The Health Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy

Welcome to the Live Pain-Free Audio Series. I’m Jesse Cannone, co-founder of the Healthy Back Institute, and in this series, I interview the leading health, fitness, medical, and healing experts in the world. My guests are healthcare professionals who are doing amazing things with holistic health and alternative medicine.

My goal with this podcast is to bring to you the most powerful information that exists in the world today about how you can dramatically improve the health of your mind, body and spirit. You will likely never hear about this breakthrough information on television, in magazines or newspapers, and certainly not from your doctor.

This episode features Michael Kern, a craniosacral therapist, osteopath, naturopath and founder and principal of the Craniosacral Educational Therapy Trust in the United Kingdom. He is an expert in craniosacral therapy, which is one of the most fascinating alternative therapies I’ve encountered.

Many people use craniosacral therapy as part of a regimen of complementary therapies to treat chronic pain, chronic fatigue, migraine headaches, post-traumatic stress disorder, and emotional trauma, but it can also be used to support the overall health of your entire body system.

Through craniosacral therapy, osteopathic physicians and other practitioners can release restrictions that accumulate throughout your body. I’ve benefited from its therapeutic effects in my own life, and thousands of others around the world have too.

Sit back, relax your body, open your mind, and get ready to receive some powerful information that is going to change your life.

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What we discuss in this episode: 

  • The principles of craniosacral therapy
  • How the treatment works
  • How craniosacral therapy can be used as a complementary therapy
  • Using craniosacral therapy to address underlying trauma
  • How craniosacral therapy can support your overall health
  • How practitioners can release restrictions that accumulate throughout your body
  • How our bodies constantly seek optimal health

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America

Craniosacral Therapy Association of the United Kingdom

Wisdom in the Body: The Craniosacral Approach to Essential Health by Michael Kern

Interview transcript:

Jesse Cannone: Hello and welcome. This is Jesse Cannone from Live Pain-Free and I’m really looking forward to today’s interview because I’m going to be speaking with Michael Kern, an osteopath and an expert in craniosacral therapy and we’re going to be talking about the many benefits of craniosacral therapy and just how it might be able to help you. He’s the author of Wisdom in the Body: The Craniosacral Approach to Essential Health, and the founder of the Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust which has been training craniosacral therapists since 1989. Michael, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join me.

Michael Kern: Thank you, Jesse. I appreciate your invitation.

Jesse Cannone: I’m really looking forward to this. It’s a therapy that’s not too widely known. As with many things that’s not only a lack of information… Well, not a lack of information. A lack of understanding for a lot of people but also some misinformation, so I’m really looking forward to learning more about it myself and sharing this information with our listeners. Before we dive in and get started, can you give us a little bit more background and a little bit more of your backstory? How did you end up working in craniosacral therapy?

Michael Kern: My way in was actually as a patient, as a client. In my early 20’s I was at quite a crossroads in my life having no idea which way to go, what to do professionally, what to do personally. I was full of tension and had all kinds of neck problems, and went to go and see a craniosacral practitioner and I found the sessions to be first of all really powerful, but secondly really effective in helping me to move through all kinds of accumulations of stresses and unresolved patterns that I was holding in my body. That experience really touched me. It really impressed me. I was already exploring studying various forms of bodywork, but then I decided to enroll on a six-year osteopathic training here in the UK, and included in that osteopathic training was craniosacral work. We started to learn it at undergraduate level in the last couple of years of that training.

Jesse Cannone: Is that standard? Because I don’t think that’s the case in the United States but I’m not sure.

Michael Kern: In the old days when I was training, which was what, 35 years ago, in the UK craniosacral work, at least an introduction to craniosacral work, was included in most of the osteopathic courses that were being run at undergraduate level. Unfortunately these days, things have changed and now certainly in the UK it tends to be an elective module, which means that students, as they come towards the end of the training, will have a choice as to whether or not they wish to study craniosacral or sports therapy or visceral work or something like that, but for many, many years this work was really only available at postgraduate level to osteopaths and I think that is still the case in the United States.

Jesse Cannone: That’s what I thought. Let’s start at the beginning. What is craniosacral therapy? Because like I said, I imagine many people listening, even if they’ve heard of it they may not really know and understand what it is or how it works.

Michael Kern: I think the simplest way to introduce it is to say that it’s a system of light touch therapy that is working with subtle movements that express themselves through the body. The principle is that if these subtle movements in the body are playing freely without restriction, without impediment, then there is a state of health and well-being, but because of maybe an accumulation of stresses, traumas from a whole range of different factors from physical to emotional to nutritional to all kinds of different reasons, the way in which the body is able to express these subtle movements can become restricted and impeded. Consequently, we see this is a primary precursor to the development of symptoms, diseases, and pathologies. So the work is really about helping to free things up, but not necessarily freeing up the large, articulatory movements within the body, but the very subtle movements that can take place. Sorry, go ahead.

Jesse Cannone: I was just going to ask, can you actually give an example? As you’re describing this I’m imagining the way we might turn our head, tilt our head, and how that movement happens. Is that a good example?

Michael Kern: Actually the movements that we’re working within craniosacral practice are described as involuntary movements, so they’re not movements that result from deciding whether to pick something up, turn your head, move your body. The founder of this work was an osteopath called William Sutherland and he identified that there are subtle, rhythmic movements that can get expressed through the body, or that do get expressed through the body in health, but these rhythmic movements are connected in terms of body and mind so how we feel, how we think, what we do will influence the expression of these rhythms, but they are essentially involuntary rhythms. They’re movements that happen really as let’s say a different kind of function to the function of voluntary motion.

Jesse Cannone: Right, okay. That’s helpful. Thank you. It reminds me of… there’s a Dr. Ohashi and his book is called Reading the Body, and it’s based on ancient Chinese medicine but the reason I mention it is because in it he talks about how the body forms physically based on stress, emotions, and all sorts of things. How we end up with ears tilted at a certain angle, and eyebrows at a certain eye formation and eyebrows and cheeks and all these parts of our being that are affected by how we handle life, and the reason I say life because of course there’s so much that goes into it. I don’t want to simplify it and say it’s just stress. I always found that fascinating. Even how fingers curve and twist. I’ve tested this. Now that I have the book and every time I meet somebody one of the first things I do after looking at their eyes is I look at their hands and I’m curious to see like, “Oh, wow, look at that finger. It really is curved, and I know that when that finger’s curved, that’s sadness, or that’s anger manifested in the body.” So it’s very interesting to me.

Michael Kern: The principles in this practice are that… Just to put this out, I’ve never met somebody who isn’t carrying some kind of stress, strain, or patterning, but the principle is that if there are no restrictions, if there are no accumulations of stresses or traumas in the body, then the body moves in very full balanced ways without these kinds of distortions. The patterning that we experience actually starts right at the very beginning of life. Even we could say a single cell at conception is responsive to its environment, and of course once upon a time a long time ago we were all single cells and then those cells divided and the two became four, the four became eight, et cetera. Then we went through the whole process of cellular differentiation and forming particular cell types, and in this way the body is formed, but throughout this whole process, throughout our embryological development, throughout our fetal development and then of course we experience birth process whichever way we’re being born, but if it’s through a natural birth we’re experiencing the movements through the birth canal and whatever pressures that could be introduced into the little one’s body at that stage. We become influenced by so many different factors, but right from the very beginning. Right from our early embryological development, this whole process of patterning and conditioning can begin, and of course it continues throughout the whole of our lives as we meet new situations or have a car accident or a fall or an accident, whatever it might be. So in a way we become we could say walking autobiographies of how our health and as you said earlier, how our life is able to meet the experiences that we have, and the experiences that we’re not able to resolve may remain with us as patterns of movement, and also patterns of function and patterns of behavior.

Jesse Cannone: I just love what you said. We’ve become a walking autobiography. That’s such a great analogy.

Michael Kern: Absolutely.

Jesse Cannone: I also want to go back just for a moment to something you said earlier about being a single cell and how responsive it is to everything in its environment. As humans we tend to have this feeling that we’re just these fixed physical creatures. We look at our physical body because we’re visual, and there’s so much that we can’t see and there’s so much that we can’t understand that we see our physical bodies and we think that’s what we are. We’re this fixed, physical thing. These are the bones I have, this is the skin I have, this is my shape and all that. I think we lose sight of, or maybe we never even learn it, but what you just mentioned which is how every single cell in our body is responsive, starting all the way at the beginning and continuing throughout our life.

Michael Kern: As you just said, exactly. This process is continuing throughout the whole of our lives, and we know that the body is constantly being reformed, constantly being regenerated, which is really where we could say the potential for healing and recovery is. That we’re not a fixed system. If we can create the conditions whereby this natural process of regeneration occurs, all kinds of conditions, all kinds of situations may be resolved, may be responsive.

Jesse Cannone: Yeah, it’s really amazing when you think about it like that.

Michael Kern: So in a way we could say embryology is not something that just happened to us when we were a little bunch of cells in our mothers, but it’s something that’s constantly happening. We’re constantly being recreated, constantly being reformed.

Jesse Cannone: It also reminds me of the DNA argument and how some people will believe that your DNA is fixed, and it is what it is, and it dictates your life and it dictates your health. It dictates who you are and all that. But of course, they’ve proven that your DNA also is adaptable as you said earlier and changing over time.

Michael Kern: Absolutely. It’s the conditions that are important. It’s what is called the epigenetic factors. The conditions that can help to switch that DNA on or switch it off that will determine whether or not somebody will move forwards into a so-called inherited condition or inherited disease.

Jesse Cannone: Exactly. Yeah, that’s another fascinating topic. I wanted to ask one more question before we move on. I don’t know if “energies” is the right word, but let’s say tensions, energies, stresses, whatever they are that get trapped in the body and create this subtle movement if you will, subtle involuntary movement. Do these involuntary movements, do they affect our regular, voluntary movement? So if I want to bend over and pick something up, does the fact that I have this energy and this involuntary movement pattern in my body stuck, does it affect my intentional movement?

Michael Kern: Yes, absolutely. Maybe Jesse if it’s okay, I’m going to maybe backtrack just a little bit.

Jesse Cannone: Sure.

Michael Kern: Just to talk maybe a little bit more as an introduction as to what these subtle movements are, and then maybe I can try and address the question that you’ve just raised a little bit more clearly.

Jesse Cannone: That sounds great.

Michael Kern: Basically what we’re working with are a series of subtle rhythms that can be sensed and experienced and palpated, and also nowadays starting to get measured expressing through the body. One of the basic principles of the work is that life is expressed as motion. Actually the natural motions that express through us are rhythmical in nature. Now, there isn’t just one rhythm. There are a number of rhythms, but the founder of this work really asked or researched for many, many years, well what could it be that is driving these subtle rhythmic movements that he was feeling, that he was starting to work with, that he was starting to support and promote and getting great results when he was doing that? And he came to a very… I would say simple conclusion, which is by no means simplistic, and that is that it is none other than the life force itself that is generating these subtle rhythms, so essentially this is what we would call a vitalistic therapy. It’s an approach that appreciates the presence of vital force as a prime mover and prime organizer of the human body, so it’s very similar in that regard to some traditional forms of medicine such as Chinese medicine or Ayurvedic medicine where there is a very similar principle. So as long as these rhythmic forces are expressing through the body without restriction then there is health. If there are places where these organizing forces, these organizing rhythms are getting bound up or restricted let’s say as a result of an accident or a shock or a birth trauma or even some kind of earlier trauma than birth trauma, then this is a pattern that we may carry with us. I believe the human body is always doing the best that it can. It’s always going to seek the best possible health given whatever circumstances, whatever conditions are present, but this natural expression of health in the form of these natural rhythms may become compromised and this is where we may start to experience symptoms and dysfunctions.

Jesse Cannone: I just would like to follow on what you’re saying there, because I think what I’ve noticed in talking to clients and people over the years is that oftentimes they’ll hear something like what we’re talking about and they’ll say, “Oh, well you know, I never had a car accident. This is not affecting me.” But I want to make sure people are really understanding that you rattled off a handful of things that could be traumatic or cause tension and so on.

Like you said earlier, we all have this because we’re all alive, and goes from, I have a therapist used to say, “Trauma with a lower-case t to Trauma with a big, huge, giant capital T,” and we all have many of them of varying shapes and sizes throughout our life, and I just want to make sure that people recognize that if you’re human and you’re alive and you’re listening to this, this is your experience, and so this is true for you and that all of your experiences and your stress and all these things are affecting you, and it would be wise to really see that and recognize that and then ideally work with it, as you said, to assist your body in maintaining the optimal health that is possible.

Michael Kern: Absolutely right, Jesse. There’s many, many influences. We are complex beings, and so the example of a road traffic accident or a broken bone or a fall, that’s quite obvious. There’s a force that comes into the body and the body has to somehow accommodate for that, and if it’s able it will heal and dissipate that force and hopefully there’ll be no long-lasting consequences, but that’s not always the case. But none of us are just physical human beings. There’s our feelings, our thoughts, our emotional experience, so similarly a shock from a loved one or emotional stress or strain in a relationship, this will all influence how we hold ourselves, how we carry ourselves and it will influence the expression of these subtle rhythms and consequently influence how we function, so we really need to look at the whole person. We could say the relationship between the body and the mind and the forces that organize us.

Jesse Cannone: That’s wonderful. When you think about craniosacral therapy, and again, it seems obvious to me that it would be something that could benefit anyone and everyone. Are there particular conditions that it’s better for, or situations where it’s more helpful?

Michael Kern: There’s certainly common conditions that will bring patients in for treatment. In a way, I guess there’s a couple ways of answering the question. I can tell you what is commonly experienced and what can commonly be resolved through this work. Maybe I’m going to backtrack a little bit and say that the understanding is that these rhythms that we’re talking about, these subtle movements, carry some kind of organizing principle for the body and the mind, and this is really something that practitioners have just got to experience a great deal over the last 50 or 60 years where if these rhythms, if these natural subtle movements can be restored, we find that health increases, that pathologies resolve, that symptoms disappear.

So the principle is that there’s some kind of organizing principle. There’s some kind of organizing force that is carried within these rhythmic motions, so from that point of view the treatment is not really symptom-based. It’s not that, oh, this is a treatment for this condition or that condition. This is a treatment that will increase our overall health. It will support our overall health, and that sometimes happens in very surprising ways, and I’ll give you an example of this. Somebody I was working with just a few months ago. She came to me because she was experiencing sleeping difficulties, and I had my hands under her head and was feeling quite a lot of stress and strain at the base of the skull and also into the brain stem where a lot of our stress responses get held or a lot of our stress responses get mediated, and through the hands-on work I could start to feel her central nervous system beginning to slow down and beginning to settle and beginning to let go. She also told me that she was experiencing a lot of eczema and it was getting very irritable and very difficult. All red patches on various places around her body and this was also part of her sleeping difficulty that she was getting up at night and having to scratch herself. She called me back the next day and she said, “Not only did I sleep better last night, but my eczema went.” I would never have thought. I would never have described this practice as being a treatment for eczema, but what I’m saying is, you don’t actually know.

When you support the rebalancing of the physiology, when you support the expression of health, all kinds of things can start to improve. Now, having said, that I would say a lot of patients will come in to see people like me for so-called stress-related conditions, back pains, headaches. I also treat a number of children and babies, particularly if there’s been difficult birth or maybe a difficult pregnancy, so it could be feeding difficulties, sleeping difficulties. Things like colicky pains in babies. These kinds of things will often bring people for treatment, but the range of possibilities is quite wide because the application of the therapy is not so much on treating the condition or trying to get rid of whatever condition is present but in supporting and increasing the expression of health in the body, and when you do that that’s when the conditions seem to respond.

Jesse Cannone: That’s wonderful. One follow-up question I have is, when you talk about the subtle movement earlier and describing it, the movement of the life force or the vital energy in the body, is the symptomology if you will that most of us experience the restriction and the lack of these subtle movements?

Michael Kern: Yes, absolutely, and so we can get trained. We can learn how to sense, how to feel, how to put our hands on the body. Put our hands anywhere on the body and feel how things are functioning at this level, so you can sense through your hands where there are places of relative inertia or disturbance, or whether that organ or bone or region is expressing its subtle movements in a sense of openness and freedom from restriction. So the treatment is really based on finding where there may be these places of inertia within the body, and then supporting the health to express movement at those sites or at those places.

Jesse Cannone: Okay. That was helpful. Thank you. That really gives me a more clear visual picture of what’s happening in the body, and it actually reminds me. I’m looking for a way to make this picture even clearer for people. Many people are familiar with a frozen shoulder. That’s a very, very obvious and big significant example of stuckness. The whole joint is stuck. So what I was imagining as you were describing it is in many cases little tiny examples of that throughout the body,

Michael Kern: And not only within the joints. This same principle will hold true for the organs of the body, so for example, the liver may be holding some kind of strain or stress, or the stomach or the gall bladder or the whatever. The fascia, or even the bone itself. Within the bones. The movement is not only occurring at the articulations of joints and as a result of expressing through the muscles. This is really a whole body, whole person approach.

Jesse Cannone: I just want to emphasize that because that’s really a huge point you just made, because again it’s another example of how we tend to think of ourselves. We tend to think of ourselves as bones and muscles and we forget about the organs that are inside, and we forget that they’re living tissue.

Michael Kern: Absolutely. As living tissue they’re expressing motion, they’re expressing health, and if that’s all happening well then they’re functioning well. Those living tissues are functioning well. Jesse, just coming back to that example you gave. As you say, a common condition of the frozen shoulder. So, of course, there’s a number of different approaches to working with this, and it’s not that one approach is right and the other approach is wrong, but one approach is to see if you can exercise and mobilize the shoulder and work with those grosser movements. The bigger articulations. Increasing the range of movement maybe through articulatory work, through soft tissue work, working on the muscles, working on the tendons, the ligaments, the fascia, et cetera, et cetera. Within this approach what we’re doing is that we’re working with the micromovements. With these involuntary micromovements, let’s say based on the principle that if we can sort out the micromovements, the macromovements will take care of themselves. Basically, if those micromovements are playing freely, there is a restoration of the macromovement, so it’s not using any kind of articulation or deep tissue work. It’s really just orienting to these subtle movements, these very you could say slow, subtle movements that take place in the body, because essentially that will sort out the rest of it.

Jesse Cannone: I was just going to say, in fact, and trying to do the reverse is how most treatment approaches approach the issue is just try to … In a way it’s almost like forcing it.

Michael Kern: Absolutely.

Jesse Cannone: You’re like, “We’re going to break this free. We’re going to get it loose and moving again.”

Michael Kern: Exactly. And it’s not that it’s wrong. It may work, if the person can deal with it. If they can cope with that it could be fine, but in a way we could say this is a little bit more, let’s call it work from the inside out rather than from the outside in.

Jesse Cannone: Would you agree that approach, the more aggressive if you will, let’s break this loose and get it moving again, that type of approach, it probably can never be as effective without addressing the issues that you’re talking about, because doing stretching and fascial work and all of that is addressing the physical stuckness, but it may not be addressing some of the other energetic or emotional stuckness that created it or contributed to it to begin with.

Michael Kern: Yeah, I think that is the tendency. I mean I certainly couldn’t say that it never works. I think clearly it does sometimes work, and I think that a therapeutic process may be triggered or activated in a number of different ways. There’s not just a single way for doing that, but I think it is certainly the experience of many people who have experienced this kind of bodywork or who practice it that you may help to get something moving and then two, three days later or a week later, the condition has returned and you have to keep doing that. Now what that’s indicating is that there’s something there that has not been addressed. There’s something that’s holding this pattern in place. Something that’s organizing it that is still working that still hasn’t been addressed, and consequently the conditions and the symptoms return. I would say certainly I practice this work because I experience it as being more effective, but of course, I’m biased but that is my experience.

Jesse Cannone: One thing I would just add is that in my experience in all the years that I’ve been helping people to get rid of back pain and other types of pain, what I’ve noticed is oftentimes the person will do all the physical things that are “right” that they should do, yet they still are missing that last bit, so we’ll get a lot of calls and emails from people. “You know what? I did the muscle balance therapy. I did the inversion therapy. I’ve got massage therapy. I’ve done physical therapy, chiropractor. I’ve done all these things and it’s helped. I’m 80% pain free, but there’s that last bit that I can’t get rid of.” And maybe they’ve made the dietary changes as well and they’re eating better and they’re drinking cleaner and so on. In my experience it’s usually, for a lot of people it’s the emotional, the tension in the body. The tension that’s trapped in the body of whatever various forms that has not been dealt with, and in my experience the physical things all work better and oftentimes less of them are required if you address the energetic stuff that you’re talking about here today.

Michael Kern: That’s absolutely right. This is certainly how I see it as well in that let’s say if we can address what’s organizing the body, if we can address the forces that organize how we function, then the therapeutic process can take place at a far deeper level.

Jesse Cannone: It’s so interesting. I’m just fascinated always by the miraculousness if you will of our body and of our beings and how intricate and sophisticated and all these different things working together.

Michael Kern: You’re absolutely right. Another principle maybe I can just draw to your readers’ attention is that we are constantly seeking health. We’re constantly seeking the optimal balance. I don’t just mean seeking mentally or emotionally, but the body is constantly seeking the best possible health that it can given whatever conditions are present. Now it might be that those conditions involve a lot of accumulations of stress or trauma or toxicity or emotional whatever, unresolved emotional patterns, but this impulse, let’s say this drive to seek optimal balance, is something that never really leaves us. I would say it’s quite an active principle. It’s sometimes difficult to believe when we’re really stuck in our patterns of distress and pain and disease and, what on Earth has happened to my health? The health is still there. The health is still doing its best given the conditions, so in a way all we’ve got to do is create the conditions whereby this natural tendency to health and balance, I would say where these forces of health are able to more freely express themselves, if we can create the conditions for that to happen, then those deeper changes can take place.

Jesse Cannone: What just occurred to me too is as you were describing that how that body is constantly seeking the optimum automatically. Again, we’re not doing it … Some of us are doing it consciously. Maybe some are not. But you’re talking about this innate, automatic seeking balance and optimal health. What’s so great about that is if we can remember that when we do have whatever we’re dealing with, as you were saying and also even with my little nagging aches and pains that I have, throughout the conversation I’m thinking oh, I got to see how this can help me with these things. And what I realized is I even, and I do this for my work and I have for many years, I still sometimes lose sight of that fact that my body, no matter how achy and whatever I’m dealing with, it’s doing its absolute best automatically for me all the time. If I remember and recognize that, and the more often the better, wow, it totally shifts your perspective into a much more positive overall state.

Michael Kern: In many ways Jesse this involves us making friends with our bodies. For many of us we go through life battling ourselves, and if the body then starts to develop a symptom or express some pain it’s like, “Oh my god.” We think it’s something wrong with the body, but if we’re really following this principle through we say the body’s always right. The body never lies. Whatever it’s doing it’s doing it because it’s the best that it can do given those conditions. Part of this process can also involve listening to the body. Making friends with the body. Listening to what the body is actually saying, what the body is actually doing, and working with that deep intelligence within the body rather than battling against whatever it is that the body is trying to show us.

Jesse Cannone: It basically brings up two words for me. It’s self-love. Loving yourself and loving your body. Not just your body but your whole being, and listening to it as you said, and caring for it in a way that we tend to care for others.

Michael Kern: And how many of us actually do that?

Jesse Cannone: Right.

Michael Kern: These things of course, yes I’m really appreciative that a lot of the things I’m saying, in a way they’re very easy to say. They’re not so easy to do, but this is a practice. This is something that we can learn, we can move further and further within ourselves to do this, to live like this, but I also appreciate that this is something a lot of us have to practice and very often it’s also something a lot of us have to unlearn. We have to unlearn the different ideas and thoughts that we have about ourselves and the different patterns of behavior, physical patterns as well as psychological patterns, in order for these kinds of changes to take place.

Jesse Cannone: Sure. Even just how we think about something when it happens. We get an ache or a pain. Like you said, if you view it as, “Oh man, come on, body. Don’t break down on me.”

Michael Kern: Exactly.

Jesse Cannone: Instead of, “Oh, okay. I’ve got this.”

Michael Kern: This is the body telling me something.

Jesse Cannone: Exactly.

Michael Kern: Normally our response would be just to push through it and go for the burn, or whatever, but very often that will lead… It’s okay if the person has let’s say the resources and the capabilities to do that, but that, unfortunately, will often lead us into an even greater strain and more difficulty. J

Jesse Cannone: This has been fascinating. Very informative. I’ve learned a lot today about craniosacral therapy and I would like to ask you before we wrap up, are there any other key points or considerations that people need to know or you think would be important to know about this type of work?

Michael Kern: One thing that I’ve not mentioned yet is what actually happens in a craniosacral session.

Jesse Cannone: Okay. Yeah, that’d be great.

Michael Kern: The practitioner would put his or her hands on the body, would feel for the presence of these subtle rhythms, and if there is an area of distortion or relative inertia, there are a range of skills that can be used in this practice, but the skills are light touch skills so there’s no deep forcing. It’s really working with starting to synchronize to what the body itself is wanting to do, or we could say what are the forces expressing through the body? What are they wanting to do? How are they wanting to work? So essentially the practitioner is just following these natural, as you described, innate tendencies and capabilities that are playing through the body and supporting them where needed, so this can be done without being invasive.

It’s really a lot of the time a question of just following what is innate, what is inherent, and interestingly, and this is an experiential thing that has been I would say identified by hundreds or thousands of practitioners over the last many years, is that it’s very often in conditions of settling. Physiological settling and physiological stilling, in other words in conditions where we’re able to access some kind of state of ease within the body. This is the time or this is the place where these deeper patterns, where the forces that are basically holding muscles in tight contraction or restricting the movement of an organ. It’s in those states of settling and ease that the changes can take place, so a lot of the work is about just following the ease and supporting the settling within the body, and then simply allowing the body to self-correct and self-heal.

Jesse Cannone: That totally makes sense and it reminds me of what we were talking about earlier with a lot of other approaches where we can try to force a muscle to relax by stretching it, but oftentimes what might be needed is a release.

Michael Kern: Letting go.

Jesse Cannone: Exactly. Getting to that place of deep relaxation and stillness so you can actually have a letting go or a release occur.

Michael Kern: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a key principle.

Jesse Cannone: That’s great. So you’re in London and you’ve been training people. You teach all around the world. You’ve been training people since 1989. I don’t even know how many years that is off the top of my head.

Michael Kern: Nor do I off the top of my head but it’s a fair few.

Jesse Cannone: Yeah, quite a while. If people want to seek this out, and I’m sure many people are going to want to, obviously they can reference your website for more information which is cranio, Again, And so they can learn more about all the work that you do, but if people want to go beyond that and they want to try to find somebody in their area, are there any recommendations that you have?

Michael Kern: There’s a registering organization in the United States of craniosacral practitioners which is called the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America, and they’re based at So I don’t know if I need to spell that out.

Jesse Cannone: No, I think we’re good.

Michael Kern: We’re good. Okay. And similarly there’s a register in the United Kingdom which is called the Craniosacral Therapy Association of the United Kingdom, and they’re based at Now, both of those organizations maintain registers of practitioners, so people can just go onto those websites and have a look and see if there’s somebody practicing in your area.

Jesse Cannone: Okay, wonderful. And then, again, I mentioned at the start of our conversation today, and that is your book Wisdom in the Body which I just recently received. Haven’t had a chance to finish it yet but it’s wonderful and tons of great information in there, so people can find that on your website or on Amazon?

Michael Kern: They’ll find that on Amazon or you can get it through bookstores. It’s published by North Atlantic Books, but it’s generally available and it’s also gone into about ten other languages as well, so you may be able to find it in other countries too, but if your readers are interested in learning a little bit more about this practice then that might be a good place to start as well.

Jesse Cannone: Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking. In fact, we do have readers and members all over the world. Some of them might actually be looking for a non-English version so that’s great to hear.

Michael Kern: Great, Jesse.

Jesse Cannone: Well this was wonderful. Thank you so much, Michael.

Michael Kern: Well Jesse, thank you so much for inviting me. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and really appreciate what you’re doing and the work that you’re bringing out into the public domain, and I just hope this is of some interest and some benefit to the people who subscribe to your magazine and the work that you do, so many, many thanks for inviting me.

Jesse Cannone: Thank you. I’m sure they’re going to find it just as interesting and exciting as I found it today. Thank you again, and maybe we can have another conversation in the future. I’d love to keep in touch.

Michael Kern: Jesse, I’m very happy to do that. My best wishes to you.

Jesse Cannone: Alright, thanks again.

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Filed Under: Back Pain, Podcast
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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