Getting Lost and Re-orienting in manual therapy

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 15, 2020

I’ve been thinking about the experience of being lost — and all the ways humans have for being found. We use our senses, sight and sound especially. We palpate; think of finding your way in a new setting at night, with little light. We also use language –verbal and visual– for making maps or signs, leaving a trail. East, west, north, and south. Another example I love for its intimacy with landscape is ‘mauka’ and ‘makai’: ‘toward the mountain,’ and ‘toward the sea’ respectively. When you’re moving in relation to those large mountains, or the sea surrounds your patch of land, these terms become very helpful.


In bodywork, our terrain is the human body in all its 3D complexity, and we have lots of words for that terrain:

On the vertical we have upper/lower, more egalitarian in tone, but not as specific as superior/inferior. In CST we often see cephalad/caudad: toward the head/toward the tail. What’s unusual here is that these terms usually describe our hands in relation to their body. All other terms orient to the client’s body–reflecting the foundational principle that it is the client’s body, their terrain that is our focus.

On the horizontal we have toward or away from midline, or medial/lateral. With nerves, we find a combination of vertical and horizontal: distal/proximal. This is useful, in the way that upstream and downstream are useful. Nerves meander wriggling paths, but have an overall orientation toward or away from the central nervous system.

In depth (coronal plane), we have anterior/posterior. In my classroom experience, this is the direction that gets the most double-checking during demos. My take on that is twofold:
1) Because we’re often working with people face up or face down (supine/prone!), we get used to thinking of people as 2-sided.
2) Another thought that comes to mind: our working map is strongly influenced by our own sensory awareness. From the fields of neurology and consciousness studies, we know that humans have less awareness of what’s behind them. So using ‘posterior’ will ask us to orient to a hazy place on our map; there be dragons?

Likewise, we have the in-between: inner/outer, deep/superficial. These are so relational that it gets tricky when we aim to describe more than 2 layers, such as ‘superficial,’ ‘deep,’ ‘deep investing’ fascia.

Directionality in treatment

The kind of work we do, the kind of work we teach, has a strong emphasis directionality. That is: when there is a limitation in movement or function, it has a quality of directionality to it. Myofascia is not simply “short” or “long”, but they are short or long in a particular direction. Being able to identify this directionality gives us key information for how we treat the tissue.

Ida Rolf is remembered for saying: “Put it where you want it to go, and call for movement.” Putting something where you want it to go involves at least 2 ideas: it is not where it should be, and to make a correction, we can change its position. This is easy to imagine with fascial work, which has its felt qualities of hold and resistance to mobilization.

In Myofascial Balancing, we consistently assess for shear patterns across the tissue or the joint or bony position. When a 3D tract of tissue or segment has a distortion in it, it will have an “easy way” and a “hard way” that it likes (or doesn’t like) to move. The easy way is indicative of the shear pattern that currently exists; the hard way is indicative of the direction that would ‘neutralize’ the shear (take it to neutral).

The directionality of the easy way is called “indirect”; the directionality of the hard way is called “direct.” These same terms are used for the way the fluid body holds directional distortions: into the pattern = indirect; away from the pattern or toward neutral = direct. (This language is used to describe patterns as well as corrective techniques.) The feeling of moving tissue or fluids ‘indirectly’ is one of ease, of melting, of going with the system. The feeling of moving tissue or fluids ‘directly’ is one of meeting resistance, a stop or catch, of challenging the system out of its current mode. What is lovely: both ways generate change!

We can use an analogy from sailing: another way that humans travel with the forces of nature. When describing location in relation to the wind, we have ‘windward’ and ‘leeward.’ Windward means facing the wind, ‘into’ the wind — this takes more energy and effort. Leeward is sheltered from the wind, ‘away’ from the wind — as the Irish blessing would imply, this takes less energy or effort. Travel well!

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

See my next post for a poem about being lost and found.

Testimonial: Words from students about our teaching team

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 9, 2020

Lauren as lead teacher:

“Lauren, I cannot imagine learning from anyone else. Your depth of knowledge and experience plus your constant encouragement made it seem possible to do this work. The emphasis on listening and patience was even a greater help.” — Rick H.

“I am truly honored to have been part of this Core Series with you. You are truly a gifted and talented teacher. I really like the direction you are taking the Core Series. I look forward to continuing to take more classes.” — Nancy H.

“Lauren, you have enriched my life in ways that I know are continuing to unfold.” — Carol M.

“Thank you for your patience and knowing us as individuals.” — Eric T.

“You’re a treasure. Thank you for holding the torch, for your guidance, for your wisdom. You are walking the pass less traveled and so deeply important to/for all creation. Facilitating higher alignment!” — Audrey S.

“You are a gift. Thank. You.” — Angela C.

Assistants:
Buela Arvizu is our senior teaching assistant for our Craniosacral Program. We also have key assistants who help out on particular electives: visceral mobilization, visceral listening, myofascial balancing, and more. Our goal is to have more than one seasoned teacher in the room, as well as two student helpers-people who’ve already taken the class- who help tend the classroom and practice with students as needed.

“Buela is amazing. Her attention to details and gentle suggestions were extremely helpful.” — Rick H.

“Buela, Thank you. I so appreciate your wisdom and insight, and your gentle spirit.” — Nancy H.

“Buela, thank you for sharing your story, your wisdom, your strength.” — Carol M.

“I have deep gratitude for the assistants , for all they gave and offered to me as an individual. Their commitment was seen clearly.” — Eric T.

“Buela is an inspiration and a great teacher. Suzanne and Nancy (student helpers) were pleasant and a joy to work with.” — Audrey S.

“Thank you for your patience, loving kindness and so much beauty in your and your words.” — Angela C.

Testimonial: Students describe how their practice has changed with the Core Series

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 9, 2020

“I see my practice has been slowly changing this year: more insight into the person on my table, closer attention to their words and what I think they mean. My touch is softer and vision is towards the anatomy that you’ve taught us.” — Eric T.

“It has enhanced my listening skills. I have a deeper understanding of anomy. I’m learning to trust what I know.” — Rick T.

“An enormous change from beginning to end. I’ve learned so much and Listening orienting to a person’s health. Oh my gosh, and then there’s the Tides, the fluid body! Every aspect of my practice is effected by the Core Series. How I approach life and relationships has and will continue to evolve and mature. Thank you!” — Audrey S.

“I view my clients with a more informed view. I am starting to see more health in them, rather than focusing on what’s wrong.” — Carol M.

“My practice has changed a lot and I see its future looking a whole lot different. For now, I incorporate as much cranial as I can. I have a greater appreciation and practice in ‘doing’ less.” — Gina A.

 

 

Testimonials: The Core Series — what students say

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 8, 2020

What would you tell someone interested in the Core Series?

“It’s so worth it. Not only has it been life changing but truly transformational on a heart level.” — Nancy H.

“The Core Series is more than your wildest dreams. You’ll get a deep understanding of the A&P of the nervous system and the CST paradigm. You’ll learn about the spectrum of craniosacral therapy, from bio-energetic to bio-mechanical. You learn to LISTEN, to orient towards the health of your client, and a plethora of effective techniques that not only will allow you to work with the CST paradigm, but will nourish all your other modalities.” — Audrey S.

“I’ve spent my massage/bodywork life longing to find the “Thing.” This is one of the greatest pieces of what I’ve been seeking. Lauren is the best, most perfect person to be in this teaching role. The way she teaches, connects and knows the material is deeply felt.” — Cath S.

“This program will make you a better therapist and a better person: increase patience, listening, understanding, accepting of your clients.” — Rick H.

“I have told people that you learn a lot. Not only about craniosacral therapy but yourself and how you see and live in the world. It provides a container for personal and professional growth that I find invigorating and very, very helpful.” — Angela C.

“They’ll get a deepening of themselves and how they work on clients. It’s a large commitment and very rewarding.” — Eric T.

“You’ll get a deeper appreciation of our connection to the whole, how to listen and be with “not doing” in order to know how to better serve the person in front of you.” — Gina A.

“It could change your life in the best possible way!” — Carol M.

Testimonial: Visceral Mobilization-Freeing the Fascial Layers among Organs

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 7, 2020

Lauren and Richard’s experience is palpable. Their lectures are relevant and thoughtful, as are the techniques demonstrations. Their touch checks are some of the most skilled and confident I’ve experienced. Absolutely fabulous! I look forward to studying with both of them in the future!
Student, Walpole, ME
2019

Testimonial: Visceral Mobilization-Freeing the Fascial Layers among Organs

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 7, 2020

The most enjoyable aspects of this class were the social interaction, easy bite sized pieces of information and practice time, and the humor! It was a lot of fun. The course is really well organized, very easy to understand and digest (many short periods of practice). Good visual learning and explanations without getting overly technical. Great teamwork between the teachers.
Sybille L., Walpole, ME
2019

Testimonial: Visceral Mobilization-Freeing the Fascial Layers among Organs

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 7, 2020

Comprehensive but palatable, anatomy with a sense of humor and excellent table side assistance. Very well structured and a wonderful teaching team. Thank you!
Kristy B., Walpole, ME
2019

Testimonial: Visceral Mobilization-Freeing the Fascial Layers among the Organs

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 7, 2020

Great classmates! Very supportive environment! Comfortable pace! Good presentation! Excellent workshop — I highly recommend! These skills should be in every bodyworker’s tool set!
Student, Walpole, ME
2019

Testimonial: Visceral Mobilization-Freeing the Fascial Layers among the Organs

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 7, 2020

I just wanted to reach out and say thank you to you both for allowing such amazing information to be transferred to our group. Your teaching style is truly a work of art. The two of you play off each other so well to keep the environment light, safe, and fun. This is a true gift, especially when you are working into areas that are so invasive. I loved the level of anatomy and the translation into the palpation skill sets. I feel full and wonderful. I hope our paths cross again!
Jessica B, Walpole, ME
2019

Testimonial: Myofascial Balancing-Joint Decompression for the Upper Extremities

By Lauren M. Christman, LMT, CBSI/KMI, CCST | April 7, 2020

Richard’s general ease in manner and familiarity with the subject material make for a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s incredibly conducive to learning!
Naomi R., Seattle, WA
2019

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