Upledger / Milne / Etc. - Craniosacral work

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Upledger / Milne / Etc. - Craniosacral work

Post by pueppi » Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:44 am

I plan to take some CranioSacral Therapy coursework in the future (maybe as soon as next month, but I am not sure yet) and am at the point where I need to compare/contrast both the Upledger and Milne styles of work. Additionally, I am looking at other CranioSacral options that are derived from these methods.

I'm mostly interested in Upledger CS1, CS2 and CSWCD (CST and Working with Chronic Depletion) as coursework for the future.
Advance Preparation for Upledger CS1:
The required reading for this course is Chapters 1-6 in CranioSacral Therapy (CSTI) and Your Inner Physician and You (IPAY). Both books are authored by course developer, John E. Upledger, DO, OMM. In addition please familiarize yourself with the definitions and/or locations of the anatomical terms available at:


The majority of these terms can be found in the text CranioSacral Therapy (CSTI), as well Atlas of Human Anatomy (NAS) by Frank Netter, MD.

Because cstbrian was so kind to link to all the CST threads in the forum, I have had lots to read. Wonderful! For this particular thread, I will be posting comments that stand out for me. Mainly, because I have so many tabs opened up on my computer that it is starting to get overloaded! :shocked: And, it's easier for me to read when I can post directly into the forum template as a string of posts.

Anyone who wants to chime in with their experience is more than welcome!! I'd love to hear from anyone who has taken either class.

And, if you are knowledgeable in how some of these are different than the next, or would like to describe how you have integrated any of these works into your private practice, I'd love to hear about it and what made you decide to learn a particular method.

cstbrian wrote:
jasond wrote:Just trying to get an idea of what it is about through a DVD. Not trying to get 'certified' or advertise myself as a CST specialist. As they say for informational purposes only.
That's cool. I just wanted a bit more info so I could advise you based on what you were looking for ...

My advice for you is to not spend the money on a DVD right now. I have yet to find a DVD that really makes sense without having taken a class. I recommend you find someone in your area that is certified or has taken three or four classes and regularly practices the work. Get a session and see if the practitioner would be willing to spend some time before the session explaining CST. Then you can decide if you want to learn more about it through a class or video (although I highly recommend a class and not a video).
cstbrian wrote:First, I strongly suggest getting a session or two before you attend a class. I believe that you must feel the work from the inside to really 'get it' when you are giving the work.

Second, I highly recommend to anyone who is serious about pursuing CranioSacral Therapy to take the Intro class and then take level one. Many people disagree with me on this one. But, here's my take ...

The introduction class is almost all of the material from the first two days of the four day CST-I class. Many have said to me "Then why bother taking the intro if the material is repeated?" I took the intro and this was my experience:

I completed the two day intro in November '03. I took the full four day CST-I in April '04. That gave me about 5 months to be able to practice what I learned in the intro class. So, when I got to CST-I the first two days I spent reviewing and refining what I had learned and been practicing. I was able to take the material to a much deeper level of understanding and application.

The other wonderful advantage it gave me was that I was not overloaded with information. CST-I is PACKED with four full days of anatomy, physiology, technique, theory and applications. Plus, you are working on others and getting worked on yourself several times a day. As a TA, by day three I see students starting to overload. For some, it can be a lot for your body to assimilate in four days. Most get through with no visible issues, but I always wonder how much info was truly absorbed over the weekend. By taking the intro before CST-I I was excited and fully ready on day three to begin learning new material.

Of course, this is my particular experience and others will have a different take.

**NOTE: I am referring to the 2-day Upledger approved CST-Introductory class. There are many people out there who do their own 1 or 2 day Intro classes based on Upledger work, but it is not an Upledger class. I make this note because in a non-Upledger class, material may vary from the first two days of Upledger's CST-I. AND if it is not an Upledger approved Intro, you will not get the tuition discount toward CST-I.
cstbrian wrote:Just want to let you know that if your school is part of 'Team Upledger' you can lock in the special student price by placing a deposit on the class anytime within six months of graduation. Then, you can take the class anytime you want: one year, two years, even five years later at the discounted price.
Gaspen wrote:From Thursday to Sunday ( June 5 - 8 ), I took the CS I class in Chicago. How was it? Was there a lot of information? Was I able to 'feel' what I was supposed to feel? Hmmmm. Good questions.

How was it?
On a number of different levels, I think the class was excellent. For example, I've learned what it takes to actually have a 'light' touch.

Was there a lot of information?
Oh, yeah! But the way the information was presented, it didn't feel like overload (until around 2:00p on Saturday during a 10-step video, but I walked around a bit, came back, and it was all good - don't worry, it was during lunch). It all seemed to be very coherent. Plus, the study book and the various handouts came in very handy.

Was I able to 'feel' what I was supposed to feel?
At first, the only pulses I could feel were the ones at the heels and feet. Some of the stances and hand positions are not all that biomechanic-friendly. You really have to be silent and accepting and not try to dictate what's going on in the client's body. It was all very fascinating. Fortunately, but the end of the class with the final exchange of the 10-step, I was able to feel all the pulses (not necessarily strong in all), apply the protocols. The only thing I kept haviing problems with was the cranial pump.

Would I recommend taking the course?
Definitely. The work is very relaxing to receive. Although you need to do as many 10-steps as you can, once you get comfortable feeling the pulse, you have techniques that can serve independently. Additionally, you also learn the importance of having a very light touch and learn to direct intent, plus you have to focus on your client and what's going on with him/her.

Anyway, it was a great class. I was all nervous about my seemingly huge degree of non-feeling on that first day that I was already thinking of how to pay for the CS I class refresher in December. Now, I'm planning on attending the CS II class next June.

<snip... bits from another post by Gaspen:>
Definitely read through Inner Physician and You. I'd also go ahead and read the textbook. That way, you're at least partially armed with a load full of information. The first three chapters were a breeze. The other three, although not as tedious as I lead to believe, is very doable (especially if you go through them a couple of times).

On the flipside, the instructor I had was excellent. Although there's a lot 'stuff', he presented it in such a way that even I could grasp it.

The only thing I felt on the first day were the pulses at the ankle, dorsal of the feet, the shoulder. And a whole lot frustration. I've wanted to take the CST class for more than a year and I really want to perform this modality. But by the end of the day, I thought "Oh, nooooo. I won't able to do this!"

<snip... bits from another post by Gaspen:>
(they'll also send you a number of emails, one of which will contain the terms and words used in the class - go over them all and do a little studying - but everything is explained in class).
      • CS I Terms - http://www.upledger.com/seminar_info/Terms/CSIterms.doc

        Body Orientation
        Superior (cephalad)
        Inferior (caudad)
        Anterior (ventral)
        Posterior (dorsal)

        Body Landmarks
        Pubic Bone
        Sternal notch
        ASIS(anterior superior iliac spine)
        Sacro-iliac joint

        Vertebral Landmarks
        Spinous processes
        Transverse processes
        Atlas (C1)
        • Facets
          Posterior arch
        Axis (C2)
        C7/T1 (Thoraco cervical junction)
        T12/L1 (Thoraco lumbar junction)
        L5/S1 (Lumbo sacral junction)

        Craniosacral System Anatomy
        Arachnoid villae
        Arachnoid granulation bodies
        Spinal cord
        Spinal nerves
        Cauda equina
        Choroid plexuses
        Cerebrospinal fluid
        Spinal canal
        Cranial nerves

        • Meninges
          Dura mater
          Pia mater
          Falx cerebri
          Tentorium cerebelli
          Arachnoid membrane
          Sub-arachnoid space
          Falx cerebelli

        Autonomic nervous system
        Sympathetic n.s.
        Parasympathetic n.s.

        Frontal bone
        Sphenoid bone
        • Greater wings
          Sphenoid body
          Clinoid processes
        Parietal bone
        Temporal bone
        • Mastoid process
          Zygomatic process
          Petrous portion
          EAM (external auditory meatus)
        Orbit-Jugular foramina
        • Ramus
        • Condyles
          Basilar portion
          Squamous portion

        Sagittal suture
        Temporo-parietal suture
        Coronal suture
        Lambdoidal suture
        Occipital Mastoid (OM) suture

        Temporalis muscle
        Masseter muscle
        Lateral pterygoid muscle
cstbrian wrote:My biggest suggestion for people getting ready to take CSTI is to study the list of terms they send you so you are as comfortable as possible with the terms, anatomy and language that will be used in class. As I said in a previous post, there's a lot of info in CSTI and it can come at you fast. The more you are comfortable with the language and the anatomy the easier I find it is for students to really get it the first time around.
cstbrian wrote:
healingtime wrote: I would love to hear anything you'd like to share about the reasons why many people who go through CST. I don't feel the CSR...
These are observations based on my experiences as a teaching assistant for many CSTI classes. These are not the absolute 'end all, be all' reasons for not feeling the craniosacral rhythm (CSR).

* Tension/injury in the therapist's hands/forearms/arms. At first when starting to feel the CSR it feels very subtle (which it is, but over time with practice your hands perceive it as quite large). If there is any tension in the hands, forearms and arms or if there is any injury to these parts, the person's proprioceptive skills may not be very sharp. To feel the rhythm, one must be able to really relax the upper extremities and 'ride' the CSR like a leaf on water. Tension prevents this.

If the tension is from injury getting one's upper extremities worked on greatly help to remove restrictions and allow better proprioception.

This is just one of the reasons students work on each other so much in class. It not only helps one to give and receive the material to learn it, but it also helps clear restrictions in the student's body to be able to feel and practice CST with more ease.

* The student is trying way too hard. It's great that the student really wants to feel the CSR, but sometimes focusing too hard on feeling it prevents one from feeling it easily. One needs to be nice and relaxed and allow the CSR to come into one's perception.

* The student doubts feeling anything. He/she has felt the rhythm but thinks that it was him/herself moving his/her hands rather than it being the client's CSR. Or sometimes the student just isn't aware that it is the CSR he/she is feeling. He/she thinks it's some 'other' body rhythm.

* The client is extremely restricted and his/her CSR is very difficult for a new student to feel.

* The client's rhythm is off. In CSTI students learn about stillpoints and in CSTII students learn about the significance detector. Both are times when the CSR is off. They mean very different things. But a client may be in stillpoint when the therapist puts his/her hands on for evaluation. OR it is possible for the significance detector to come on as soon as the therapist puts his/her hands on the client. Again, in both cases the rhythm would be off and unable to evaluate.
In CSTII one learns to know the difference between stillpoint and significance detector and what to do with this information.

These are a few reasons why a CSTI student may not feel the CSR. I am sure there are others but these tend to be the main reasons. This is why we stress how important it is for students to actually use the TAs in the class and have them come over to the table and confirm what the student is feeling. We love being asked questions and help clarify information. It's a great opportunity for some one-on-one time with an experienced therapist. Once leaving class, this is hard to come by ... so use the TAs and ask lots of questions!!
cstbrian wrote:
Gaspen wrote: ...It's a book filled with case studies from practioners. Have fun!

Working Wonders - Changing Lives with CranioSacral Therapy
Great Book! I recommend it to anyone (therapist or client) with any interest in CST. The case studies are great. One of my mentors and co-study group leaders is Sally Morgan. She has developed the CST small animal class. She has a few animal stories in the book.

<snip... bits from another post by cstbrian:>
The Inner Physician book is also good to read before CSTI. The brown book is sort of hard to read so just do your best to get the general idea of each chapter. It makes MUCH more sense after the class.
cstbrian wrote:
Pandoras_Gift wrote:I will be taking a class in Feb 2009, they want you to read the 2 books before class as a pre-requisite. Is is really necessary?

I took a 6 hour intro class at the AMTA conference... and definitely got interested in continuing...
Is it really necessary? No.
Will it help you to understand the material much better? Yes.

There are some references made to the books during class that aren't covered in detail. But there is a lot of the book material that is covered thoroughly. The way I look at it is: You are spending quite a bit of money to take this class and you want to get as much out of it as possible. By reading the books prior to class you will have a much deeper understanding of the material when presented in class because it will not be 100% new to you.

As Gaspen said earlier, there is a lot of info presented in CSTI and it can move pretty fast. Any info you can learn before the class will help you to more easily digest the material in class.

If you really want to get the most out of this class, I highly suggest the reading.
cstbrian wrote:One misconception I find with CranioSacral Therapy is that it is energy work. Perhaps this is true of other styles of CST, but Upledger CST is very much rooted in the tissues of the body. There absolutely is an energetic component to the work. However, one is constantly in contact and monitoring the release from the tissues.

Even when working specifically with energy cyst release, one must be aware that there is high probability for related fascial restrictions and facilitated segments in the dural tube. Until all are addressed, the issue will probably return.
WaltFritz wrote:I've taken CSTI, sandwiched in between MFRI and II years ago. I found?find the CST went into much greater depth than MFR teaching regarding the orientation and specifics of each cranial bone. CST instructors feel this is necessary, Barnes feels that it is not (due to the 3-D aspect of the entirety, that individual relationships become moot). I really did enjoy the CST class and still use aspects of it to this day.
WaltFritz wrote:CST1 introduces you to a treatment paradigm that focuses primarily on the craniosacral system, and its effects on the whole body. The MFR approach to CST is to teach it as part of the totality of the body, not as a closed system. You will not get the depth of CST background and training in MFR, which is why I said that taking both is a real asset. What you will come away with, after taking both, is your own blend of the two.
MarionFM wrote:I thoroughly enjoyed the CST1 that I took last weekend. It was very interesting to re-learn many of the same techniques that I was taught in John Barnes MFR seminars but, as Walt says, from a slightly different angle.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go was to increase my proprioceptive skills - the CSR is subtle until you get used to feeling it - and I think my goals were met in that regard.

The CST1 course was much more left brain than a JB MFR seminar - lots of anatomy and explanation of technique - but I like having that background, and then move on to the feel of it. I found I was a bit distracted into wanting to go where my hands felt drawn rather than the specifics of the technique we were practicing - leashes don't work well on me either, Walt.

For those who have been to JB seminars, they will know what I mean when I say that it seemed very subdued not to have any unwinding in the practice times! On the other hand, I think that when JB gets people to quiet down in the practice times, and feel, it is perhaps more beneficial than the constant chatter of mutual feedback at the CST1 seminar.

Our instructor was excellent - four straight days of teaching and she never lost patience with stupid questions and often had us laughing. Anyway, she explained that the 10 step protocol gives you a tool to use that is relatively complete. She also said that we should feel free to use parts of the protocol as they fit into our regular massage or MFR or whatever we practice - once we feel confident in doing so. Obviously, some people are going to feel more confident than others in using parts of a new modality immediately.

I am already finding ways to incorporate techniques into my corporate chair massage or with my seniors, sometimes modified to accomodate the fact that they are in a wheelchair or a bed. Many of these appointments are only 15 minutes so there is no way one could do the whole 10 step protocol. They are working just great.

Of course, some techniques are designed to be done sequentially and would perhaps be less effective if taken out of context.
Vita wrote:I've taken the class through Upledger. My practice mostly consists of Oncology massage clients and those who are more medically frail. My passion is Lymphatic Drainage Technique, but I use some part of Craniosacral in almost every session. For me, it turned out to be a very valuable tool. The class itself, like every class I've had from Upledger, was very well done. The information was presented in a way that was easy to grasp, the teacher was well informed and was happy to answer questions (or find answers) and help us understand how to apply this technique in our own practices. I felt like it was money well spent.
alohatexas wrote:I took the CST I back in 2004 and it still ranks as my all time favorite course. The first day I was doubtful...the next three I was in awe. Absolutely awesome modality, in my opinion. If I were handed a large educational grant, I'd spend the vast majority of it on those courses.
Rubmyster wrote:I'd vote for Upledger again. <snip> I know a some of Milne's teachers and I think Upledger has better staff.

As far a Crainosacral- it's a great thing to learn. Even if you don't practice it, it's a nice thing to add at the end of the session, everyone loves a stillpoint, and you can do amazing things with less efforting.
cstbrian wrote:
Meryl wrote:There were a number in my class who were taking CST1 for the second time, and one or 2 who were taking it for the third. I know I will have to take level 1 again before going on to level 2, because there was too much that went by me, and in speaking with a few in my training, they said how much more got out of the course by taking it again. A few said they had no idea how much they actually missed the first time around until they took it again.
I know many people who have taken classes 2 or 3 times. The re-take discount that Upledger offers is great. As a TA, I have sat through about 6 or 7 CSTI classes, 4 or 5 CSTII classes, an SERI, and next month an SERII. I love that every time I sit in on a class I understand the material in a new way. It’s also good to re-take the class with a different instructor if you can. It’s the same material, but each teacher has a slightly different approach to teaching.
Meryl wrote:I don't understand some of the responses to your post tough, and these are the ones that say that they include some of the techniques in their treatments. From what I understood, the complete 10 step protocol has to be used for CST to be effective. If this is so, how can only some parts of CST and results still be obtained? I must be misunderstanding something somewhere along the line, and would appreciate clarification if anyone can offer some.

There are a few reasons we stress using the entire 10-step protocol at this level.

The first is that when Dr. Upledger designed the 10-step he did so with the intent that anyone could do this work. When he was first teaching this, sometimes caregivers with no medical/bodywork background would take his ‘course’. He taught this work to parents, grandparents, and friends in addition to osteopaths, nurses, etc. So, he came up with the 10-step protocol so that the caregiver would have a nice, complete whole body session that addressed the major areas of transversely oriented fascia and the major components of the CS system. This is the 10-step that is still taught today (with some minor changes along the way). We still have non-medical/non-bodyworkers in the classes to learn to do this for a friend or family member.

Another reason for the protocol, as Walt briefly mentioned,
WaltFritz wrote:The 10 Step Protocol is the basis for learning via Upledger. You are to complete a certain number of these prior to taking CST II. It forces you to do the basic treatment on a large population, and can be viewed as one way to learn CST. Typically, once progresses in the Upledger cirriculum, you venture away from the 10 step and more into following the body. The logic of keeping you on a tight leash after taking CST I may become apparent later, if you continue on. I did not wear leashes well...

Other teachers are less rigid with the should's and shouldn'ts after taking the first seminar. I guess it is a matter of style and preference. Protocols are very limiting, as it forces everyone into the same box. Traditional physical therapy pay homage to protocols, and it has hurt them in many ways. Evidenced based practice is typically a product of protocol based therapy, and we all know the limitations of trying to treat only from an EBP system.

Somato Emotional Release is Upledger's variant of Barnes' Unwinding, though both would steadfastly insist that they are greatly different...and superior. Both can be incredibly effective means of allowing a person to drop into the deeper levels of meaning and emotional holding patterns. Study with Upledger long enough, you will get very adept at SER. Study with Barnes, the Unwinding is where you will be comfortable. And...there is no reason why both cannot be a part of who you are.
is that it is a great learning tool to get to know and understand the basics of this work. Everything you do after CSTI will be based on your skill level and understanding of the CSTI material. Yes it is true that after CSTI the protocol goes out the window, but how would you learn/practice/assimilate/put together all the material from CSTI without a guide to help you do so. As a brief example when you go on to CSTII it is necessary that you be able to feel and evaluate the CSR at anytime anywhere on the body in a brief moment. You also need to be able to feel tissue release anywhere on the body no matter how subtle it might be. It has a lot to do with training your hands and proprioceptors to perform and fell more and more subtle work. In CSTII when you get into Sutherland’s sphenoid lesions or the mouthwork, you will often times be working with less than 5 grams of force to do very specific evaluation/treatment. So, it is key to your success that you are able to comfortably and confidently work at this level.

A third reason for giving a protocol is that we could not possibly teach everything about CranioSacral Therapy in one class. Each class builds upon the previous class. The 10-step protocol is designed in such a way that it ‘opens’ up the body in a systematic way from superficial (diaphragm releases) to deep (dural tube work); covering all the major areas of intersecting fascia in the body. In CSTII you begin to stray from ‘protocol’ because we teach techniques to specifically locate the underlying lesions in the body. These are called energy cysts and you will need all of the tools from CSTI and new tools from CSTII to fully release an energy cyst and its related fascial/dural restrictions. Because the 10-step covers all major fascial areas of the body and the CS system it gives a higher chance that (at this level) the therapist will work on one or several energy cysts and its related dural/fascial restrictions over the course of the protocol. It helps to increase the chances of having an effective treatment. It is why the 10-step by itself is a very effective treatment and people have such great results.

The 10-step also teaches you some basic do’s and don’ts that you will use throughout your CS work. As an example, you should always perform a thoracic diaphragm release before an OA release or any work with the cranium. Also it teaches us that to work with the dural tube (say in the lumbar area) that we must first free up the scrum to use as a bony handle to traction the dural tube. To do this, we might need to do a pelvic diaphragm release, an L5-S1 decompression and an ASIS medial compression. Then when the sacrum is free on all borders, we can get into the dural tube from this end. So, you can see how the ‘order’ of the 10-step teaches these basic guidelines.

These are a few of the main reasons why we stress practicing with the 10-step. We see a difference in CSTII in those who completed a lot of 10-steps versus those who did some. I recommend if you want to go on to CSTII that you do as many 10-step protocols as possible.

Now, with that being said, do you HAVE TO do an entire 10-step protocol? No. But think about what you are doing and why; and what needs to be done to be effective. Confused? Let me give an example.

A client comes in for regular massage. He/she has a history of migraines. You know from previous sessions that this client’s suboccipitals are like cement, in addition to a severe forward head posture. You explain/discuss CST but this client really loves his/her massage. No problem. You ask if perhaps during the massage you use just a few CST techniques that may help the migraines. He/she is fine with that. So when you get to working on the chest, neck, shoulders, and head (supine) you decide that an OA release would be perfect here. But, we know that we should do a thoracic release first; Especially on someone with a history of HA/migraines. So you simply incorporate it within the massage session.

There are many, many ways to add CST into a session without doing a full 10-step. Throw in still points throughout your session to deepen your client’s relaxation. Add a little Direction of Energy when you are working on “the bad knee”. Someone doesn’t like abdomen work done, but is clearly restricted in his/her breathing? Find out if it would be ok to work over the sheet with very light, very gentle techniques.

I know this is lengthy … and I could go on. But, I’ll stop here. I hope this has helped a bit. Please feel free to ask any other questions. I love talking about CST.

Blisss wrote:
meryl wrote: From what I understood, the complete 10 step protocol has to be used for CST to be effective. If this is so, how can only some parts of CST and results still be obtained?
I think any bodywork modality can be effective in small doses, as long as there is skill and intuition behind their application. For example, a full-body massage may be ideal, but a 15 minute chair massage can still work wonders. The same holds true for Craniosacral. I went through the Rolfing series this summer (as a client) & my Rolfer ended every session with 5-15 minutes of Craniosacral work. Even with that small dose, I could feel a shift in my craniosacral flow. I felt more balanced and free.
PremoMT wrote:I will most definitely be looking for the CST classes in the future. Sounds like Upledger is a favorite?
I've had wonderful experiences with Upledger myself for LDT training & would choose them first for CST. My Rolfer received CST training as part of his Rolfing education, and then many years later took CST1 from Upledger. He said he couldn't feel the flow until taking the Upledger class. It was their teaching method that helped him learn that subtle perception.
LisaG wrote:My training has been through Upledger and Sacred Spaces Seminars (an organization much smaller than UI or Milne). Through my classes I've run into students who have taken with Milne and my dad has taken a Milne course a few years ago (in addition to Upledger).

I personally love Milne's books, but I've heard mixed things about the courses. It seems that the quality really varies depending upon who is teaching it. The people I know who enjoyed it really thought highly of the instructor. Other's that I've heard from found the instructor to not be very good at managing the dynamics of the group. I've also heard that they work with emotional release in the early classes. However, I stress that this is not based on my personal experience. Just what I've heard.

Personally, I think that it is best to get a firm foundation in the anatomy and to feel comfortable with your palpation skills and the fundamentals before venturing into supporting someone through emotional release. Although, emotional releases can happen when least expected or intended.

Upledger has a much more mechanical approach to the work - less esoteric than my sense of Milne. In my experience, because of that, more "traditional" practitioners (especially PTs) are more comfortable taking Upledger's approach.

I think there are definitely things to be learned from either approach.

I would suggest finding an advanced Milne practitioner and an advanced Upledger practitioner to experience the work from. See which seems to resonate the most for you. And you can also pick their brains about their class experiences - be sure to ask what they liked as well as what they DIDN'T like.

EgoMagickian wrote: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.
EgoMagickian wrote:Some schools of CST (Milne/visionary) view the gross physical unwinding of limbs to be mostly/always a good thing, although it's said that body often goes through a bunch of unwinding that's not the "real" unwinding as a decoy, before it gets to the heart of the matter.

Others (Ridley/biodynamic) view it as always as a defense mechanism of the body, a sign of the client's boundaries being crossed or pushed.

Another biodynamic teacher I've talked to has indicated that:
- sometimes clients can get into the habit of simply building up a charge, blowing it off with unwinding, and then going on to build the charge back up... meanwhile it's easy to think that progress is being made or real work is being done when it isn't.
- sometimes unwinding can drive a negative pattern deeper into the body

I myself have experienced unwinding as a good and healing thing, and also as a response to subtle boundaries being pushed or ignored. So I find myself thinking it's best to draw from all the above models and not rely on any one of them to cover ALL situations.
Last edited by pueppi on Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:05 pm, edited 25 times in total.
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Re: Upledger / Milne / Etc. - Craniosacral work

Post by pueppi » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:19 pm


Milne Institute
Bastyr University
Wellness Institute
Craniosacral Resource Center - Classes in biomechanical and biodynamic craniosacral work. "My own approach to the practice and teaching of craniosacral therapy is, of course, a mixture of my various influences and life experiences. I draw from all of my educational influences, for they each have areas of particular strength. Where one approach to the work may be a little weak, another one surely has something useful to offer. My training curriculum is faithful to the historical heart of the work while allowing for contributions from new influences. Clinical efficacy is a continual concern for my practice and teaching, as I believe theory needs to be grounded in practicality. This is why I choose to teach the grosser aspects of biomechanics along with the more refined work of biodynamics. The most effective clinicians I have encountered have a working knowledge of both."

Craniosacral Academy of Australia - "The Cranio-Sacral Therapy that we teach is a blend of Myofascial Release and Cranio-Sacral Therapy".
CranioSacral Therapy Alliance
NCBTMB Approved Continuing Education Courses Instructed at Synergy
LMT Success Group
VIS Medicine
Wolfgang Luckmann, AP, LMT
Ariana Institute (online CEU's)
The Neurovascular Institute
  • Profound Neutral - https://neurovasculartherapy.com/nvi-th ... grams.html

    "Craniosacral Therapy has its American roots in the birth of Osteopathy, as founded by Andrew Taylor Still in the mid-1800s. Dr. Still developed a treatment story and philosophy that sought to honor the original perfection of body, spirit and mind, with techniques to mobilize the healing flow of arterial blood throughout the body. The work that we know today as Craniosacral Therapy generally refers to a light-touch therapy that addresses the bones, membranes and fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Therapists generally focus on manipulating their perception of the cranial rhythm to mobilize cranial bones and membranes.

    However, even a light touch can carry a heavy intention and introduce more confusion and trauma into an already-stressed nervous system. Over the years that I worked with the story of the craniosacral-therapy system, I realized that if I held a very neutral yet supportive intention, without blending into the patient's process, the self-corrective process of the nervous system could show itself with more vitality and more meaningful results. This approach named itself "Profound Neutral." Profound Neutral grew from a way to be present with various fluid flows in the body to its more accurate presence as a way to communicate with the nervous system."
Last edited by pueppi on Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:55 am, edited 31 times in total.
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Re: Upledger / Milne / Etc. - Craniosacral work

Post by pueppi » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:21 pm

cstbrian wrote: I continue to perform massage (swedish and deep tissue) as well as CST. I have a bunch of clients who receive combo sessions targeting specific issues. My findings are that massage alone (swedish or DT) is not enough to 'relax' dural membranes.


Most dural restrictions need to be addressed by working directly with the dural membrane.


I don't believe that a DT massage relaxes the CS system. It's much more complicated than that.
cstbrian wrote:...I have great results relieving sciatic pain using CranioSacral Therapy. It is very different from a massage; ...
Rosewood Holistic Health wrote:A fibromyalgia client coming in for her second craniosacral appointment said, "I can't remember the last time I had consecutive days without pain."
cstbrian wrote:
Gaspen wrote: So this is kind of what I told her (and other people):

The light amount of pressure allows your body to correct itself without any direction on my part. When working on a muscle or muscle group with regular massage, to a degree, I have a certain intent in mind. By using CST, your body does the directing, I'm just there to help facilitate the change or changes your body needs to make.
Yes! As CranioSacral Therapists we try to 'stay under the radar' allowing the client's body to be in full control. We simply support what his/her body needs to release in that session. Too much pressure and we are 'doing' rather than supporting.

Also, too much pressure and the tissue will resist the work. Keep in mind we are working with very sensitive, delicate nervous system tissues. Too much force and the system does not allow change.

I often use this narrative:
You are going to spend a beautiful day out on the lake fishing. You get to the dock and your boat (which is fortunately tied up) has drifted out away from the dock. You pick up the rope and give it one quick solid, hard, strong, tug. Of course nothing happens except perhaps you strained yourself.
Instead you get the idea that if you simply take up the slack in the rope and lean back that slowly, over a few minutes the boat will begin to move toward you as if without any effort. This is like CST.
We take up the slack in the tissues and with barely any effort wait for the tissues to release and move further in any given direction. It's a very natural way for the body to heal.
cstbrian wrote:Let me talk about this from my point of view ...

Let me start with one perspective of CranioSacral Therapy (CST) work.

We are walking around in a state of organized dysfunction. That is, our bodies are always protecting us and compensating for injury, illness, stress, trauma, etc. These compensations can go back to in utero (and some believe from genetics or past lives). Our bodies will do their best to organize in a way to minimize the dysfunction allowing us to remain upright and go through our days and our lives. To use a fairly common analogy, this is like the layers of the onion that get added to our bodies.

With CST we tune into the body's natural healing ability and support the body to dis-organize an area of organized dysfunction. By doing this we help the body to 'remove' the compensation. Then we support the body to re-organize in a more healthy way without the compensation. To use my previous analogy, we peel away a layer (or layers) of the onion. When this happens it sometimes takes the body 24-48 hours to re-organize in it's new, healthier way.

Sometimes what can happen is that as the compensating layers are 'peeled away' the old trauma, illness, or dysfunction can 're-surface' and create symptoms (soreness, pains, headaches, emotional issues, memories). It is a time when the body is looking at the 'issue' in the now, or in the present and deciding if it still needs the compensation or if the person/body is in a place where it can finally let it go (release it).

Not everyone experiences this. But when it does happen, I have to say "Good! Your body is making wonderful shifts to improve your health and well-being." While it may not feel comfortable for the client at the time, I help them to see that it really is their body making improvements for the better.

As your therapist, I would make notes of what you experienced and focus on some techniques in future sessions to help support more balancing and integration at the end of the session. I would also want to check in with the zygoma and hard palate again (esp the palatines because of the eye discomfort and headache).

As a side note to anyone who receives CST mouth work, the work should be very, very light and gentle. In CSTI we pass around nickels to 'calibrate' the lightness of the work. A nickel is about 5 grams. When doing mouth work, the therapist should work between 5-15 grams of force: VERY LIGHT. Working the palatines should be even less (around 1 gram). If a therapist is using too much force, he/she is working against the system and working against the body. Releases will not be effective and may create symptoms. Trust your body's inner wisdom. If it feels like too much force, ask the therapist to lighten up.

I tell clients that the work will continue to process for 24-48 hours and to just be aware of how they feel during that time. If they have questions they can contact me. If after 3 days he/she is experiencing discomfort I'll find out how 'bothersome' the discomfort is and figure out if he/she can wait until the next appt or if he/she should come in for a 5-10min balancing session. It is extremely rare (for me) that clients need to come in for a balancing. The vast majority feel fine after a couple of days.

Again, let me state that this does not happen for everyone. Most people receive a session and do not have big treatment reactions. But of course this is very individual.

I hope that helps explain things a little bit. I'm always open for any questions anyone might have. And remember to check out CranioSacral Therapy (CST) Threads Within BWOL. There is a lot of information about CST throughout those threads.
Zoe wrote:... regarding CST, it is always suggested to use the absolute lightest touch possible with the weight of a nickel being the deepest touch used -- throughout the body.


I also tell my clients to allow themselves at least two days for the CST work to really settle in as it is very subtle work that can have very profound effects over time.
cstbrian wrote:As Zoe stated, CST is always about using the lightest force possible to access the tissues of the body. In CSTI this is 5 grams. In CSTII for mouth work, and some sphenoid work, this may be 5-15 grams. But the therapist always starts off at 0 grams and SLOWLY increases pressure one gram at a time until the tissue is engaged. That could be at 1 gram, 4 grams or 10 grams on the hard palate. But always the minimum.

As one progresses through the advanced work there is a little more debated and learned about the 5 grams. Work within the craniosacral system stays in the 5 gram realm. But fascial release in the body can start to vary a bit. As you slowly sink in monitoring and following the fascial of say, the pelvis, you may need to use 200 grams - which is still less than .5 pounds of pressure. The key here is that you match the resistance of the restriction with 5 grams. However, the restriction may be 200 grams into the tissue.

I hope that makes a little bit of sense. It's kind of hard to explain in words - it's a very kinesthetic feeling you get the more you do this work. But as a whole, lighter is always better. It is very rare that I need to go beyond 20-30 grams when working in the body and rare that I use more than 10 grams anywhere in the craniosacral system itself.

If someone is using pounds of pressure in the cs system, then it's not really CST work and it's something else. If it is CST tell them to back off or find yourself another therapist. Too much force in this work works too much against the body and is not in line with our paradigm.

(Disclaimer: I have only studied Upledger CranioSacral Therapy. Other forms of CST may vary.)
originforces wrote:Hi Everyone, popping on this conversation late... in my 10th year of practicing CST. The mouth is really the emotional center of your body, it is our center for expression, the top of our digestive tract, our smile, home of the 5th cranial nerve. Working on the mouth in a therapeutic way (massage, CST, or other wise) will almost always bring up emotion, history, levels of detox.

I tell my clients to expect it at this point that they will want to go really slow and easy. there are a lot of people who have scratched the surface of CST and really aren't sure what they are doing. this is OK, but for those practitioners I suggest they get more training in trauma and shock before working on the mouth, because they need to understand how deep this work can take people if they are to really support their clients in transformational growth.

I agree with Brian-- we need a total re-organization, re-orientation. Healing is a process.

Food for thought:-)
P.S. Sutherland, in 1930 said the "hands should be as light as a feather on the breathe of god"---way, way lighter than a nickel!
Zoe wrote:Sounds like you had a great experience.
EgoMagickian wrote:I felt bored when I couldn't really tell there was anything going on... mostly in the beginning of the work. After I started to zonk out I became less concerned about being entertained :-)

But still, the work is mostly sooo subtle. I can't imagine what it's like for someone who consumes a diet of reality TV & mainstream shock & awe news shows, psyche-fragmenting processed foods, and daily corporate stresses—i.e. a "normal" person—to receive cranio.

BTW, the intraoral work I received was more like deep tissue than what I imagined CST to be like. She's highly trained, so who can say.
When I first started to offer CST I did have a couple of clients who felt absolutely nothing during or after the session even though I felt things happening in their bodies. I think they were looking for profound shifts and the subtlety of what happened was lost on them. I learned by working on these folks that before the session I now take a good bit of time talking with the client about the types of releases they might experience on the table during a CST session. I find that by giving them tacit permission to "flop" around on the table or twitch or spontaneously stretch and readjust themselves during the sessions helps them let go or allow for when it starts to happen. The biggest thing I want to make sure of is they understand that I am simply a facilitator in the process so the things happening are their bodies responses to the technique and the more they allow the release to happen the more benefit they receive from the session. I also offer to tell them what I'm feeling is happening during the sessions which seems to help them focus more on their bodies.
WaltFritz wrote:Jason,

I was primarily trained in CST by Barnes, though I took some training through Upledger as well. Thus, I pay less attention to the theoretical basis that is taught in pure CST. So, my paradigm was shifted first in the way I was taught, but secondly by using this modality for many years. My instinct is that my form of CST would not resemble much of what an Upledger trained experienced therapist might practice. I have read all of the criticisms of CST theory, but they mean little to me. The training is valuable, no matter who teaches it. Go for it!

<snip from another post by WaltFritz:>

CST, as it is taught by Upledger, et al, does have shortcomings when it comes to proof. If one sticks to the 5 gram model, then the research shows that change(as it has been described) is not possible. "In the single animal that underwent additional distractive forces, movement across the coronal suture was not seen until the 500-g force, which produced 0.30 mm of separation but no corresponding ICP changes." (from the final citation listed).

I have no problem using 500grams or more, at times, to work with the cranium. I am not necessarily looking for intracranial pressure changes as a sign of improvement. I have never found the craniosacral rhythm to be a necessary tool in treatment, so the fact that no inter-rater reliability exists does not bother me in the least.

Don't we all pick and choose those elements from a modality that suit us or our clients best?
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Thank you notes and garnering referrals.

Post by pueppi » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:11 pm

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CranioSacral and Cranial Osteopathy

Post by pueppi » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:47 pm

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Re: Upledger / Milne / Etc. - Craniosacral work

Post by pueppi » Thu Feb 15, 2018 2:08 am

This is a fairly easy to read history/etc. of CranioSacral Therapy:

This article discusses Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy:
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