Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Friday, March 4, 2016

How I Overcame my Skepticism and Found a Most Unexpected Cure -CranioSacral Therapy

I think it would be fair to describe me as a skeptic. Once upon a time I was quite a staunch skeptic, unwilling to pry open the fortress of my mind to even consider believing in things that seemed doubtful, but in the past few years some experiences have softened the walls of the fortress. There was the time I realized that massage therapy is not simply a hedonistic pleasure but can in fact be critical to health and well-being (and why I am now faithful about my monthly deep tissue massages - insert shoutout to my beautiful and talented massage therapist Kayleigh at Achieve Wellness!). There was the time I bought an essential oil diffuser and oils from Saje, completely dubious about their potential but desperate as I was having trouble sleeping, and discovered that on nights when the diffuser was used I slept well, while when the diffuser was off so was my sleep pattern. And then there was the discovery of adult colouring books, something I laughed at initially but that has resulted in a small stash of books and crayons, perfect when I need to think of something other than deadlines, press releases and paying bills.

And so it was that this journey has led me to be more open to new ideas and experiences, like when the lovely Heather Thomas sent me a message asking if I had ever tried CranioSacral Therapy. Now, I probably would have declined had the offer come from anyone but Heather, as I was deeply doubtful of the potential value of this practice, at least as it relates to me. Heather however is the kind of gentle soul you only encounter rarely in this life, and so I said yes even when my skeptical mind was chiding me.

That would be how I ended up at Heather's home and under her attentive care one evening. Unlike the massage therapy I have come to know well, this was therapy in which all my clothing stayed on while I laid flat on a massage table. As opposed to the deep tissue massages to which I have grown accustomed, this was about light touches. And it was about a connection between the practitioner and patient, too.

Heather could tell my body was dubious as we worked through the stages of the therapy. What intrigued me though was that she was attuned to everything I was feeling, even accurately assessing that I was feeling pressure in my sinuses at several points, something I did not tell her but she somehow detected. What was most interesting though is there were things I had not told Heather, and that I had not expected would be addressed through this unusual therapy of which I had been so doubtful.

I had arrived that evening with the beginning of a headache, a storm cloud gathering just behind my eyes. I had been having a number of them recently, likely related to my eye disease and perhaps even eye strain due to seeing the world through only one eye. I could feel it forming and I had almost cancelled the appointment, but I decided to carry on to see if the headache would lessen or worsen with the therapy.

Even more than that though I had arrived in Heather's home with a case of exhaustion that my essential oil diffuser could not seem to cure. For over two weeks I had been experiencing nightmares, ones of the kind I had not endured since childhood (or maybe ever) and that were increasingly robbing me of sleep as once I had awoken from them there was no settling back into slumber.

The nightmares were dark and frightening, but the most troubling part was I could not remember any details of them, just flashes of feelings of fear. For over  two weeks they had plagued me, and I was, to be honest, becoming terrified they intended to be permanent residents in my head.

But as Heather was performing the therapy, as the series of light touches she performed moved around my body and began to centre on my head, the most extraordinary thing began to happen. The dark storm cloud in my mind, that headache that had been forming, grew tighter and smaller, almost like a tightly wound ball of black yarn. And then, suddenly, I could feel it leaving through the top of my head and disappearing, just gone - and so was the headache.

After the therapy I felt not only refreshed but renewed in a way I could not quite explain. I felt slightly light-headed, and the headache that had been building all day was completely gone. I thanked Heather and headed home, and before long was in bed, expecting what had become my usual 2am wake-up from a nightmare.

Except that I woke up the next morning at 7:00 am when my alarm went off - no nightmare. And the most astonishing thing is there have been no nightmares since, a streak of two weeks of nightly terrors ended it seems by the very practice I had been so skeptical about.

Was that black ball of yarn my headache or was it something more? When it disappeared did it take my nightmares with it, whatever deep dark "thing" it was? The nightmares had appeared out of the blue with no apparent cause and I could not tell their origin, but I know one thing: they stopped when I saw Heather for CranioSacral Therapy, an outcome I certainly did not anticipate and still find hard to believe, except that I lived it.

As a skeptic it can be hard to accept that we might have misjudged or prejudged something. I was wrong on massage therapists, essential oils, colouring books and it seems I was wrong about CranioSacral Therapy too, as there is now no doubt in my mind that there is a benefit to it. Even while my mind and body were doubtful and resistant to the therapy it was in some way working - and working well enough to cure the nightmares that had gotten to the point where I was finding myself dreading sleep.

So, even if you are a skeptic like me I hope on occasion you take a risk and step out of your comfort zone. I would suggest CranioSacral Therapy is a good one to try, particularly with someone like Heather who can talk you through the process so you understand what is happening and help you to overcome your own skepticism. Sometimes our biggest barrier is, in fact, ourselves. Go with an open mind, and see what happens. After all, isn't that what life is about?


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