Words fail me when I’m at the core. When nothing matters quite literally, and a certain undefinable quality of rooted infinity, of the purest expression of the divine emerges out of what we call dynamic stillness (1), the ground of Being, from which all life springs forth.
There only Truth lies, all the dramas of every day living, all its artificial impediments, all the attachments to our worrying, stress, and anxiety become fleeting evanescences until no longer.
This blessed state is what I often call the realm of nothing else matters, and the realm of what really, truly matters, when what biodynamic craniosacral therapist, teacher and author Charles Ridley calls the “healing presence“(2) of the Breath of Life unfolds and deploys itself into the holiness of wholeness while I and my client witness, suspended in awe and immanence.
Struggles, frustration, impatience, conflicting dialogues, seemingly irreconcilable individual fragments may be brought to the craniosacral session as somatisation to be eventually unravelled back to this initial Truth, the original canvas.
In dynamic stillness I meet the primordial forces at play before and at conception, that stupendous moment when the egg cell is at its most receptively surrendered to welcome the spiritual rapture of new life.
This stillness is said to be ‘dynamic’ precisely because this is the blessed terrain enabling these active forces— which craniosacral therapists call the Breath of Life (3) — to transmute spirit into form.
The ego disappears during dynamic stillness to make way to the pure agency of the “I”. Charles Ridley talks of the reign of “Am”, the verb, when I am no longer a witness but the witnessing:“the reed” through which the Breath of Life blows (2).
Dynamic stillness surrounds and imbibes both the client and the practitioner, supporting the fine motions of the Breath of Life weaving its magic through the whole organism.
When I am in touch with the felt and perceptive qualities of this primeval state I am also connecting with the very forces that birthed life on Earth all those billions of years ago.
They impregnate the living matrix we are born from.
There are many indigenous myths conveying our collective longing for this return to the original canvas. They speak of a yearning for purity, truth, innocence, commonage, interconnectedness and the fierce unadulterated potency of that initial spark (4).
Do we even realise that this magic, this miracle is (in) all of us? What if we did? Truly.
Once clients experience dynamic stillness, there is no going back. Their outlook on life is forever transformed as they step through this threshold of infinite possibility.
One such client who suffered from severe anxiety told me he now feels like a “different person” and says he is “disoriented around the lack of anxiety” as it was such a familiar modus vivendi.(5)
Instead he feels hope, confidence, boasting a “not such a big deal” attitude in the face of conflicts and dramas. He is more “solid” and more strongly rooted in his embodied presence.
When anxiety emerges, he is no longer engulfed by it and more able to hold it and be with it as it transforms.
This came as a welcome surprise.
He surfaced from his first session with a face that said: did this actually really happen? "I have not felt this relaxed in a long time," he replied when I queried. Then he added with disbelief that he was hungry. Next time I saw him he reported that his senses were much sharper, particularly enhancing his taste and enjoyment of food.
It takes a certain kind of devotion to return to this primeval love pool, alike a courting consecrated by a marriage to self. For many of my clients, their body was a stranger, unsafe and painful to be with until the first encounter with the Breath of Life awakens a sense of the sublime within their own organism. Past this gateway, there is a promise of ever more ease, stillness, revitalised fluidity and profound inner beauty and peace.
This journey is much like time travelling, on a course set to the original matrix, the blueprint we were gifted with during our embryonic development.
“This is love coming back for itself. The mother calling her children back home to permanently end all separation. Everything is made new again. You have irrevocably become one with source.” (2)
Charles Ridley goes so far as saying, “These are the resurrection forces, which are native to us, from which we have been so alienated.”(2)
As a biodynamic craniosacral therapist witnessing one miraculous revelation after another, I can only agree.
Ridley draws parallels between the Tibetan practice of tonglen consisting in breathing in suffering and transmuting it on the exhale and the Christian lamb of God, “taking on all the sins of the world”, as an attempt to express and symbolise the indescribable.
These 'forces of resurrection' are particularly manifest each year as the natural cycle of renewal unfolds at springtime with Easter -- also a pagan time of many ancient feasts (6) and rituals— at its apex, with Christ as the sacrificial lamb transmuting all pain and suffering, for us all 'wretched sinners'. It is probably the most strikingly powerful image of Christianity, reproduced in every church and cathedral.
Another super potent symbol is his resurrection when Christ springs back to life and walks out of a womb-like cave (his tomb) diffusing his inner light around him, and sets out to impart “his most esoteric teachings for the next forty days”(2).
Resurrection comes from the latin for resurgence. It is a return to what was before, the original form, breaching the time construct.
This sense of timelessness is one of the key characteristics of dynamic stillness during a biodynamic craniosacral session, as is quite common when nothing else matters.
Not surprisingly it is often the case, just like in Jesus’ story, that 'mother' as an embodied figure and as an archetype, is an intrinsic part of this journey back home. As the gestative host and holder of life, our mother is also the first contact, the first ‘other’ as we are born into this world. Our relating with her and the qualities of our attachment to her will one way or another colour our relating with ourselves, others and with life itself.
"Mother sets the tone for recognising presence and absence in the body", says author and researcher Bethany Webster. "She is the ground from which we emerge."(7)
The inner child at various stages of development including the embryonic one is always present during a biodynamic session not least because as we settle and deepen into subtler, slower rhythms, we drop into these currents of primary formation, the ones that presided over our very first moments.
This is such precious work.
Resistance with its cohort of emotions: anxiety, fear, anger, grief crop up as the client meets layers of trauma on his way back to this void, this abyss of the 'initial big bang' as embryologist Jaap Van der Wal (8) calls it. This bottomless well of pure and seemingly inexorable stillness. A stillness that is permeated with magnified potency, reminding me of that amazing aura of light Christ reborn is often represented with.
It is in this resistance that the relationship with mother—as a person, a symbol and an agency, a verb: mothering— comes in. Through a titrating process, the practitioner helps the client to hold and compassionately 'mother' these disabling feelings —attached to a story of pre or perinatal trauma or as a child or teenager—from a place of resource, little by little, allowing for a gradual de-tachment which enables surrender and trust to take over, letting the body’s Intelligence, those very forces of creation and “resurrection” roll out their magic.
I have said it before and will say it again: I am in complete awe of this ineffable mystery and so wish for anyone and everyone to feel what I and my colleagues in the field perceive.
Praying and contemplative meditation can be other ways to contact this infinity. They are forms of expression of this awe. In indigenous traditions of the Americas, praying is to relate with, to be in reciprocal relationship with all living creatures, all life, the great Other and the Great Mother.
Ireland is filled with what are called passage tombs and caves of which the most internationally well-known is Newgrange (9). Built 5,200 years ago by so-called Stone Age men and women, this architectural feat consists in a womb-like cave and a vagina-like passage that draws the first rays of light of the winter solstice sun. Nearby, at Dowth, a similar enclosure draws the winter solstice light of sunset.
There are many others like these around Ireland --and elsewhere in Europe-- all expressing a relationship of balance between darkness and light: both irrevocable polarities of our reality.
It is not known why they were built.
Entering into the darkness of one such cave is experiencing a state of profound reverence for this mysterious unknown, a letting go of the vagaries of the ego, to meet something much much deeper, stiller, enriched with a magnificent silence that waddles and mothers.
Time-travelling back to these potent times, I imagine my ancestors praying and probably fasting in this regenerative, revitalising darkness, to emerge back out into the light renewed and transmuted, resurrected.
Dynamic stillness brings us a step closer to that primeval darkness. "In stillness, we are always and forever one -- unborn, unnamed, unformed, uncreated, and without limit, thought and feeling." (2)
Charles Ridley talks about our body as one "living tonglen", and Jaap Van der Wal talks about the ever ongoing performance of the "embryo in us", constantly re-creating and transforming on her path to wholeness and homeostasis.
Our modern cultures tend to stir clear of the dark, and paradoxically it is very much Christendom that has demonised the dark side, focusing instead on the light, thus forcing an unhealthy, degenerative repression of emotions and experiences that are deemed 'evil' and cast out of our emotional and physiological vocabulary.
But instead of 'burying' them into oblivion, this dismissal of the dark, of the shadow, has led to many hidden monstrous expressions, projected manifestations of such repressions. These have come to light in recent times as so many harrowing stories of neglect and abuse.
Isn't the timeline of the life of Christ itself a journey from dark into light? Born around the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year until he dies and resurrects at the spring equinox, a time of balance between light and dark, a stillpoint of rebirth.
We are currently witnessing a wonderfully healing collective shift towards restoring this balance. This past year of confinement and social isolation, causing a retreating into one's cave has been quite a gestative and transformative time for all of us, through our suffering or our thriving, spurring a return to nature and a questioning of the many harmful, unbalanced ways we have led a life that was deemed normal.
My prayer is that we continue through this healing transition to emerge more whole and balanced, forever leaving behind the destructive patterns of that old 'normal' to be reborn anew, and "anointing the places we have banished"(7).
Notes and references:
1- It is Rollin Becker, DO who talked about the "dynamic and alive stillness at the heart of all life". It has since been called dynamic stillness. Read more at http://www.craniosacral-biodynamics.org/dynamic-stillness.html
2- Stillness: Biodynamic Cranial Practice and the Evolution of Consciousness, Charles Ridley, 2006
3- It is William Garner Sutherland, DO, the founder of osteopathy in the cranial field that borrowed the biblical words Breath of Life to refer to the force or presence that breathed the body as a whole from the outside in and inside out. It is also called primary respiration as opposed to pulmonary respiration.
4- The Myth of the Eternal Return, Mircea Eliade, 1949.
5- Gratitude to this client who kindly gave his permission for me to borrow parts of his experience.
6- Ides of March in Ancient Rome; the feast of Dyonisos in ancient Greece ...
7-Discovering the Inner Mother: A Guide to Healing the Mother Wound and Claiming your Power, Bethany Webster, 2021. See also https://www.bethanywebster.com/
8- Jaap Van der Wal, see www.embryo.nl
9- For more on Newgrange, see www.newgrange.com