Cranio Sacral Therapist and Student Newsletter 28

October 21 -2007

Questions and comments for this issue:

+ Arachnoid Mater, what the?
+ Case story from Jean McDonald.
+ 3D visualisation tips.


I watched a very good movie the other day
called ‘Reign Over Me’.  It stars Adam Sandler and
Don Cheadle.  Surprisingly Adam Sandler does a
spot of acting in this movie which makes a change
from the, blowing beer out through his nostrils,
sort of roles he usually plays.

It is a good portrayal of how someone deals
with post traumatic stress and the therapeutic
process.  Have your tissues ready, the climatic
scene had me tearing up like a little puppy.
It is listed among the other DVDs I recommend here.

There is a new cranio sacral book by James Nemec.
I particularly like the dramatic byline on the
article, ‘L.A. Playwright Creates an Enormous Wave
with His New Book – Touch the Ocean.’

Frédéric Cherri is doing great things in New
Zealand.  Between himself and Ged Sumner they are
cooking up all sorts of wonderful post graduate

Visceral Intelligence with Jed. Equine
Craniosacral with Judah Lyons. Craniosacral
Anatomy with Paul Doney.  They have had such a
strong response for their main 2 year course they
have had to start another class.  It begins on the
27th of November.  It’s all on their site at

Anyhu, let’s get on with the mailbag.


Dear John,

My question is about the meninges and in
particular the arachnoid mater.  From the
descriptions I have read I am not clear where
exactly the arachnoid layer is in relation to the
other layers of membrane and where CSF is in
relation to it.  Is there CSF between the
arachnoid mater and the dura mater?

Any clarification would be gratefully received.

Kind regards


The confusing thing about the arachnoid mater
is its web like tendrils or arachnoid trabeculae
as they call them in my local, that extend across
the sub-arachnoid space.


Well I found them confusing anyway . . .

Let me explain it to you in the way it was
explained to me by a diesel mechanic many years
ago. . .

You’ve got your 3 layers of membrane that go to
make up the meninges or membrane system.  Your
outer most layer is the Dura Mater.  Dura meaning
tough and Mater meaning mother.

Tough Mother. Get it?

Cracks me up every time.


Suit yourself.

Your inner most layer is the pia mater.
Pia meaning soft or tender and Mater meaning
Tender Mother.
Sweet, but not funny at all really.

Your pia is soft, thin and follows the contours
of everything it covers.  So it goes down into all
the sulci and over all the gyri of your brain.

Your dura on the other hand is tough and forms
this outer layer of the membrane system.  Think of
it like a balloon.  Granted it would be an odd
shaped balloon and certainly not one to bring to a
kiddies party but balloon-like none the less. A
balloon with vertical and horizontal-ish dividing

So you’ve got your outer layer and your inner
layer and the bit in the middle is the arachnoid

Arachnoid meaning spider like and Mater meaning
Mother.  It’s really the web aspect of spiders
that it gets its name from.
Spider-web-like- mother.
That’s just creepy.

The different descriptions of the arachnoid
mater are confusing.  In one book it will be
called a layer and the diagram will show it
looking pretty much like the other two layers.

Then in another book it will be described as
being weblike and in the picture it won’t look
like a layer at all.

The thing is both are true, it is a layer and
it is web-like too.  The closest thing I can think
of to help you get a visual of it is Velcro.  Take
an open strip of Velcro.  It doesn’t really matter
which side, the stiff side or the fuzzy side.

You will see that there is a layer and from
that layer the furry stuff extends.

It’s kind of the same with your Arachnoid
layer.  It’s a layer from which the web-like
tendrils extend.  The layer part adheres to the
dura so the tendrils extend across the sub-
arachnoid space to the . . . anyone?

That’s right, the pia.

And now it should be clearer where your CSF or
cerebro spinal fluid, as I like to call it, is.


Okay it is between the Arachnoid and Pia.
Because of the way the Arachnoid layer is made,
cerebro spinal fluid flows around and through the
spider web of tendrils that extend from the layer
part of the arachnoid layer.

These tendrils actually help the whole shock
absorber aspect of the cerebro spinal fluid.



Jodie is a lively six year old girl who likes to
play with her little sister and friends and
occasionally to spar with her big brother. She has
a quiet confidence and definite sense of herself
She is attending the local school and has just
completed her last term and year at special school.

Mum caught the Millennium bug while expecting
Jodie, this occurred during the second trimester,
so the much awaited lively baby was welcomed into
the world to join brother – and the family was now

The first year of life was busy but uneventful
except for a throat infection at one year.  Being
an experienced Mum some tendency towards being
emotional was noted, these seemed to be around
changes in Jodie’s life. When now shoes were
bought Jodie would want to wear the old ones.
Jodie didn’t like being touched on her head,
having her hair or teeth brushed. Her hearing was
also very sensitive.

Mum and Dad investigated these symptoms and in the
second year of life Jodie was diagnosed as having
mild to moderate Autism.  During this year while
at the playground Jodie had a fall which impacted
on her head.

Toileting problems had caused some upsets at
school and that was one of the reasons I was asked
to call and treat Jodie. On the first consultation
in May 2005 Jodie’s posture was tending towards a
forward bend at times with some busy movements of
the legs, which suggested the possibility of some
dural tube restriction. The CranioSacral rhythm
was higher on the right side of the body, the
respiratory diaphragm restricted and the left knee
held more restriction then the right.  She liked
being upside down, this was beneficial for her
respiratory diaphragm and it helped me in gaining
a supporting handle to her sacrum so that
lengthening the dural tube in the spine was
facilitated. Palpation of the respiratory
diaphragm was followed by an exothermic release.

Two Robot Toys were played with both of which
continually “lost their heads”. Jody was
inquisitive and I spoke about her manubrium at the
top of her sternum which I treated. Her picture as
a baby was on the wall and I talked briefly about
when she was little.

On the Consultation of 19th May the Temporal bones
and Parietals were palpated and also down through
the cranium to Maxillae. Jodie is keenly aware of
teeth, and she had some questions about mine as
one is slightly different in colour to the others,
we talked about this referring to the
discolouration being a result of medication. The
conversation included when she was a baby and had
a throat infection when medicine was needed to
make her better. During this Jodie allowed some
palpation work to be done on the temporal and
parietal bones. Following that visit there was a
period of screaming, with a retreat to her bedroom
and under the duvet.

The next visit mainly related to Jodie’s left ear,
Lumber 5-Sacrum 1, Jodie’s squamous suture and her
left foot.

In the early visits Jodie was not inclined to
chat, at the end when I was leaving Jodie would
pick a flower for me. Gradually Jodie became more
talkative and her speech more clear.  The strong
sense of herself which Jodie has is clearly
expressed in what she likes, her favourite
colours, toys – characters and animals about which
she has many stories. Increasingly Jodie was
indicating the parts of the body on her toy
characters which were “sore”. Playing with
Question: Where?..Oh
Answer:NO silly not there ,Here!
Question: Like this? … Answer  Yes.

Jodie would laugh and let off steam. Gradually
verbal communication increased. At times teeth
grinding was prevalent, some indirect approaches
at mouth work were tolerated. Going inside the
mouth resulted in a closing of the teeth on my

Some treatments took place while Jodie was in
Mum’s arms some involved the slide in the garden
and some others while Jodie looked through her
books. Following sessions where the dural tube was
lengthened very often Jodie would have a tendency
to want cuddles from Mum.

More CranioSacral work has made Jodie receptive in
the main part to having her head palpated.
Her diagnosis has been lifted.

Growth implies that stretching the membranes to
allow more normal accommodation of the nervous
system is required. This is monitored by Jodie’s
Mum and myself.

Jean Mc Donald


Thanks for that great case story Jean.  I’m
sure it will be an inspiration to all who read
this newsletter.
It will also be a beacon of hope for all the
parents around the world who find their way to my
websites looking for possibilities for their


Dear Mr Dalton,
I am writing to you in the hope that you may be
able to help me.  I am having trouble visualising
the anatomical structures associated with my
craniosacral studies.  When I close my eyes all I
can see are the pictures from the anatomy books I
have studied.

You have said in previous newsletters that we need
to develop the facility to look at these
structures from any angle with our minds eye.  I
have never been very good at this kind of thing.
I have difficulty reading maps, for example.

Do you have any technique to help marry these flat
images to what I am feeling with my hands and make
my mental images more real.

Kind regards,
United Kingdom.


The first thing to do is let go of the notion
that you are not very good at this.  If you are
intent at getting better at cranio sacral work
that thought is not going to help.

Do your best to replace it with, ‘I may not
have been good at this kind of thing in the past
but that doesn’t mean I am not going to be good at
it now.’

Here are some exercises that may help.  Before
you start it is a good idea to get both sides of
your brain involved.  Any kind of cross body
activity will help this.

For example, while standing begin to ‘march’ in
time.  Raise your knees and alternately touch each
knee with your opposite hand. Progressively, move
your elbows to each knee in sequence.

Alternatives are to touch each heel behind your
back with opposite hands.

or tug each earlobe with opposite hands.

You can also do what are called ‘lazy eights’.
Draw a large figure eight [about 18cms long] on a
piece of paper.  Turn the picture sideways. Hold
your head steady, then place your finger at the
centre of the eight.

Keeping your eyes fixed on the tip of your
finger start to trace the figure eight with your
finger tip.

It is the movement of your eyes that activates
the hemispheres of your brain so make sure you
move only them and not your head.

Once you get the hang of this exercise you can
do away with the paper.

Feeling all integrated?

Lovely.  Lets get on with the exercises.

Start off with something simple and familiar
like a teacup or milk jug.  Take a seat at your
kitchen table and place the teacup in front of you
with the handle facing away.

Close your eyes and try and visualise what the
teacup looks like from the other side.  The side
you can’t see.  The side with the handle.

If you draw a blank pick it up and look at what
it looks like from the other side.  Then start

Once this starts to get easier then include the
environment the teacup is in.  When you visualise
what the teacup looks like from the other side
include the whole picture.

As well as seeing the other side of the teacup
you will see the other side of the room.  The side
of the room that is behind you.

You will know you are making progress when you
can see the other side of the cup, including the
other side of the room and including yourself
sitting there visualising it.


From the other side of the teacup you are in
the picture, right?

Next, think of your minds eye like a camera.
This time, instead of seeing the other side of the
teacup, circle around the teacup with your minds
eye to the other side.

Make sure you see the different facets as you
go.  If you have trouble with this do it for real.
Open your eyes and slowly circle the teacup to the
other side taking careful note of how it changes
as you move.  Then go back to the other side close
your eyes and start again.

Next, try and visualise what the teacup looks
like from above.  If you find this hard, stand up
and look down on the cup.  Take it all in, fix it
in your minds eye, then sit down, close your eyes
and try again.

Next, try and visualise what the teacup looks
like from below.  If you find this hard, pick up
the cup and look at it from below.  Put the cup
back down, close your eyes and try again.

To include what the environment the teacup is
in, and looks like from below, imagine that the
kitchen table is made of glass.

If you can’t imagine what that would look like
take the cup out of the way and put your head on
the table looking up.

If any friends or family are around it might be
worth explaining to them what your are doing.
Other wise it might look to them like you have
been staring intently at the china for no apparent
reason and now you are having a little kip on the
kitchen table.

That done, sit down again and try and visualise
what the teacup looks like from below including
the view of the room from that perspective.

Once you get the hang of this, introduce
movement.   Imagine what it would look like if you
were looking at the cup from above and then circle
downwards until you were looking up at the cup
from below.

As before, if you have trouble visualising this
then do it for real.  Stand up and look down on
the cup then circle downwards all the time looking
at the cup, taking in the changing perspective and
being careful not to bump your head on the table.

Next, get under the table and see what it looks
like from below.  Fix it in your mind.  Take your
seat again and imagine what the underside of the
table looks like.

Next imagine your minds eye being able to see
through the table.  So you should be able to see
the underside of the teacup again. Practice going
back and froth with this. See the underside of the
cup then pull back to seeing only the underside of
the table then go through the table again to the
underside of the cup and so on.

Do the exercise with objects of progressively
more complex shape.  Work up to an organic object
like a house plant.

When you feel like you are doing well with
this, introduce a second object. It will be easier
if you use objects of contrasting shape in the
beginning.  So instead of using two teacups use a
teacup and a box.  That way the curves of the
teacup will contrast nicely with the angles of the

Go through the above exercise again.

When you start to introduce movement, make sure
that you can visualise both objects
simultaneously.  In the beginning you may find
that you can only visualise one object or the

Also, make sure that you can visualise how they
move in relation to each other.

Repeat the exercise until you can see the two
objects from all perspectives in your minds eye.
Then add a third object and start again.
Repeat the process until you can hold five objects
in your minds eye.

Next put a tablecloth on the table and put the
five objets on it.  Allow space between each
object.  Take a corner of the tablecloth and pull
it gently.  Take note of how the objects move as
you pull the tablecloth.

Close your eyes and try and replay what you
have seen in your mind. Then try and see it from
different angles.  If you get stuck open your eyes
go to the angle you can’t visualise and watch it
for real.  You may need to get someone else to do
the tablecloth tugging.

This tablecloth exercise will give you a good
idea of what effect restrictions have on
structures in our bodies.

Once you get into the swing of this kind of
visualisation you can do it anywhere.

Take whatever you are looking at and see if you
can visualise what it looks like from all angles.
Cars, buses, trains, trees, buildings.

When you feel like you are mastering this you
can progress to remodelling in your head.

Start with your living room.  Move the
furniture around in your head. Try and imagine
what the furniture will look like in different
places.  What will fit where?

If it’s not too difficult physically move the
furniture to the places you imagined and see if
you were right.  Did that table fit in that corner
and so on.

Another very useful exercise you can do is to
make models of the structures you are trying to
visualise.  You don’t have to get all fancy with
it and it doesn’t have to be pretty.  You can use
pipe cleaners and card bord boxes or anything you
find it easy to work with.

I once had a student that was convinced she was
‘no good at art’ and so couldn’t make models.  We
talked about it and focused on what she thought
she WAS good at.  Eventually she admitted she was
good at cooking.  So after a little persuasion she
went on to make some fantastic models made out of

And finally get yourself a copy of Edward
Muntinga’s DVD.  He has packed it with some
excellent animated 3D models of the structures we
work with.
it will help a lot.

So that’s it for this issue.

Till the next time.

Your Mate,

John D.


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