Thom Bond’s Compassionate Communications course and Robin Grille’s Inner Child Process greatly influence my therapy practice. People come to me to seek refuge from suffering and to change their patterns. I help individuals create new behaviors and thought patterns in their bodies and minds using somatic experiencing, craniosacral therapy, and these two psychodynamic therapies. Parents come to me to seek support when they have children who challenge their psyche and disposition. Very few people who seek out my help realize that their struggles have origins from their childhood and even from generations before them. One of the key facets to understanding how to change the present is to understand how the past lays down the foundation for our behaviors, beliefs, and values. Parenting is steeped in “old ways” of thinking, traditional parenting paradigms rely on shaming, manipulation, intimidation, judgment, gaslighting, isolation, domination, and conditional love. Building awareness around (1) how we communicate with ourselves and others and (2) what need(s) are driving our behaviors is the first step to healing and creating change.
Thom Bond’s revolutionary research and teachings on how to communicate with compassion can be used to understand the premise of somatic-based therapies and the psychobiological principles of attachment. Thom Bond is the Founder and Director of the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication and the Creator and Leader of The Compassion Course.
“Needs are not ideas or cars or stuff to do, and they aren’t signs of weakness or selfishness, but rather they are the energy of life that flows through us.”
-Thom Bond, VOGUE
The other puzzle piece to my therapy techniques is Robin Grille’s Inner Child Process. Robin Grille is a counselor and psychotherapist who designed a universal table of developmental needs that outlines an identical trajectory in every human being. His process entails bringing awareness to what fundamental needs we have or have not had when we were growing up and how we can meet those needs in the present time, and go on to understand and meet the needs of our children.
I encourage clients and students taking the Journey Backwards course to practice NAMING needs for themselves by keeping a journal. I invite them to make 1 to 3 entries per day that describe an act or words spoken by someone in their family or workplace and imagine the need they are trying to meet. Thom Bond posted a needs list on his website that I encourage clients to use. It’s important to limit the words used in naming to the ones on this list.
Why is understanding needs so important in shifting our psyche and well-being, particular for those raising children now or in the future? Again it goes back to awareness, or the trend word today, consciousness. Bringing awareness, or naming the pattern is the first step to implementing change.
In an interview I recently did with one of my teaching partners, Emily McCrea from Rebel Shift, I ask her to define Conscious Parenting,
“It’s really about awareness. Most of us didn’t have our needs met as children. Parents, teachers, doctors, caregivers, schools, communities, etc have not understood the brain science of the developing brain in the early years of life and the impact of environment, emotional and physical, plays on the developing brain. We know more now-our environments work in tandem with our genes. We also know that the brain is rapidly developing yet inefficient until age 7. During those early years, 95% of the brain develops, laying neuro pathways and creating the foundation for later learning. The way we view the world and our understanding of the world being safe or not developed early. And our brains continue to develop until age 25, that means we are kids until around 25 years old. We know that trauma affects our ability to learn and grow. Trauma keeps us stuck in childhood. We may look like adults but really many of us are just wounded kids walking around in big bodies.
So what do kids need to develop in healthy ways? We are mammals, we are biologically designed to be connected. And beyond food, clothing, and shelter, children need connectedness and attention, safety and security, support and autonomy, freedom of expression, boundaries, love, mastery, competence, to be seen and heard-
No one taught us to look inside ourselves for support so we search outside to ease our internal conflicts. Negative behavior is an external attempt to meet internal needs- Identifying our internal and unique needs and feelings is the path forward.
We respond automatically, when we are triggered and we struggle to access our thinking mind, like a trigger we are instantly pulled back into our “lizard” brains to assess the situation for safety or danger, scanning and seeking evidence to confirm if we are safe or in danger. As a survival mechanism we disconnect from ourselves. Because so many of us have unprocessed trauma in our bodies, our brains over react and automatically respond to the sensations in our body with maladaptive strategies, that’s a fancy term for impulsive, irrational behavior, like rage. These strategies grew in us over time in environments that were not nurturing, possibly even hostile, or harmful. Our bodies are overwhelmed and desperate for relief, and our brains flood with cortisol and adrenaline; therefore we are without access to our thinking mind so we overreact.
That’s the space I want to spend some time, the space where our wounded parts live. When we can connect to our wounded parts and objectively observe ourselves from a distance we can gather the information we need to grow the skills we need to function in moments of distress.
We can learn to pause when we are angry or overwhelmed, just because we are mad doesn’t mean we have to react to it. Beyond that logic is missing tools- how to regulate, how to process, how to organize our experiences and name our needs and feelings. This is a learning process and can be difficult and it takes loads of practice, and it’s available when we are ready.”
So, go for it. You don’t have to be a client of mine or anyone else’s. You can start understanding your needs today. Try journaling or developing a mindfulness practice in which you start tracking the meaning behind people’s behaviors and pinpointing that behavior to a word(s) on this Needs List. This practice will enhance your relationships with your friends, family, loved ones, co-workers, and partners, to name a few.
Science now shares a profound truth that babies are sentient, conscious beings who have the potential to shake down the very foundations of societal ills engrained in our economic, political, and spiritual structures. This truth remains largely unknown to humanity, and yet it carries the greatest potential for all mankind. In order to cultivate this truth and allow our children to mature into adults who can create stability, growth and connection within our communities, we must first eradicate birth trauma by dispelling the current technocratic birthing practices. Bringing awareness to the population at large of the true nature of children and how they function is key to making this goal a reality. The premise of birth trauma lies in betrayal, and to truly comprehend it, we must first come into relationship with our own experience of betrayal. So, with this essay, and for future audiences, I intend to explain my own embodied experiences when I have encountered treachery from those I trusted most. I will connect these similar embodied experiences to my son’s sense of betrayal he experienced during his gestation period, birth, and breastfeeding experience; all experiences tainted for him by my ignorance of his conscious, sentient nature. Knowledge of what is causing betrayal in our most vulnerable population is the first step to shifting the world.
Ray Castellino documents the essential steps for setting up a birth passage free of trauma and betrayal in his article, “Being with Newborns.” If any rupture in this sequence occurs, then an infant experiences betrayal. This type of overwhelm has definitive and resolute outcomes in the hardwiring of a child’s nervous system that impacts their behavior, neurodevelopment, emotional states, and belief systems. In sum, every child needs two parents who are loving and nurturing of each other, are well prepared physically, emotionally and spiritually for the welcoming of new life, and are capable of developing a felt sense and awareness of the new soul’s presence (Castellino 1996). With this magical elixir of mutual support, consciousness, connection, and joyous welcome, a child will flourish and grow in health and love. The horrifying reality, though, is that 98% of children born into this world experience some form of trauma (Castellino 1996). This tragedy is evident in the national and global crisis facing our children’s health and overall state of being. As Wendy Anne McCarty states in her 2008 article “Investing in Human Potential in the Beginning of Life: Key to Maximizing Human Potential”:
[A] much more silent crisis is brewing all across America relating to our infants and children. We see an alarming rise in prematurity, low-birth weights, surgical births, autism, ADHD, childhood aggression and depression, asthma, overweight and obese children, attachment disorders, learning disabilities, and use of psychiatric drugs to manage children’s conditions, as well as a rise in the number children in foster care, adolescent homicide, child abuse and teen pregnancy (Glenn, M. & McCarty, WA., 118).
From reading Castellino’s article, I recounted the stages of both my pregnancies, only to realize that most of the crucial steps he outlines were missed. My children were deeply betrayed, and I see the same outcomes in my children as I see in myself, patterns of behavior afflicted with anxiety, anger, depression and physical suffering that ultimately stem from betrayal I incurred during my entry and upbringing in the world. When I turned inward and began to come into relationship with this knowledge, a sense of horror swelled from the center of my stomach and tightened like a frozen ball of ice. In moments of true despair, grief, abandonment, and betrayal, when emotions overwhelm me, existential questions always arise. Why must we have pain and suffering? Why has God forsaken me? Why must the world be this way? Why is coming into existence so excruciatingly painful? Who made the world this way? Why do we turn a blind eye to the atrocities facing mankind and our Planet? How can we stop apathy and despair?
I decided to jog my memory for times when I was most overwhelmed, and I looked to what caused these episodes initially. In my twenties, I will never forget the grief and betrayal I experienced when the father of my firstborn left me. I remember the last encounter we had when he broke the news that he was leaving. I didn’t feel much in that moment, it was the moments after ground zero that were devastating. Metaphorically, I can compare it to a meteor striking the Atlantic Ocean—an immediate contraction of the liquid body absorbing the impact occurs, releasing forces of equal and opposite direction to encapsulate and counter-oppose the impact. Once a point of neutrality arises, the energy disperses outward sending shock waves of equal momentum throughout the field of time and space around the site of impact. The first few moments after my partner declared his new life, confusion whirled in my head, thoughts bounced round and round, leaving my body cold and numb, as if all the energy in my body went into absorbing the news. I turned to go in my house. My legs were moving, but they felt far away, like my head was disconnected and miles apart. It felt like nobody was home, my body was vacant. I crawled onto my bed and curled up into a ball. My stomach churned and I squelched the urge to vomit. I laid there listless, complete apathy settled in my bones.
The impact of the separation lasted for weeks. Moments would come over me and I would sob so hard, my body would violently shake. A wave of heat would swell from my pelvis, up my spine, and spread from my neck to my face and ears. The tears of sadness made me feel so forlorn, so alone, and forgotten. I doubted my self-worth, my existence. Who could I possibly be? After the initial shock wore off, I remember the obsessive thoughts that took over my life. Thoughts of him consumed me and I would imagine over and over how I could contact him, what I would say. I would beg and plead inside my head with make believe conversations I would have with him. These little fantasies were reruns on auto pilot, endlessly churning. My appetite disappeared and in its place my stomach twisted in knots. I suffered from reflux and “fire” tongue. I felt anxious like I couldn’t sit in my own skin. I had to move and keep busy. I could go all day and night without food, just water, and even that was not appealing. After a couple of weeks of this hypervigilant anxiety, I then started to slow down. I had very little energy. I would lie on my couch on the weekends watching movies all day. I no longer wanted to move. I didn’t even want to think. I just felt like a blob that would fade into the shadows. I had no purpose, no drive, no passion. My body felt heavy and dull. I was forsaken. I had been betrayed.
Science is now revealing to us that these embodied emotions originate from intricate chemical and electric reactions taking place in the neuroendocrine pathways. In other words, trauma has specific repercussions that manifest in our behaviors. Ray Castellino documents shock affect characteristics in the physiology, behavior and energetic fluid fields of neonates (Castellino, pg 7-8). I like to explain development as a continuum, everything from the starting foundation affects the hierarchal levels. The embryo begins in a fluid field with the building blocks of blood, neurons, and energy. When overwhelm or trauma enters this fluid field, it creates roadblocks, or little pockets of energy that get absorbed into the tissue field. These energy pockets get cut off from the system and begin to act like black holes sucking in solids and energy, building their own inertial systems. This form of disconnection causes neuronal pathways to be less connected. The whole point of development is to grow a brain that is connected from the bottom up and from the top down.
The human brain is the only organ that is not fully developed at birth. It begins developing at day 40 after conception. The neocortex is the seed for the genesis of neurons, which will explode throughout gestation and for the next ten years of life. The primary factor governing this growth in the fetal brain is feedback from the mother by means of nutrition and stimulation at the physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual levels. Only the brain’s basic structures are present at birth (Melillo 2015). Paul MacLean coined the term, the Triune Brain, to explain the three functional hemispheres of the human brain: the primitive (reptilian), limbic (mammalian), and new cortex (neomammalian). The base of the brain encases the brainstem, or reptilian brain, which controls all of our most basic functions and is the seat of our subconscious mind. The middle brain, or limbic system governs our emotions and is the reactive part of us that initiates “fight or flight”. The cerebral cortex controls all of our higher-order conscious activity, and is what makes us regulated, conscious, and compassionate humans (MacLean 2009).
The brain builds from stimulation. Positive stimulation in a safe, supported, and loving environment allows for growth; whereas, unsafe, disconnected, non-supportive environments result in a body that is in survival mode, or “fight or flight,” battering away at overwhelm and trauma. Ray Castellino’s checklist for being with newborns in a co-creative field was largely missed with both of my pregnancies, and the evidence remains in both of my children. I would not have been able to comprehend Castellino’s shock affect characteristics if I had not witnessed for myself Dr. Melillo’s Brain Balance program. I conducted the evaluation with my daughter shortly after having my second child in a traumatic hospital setting. I saw from him patterns that I saw in my first child. I intuitively knew something was going on that was beyond my awareness. I had to find out what was causing his stress and erratic behaviors. He couldn’t breastfeed and he slept for hours and hours. So I decided to test my daughter. The assessment tests from the Brain Balance program revealed that she had deficiencies in all seven areas of brain growth:
Motor: muscle tone, coordination, and strength
Sensory: correlating to the five senses of touch, smell, taste, vision, and hearing
Emotional: ability to control and display emotions at appropriate times
Behavior: acting appropriately and social interactions
Academic: abilities required for learning and retention
Immune: tendencies toward allergies and chronic illnesses
Autonomic: self-regulation of body functions
After taking these tests, Castellino’s remarks on trauma ring true for me, “Stressful and traumatic events during prenatal life and birth imprint both the baby’s body and the baby’s psyche. Traumatic imprints overlay the true self and profoundly impact the emerging person and how they will be later on in life. Body structure, movement patterns, sense of self and lifelong strategies manifest from these early traumatic imprints” (Castellino 1996).
When I think of my son when he was conceived, I felt his presence and I welcomed him with an open, loving heart. I wanted him more than anything, and I had held a place for him for almost two years prior to his conception. When I told my husband that I was expecting, he panicked and lashed out in fear. He did not want the burden of a child on his shoulders again, the lifelong commitment, the financial consequences, the physical and emotional toil that children always bring. He quickly became furious, and I withdrew into myself—building a wall to ward off the world of betrayal that existed for me, and always had from the earliest days in my own childhood experience. I lashed out in anger directed at my husband. We fought for the first five weeks of my son’s development in utero. Our marriage almost ended. In the deepest moments of despair, my stomach would be coiled in knots, my appetite gone, confusion at the helm—sobs would rock my body as I lay wide awake at night with my husband in a different room. When I recall those moments and take into consideration another sentient being was experiencing every moment right there along with me, my heart breaks. I did not know to even talk to my son and assure him that this was not his fault. I wish I would have been aware of him and all his capabilities.
With these regrets, I will refrain in this paper from sharing his entire birth story and the countless ways he was repeatedly betrayed by the doctor, by the hospital system, by our culture, by his caretakers. The layers of betrayal run deep in a very condensed period of time. He was ripped from me during a cesarean operation. The doctor was losing him, because he was stuck in a transverse position and the contractions of my uterus were clamping down on his head that was wedged in my bicornuate shaped womb. He was resuscitated immediately after removal and raced off to the NICU. When he and I were united a day later, he could not breastfeed, and he screamed out in pain all through the night. He and I were both so frustrated. Now, when I consider just one moment of deep betrayal I experienced in my life and I compare it to my son, I wonder what in the world he was experiencing in his first few months after arriving into this world. It took weeks and months for me to recover from a broken heart, how my son survived makes me marvel at the resiliency of human nature. He fought through a tongue-tie surgery where I left him alone with a doctor and nurse to burn his skin attachment off with a laser. He underwent surgery at 9 months to reconstruct his penis from the hypospadias defect with which he was born. In hindsight, remembering his behaviors and his crying patterns, I am certain that babies experience betrayal in the same way all other humans experience it. Babies are not a different species.
What I look to now is the knowledge that these ruptures can be repaired, and most importantly that brains can be rewired. Resiliency can prevail through the phenomenon of neuroplasticity. Nerves form synapses/connections through repeated stimulation. The phrase “use it or lose it” rings true in this incidence. If you know how to stimulate the areas of the brain that are underdeveloped, then they can grow again in a secure and supported environment (Melillo 2015). To use my metaphor mentioned earlier of black holes, these underdeveloped areas in the brain are places where inertial fulcrums are present, organizing and isolating pockets of trauma in an energetic sense. Axons and dendrites of neurons are missing in these areas of “black matter”. Somatotropic therapy coupled with proper sensory stimulation is just one path for how neuroplasticity and integration can occur. Direct manipulation through fascia work, massage therapy, and osteopathic practices can help eliminate this stagnation of energy. The field of pre and perinatal psychology integrates a diverse set of therapies from polarity, EMDR, breathwork, birth regression, psychoanalysis, somatic trauma resolution, interpersonal biology, bodywork, and attachment therapy (White & Rhodes, 2013). Science also now shows us that epigenetics can be changed through diet, movement and stimulation.
In conclusion, I must share a fascinating story about Albert Einstein’s autopsy on his brain after his death. He donated his body for study in the name of science. Dr. Melillo outlined this story in his book Disconnected Kids. Einstein is considered one of the greatest minds of all time, but as a child he was far from brilliant. In fact, scientists now agree that Einstein had a significant learning disorder that today would be diagnosed as ADHD and/or dyslexia. He did not speak until he was around age seven and did poorly academically all the way through college. When he failed to get into graduate school at the age of twenty, he became a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office. He never gave up his cerebral pursuits, though. Just six years later he published the first draft of his scientific Theory of Relativity, which won him the Nobel Prize ten years later.
So, what turned the mind of a child who couldn’t pass the grade into a veritable Einstein? The answer is neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change and grow through stimulation, a term that was created by Dr. Marion Diamond. When Einstein’s brain was examined in 1955 by Dr. Marion Diamond, it was roughly the same size as most brains and had the average number of brain cells. However, they discovered that his brain possessed an enormous number of connections, or synapses, between brain cells, and more astrocytes, which are cells that nourish the synaptic junctions (Melillo 2015). At one point, we would have credited this to Einstein having good genes, yet we can now see it was the result of the unique way he used his brain (Diamond 1964).
Einstein passionately played the violin and piano. He once explained, when he was stuck on a mathematical problem, he would sit down and play music and envision his problem until the mathematical equation came to him. Put another way, listening to music (the sense of hearing) stimulated playing an instrument (physical activity), which is a right brain activity, and concentration on the equation (mental activity), which is a left-brain activity. Doing so on a repetitive basis not only strengthened the electrical connections between the left and right hemispheres, but new connections grew. Combined, they increased his brain power. As early as 1966, Diamond and her team demonstrated that putting young rats in a stimulating environment rich with challenge and new experiences increased glial cells. They discovered the same results when they placed elderly mice in an enriched environment: increased astrocyte numbers and complexity of synaptic connection had a direct correlation with better cognitive performance (Diamond 1964).
This story demonstrates how healing takes place in the present time, not in the past. History always repeats itself until transmutation occurs and something new is created. This new creation then becomes the next point in history. Now is the time to create a new story for our children, a story that dispels betrayal and replaces it with connection and love.
Castellino, Ray. Being with newborns. Santa Barbara: Castellino Training. 1996.
Diamond, Marian C.; Krech, David; Rosenzweig, Mark R. (1964). “The effects of an enriched environment on the histology of the rat cerebral cortex”. The Journal of Comparative Neurology. 123: 111–119.
Glenn, M. & McCarty, WA. “Investing in human potential from the beginning of life: key to maximizing human capital.” Journal of the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health23(2): 117-136, 2008.
MacLean, Paul D. The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions. New York: Plenum Press, 1990. Print.
Melillo, Robert. Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children With Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders. New York: Penguin, 2009.
White, K. & Rhodes, J. (2013) Summary of trends and influences in pre- and perinatal psychology. Position paper, Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health.
Craniosacral therapy sits on the fringe of alternative healthcare and alludes most people. Because it is an “energetic” healing modality, most people lack understanding of what it is and how it is a form of treatment of the autonomic nervous system, and ultimately every system in the body. In order to provide more clarity to people seeking help, I want to share true stories of how the therapy works, what it looks and feels like, who can receive the most impact from this type of care, and what clients have reported after receiving treatment. Every story is different and unique to the individual, but every account you will read is based on truth and the power of transformation.
How a new mother healed
Hearing the Birth Story
It was early spring, and I received a phone call from a new mother. She had given birth only a month prior to reaching out. She was quite emotional. Her baby was struggling to breastfeed, and she had seen a number of providers. Her pediatrician insisted her baby was fine, but that not all babies breastfeed or latch with success. She saw a lactation consultant who suggested her babe had a tongue-tie and was unable to transfer milk properly due to restriction of tongue movement. She had resorted to Facebook to gain insight on how other mothers were handling tongue-ties. She explained that surgery was truly a last resort for her, she wanted to avoid it at all costs. The baby and her had gone through a very long labor, and she had to have an epidural that didn’t take well. Ultimately, the baby was delivered by a vacuum. Since the birth, neither her nor the baby had slept very consistently. Wrought with anxiety, fear, exhaustion, and despair, she had read the words craniosacral therapy, in a group forum from a mother who said it worked with her child. So, she googled “craniosacral therapy near me” and Voila! My name appeared, so she took a leap of faith.
I spoke to her for about an hour, just listening to her birth story, and stories of her pregnancy. Like most mothers these days, she had very little time, she was a busy woman, and this was her first child. She never gave much thought to her birth plan, and she didn’t expect breastfeeding to be so hard. She had very little help from the hospital where she birthed, and outside of the pediatrician appointment, she had essentially no postpartum medical support.
I listened and helped her slow her pace when her story started to recapitulate her overwhelm. I gently encouraged her to take a pause, take a breath. I would probe her with more specific questions as needed, and held a container to truly listen and attune to her. I could feel her nervous system through the phone without even having to be in contact with her body or in physical proximity to her—all part of the process as a craniosacral therapist. After she relayed her birth story to completion, I said I could come see her the next day, and that I would drive to her home. She was relieved to know she didn’t have to pack up her baby to go out for another appointment.
I packed up my massage table, my medical gloves, and off I went the next morning. When I arrived, I was greeted by her whole family, her mother and husband, grandpa too. I could feel the sense of anxiety riding in the air, the troops had been called in to help this mother and her babe. The anticipation for some sort of settling lay thick in the air. Of course, I realized the babe was very keen to all these emotional sensations riding through his parents and their surround.
The very first thing I did after introductions was greet the little fellow. I said, “Do you know why I am here? Mommy called me and she needs some help. She says you and her aren’t sleeping so well, and you aren’t able to feed with comfort or ease. So, I am here to hear your story. Is that ok with you?” I paused. Acknowledgement of the baby is a crucial step with mother-baby DYADs. Very few people realize that babies are fully conscious, sentient beings. Yes, their nervous system and body has leap years of growth and development ahead, but they can sense everything around them. I let my eyes soften into their sockets. I intentionally settled my being, touching in with my sacrum, my root chakra, feeling my feet sturdy on the floor. I traced my spine up the vertical axis and moved my mind’s eye to my crown chakra. I noticed my front, my back, my sides and my insides. I started to track my own craniosacral rhythm—a skill you can use to follow the movement of your cerebrospinal fluid, a term used in our industry as primary respiration. The whole point is to slow down my nervous system and enter in a state of dynamic homeostasis—alert, aware, while calm and relaxed—a state of neutrality. All babies have nervous systems that are underdeveloped compared to an adult. They process their worlds much slower than adults do, so it’s important to be cognizant of the activity in and around their space.
Functional Bowen Therapy
The babe could sense my state of being, and he began to relax. I asked his permission to do a body assessment. His throat and neck were tight, and he had restricted mobility in his arm and shoulder. I worked his fascia using Bowen Technique I had learned from Judy Terwilliger. Often, in-utero positioning and the birth itself can cause muscles to stiffen or muscular patterns to develop that restrict natural movements. I worked his mouth, jaw, neck, cranium, side body, hips, shoulders, knees while talking to him. The family began to drop into a deeper space after about 15 minutes. I talked very intentionally and at a set tone and cadence. Then I asked mom to get positioned on the couch with babe in arms. I held her lumbar spine and her shoulder, while she held the babe. We sat for 10 minutes or so and I just listened and felt her rhythms in her body. I could feel heat discharging from her sacrum, and the babe was releasing heat as well. He drifted off to sleep at her breast.
After this bit of time, I asked mom to share how she had envisioned her birth for her son. I asked her to let her son know that she was scared at certain points and that it wasn’t his fault. This type of tool is called Belly Message, or Infant Coherent Narrative, a technique I learned from a prenatal and perinatal somatic therapist, Kate White. https://vimeo.com/378044960
I acknowledged to the sleeping babe that he may have been scared too, but that they had both made it. The mom really wanted to know if she should get a tongue-release for her son. She was terribly concerned, frightened, and overwhelmed. So, we made a transition in the therapy at that moment.
I had Dad come hold the babe, and I asked Mom to sit on the couch. We positioned an empty chair directly across from her. I instructed her on the Two Chair Method used by John Chitty and the principles of Polarity Therapy. I asked Mom to sit on the couch as herself, and that I would instruct her to switch from the couch to the empty chair. Once she was in the empty chair, I wanted her to imagine that she was her child. I let her know I would ask her questions and she would need to respond with the proper perspective, as her child in the chair, and as herself on the couch. And so, it begun.
She sat as mom on the couch, and I proceeded to ask her, “What is troubling you most right now about your son?”
She replied, “I don’t know why he can’t breastfeed and if I should go forth with a frenectomy procedure.”
I said, “Switch.” She transitioned to the chair, and I gave her a moment.
I prompted her that she was now her son, and I asked her to feel her seat, feel her body, and just breathe. Then I asked her, “What would you like to tell your mom?”
She thought for a moment and replied, “I want my mom to know that she already knows what is best for me.” I told her to switch.
She shifted and settled on the couch, I asked her to repeat the sequence of feeling her feet, noticing her seat on the couch, feeling her back, and to just breathe. I then said, “What do you notice in your body when you hear, ‘I want my mom to know that she already knows what is best for me’? She sighed. Tears welled up into her eyes. She said, “I just didn’t realize birth would be so hard for me and him, and breastfeeding has been so hard, and I keep spinning in my head all of these questions, but when I hear this, I feel a deep settling. I feel my body. I feel my chest relax, and heat spreads from my heart into my shoulders.”
I ask, “What happens next when you feel this settling in your body?”
She says, “I can feel the truth for my son and me. I do not think he needs a tongue-tie procedure.”
Craniosacral Therapy with Three Layers of Support
I ask for Dad to come sit next to Mom. All three of them cozy up on the couch. I have Mom lean back into Dad’s arms with her whole body laid up on the couch. Dad cradles Mom and babe. I sit and ground myself, and we just sit in silence as I start to track their “tides”, the primary respiration movement I referred to earlier. Baby is at the center while Mom holds baby, and Dad holds Mom, and I hold the three of them. After a few minutes, it is as if time stands still. The room opens up into a large, open space. The air seems lighter, and the room seems brighter as the three of them float into a plane of Peace. Their bodies release the emotional overwhelm through heat and quivering in the fluid field and muscle tissue. They come to rest in a regulated, parasympathetic state in their nervous system. Their heart beats fall into resonance and an emergent quality of synchronicity shapes the quantum field all around us. Babe sleeps on.
I wrap up the session and ask them to take a few moments to look around the room, making eye contact with different objects. I go over body stretches for them to do on a regular basis with their son for the next few weeks to help loosen up his muscles and increase the mobility of his jaw and tongue. We set up our next appointment for the following week. I go on my way.
The mom texted me the following day that their son slept through the night with just two feedings, and he fed at the breast. She sounded empowered with a sense of knowing.
I realize this was a simple story, but one that is often repeated for newborns. I often deal with much more complicated stories, but ultimately, most all mothers go through this transitional time. Mom and babe just need someone to really hear their stories, help them pace their nervous system, hold them in a container of love and support, help them integrate moments of overwhelm during their birth story, work out trigger points in the muscles, help the cranial bones align properly, and help the mother trust her instincts. Mothers always know what is right, if they just take the time to pause, breathe, and tap into their inner selves. Craniosacral therapy is a gentle form of treatment that allows for all of these natural processes to take place.