Cranio Sacral Therapist and Student Newsletter 39

April 4 – 2009

Questions and comments for this issue:

+ Special report from Mary Hegarty in Cape Town on autism.
+ Any results with tinnitus?
+ Treating children on Ritalin.
+ Working with the sphenoid.

Apparently there are as many creatures on your
body as there are people on Earth. Feel free to
use that one at your next dinner party. Here is
the video to back it up.
I wanted to call it,
‘Your Micro-organisms and You.’ but the makers
weren’t that keen.

If you are interested in developing ‘Virtuoso Touch’
have a read of Jesse Arana’s article on palpation.
He is a big fan of John Upledger. If that doesn’t
put you off too much he has some interesting
perspectives and observations.

In fact it was Jesse who let me know about Casa BESU
in Portabelo, Panama. This is an initiative by 4 cranio
sacral therapists to bring cranio sacral treatment and
training to the local community in Portabelo. It is a
great project and fits right in with my vision for
Open Source Cranio.

And while we’re on the subject of inspiring people,
get your tissues ready and have a look at this video of
Nick Vujicic
who faces obstacles I can’t even imagine
every day of his life. His message is great,
‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’

Stanford University has launched a video series from
7 of its faculty members in the fields of neuroscience,
bioengineering, brain imaging and psychology.
I haven’t had a chance to look at them all yet but
the ones I have seen are interesting.

My Masterclass DVD series is coming along nicely.
I have put a 10 minute video compilation of extracts
from it on this page.
You can also sign up for a Review Edition or an advance
copy there too.

Before we get into the mailbag here is a special report
from Mary Hegarty on work she was doing with a boy
diagnosed with autism in Cape Town.


Alpha School Case Report: The Boy with the Pencil
August 2007

The week ends with a bang on Friday as we enter the
Alpha School for Learners with Autism! Noise abounds,
footsteps echo off high ceilings and stairwells; pots
and pans clang and clatter in the kitchen; raised voices
reverberate greetings and admonitions, songs and laughter,
tears and tantrums.

Among the 65 days students, who are predominantly boys
between the ages of 5 and 18, most (85%) come from
disadvantaged homes. What all have in common is autism.
The spectrum is pretty wide. Some can language, read,
and count; others do not speak. Some have a
‘high functioning’ label, while others need help
with basics, even the toilet.

Our CST outreach program focuses on children under 12.
Teachers and their aides are a tremendous resource,
generously sharing information about what happens in
the classroom and on the playground when we are not there.

This is R’s story, ‘a lethargic boy with a dislike of
gross motor activity,’ as described in a 2005 psych
report. Back then he was often anxious and tearful
on the school bus, becoming sullen upon arriving at
school. He might scream for up to 20 minutes at a
stretch twice a day. He would hit himself during
tantrums on the floor.

At home, bedtime was problematic. R would often lay
awake for three hours before falling asleep at 11pm.
He could dress and undress and use the toilet. He
was not fond of sharing. He was able to use scissors
and a pencil. He would examine objects obsessively.
I met R in November 2005, when he was 9 years old,
and began working with him in the classroom. While
his teacher read a story, I supported R’s right kidney.

He would not allow contact with two hands. After the
story R wanted to go home, though when I asked
permission he said I could come back to see him.
Soon after the 2006 school year began, R’s teacher
said that his tantrums had stopped and he was
showing a marked improvement.

I met with his parents in February and explained CST
to them. They were keen for R to continue in the
program. By this time, R was allowing more contact
for longer periods during CST sessions. I could hold
his liver and kidney areas with no fuss, though he
continued to be less enthusiastic about cranial
contact when I tried to hold his frontal bone,
sphenoid and parietals.

Early in March 2006, R came to school very charged.
That day he refused treatment, saying ‘GO AWAY!
Not today!’ Not to be deterred, I sat beside him
briefly, offering verbal support without physical
contact. I promised to return in a week’s time.

The next few days would bring a devastating loss to
R and his family. On the evening of R’s 10th birthday
his dad was struck by a taxi and killed instantly
while riding his bike home from work.

The following Friday, R did not want me or CST, but
his teacher insisted. A classmate supportively held
R’s hand and accompanied us to the OT room. There R
leaned against me and stared blankly at the colourful
posters hanging on the wall. Moving onto a big red
physio ball, I gathered him into my lap, rocking
gently. My hands made a sandwich of his mid-thoracic
spine and his heart/solar plexus.

After 20 minutes, we joined his classmates on the
playground. He sank onto the picnic bench, leaned
against me and cried. Another 20 minutes passed
and R gazed skyward, lifted his arms and became very
agitated. We walked back to the classroom, where he
began to settle.

We enjoyed a couple of good sessions before the
winter holidays, but by the time Term 3 began,
R’s tantrums had begun again. Concerned, his
classroom teacher, the school psychologist and
I paid a home visit to the humble cinderblock
cottage bordering the airport, where we listened
for two hours to his mom’s non-stop story. It was
clear that the entire family was in crisis.
I was just a volunteer practitioner working with
one family member. That would have to be enough.
Since that home visit, I created a routine when
working with R. I announce my arrival at school
to R and ask his permission to return in a while.

For the next year and a half, on good days I would
sit beside R and watch him draw (he’s becoming
quite the artist!). If I’m lucky he allows contact
somewhere on his back for a brief period, and in
rare circumstances on the cranial vault. I ask
about his family. On a not-so-good day, R tells me
to go away! On those days I sit beside him without
touching… but I DO NOT GO AWAY!!!

When R’s class was invited to join in an art
program at a nearby school, R refused to participate,
even though he loves to draw. In his collapsed world,
venturing into unknown waters is too threatening.

On a rainy Friday in August 2007, I arrived on time
to see R’s classmates filing into the media room to
watch a video. R had stayed behind in the classroom
to draw on his own. His teacher said R did not sleep
the night before. I pulled up a chair and remarked
that he must be exhausted. It was just the two of us,
the room was quiet. R wore a track suit made with
slippery fabric, and I decided to try massaging his
back, neck, shoulders and arms. No protest. For the
next 35 minutes, bent over his desk, R surrendered to
cranio sacral therapy… cranium, spine, sacrum.
At one point he relaxed the grip on his best friend,
the pencil, melting into the moment. The silence
was exquisite. When I left I whispered a promise to
return next week. I’ll be there!

The following is a poem I wrote this year inspired by R…

*Kwansaba: Curious Boy with the Pencil
Curious Boy grips the pencil too tight
his silent friend during dark feral nights
these days nights last all day long
taxi smashed bicycle… dada’s dead and gone
guns shoot outside, mummy’s on her knees
pencil draws blue sky, happy birds &bees
bad lines rubbed out before anybody sees

Mary Hegarty
24 January 2009

*KwanSaba is a cross-cultural poetic form dedicated
to Kwanzaa. Each poem addresses one of the seven
principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity); Kujichagulia
(self-determination); Ujima (collective responsibility);
Ujamaa (cooperative economics); Nia (purpose);
Kuumba (creativity); and Imani (faith), and consists
of seven lines of seven words each. Every word used
contains no more than seven letters.


Great report Mary. As always I am so impressed
with the work you and your fellow therapists are
doing in South Africa. Well done.


Has anyone had any long term success treating
Tinnitus? I treated a long term sufferer and it
was gone within 20 minutes but came back that
afternoon, two further sessions have shown no relief.


Hello Karen,
I have had good success treating tinnitus and its
big brother menieres disease. Here is a case history
of a woman I treated with menieres in Brisbane in 1997.

Not all cases of tinnitus will respond to cranio
sacral work but I have found that it is easy enough
to identify these cases in the initial assessment.

A common thing I have found in people with tinnitus
is their membrane systems are very tight. They often
feel to me like their membrane system is a half size
too small for their body.

This can be throughout the whole membrane system or
just in specific parts of it.

Why this causes the tinnitus has to do with the
sensitivity of the ear drums to vibration. Let me
explain. If you were standing in the corner of a
room whispering and I was standing in the opposite
corner trying to listen, the 3 little bones in my
ear – ossicles – that connect to my eardrum would be
moving a couple of microns.

Remember a sheet of writing paper is 100 microns
thick so a movement of a couple of microns is tiny.

When a membrane system is very tight it can feel
like an over-tightened guitar string that is
This minute vibration is what causes the occicles
to vibrate minutely and this tiny movement is what
causes the noise – tinnitus.

I have found that as the membrane system begins
to ease the tinnitus diminishes.

Because you got a positive result the first time
you treated the person it means the tinnitus is
being caused by restrictions in the person’s
system. I suggest you go through your case
history notes to see what you worked on in that
first session.

Something you did will have caused the symptoms
to diminish. It is possibly something small you
didn’t register as being part of the primary
lesion. It may not fit your idea of what is wrong.

For example, you may have done an ear pull
in the first session and felt a good release. In the
subsequent 2 treatments you may have done ear pulls
What you may have forgotten is that you did
some work on the sacrum in that initial session
but because there was an improvement in symptoms
and you got such a significant release with the
ear pull, you may have neglected the sacrum work.

Of course I’m not saying that is what happened.
I am offering it as a possibility.


Hi John,
I recently treated a teenager with ADHD who has been
on Ritalin since about age 6. While I’ve treated kids
with variations on the condition before, this is the
first time I’ve come across a system influenced by
Ritalin. It felt to me like a massive dose of caffeine,
but it seemed to reverberate outside as well as inside
the system, which is a new experience for me. It felt
like treating two systems at once. Any comments or
experiences with Ritalin to report?
Keep up the great work.
Joseph McGuire


Hello Joseph,
I’ve had quite a bit of experience with kids on
Ritalin and the many other drugs that are prescribed
for ‘difficult’ kids. Here is a case history of
one such child I treated in Brisbane in 2004.

Ritalin has a particularly strong effect on the
system because it is, well, a really strong drug.
If it was administered intravenously it would have
the same ‘hit’ as cocaine.

That’s not just folksy hearsay, Ritalin actually
has the same pharmacological profile as cocaine.

So when you make contact with a system that has been
distorted with Ritalin for a long time you can feel
all sorts of strange resonances, counter currents,
compensations, rhythm echos and the sort of feeling
you were describing.

The way to work with it is the same as working
with any drug. You treat as much as you can see
through the haze the drug causes in the person’s
When the symptoms improve and under the guidance
of the prescribing Doctor, the medication is reduced.

With less medication, more of the restriciton
pattern will reveal itself. You continue treatment-
symptoms improve – medication is further reduced
and so on.
Eventually there is no medication and no symptoms.

Happy days.

If you want to read more about the effects of
Ritalin there is a good little article reproduced
from ‘The Observer’ on the South African Institute
of Cranial Studies website here.


Dear John!
I hope you don’t mind me asking you a question,
concerning cranio-sacral. I just had a young female
patient here, for cranio, she had a spine-operation
6 months ago. And as I tried the lateral strain, the
whole structures became somewhat swirly and blurry…
and I had no idea what to do – haven’t felt this before
(ok, some swirls are ok, but this was totally blurry…
it felt as if the whole head swam in my hands)… so I
just tried to hold on, until it got a bit calmer.
Have you ever experienced something like this?
What is your opinion, what to do in a case like this?

Lots of greetings,


Hello Iva,
I am happy to answer your questions and I’m glad to
see cranio sacral is flourishing in Croatia.

Based on what you have written about trying the
lateral strain, I am going to assume you were working
with the woman’s sphenoid when this ‘blurry-ness’

This could be for a number of reasons. Firstly
you were working with the sphenoid. William Sutherland,
the grand daddy of our work, was fascinated with
the sphenoid and considered it to be the ‘master cog’
in one of his his mechanical models of cranial bone

I can understand why he was so into it as I have
found the sphenoid to have a very strong energetic
signature and can have a significant effect on the
whole cranium and the rest of the body.

The first time I experienced this I was working
someone in a standard kind of treatment situation.
Quiet room, eyes closed. We were about half way
through the session. I had been at the person’s
head for about 10 minutes and focusing on the
sphenoid for about 5.

Suddenly it felt like the sphenoid just lit up.
The superior surface reminded me of a console on a
space ship or something like that, with colored
flashing lights turning on and off in sequence.

I had to open my eyes to check the person’s head
wasn’t glowing. It wasn’t. They were lying with
their eyes closed, deeply relaxed – they may have
even been asleep.

Inside their head everything was gang busters.
It felt like there was a brass band going off
in there.
As I observed the ‘lights’ on the sphenoid I
began to get the feeling that there was an order
and a pattern to the way they were flashing
and moving.
Them it began to dawn on me that there was a
progression to what was happening almost like some
kind of program running.

It went on like this for about 5 minutes and
then as abruptly as it started, it just stopped.
All the lights went out and the sphenoid settled
back into a very smooth and solid rhythm.

When the person returned the following week they
reported a significant improvement in their

I have had similar kinds of experiences with
lots of different peoples sphenoids since.

Being a science fiction fan it’s no surprise
that my brain translated what I was feeling in that
person’s sphenoid in terms of space ship consoles
and flashing lights.
In your case, it sounds like, your brain
translated what you were feeling as ‘blurry-ness’
and that swimming feeling in your hands.

The significant thing is that something important
was happening in the woman’s system. Over time
you may find that you experience the same kind of
thing with more people.

In my experience bodies are capable of the most
amazing and from our perspective, shocking, things.
I have been treating people for 15 years and I am
still coming across new responses.

The responses may be new but the feeling of being
taken by surprise is the same. Over time I have
learned to become familiar with that feeling of
being shocked and surprised by a new response.
From what you have written it sounds like you
are on the way to doing that too.

You said you held on until it ‘got a bit calmer’
I suggest you held on until YOU got a bit calmer.
Because that is what I have found works best in
dealing with new responses, not getting pulled
into them.
If you can get a bit of distance from what is
happening you can see that the persons body is
taking advantage of your support and is getting
on with it. It just happens to be in a way that
you haven’t seen before.

Lastly I would wonder how the spinal surgery fits
into all this? Was it involved in the sphenoid
resettling you described? Was trauma from the
surgery working itself out and you were feeling this
from the sphenoid or was the sphenoid involved more
I have come accross a few cases of trauma arising
from the positions people were put in or rough
handling during surgery that had nothing to do
with the actual surgery itself.

So that’s it for this issue.

Till the next time.

Your Mate,

John D.


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