per minute. Changes in fluid volume create a very subtle expansion/contraction in the body’s tissues, known as the CranioSacral Rhythm (CSR). The CSR can be felt anywhere in the body, but most noticeably near the head and spine. It has been scientifically measured, and with patient practice, you can learn to feel it yourself.
Feeling your CranioSacral Rhythm is a relaxing, healing, and meditative experience. It's like an internal ocean, expanding from your core, rocking every cell in it's ebb and flow. It's easiest to feel when you’re relaxed and curiously open. Beginners often find that when they surrender the ‘effort’ to feel it, it emerges from nowhere! This is a skill anyone can learn...and like most things, it gets easier with practice. Your hands are perceptive instruments that can sense, communicate with, and heal your body (and other's too).
To feel your CSR, start with a very light touch. Let your hands rest on your body without effort, like a cork floating in water. Ask your body’s intelligence to reveal your CranioSacral Rhythm. Wait patiently, comfortably, and let the rhythm come to you. You've found it when you feel a slow expansion/contraction motion that has a floating, suspended quality. Use your hands to gently follow the movements that arise, without adding anything extra. Let the rhythm 'lead' as your dance partner. If you don’t feel anything, don’t be discouraged...just try again later.
Stay relaxed. Try these positions and discover what works best for you...
Lying down: Lay down on a soft surface. Place your palms at the crown or sides of your head, allowing your elbows to comfortably fall to the side (pillow optional) OR....Rest the center of your palms on your hip bones (to each side of your belly button). If you fall asleep easily, this may not be the best option.
Seated: Sit at a table in a comfortable chair. Rest your elbows on the table, and cradle your palms around the sides or crown of your head OR....Sit upright in a chair, feet on the ground, uncrossed. Rest your palms in your lap at about mid-thigh.
In the tub: Seated or reclining in a warm bath, rest your palms on your head, hip bones, or thighs. This is a nice option that helps you relax into weightlessness, let go, and attune to the movement of fluids.
As you spend time feeling and observing your CSR, you may notice it changes in quality. The tissue under your hands may release tension and become more spacious, softer, warmer, fuller etc. (a.k.a. myofascial release). You may perceive pulsing, tingling, spiraling, colors/light, or even recall old memories, injuries, or emotions. Sometimes the CSR can even stop for a few moments, entering a period of dynamic stillness that allows the whole body to recharge and re-boot.
Feeling your CSR can be a powerful method for self-care, meditation, and stress reduction. It can connect you to your own body-wisdom, and increase both your sensitivity and effectiveness as a bodywork professional. Good luck!