Working as a biodynamic craniosacral therapist leads me to ask this potent question as this year of physical distancing draws to a close: how do we birth a society where the creative intelligence of wonder and surrender is a central fuel?
I am asking this in relation to craniosacral biodynamics because wonder and surrender are some of the core qualities of a successful session in my experience. The ones that decidedly ignite and manifest change, allowing tightly fastened patterns to loosen and 'frozen', trauma-held areas to slowly dissolve and enliven, spurring regenerative Health to fill the space thus carved, expanding its generous breath throughout the whole organism, birthing a more potent homeostasis.
On this journey bodies navigate at their own rhythms, negotiating their own paths depending on the presence of support and resources, the time frame, the experience and spacious embodied holding of the practitioner.
Like the hand unused to draw, at first it may be tense or awkwardly attempt to control and direct this natural gesture. Your mind may resist and impede the essential letting go for the heart to softly orchestrate a fusion of the conscious to the unconscious, a revealing of pure unhindered creative expression.
A common thread interweaving us all is this abandon, this intimate fusion between polar opposites at the dawn of each of our lives, this first embodiment process before our birth to Earth: conception.
When I studied craniosacral therapy eight years ago, I was told about the primitive streak, which I imagined as the ‘wisp’ of an ‘élan vital’ (life momentum), a gesture of life.
During the embryo’s third week, this magic wand or pencil of a kind, traces a path inwards towards what will be our heart, becoming a kind of foundation furrow (it remains in our form as our intergluteal groove) for what is called the notochord, our first axis, our midline and the precursor of our spine. The blood of tiny rivulets, our capillaries, animates this wonder, paints this primeval canvas. This is the threshold of our “innerness” (1), paving the way to our 'in-bodiment'.
Dutch embryologist Dr Jaap Van der Wal explains that embryonic life is a conversation between polarities to create form, transmute, divide and multiply. First the female and male; then the centre and periphery, the inner and outer, the left and right, the chaotic and still, the one and the many…
These meet in interlocking circles or spheres and evolve through differentiating morphological fields.
Drawing the infinity sign or lemniscate illustrates the polarity principle consistently dis-playing in this “performance in time”(2).
I wrote before about this simple, yet mesmerising, inversion of never ending loops meeting at a central point of convergence, like a regenerative stillpoint. It ranks among the most popular 'moves' or gestures danced by the building blocks of Life.
Place your finger anywhere on one line and slowly stroke its curling and uncurling intersecting. Sense this experience from a still point within your body. There is a moment when you start to melt, when your ego mind surrenders to the process and something else takes over. A motion Intelligence emerges. It has a breath, a rhythm, and a path of its own. Craniosacral therapists call it the Breath of Life (3). You could also call it Spirit.
I am remembering the allure of conception and this exquisite infinity symbol at the end of this strange year because we are now at a threshold, an intersection, a crucially important transitory phase, pregnant with so many possibilities yet facing a wall.
As the song goes, there are many cracks in that wall where the light can get in (4). Like so many embryonic gateways I am hoping that they grow into an 'innerness' that will surrender and transmute into vibrant life.
I have long reflected about the usefulness of the craniosacral paradigm, with its roots deep in indigenous shamanism, to re-think and restore a fuller expression of the potency of Life on Earth. At a time when humans and Earth’s immune systems have been weakened by years of toxicity and disasters, here we are confronted with 'resistant' bacterial strains, mutating viruses etc…
Although we are not told this by the mainly conservative mainstream media the latter is a direct result of the former. This is indeed an initiatory passage as Arundhati Roy wrote in her beautiful essay The Pandemic is a Portal (5). As such it behoves us all, sovereign individuals (6) making up part of the community of the living, to break the current restrictive ‘borders’ of our linear, dualist, allopathic, reactive models to reach the source of what creates and nurtures potent aliveness within us.
What breathes us, what creates Life everywhere on Earth is not something we can or should control. Viruses cannot be ‘fixed’ and ‘fought down’. Our deeply intelligent organisms have learnt over millennia to integrate them within the combined interwoven intelligences of our immune, reproductive, endocrine, and nervous systems... They have developed ways to live with such microorganisms and turn them into ‘portals’ of transformation that challenge and improve the creativity of our continuous process of homeostasis.
Professor of neuroscience Antonio Damasio defines homeostasis as this constant drive to 'evolve' and "flourish"no matter what using the inherent creativity of our life force and Intelligence as expressed by : "The collection of coordinated processes required to execute life's unthought and unwilled desire to persist and advance into the future, through thick and thin."(7)
I quite like the fact that he uses the terms "unthought" and "unwilled", reminding me of the consistent orientation towards organisation and regeneration displayed by our organisms while I sit as a neutral witness beholding change during a biodynamic craniosacral session.
I have learnt, like my colleagues, that Life’s Intelligence, this incommensurable creative force is far too powerful to be reckoned with through our human understanding. Why would we even try to tame it when the wilder and freer, the more potent and healthier, and the more resourced it is to greet adversity efficiently.
But our ways of producing and consuming have sacked and sapped our material and spiritual resources. So how about we awaken to the task of restoring the conditions for our living organisms to rejoice in potency and health?
When we go back to the genesis of life, the basic form is the sphere or the circle. Think unicellular organisms, nuclei, cells, molecules etc.... It is within such spheres that midlines, axes of orientation are ‘planted’.
After billions of years of life on Earth, we can safely say that Nature’s circular patterns are the most adaptable and enduring evolutionary models.
They replicate the shape of Earth itself with its central axis of rotation and its Biosphere, meaning literally sphere of life. As above so below, there is a biosphere around each human and non human being on Earth. The more potent Health is, the more radiant the biosphere.
Envisage the web of life as an infinity of such spheres meeting, merging and resonating within diverse ecosystems all depending on one another for resilience and resourcefulness.
No matter how severe the ‘dis-eases’, the traumas and stresses, the forces of Life, of integrative Health, are always driven by homeostasis. But the more resourced and supported an individual is, the more potently vital this renewed state of balance is.
Earth's Biosphere is the chief conductor in this balancing act: for eons it has held and witnessed colossal transformations now integrated via homeostasis in its geology, crust, flora, fauna, weather and tectonic patterns…
Can we, humans, trust this immanent holding and learn to embrace and harness its potential?
As I sit at the edge of 2021, I hold the infinite power of conception in my heart and soul and dare to envision how learning from nature's enduring circularity could manifest in our social, political, educational and productive spheres, to midwife the fuller expression of integrative and restorative healing forces?
Laying new foundations of safety fostering dialogue and contact between parts of fragmented and polarised communities requires resources and support, of the kind that skilfully facilitate internal and external well being so that each individual feels secure enough to really meet the other, speak freely, and be fully present in order to truly listen.
The success of this process hinges on spaciousness, clear structures, inspiration, trust, time, dedication, and funding of a sustained holding by skilled professionals meeting a great diversity of needs and stories.
These one-to-one, triad or group processes will ripple out to affect the wider community and institutions which in turn can be equipped to truly meet and support through adequate training. For example why not insert heartfulness at the centre of banking, turning money into an inclusive force rather than the divisive tool it is now? This could mean turning banks into cooperatives and allow staff to resource and support projects not on the basis of their profitability and growth potential but on how they can benefit the community socially and ecologically.
As the profit motive is dropped so money can lose its tyrannical power and radically alter the act of consuming because advertising and marketing would no longer need to drive consumption upwards like it inexorably does in our current growth-driven paradigm.
The town of Frome in Somerset, UK, adopted an interesting model with compassion at its core. The medical body responsible for the healthcare of the town and its surrounding area, a population of 28,000 inhabitants, decided to place social interconnections at the heart of its service: "The success of the programme makes routine use of the most effective intervention for improving health and longevity, which is social relationships." (8)
By bolstering existing supportive networks, building new ones and interconnecting them, they created compassionately aware communities and reduced the rate of emergency admissions by 15% at a time when emergencies rose by 30% in Somerset (2018).
They just published a book called The Compassion Project, so that any community can replicate their success anywhere.
I reckon this model could be applied in many other spheres. How about implanting compassionate awareness at the core of petrochemical and other extractive industries? I hear you smile and react in disbelief but to me these are 'frozen' trauma-held areas that are bound to dissolve once the conditions that upheld their existence disappear.
Their eventual surrender to change will force a total turn around, one that is very much needed if we are to live on Earth in a mutually resourcing relationship.
I visualise a round table where indigenous populations and representatives of said industries sit together and work out ways to remember, repair and restore the people, fauna, flora, land, air and waters as well as harness Earth's natural energies (wind, wave, sun...) in a sustainable and compassionate manner.
Meanwhile, in the political sphere, co-opted local citizens’ assemblies endowed with legislative and executive powers would apply the principles of dynamic governance (sociocracy), whose specialised “circles” make consensual decisions and interlink to exchange information and assess performance (9).
This would lead to a de facto political decentralisation and a multiplication of centres of governance with ears to the ground acting as models of cooperation to inspire other communities.
The rippling never ends.
Education would adopt the deep listening, support and facilitation of schools fostering the blossoming of children and young adults as manifested by the Sudbury direct democracy model, where students decide on what and how they learn, “where children as young as four and as old as 18 regularly interact”(10).
This fosters a more levelled approach to learning, focusing on enhancing the students' gifts and could gradually replace the current top down teaching methodology with its compulsory standardised programs.
Ideally this education would also include full immersions in nature with Forest schools imparting ancestral skills in a respectful reciprocal relating to the 'wild'.
As regards food production, permaculture, with its patient observing and highly efficient mimicking of nature’s adaptive and cooperative processes, would be an agricultural midline supporting the restoration of depleted land.
Removing the growth motive and scarcity mindset from the equation will once more lift the 'impossibilities', spoken as: "it won't work because it takes too long and it's too costly", "the initial investment is too great compared to the return"..., that I have heard many times in debates on green agriculture.
The circularity principle can also be applied more widely in the production of goods and services. By integrating efficiently and sustainably the elimination of waste in their production processes, companies create and stimulate a regenerative economic loop.
Imagine the quality, the vibrational potency of all these biospheres sharing information, producing, cultivating, restoring, supporting, cooperating, creating... and belonging together on Earth!
No more impostor syndromes or abusers harming the carer and container.
No more cutting away the branch we're sitting on.
Such inspired material and spiritual resourcefulness, skills and support would help to meet and integrate the inevitable setbacks, resistance, oppositions, all the shadow material and countless difficulties that are bound to arise, for a stronger and more resilient outcome.
I witness this deeply allowing and restorative paradigm at play on a one-to-one basis in my clinic. It is already applied among many scattered grassroots initiatives across the world in Transition towns (11), eco villages and intentional communities (12), permaculture projects, in Sudbury and Forest schools, and by many companies.
The common thread of all these successful projects and enterprises is their trust in a higher Intelligence, call it their 'faith' in a force beyond their understanding if you prefer, fuelling their efforts, dedication and commitment with wonder as walls disappear, and possibilities abound.
Should these new ways of relating to Earth prevail, this would replace our current unnatural growth-driven paradigm with one steered by the naturally renewable rhythms of homeostasis, birthing a living model "striving for a particular class of steady state conducive to flourishing."(7)
As I write on NYE 2020, this is what I am holding in my heart and soul.
Happy New Year dear folks!
1- From embryologist Dr Jaap Van der Wal: www.embryo.nl
3- From the founder of cranial osteopathy William Garner Sutherland in Contributions of Thought
4- Leonard Cohen's Anthem
5- The pandemic is a portal, Arundhati Roy: https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca
6- The Coronation, Charles Eisenstein: https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/
7- The Strange Order of Things, Antonio Damasio, 2018.
8- The Compassion Project: https://www.compassionate-communitiesuk.co.uk/projects
12- Creating a Life together, practical tools to grow ecovillages and intentional communities, Diana Leafe Christian with foreword by Patch Adams.