The Brain Speaks Two

Catherine Whelan

Catherine Whelan, BS, LMT, CST

Stressors, compensation patterns, self-healing, and neuroplasticity are just some of the fascinating subjects we covered during a recent long weekend in San Francisco.

The beautiful city was a wonderful backdrop for a deep dive into The Brain Speaks Two. This Upledger course builds on the foundation of neuro-anatomy and physiology, as they pertain to CranioSacral Therapy taught in the first level course I took about a year ago. As a reminder or intro; CranioSacral Therapy is a light touch form of bodywork that releases restrictions in the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord.

Let me start by familiarizing you with the structures we are working with as CranioSacral Therapists. When first learning Craniosacral Therapy (CST) the therapist learns to work with the dural membranes and the cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord. The dural membrane is the connective tissue, fascia, “casing” that creates a protective environment for the brain and spinal cord. Our body’s fascia is one continuous web from the bottom of our feet to the top of our head in every cell. This is why restrictions in the fascia surrounding your brain can have an effect on shoulder tightness or why an ankle sprain could affect your hips. The dural membranes are where the cerebrospinal fluid is made, held, and reabsorbed. The cerebrospinal fluid, a filtrate of blood, suspends the brain in our skull for protection; it is how the brain receives nutrients and how the brain gets rid of waste products. This fluid has a rhythm and is tracked during a CST session by the therapist to evaluate changes and illuminate significant pieces. CST works to release these restrictions in the fascia using the fluid as a guide to increase flow and space to the very important central nervous system.

The central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord, governs all of the activities of our body. This system is made up of a variety of parts which is what was covered in The Brain Speaks One class, the neuro-anatomy and physiology. To simplify a complicated system we have the forebrain, which allow us to think critically, have emotions, regulate visceral functions like temperature control, eating, and sleeping. Then there is the midbrain which aids in movement, controls eye movement, processes hearing and visual input, and connects the forebrain and the hind brain. The third division of the brain is the hindbrain which controls all functions outside conscious control, like breathing and blood flow.

These three parts of the brain are not separate, in fact nothing in our body works alone. Everything we do involves many parts all working together beautifully and seamlessly. The Brain Speaks Two class brought the parts together and showed how our systems work as a whole. But what happens if there has been an injury, trauma, or disease? When these events happen our bodies do the very best they can in the moment, they make brilliant decisions quickly to keep us safe. And if it is just a single instance we recover quickly without the need for much intervention. The problems occur when these events happen during neuro-development, if stress lasts for longer than a system can compensate, or when the injury is too devastating.

The Brain Speaks Two taught us how to support our clients overall well-being when these problems create compensation patterns. And more importantly it taught us to trust the client’s own treatment plan, because our bodies know how to heal themselves, we may have been missing some of the essential resources at the moment of injury. Our brain is especially self-healing due to neuroplasticity meaning it can change, adapt and grow at any age. This class helped to bridge a gap I hadn’t realized was even there. It helped me to understand why some clients have a harder time healing when their life is filled with continuous, prolonged stress. This work is paramount in being able to reduce stress and our autonomic response to stress. I have been incorporating this wholeness approach into my sessions since taking the class and it has made a difference.

The founder of this work Dr. John Upledger believed that every client is a teacher and I whole heartedly agree. I am excited to continue working with and learning from all of my clients at Alchemy Healing Arts Center using these new skills. I will also be adding to my skills in March when I take a class working with the Glia cells in the central nervous system! Stay tuned for that report.

Catherine Whelan

About the Author

Catherine Whelan, LMT, CST is an advanced level CranioSacral Therapist with her techniques level certification who joined Alchemy in 2017. She is Upledger trained and has excellent touch and communication skills.

Twelve years of experience accompany Catherine to Alchemy, she started with a Kinesiology degree, followed that with some of the best training available at Boulder College of Massage, and she has continued her education at the highest levels in CranioSacral Therapy as well as Visceral Manipulation. Catherine is also a frequent teaching assistant and study group leader.

Health is a lifelong journey with an ebb and flow; the more gentle mindfulness we can bring to the journey, the more likely we are to succeed. Catherine understands the challenges and obstacles life can present and wants to help you succeed on your journey of conscious health and wellness.