August 4 – 2009
Questions and comments for this issue:
+ Follow on comment about Hypnosis, should you
stop working with people? and session management.
+ Follow on comments about ‘How you came to Cranio sacral?’
+ How do you settle a person’s system at the end of a session?
+ Question about Polyarteritis Nodosa and working with the immune system.
+ Is a Mothers loving touch as good as a cranial treatment?
The tributes for Al Pelowski were many and beautiful.
They continue to come in and you can read them here.
There was an international Memorial held for Al on
Friday the 25th. All around the world people who knew
Al gathered to remember him and his life. At the
appointed time I sat in meditation remembering Al
and I felt . . . well, not much really.
Certainly no sense of closure.
It wasn’t until hours later when I was in my back
garden cutting the grass that out of no where Al
came into my head. In particular how he felt like he
had found his place in the cosmos.
I looked at the sky and smiled. The heavy sense
of loss that had been with me since I heard of Al’s
death was gone and in its place I felt peace.
Typical Al – when I was cutting the grass.
Life goes on.
I have been updating the newsletter archive. I am
about halfway through the newsletters from 2007
so if you weren’t getting these newsletters back
then you can review them here.
If you have been in contact about my Masterclass
series and are chomping at the bit to get stuck into
them, there is good news and not so good news, which
in Ireland we like to call, ‘de bad news’.
De bad news is that it is taking me forever to
finish editing them all and get them ready in the
format they need to be for DVD.
The good news is that I am going to make them
available online as they are ready. The rough idea
is that you will be able to watch each video online
for less than the price of a cinema ticket.
(Popcorn optional but not included.)
The first one is almost ready. I just have to
connect up a few more elastic bands at the back of
the computer, collect a few more lollipop sticks
and some pipe cleaners and I should be good to go.
So while I’m doing that let’s get
on with the mailbag.
***FOLLOW ON COMMENT FROM HELENA IN SLOVENIA ABOUT HYPNOSIS AND HOW DO YOU FOCUS?***
While reading your reflection about comparing the
hypnothic state and state after CST, I remember one
therapy when I got one patient in regression. Before
that the whole treatmant was like cleaning her bad
energy loaded in her psychical system. I had my hand
on the table without touching her body and there came
so strong unwinding and macro-motions, like Franklyn
Sills would name it, that I could hardly stand it. Her body
was moving in a really intensive wave motion. I know that
my patient exactly knew what was happening and that was
her way how to release her psychical system. I didn’t
continue to work with her, because my opinion was
that this way she didn’t solve her life problems,
she just sustain her system in status quo.
Anyway here comes my problem. With clients I realy
quickly come to their stress responses, unresolved
traumas, traumatic experiences and psychic
disturbances. And that realy takes time. So, if
I want to work on the knee injury I can’t, becasue
I could be one hour and a half in vault hold position,
doing on traumas. Maybe is this my profesional
handicap while before doing CST I was counseler
in the Center for social work. This started this
year, after one year of studying and doing CST.
I think that there must be just one switch that
starts to release client’s system and I don’t
know how to disconnect it.
Have a nice day.
In the first part of your letter you mention
that you didn’t continue working with the particular
woman in question. For myself, I never discontinue
working with someone. If they shows up and want help
I will treat them regardless of what I think about
So even if I think someone is messing about and not
really engaging in their process or ‘just sustaining
their system in status quo’ I will continue treating
The reason I do that is that I know their system
will come into harmony, eventually. It’s unavoidable.
It’s just a question of time and in an odd way knowing
this speeds up the process.
Here’s the thing, when I am treating someone, the
place I go to in myself is, in a way, timeless and
sitting in that place I can wait forever.
This timeless quality is communicated from my system
to the other person’s and it helps them release sooner
rather than later. Resistance dissolves in the face
of the timeless. Eventually they begin to change.
From experience I know that if a person keeps coming
for treatment eventually they will get what they want.
In answer to your question in the second part of your
letter about finding the ‘off switch’. It is probably
better to think of it in terms of managing the overall
treatment program and then managing each session within
It comes down to not being afraid to negotiate with
the person’s system.
When someone first comes to see me for treatment I
ask them what they would like me to help them with.
Whatever they answer forms the contract between us
and the focus for our work together.
I talked at length about contracts here.
So using your example if the person said they
wanted me to help them with their knee injury, then
that would be the contract between us and the focus
for our work.
In my initial assessment I would look to see what
the root cause of the knee injury was. If the root
cause was emotional then I would convey that to the
person and include it in our work together.
But. . .
If the root cause was simply physical then I would
just focus on that. If any emotional issues came up
for releasing during the session I would do some non
verbal negotiation with the person’s system to desist
from releasing the emotional issues as they were not
part of the contract between us.
This approach may seem at odds with the whole
‘going with the body’ and ‘treating what you find’
approach but it’s not. Going with the body and
treating what you find are cornerstones of our work
but they operate within the confines of the contract.
It is important to stick to what you are asked
to help with – the contract – because it leaves the
door open for the person to renegotiate the contract
down the track. Going beyond the contract is in
essence disrespectful to the person’s process and
generally ends up messy.
***FOLLOW ON COMMENT FROM JUDAH IN AMERICA ABOUT HOW HE CAME TO CRANIO SACRAL THERAPY***
Thanks John for your newsletter. I began my career
at the Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado in the
late 80’s. Many of my teachers practiced cranial
along side the Rolfing approach. A couple of them
also practiced visceral manipulation. I asked why
it wasn’t taught at the Institute, and they told me
to just Rolf for 5 years. Develop a Rolfer’s mindset
and hands. I made it 4.5 and took my first cranial
class in the mechanical model, with one of my former
anatomy teachers at the Rolf Institute who was also
one of Upledger’s instructors. I took more classes
of that style, then after practicing CST for about
8-9 years I went to the UK every two months to do
the biodynamic approach with Franklyn Sills in Devon.
Franklyn is a wonderful teacher and that training
lasted two years. So in my practice, I do both the
Rolfing and the Craniosacral therapy. I have been
teaching both methodologies, although my own path
after 20 years of practice, has shifted to an
apprenticeship with a shaman.
There you have it mate!
Thanks for that Judah. A very interesting journey
and I’m sure you could contribute a lot to the
Open Source Cranio project. I didn’t realise
Rolf Harris was that big in America. Or that he
taught a healing modality. Come to think of it
I always did find the music of the wobble board
***FOLLOW ON COMMENT FROM NICA IN THE BERLIN ABOUT HOW SHE CAME TO CRANIO SACRAL THERAPY***
dear friend john,
greetings out of vienna where i teach right now contemporary
dance (and silence….:-)) at the university!
a very important state of being…..in cranio and daily life.
to find this/ a secure place to be and observe out of this spot .
it feels like a fulcrum…like sitting in the center of
a hurricane: very protected,strong,silent.
how I came to cranio?:
through a long process….dancing, dancing, dancing, and
one day feeling the wish of stopping moving but feeling the
“moves” inside of me.
so I took a cranio session.
it felt like coming home.
somehow I had to “move” so many years to find this inner quality.
to be able to accept the beauty inside of me .
i just wannted to share.
thats how i became,since 2004 cranio scral therapiste……………
a short storry.right?……………………..
all my friendship! aswell to your lovely wife,
nica from berlin
Thanks for that. Being an astonishingly good dancer myself. . .
. . . I totally ‘get’ the link between cranio sacral work
and dance. It often feels like I am part of an elaborate
dance when I am working with someone.
***QUESTION – HOW DO YOU ‘SETTLE’ PEOPLE?***
really enjoying your website – besides all the practical
information I enjoy that it gives me a sense of being
connected with other craniosacral therapists, especially
through your newsletters.
I was wondering if you could say something about
the integragtion process? How to integrate a session
for the client particularly if they have done some
emotional work – I get a bit lost here – I do the work,
and its beautiful, maybe we have about 10 mins left,
and I don’t want to start another process but rather
spend some time with the body allowing the information
In terms of cranio are there ‘settling techniques’
which help the body absorb the session? Stillpoints
of course – but what else can you recommend that won’t
start another process?
Had a dream last night about the integrating I did
with a client last night, and was told I did fine –
but the doubter in me always feels there’s some more
I could have done.
Look forward to hearing from you,
I’m glad you are finding the website useful.
Here is one way to think of settling. Think of a
glass of water that you have been stirring with a
spoon. When you stop stirring the water settles.
It is kind of the same with settling a person’s
system. Contacting a person’s system with the
intention of assisting it to find harmony can have
a very tomultous effect, particularly if the system
is very restricted and is very ready to release.
So even though your intention is not ‘doing’
anything the person’s system can take advantage of
the support to do LOTS.
Settling is a bit like the opposite of entrainment.
At the start of a session as you entrain with the
person’s system you form a connection. Among other
things your respective cranio sacral rhythms synchronize.
The person’s system opens up
Releases come in waves so towards the end of the
treatment session when you feel the latest wave of
release is finished you change your intention to
You take your spoon out of the glass of water.
If you just took your hands away without settling
the person’s system it would remain open leaving the
person with a kind of gaping hole that would snap
shut at the first sign of threat.
You begin to settle the persons system with your
intention. You change your intention from following
and holding and following through to presence without
involvement. You are still with the person’s system
but you are not involved with it.
As you make this change you will notice that the
person’s system begins to settle. In a way, it puts
itself back together in readiness to face the world
again. As it does this you begin to withdraw you
intention from their system and then from you hands.
It is only when you have fully withdrawn your
intention from your hands that you begin to physically
withdraw your hands from their body.
***QUESTION – POLYARTERITIS NODOSA?***
Have you had any experience in treating someone with
Polyarteritis Nodosa ?
I’m told that a suppressed immune system is needed to
keep it under control.
Since CST supports and boosts the immune system,
would it be safe to treat this client?
Presently the patient is on corTisone and chemo tablets.
He is very weak (age 53)
My feeling is to go in there with the intention NOT to
boost the immune system but to give him some form of
Your comments would greatly be appreciated
Thespeni in Cape Town
I haven’t treated anyone with Polyarteritis
Nodosa so I can’t give you any first hand experience.
Problems with the immune system whether it is simple
allergies or more serious conditions like this nearly
always come back to boundary issues.
Your immune system has to do with defense.
In order to defend you it needs to be able to
effectively tell the difference between what is
‘you’ and what is ‘not you’. That difference
forms boundary which your immune system patrols.
When there are problems with your immune system
and that boundary is set too far outside your system
invading bacteria and viruses are not detected and
When the boundary is too close to your system
parts of ‘you’ are identified as ‘not you’ and your
immune system starts attacking you. Which is kind
of the case with the man you are going to treat.
When you work with the immune system with this
in mind the focus of your work is about helping
it find the right boundary again.
***QUESTION – IS A MOTHERS LOVING TOUCH AS GOOD AS CRANIAL TREATMENT?***
Hello from Mauritius
Dear John, I must say your website is a bank of
resources that i have yet to tap from! Am training
in CST with Al’s group in Mauritius and just completed
module 4 with Jacob a couple of weeks ago. I am looking
forward to more ‘feeling’ and tuning in the tide.
Just wanted to comment on what you and Al noted re
having non-cst practitioners/mums ‘do’ CST on their
offsprings(Sharecare), especially after an incident 2 days
My friend’s semi-tamed dog rushed on and around my son
and scared the hell out of him. She was only trying to play
but may be ‘biting’ in a playful manner. Luca of course
was catatonic. My reflex as a mum and cst trainee was hold
the chest and help him ‘resolve the trauma’ right there and
then. If other mums could do same and with the knowledge
where to hold, that would go in line with A’s concerns.
On the other hand as a CST proponent, i am inclined to say
mums can only have a very loving touch. Yet again that touch
can determine if that trauma stays a trauma and makes the
body develop conditions /compensations etc..
I am a bit lost here.
I hope you are getting me. So sorry if my english is not so
great and that my comment has been so long.
Salam (bye bye in Kreol)
I think the best way to answer your question
is to bring it back to basics. People were
recovering from trauma long before cranio sacral
therapy was a gleam in John Upledger’s eye
and before William Sutherland had gleams anywhere
and before Andrew Still had eyes . . .
The point is that we wouldn’t have survived
as a species if we weren’t able to repair ourselves.
Our skill as cranio sacral therapists is in
helping that process. In a way that skill is
separate to our motivation.
Let me explain – I had many very motivated
people began training with me as cranio sacral
therapists but many of them eventually dropped
out because they couldn’t come to grips with the
skill required. As you know, it’s not easy.
I think it is important not to confuse a
Mother’s love with that skill.
It is also important not to underestimate
the power of love.
When a Mother places her hands on her
traumatised child the child’s system may
take advantage of the loving energy emanating
from the mother to fix itself.
So that’s it for this issue.
Till the next time.