Ged: ‘I’ve got this thing that you need to get to a sort of proficient skill level, then we’re all the same; all practitioners are equally effective. You don’t need to be in practice for 20 years. You know what I mean? It’s like the body needs a certain amount of skilful listening. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter, it can do it itself.’

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Ged: As you get more experienced and you’re in practice longer, I think it’s fairly typical that you do get simpler. I think that just goes across the board about anything actually. Don’t you think the more expert you get tends to be..? You just know the terrain, you know the way the body moves in these sessions. It tends to morph and shift in very idiosyncratic ways. Plus, I think your touch just becomes much more knowing. It’s like: “Yeah, I’ve felt that many, many times. Oh, that’s the pulls of the liver.” Or: “That’s a membranous, this or that. That’s the cymatics. Now there’s a visceral thing going on. There’s the vertebral column,” and so on.

I think that just starts to colour in wonderfully, so you know that. You know the feeling of: what’s the body doing in terms of health? How much health is showing? Maybe that’s one of the biggest things actually. Thinking back in time, I’m not sure… I think I’ve got better at relating to health, listening to health, and actually what it is. What’s the feel of health? Even people who are not well at all, chronic this or that, really strong pathologies – sometimes I touch them and think: “What pathology?” Because I think you’ve just become very honed at the skill of listening to the vitality of the body.

Where is health?

Steve: I do think that’s a really good question for me around biodynamics is: where is health? That sense of acknowledging the conditions, and the pain, and the suffering. There’s health and it’s available somehow. It might be obscured or hidden, but a sense of the trust for me that will emerge at some stage. My responses are much less clever in terms of I’m not just busy or thinking. It’s just this act of being present, I’ve really learnt to trust that that something will emerge out of that concept.

Ged: It’s profound enough. Isn’t it?

Steve: Yeah.

Ged: Within itself.

Steve: Yeah.

Ged: I think I’ve also become much easier at waiting. I used to intercede in all kinds of different ways when things weren’t really happening. I’m happy to sit and wait a lot more. Having said that, really looking, thinking back in time – there used to be many client sessions where actually nothing much would happen. I don’t know the last time that happened. Even somebody with a very severe condition. I think that says a lot about the emergence of this very smart contact that we’re generating. It is insightful. It’s listening to the nuances of movement, really. Not just the dance of life in the body, but I think we’ve become trauma experts in a very, very clever way. The better I got at going: “That’s the hyperarousal stage.” Or: “That’s this or that aspect or trauma.” That’s a huge acknowledgement.

Steve: I think so.

Ged: Of somebody’s suffering with details. It’s like: “Oh, you’re suffering.” It’s like: “No, no, I really can hear your physiological suffering.” That’s a wonderful counselling. The body goes mad for it actually.

Tone of being in relationship

Steve: To pick up on your point, there’s sitting without a sense of not much happening. For me, it can be very quiet, but there’s always this tone of being in a relationship, there’s this tone of: “We’re together here.” When that’s not there, then I can be very nimble and quick, and I start being more playful to help the relationship, to help us be in relationship.

Once you’ve got that tone of relationship, then the body will show you something. It will show you something interesting. 80% of the time, all you need to do is just wait, and listen, and keep being present. Then there’s 20% of the time where it’s: you be a bit nimble, respond, or down regulate things for someone so that they can feel safe in this potential.

Ged: Yes. It’s getting less and less, all that. Isn’t it? All that interceding.

Steve: You?

Ged: Yeah, me too.

Steve: I’m stuck at 20%, Ged.

Interceding and less is more

Ged: You’re stuck at 20%? No, I think it used to be 60. You’re probably right, it’s about 20%. I think in the training, we’re talking, in a way, less and less about how you might intercede. I think that’s been one of the shifts for me in this training in the last 10 years. There’s no need to do it so much anymore. People’s responsiveness seems to be so profound.

Steve: Yeah. One of my answers still to biodynamics is: less is more. There’s this Taoist notion, for me, I learnt that through Taoism of an elegance and an order about how things can manifest. The simplest way is often the best way and really us getting out of the way. There’s a normal amount of skill to practice being present, but when that’s there, then the body unfolds for you and it’s endlessly delicious, and easy, and joyful really to witness that.

A certain amount of skilful listening is enough

Ged: Nice. I’ve got this thing that you need to get to a sort of proficient skill level, then we’re all the same; all practitioners are equally effective. You don’t need to be in practice for 20 years. You know what I mean? It’s like the body needs a certain amount of skilful listening. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter, it can do it itself. 

Steve: That’s very interesting.

Ged: Isn’t it?

Steve: Yeah.

Ged: It’s real exciting though. It’s a levelling.

Steve: I agree.

Ged: The other thing that I really like is the way I used to listen to unfoldment or the system unfolding itself. I think it’s something recently I’m really starting to appreciate. I think I was always sort of looking for wholeness, or looking for the body as a unit, or this sort of deeper health. Actually, it just needs a while to come through.

Often, when I put my hands on people, things do start locally. Things do start here and start to shift and change, and then there’s some deeper movement. Then that reveals another section of the body. Actually a treatment or treatments are required to bring the body into a full conversation with itself. I know that sounds a bit obvious, but I think there’s a beautiful waiting for the body to unfold and join up all the dots to join up. When that happens, it’s the most profound thing.

Steve: But also, I think we quickly get to the point where… I noticed in the middle of the second year in our courses is there’s lots of struggle to help people frame what they’re feeling and to develop a certain skillset. Then it gets to this place where they’re consistently creating safety. Maybe what you said, enough safety, as much as anybody needs for something to happen. Then the students start coming up with all these questions around: “This was moving in this particular way.” They represent that and they expect me to say: “Yes, I can explain that.” I have a certain, quite minimal actually, set of things that I can feel confident about naming that I’ve explored and shared. Then there’s this great mystery of what individual bodies do and how you experience that.

Ged: And how everyone perceives it.

Steve: Yeah. I just like to trust that on your journey, that will make sense for you. To start creating universals out of that, I can’t do that I’ve found. There’s some very simple things that I think feel very skilful at that enormous change. Then it’s just enjoy the ride and there’ll be things that are unexplainable to anybody but the two people who are there.

Ged: Yeah, beautiful. Yeah, I think I avoid that too, coming up with some universal explanations of things or having an answer for every expression in the body because, as you say, we all listen to those little facets of this huge galactic orchestra playing in the background really. Lord knows what’s happening there half the time.

More and more, the treatments are becoming a movie. It is like a movie. The amount of moving around I used to do when I first started this work; one hand held here, one hand held there, and always seeking for things without thinking I was. Really enjoying just letting the body reveal itself, letting the body come to you. That takes some doing.

Inherent treatment plan

I think it’s one of the hardest things to explain: what is the inherent treatment plan? In the beginning, that can be a little bit mysterious and fluffy. It doesn’t sound like much. It’s only really when you’ve sat with enough bodies and watched this organic movement from within and the way the body does sort of morph itself that you start to understand what it might be. It’s quite something actually.

Steve: It’s a thing that you can’t know what this body needs, so give up trying to know. Other than…

Ged: What’s the combination to unlock this body?

Steve: You know that the child put the hand in the fire, so there’s certain ground rules, but within that space then you don’t, you can’t know, give up trying to know and watch the movie.

Ged: Watch the movie, yeah.

Steve: Be with the movie because the body will change. I do think we know that… My knowing is that bodies will change in this process, and it’s a movement towards health, not away from health. I think that’s a big judgment. There’s a moment in my clinical practice where I began to assume that would be okay. It’s like a fundamental moment of trust that if you create this, people will fall on the side of health; they’re not going to go towards disorganization and chaos if you set up the relationship in this sort of permissive way.

Ged: Yeah. You’re right though, you need quite a lot of sessions to believe that or to trust that that’s the case. You’ve seen many clients and they’ve come in with stronger health conditions and they’ve shifted, and changed, and gone through some quite difficult processes. At the end, it’s all starting to become more resourced, and behaviours changing, and the body is more aligned and so on. You need a thousand of those sessions to go: “Yeah, of course.”

Steve: A thousand, Ged, don’t say that.

Ged: 10,000?

Steve: A couple of hundred I’d say.

Ged: 200. 10.

Steve: I’m wondering…

Ged: Probably is about a thousand, yeah. People coming up.

Steve: Because I don’t know, [unintelligible 00:11:54].

What would you let go of within the cranial paradigm?

Steve: What would you let go of within the cranial paradigm?

Ged: Currently?

Steve: Yeah.

Ged: I’m not sure anything. The paradigm being: what’s in this curriculum or the paradigm out there generally?

Steve: Yeah, if we had to explain it to a sceptic, what bits would you defend and what bits might you be let go of.?

Ged: It’s always tricky talking about the esoteric aspects of this work which is this tide-like rhythm and this notion of potency which is as good as saying there’s a subtle energy. It’s like saying Chi or Prana really. Which in a way, some people can hear that and some people can’t hear that. It depends who you’re talking to.

Steve: Explains a mystery in the terms of another mystery, possibly.

BCST is experiential 

Ged: It does really. Sceptics would probably just go like that. I think so much of this is what is experiential, and that’s part of the issue with BCST, it’s part of the issue of us two sat here talking to each other and going: “What is BCST?” and whoever listens to this. Because really, end of the day, until you get the hands laid on you from BCST therapist, it’s not going to make too much sense.

Steve: No, it’s a deeply embodied practice of being in the body that’s not simple. A guide and a witness through touch, for me, is the only way you can experience that.

Ged: It really is.

Steve: Kind of, for me, that sense of people change when you touch them. I say that a lot these days. How can we touch people more skilfully and how can, in that..? My sense is that physiology shifts to a place of greater safety if that’s done well. That, for me, is a central tenet of what I do and I find myself using that as an explanation more and more.

Can I say one thing I might let go of?

Ged: Yeah, go for it.

Not so much about bones moving

Steve: Because I’m really not interested in bones moving. Kind of a head distorting, and the notion of a baby’s head is a fluid balloon and that underlying quality feels very important to me.

Ged: You mean like moving around articulations, the whole..?

Steve: Yeah, the sort of cognizant.

Ged: Cranial-sacral motion cog thing.

Steve: Yeah.

Ged: It’s a big coggy [SP]. Isn’t it?

Steve: It is.

Ged: Yes.

Steve: It’s still…

Ged: Yes, I know what you mean. Sometimes I’m holding the bits and pieces of the skull, thinking: “This is all very interesting about the sphenoid does this and the temples do that.” Really, in a BCST session, how often do you really feel that? Probably occasionally; not too often. You don’t go: “Oh, the sphenoid going into flexion.” It’s not like that. That’s how far this approach has travelled from the original work. That really has become slightly not what the body is showing you. Yeah, I’m with you on that.

Steve: But it’s also the first thing often that people will critique around cranial work is that the bones in the head move, and you’re trying to direct the bones. I could very happily define what I do letting go the notion that bones rock and fit together. A skull that accommodates, like a table, you look at it and it looks stable, but it creaks and it has this sort of movement of not being quite stable.

Ged: I think it’s well said actually. In a real session, what we would probably notice is bones melt and go, and liquefy, and the head becomes highly or wherever becomes highly membranous and fluid-like. That seems to be what’s going on most of the time.

Steve: Yeah. I think for me very much there’s a huge neurology in the dura and the periosteum, and that sense of a softening or ease coming into that. Trigeminal ganglion is huge; it’s got the teeth, it’s got the face, but it’s also got the dura.

Ged: That’s what shows up more.

Steve: Yeah, that sense of…

Ged: Sits like that.

Steve: Nervous system now regulating, tissue shifted, blood flowing – that stuff for me is…

Ged: Is the order of the day.

Steve: Yeah.

Ged: Totally with you.

Steve: You feel sort of tissues just reshaping themselves, and then this shift into wholeness where it’s a whole fluid bag, a whole bag of cells, a whole network of protein fibres interacting and moving – that really explains it.

Honouring the history of cranial work

Ged: Yeah, I’m with you, I’m really with you. I think I like the history of the work. I like where it’s come from and the early discoveries because they are remarkable. Sutherland’s work, of course, is stunning. Part of the training I think is going: “Look, here’s the classical model.” I think that’s what I do with it. In practice, hardly, hardly at all really.

Steve: I wouldn’t be able to teach this work without people appreciating Sutherland and Becker, and clearly genius and…

Ged: In their theories, even though they might not be so much part of this paradigm now.

Steve: And the integrity of their journey to try and understand and work with…

Ged: I was teaching the venous sinus, the seminar. I do like going: “Look, this is the mechanical interventions here and these were the reasons they were done in that way.” He was all very smart. There’s very great thinking here, but actually, you don’t need to do that. It’s so linear, it’s not a holistic, organic process. The body is not really getting, it’s saying it. It is being sort of driven through something, however useful it might be.

I think that’s really useful to explain: “This is the reason we don’t do that, and why we do this. Actually, the only reason we’re doing this is so that you will recognize these flows, and movements, and reorganizations. You go: “Oh yeah, this is the venous sinus shifting here. Now there’s a rush of vasodilation,” and then all that sort of thing. “That’s why we’re doing it.”

section missing?

Ged: Going back to what you were saying, what you’re saying to the sceptics and people who want to know about this work – really, my big pitch is: “The body is a fabric. It’s one big fabric. This notion that things are separate within it is just not true. It’s a continuum.” I’m always keen to get that out to people so you can touch. If you’re really in-tune with the continuity in the body, you can feel it for what it is in its own nature which isn’t in bits. There’s no such thing as bit of a body unless it’s dropped off you, there really isn’t. That’s my pitch in getting people to understand that, there may be biological science and its desire to understand the body is actually [unintelligible 00:10:11] a lot separation. You look at books, you look at videos, and it’s all like that. Isn’t it? But that’s not really in the body at all.

Embodiment and fluidity

Steve: No. I think a core thing for me around biodynamic craniosacral therapy would be embodiment. We exist in a body and that’s not simple, but when you achieve that, there’s a clarity and an ease around that. Achieve it as an ongoing process really, I still move in and out of feeling. In those places, there have been peak experiences for me.

Really, yeah that sense of just trying to meet your body and there’s nothing worth giving up your body for. Anything that’s happened to you or someone’s done something to you, to lose relationship to that – there’s a big hole in your awareness or kind of a…

Ged: It’s a disaster.

Steve: An attempt to ignore… Because my foot is painful, I’m trying to ignore it, that’s never a price worth paying really.

Ged: Sure, well because it’s you.

Steve: Yeah.

Ged: So you’re losing part of yourself.

Steve: Exactly.

Ged: Yeah, on many levels, there’s no doubt about that.

Steve: The attempt to meet that, and celebrate that, and help someone occupy the hole of their space, and to include much more in their space actually as the work develops. For me, that’s about biodynamics, and that’s simple and elegant. It’s not a striving… When it happens well, it’s a very easy, fluid process.

Ged: Talking about fluids, that’s my other pitch that really we’re mostly fluid and I’m really… I think the essence of this therapy is that it is fluid based, it’s about appreciating that fluidity within us. I really like to say: “Hey, we’re really not solid at all.” That’s the peculiarity of existence that we feel like we’re some kind of solid mass. We’re far from it.

When somebody gets on the table and is touched in the right way, they reveal their true self which is the fluid body – that’s really what we are mostly. That’s where things heal; extremely powerful. There’s more self-awareness, there’s more intelligent movements coming from the systems of the body in that space. That’s where it all happens, really. That’s the therapeutic shift zone.

Three sentences to describe biodynamic craniosacral therapy

Steve: Ged, one of the things I have to do with students at the end of a course is if you’ve got three sentences to say what biodynamic craniosacral therapy is, what would that be? I always say: “If you asked any tutor, they’d have to it really quickly, they’d be able to do that really quickly.” We just said we’d simple at the start, but we’ve ended up talking for 40 minutes.

Ged, what is biodynamic craniosacral therapy in three sentences maybe or something short?

Ged: Quite simply, it’s about the body making its own adjustments from within. Really, it just needs a facilitated touch to do that. It’s as simple as that.

How many sentences was that? Anyway, back at you – what do you got around that?

Steve: There’s an intelligence with human beings, and through relationship, that intelligence can reorganize. It’s something about wholeness and not fixing things. This principle of honouring an organism that is trying to achieve health, that could be the start of a conversation.

Ged: Beautiful. That was a paragraph. Steve, that was really interesting.