You only have to pay attention.
The universe is full of signs—when you learn how to look at things the right way, you will understand what I am trying to say.
The shape of clouds, the way birds fly, the sounds of nature, an unexpected meeting, all these transmit a message that expresses the will of the gods.
— the Macumba priestess Maria Jose, South America, 1977
A deep energy pervades the space, while little sighs or big tears sometimes arise, and the mysterious sounds of helpers shuffling by. More than once I felt like I might actually be in South America, in ceremony deep in the jungle—some part of the energy felt nearly identical. I was, however, in Berkeley, in Visionary Craniosacral classes C1 and C2 with Hugh and Giorgia Milne, and maybe 20 other people also on tables receiving while 20 more gave in stillness.
“Stillness.” The first word out of Hugh’s mouth on Day 1. “It all begins with stillness.” Indeed, the class started, as it would every day, with a brief sitting meditation. Hugh wove the themes of the work, such as stillness, and finding the motion in the stillness, throughout the format of the class. I was impressed with the ways in which the structure of the class was used to reinforce the content.
A good example would be the process of picking partners—in some classes this is just one of the formalities you get through (I’ve even been in classes where it wasn’t redone each day) but in Visionary Craniosacral class it was a valuable part of the learning experience. “Look around the room,” Hugh would say, “Who can you learn the most from today?” Most days we would pick our own partners, sometimes in unique ways: standing in a circle, Hugh would pick someone to go first, having them take a step forward into the circle. “She’s going to pick her partner for today now and walk up to them—maybe you. You get to say ‘Yes, thank you,’ or ‘No, thank you.’ Notice what it’s like knowing you could be picked, or not. Do images of gradeschool come up?” One by one, people stepped into the middle of the circle, looked around, and picked a partner. I had already set the intention that morning that, “I want to be picked today.” Indeed, my partner picked me after spending enough time in the middle of the circle to intuit the direction and then the individual to move toward. We had a blast that day together; her intuition had picked well! On the last day of each class, the TAs picked our partners for us, rearranging us in the room while our eyes were closed. Their intuition worked well, too, as each of these special days were very powerful for my partners and I.
Teaching intuition is one of Hugh’s special skills. It’s one thing to be good at using your own intuition; it’s another thing to have a high degree of awareness around how you do that; and it’s yet a third thing to be able to teach other people how to do the same. He taught intuition in five channels: eye, ear, hands, heart, and full body empathy. There were various lateral thinking, right brained questions associated with each channel, such as: where on my partner does my eye keep coming to rest? Where do my hands want to touch? Where is my heart sad that they’re not moving? What do I, as that part of oneness that is on the table, need to receive?
Intuition and an ability to listen kinesthetically were also taught with movement. With our partners we would perform various kinds of push-hands exercises. While in such contact, Hugh might ask us to whisper to each other the answer to a question like, “What kind of relationship do we have?” or “What is your sense of what troubles your partner today?”
By the time we would actually perform a craniosacral hold, we had already been in a meditative listening space for some time. I was able to palpate subtle movement during the first hold of day 1, a prone sacral contact. I could clearly feel the energy and movements of my partner’s sacrum: locked down at the left SI joint, wildly free at the right, like an unstaked tent flap, flapping in the wind. As the body underneath me guided me to apply pressure on the right side, stabilizing the tailbone, my client began to feel, as she would later report, a relaxation process in her right hip and the muscles around the SI joint.
Throughout the classes, I was amazed at the reactions I saw and felt—limbs jerking or flopping as release occurred, deep sighs of relaxation response, and the body moving to correct itself, with my attention, not my direction. I found myself, and this work, somewhere in between the true believing scientific materialists and the true believing new agers. The techniques undeniably do something, something powerful and healing, just nobody’s sure what, unless the practitioner has been doing it for ages, and even then his claims are under fire from certain sides. This is a deep and subtle bodywork that seems to access the very mysteries of life itself, like in an ancient Greek cult.
Besides stillness, sitting, and partner interaction (push hands, trading the work) the class also included demos (both planned and unplanned) and slideshows blending visual poetry, anatomy, and humor. Left brain/orderly thinkers will get plenty of what they need, but right brainers will never get lost. And any question you could ask, Hugh will listen to it carefully and pick the best way to respond to it—words, demonstration, “I don’t know, does anyone else know?” I never felt like he was getting impatient with us, and he never deflected answering a question. Some of the most valuable learnings came when he would address more tangential topics such as client/practitioner boundaries.
Throughout the class, the space was held impeccably and the energy managed likewise. I went to Heartwood Institute, and not only was this the most heart centered class I’ve been in since, I believe the school could learn a thing or two from the Milnes! By the end of 8 days in the classroom, I not only left with a confident feel for basic craniosacral touch, but also feeling really ready to bring more heart, more warmth and care, and more intuition into my practice. Technique and love, two vital elements to success—both offered in Visionary Craniosacral class.
A very nice review, thank you for this.
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