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As the biodynamic model of craniosacral practice becomes more refined, a gap is starting to open in the nomenclature of it and older forms of CST, especially around descriptions of tissue adjustment and reorganization processes. In particular, the terms ‘points of balanced tension’ and ‘states of balanced tension’ have changed to ‘states of balance’ in the growth of the biodynamic field. This is an attempt to redefine the approach to a more accurate description of what happens in a BCST session since the touch has moved from a more direct and highly facilitated contact to a more indirect approach that has greater interest in perception and allowing the body to move from within its own wisdom. I wonder if a ‘state of balance’ is representative of what is happening within the biodynamic craniosacral field now. This progress is no longer part of an approach that seeks to create balanced states, but of allowing the body’s underlying embryonic pathways to reveal themselves. This is encouraged by the practitioner’s ability to both perceive and bear witness to the client’s natural organic body response whilst remaining in contact with the relational field that arises between them. This refers back to the original development of the embryo from both an internal and external perspective of which the body naturally and instinctively recognizes. In particular, the recognition of this process is felt in very fluid movements of change and experienced by both practitioner and client as streaming or flowing. This is different to what may have previously been understood or explained as ‘balanced states of tension’.

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Embryonic development of the CNS has grown out from the origins of the hollow neural tube which still exists as the fluid core of the fully developed brain and spinal chord. Brain growth has shaped and transformed the tube into ventricles and aqueducts. See the animation and images below to see how this takes place.

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I am endlessly trying to make sense of embryology. It provides many insights into how the body moves and heals in the biodynamic paradigm. Buying the new, 4th, edition of Larsen’s Human Embryology (very good, especially the online features), plus a debate with Ged (we actually got to meet in Brighton instead of skype from various corners of the world) prompted me to make a mindmap on my top ten embryology insights that inform my practice. It is focused on understandings that have actually made a difference to how I treat and perceive change. You can download the full mindmap here: Embryology top ten v5

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The above picture was taken on a recent trip to a game park near Victoria Falls. This atlas (first cervical vertebra) of an elephant is so big you could stick your head through the central hole. What struck me looking at the bone was how familiar the shape was. It is just a scaled up version of a human atlas (a human atlas at the same scale is pictured in the bottom left corner, a human atlas would fit easily into the palm of your hand). In fact, lots of the other bones lying around from the skeleton were easy to identify as they were so similar to human bones. You could even tell that this elephant had some arthritis in its lower spine before it died due to the gnarly, misshapen facet joints and vertebral bodies of the lumbar vertebra.

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The diaphragm is formed from a number of composite parts in the embryo. The most important is the septum transversum. Understanding the history of the formation of the diaphragm explains why the heart, lungs, liver, gut tube, neck and fascia all resonate strongly with the diaphragm. Clinical points that arise from the embryology are summarised at the end.

The septum transversum is a thick mass of cranial mesenchyme that gives rise to parts of the thoracic diaphragm and the anterior mesentery of the foregut in the adult. After its descent, discussed below, the septum transversum merges with mesoderm surrounding the oesophagus, the growing pleura and peritoneum (‘pleuroperitoneal folds’) and the growing muscles of the abdominal wall.

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We have finally decided on the book cover, see the image on the side bar. After lots of debate we are really happy with it. We feel it is a strong image and an attractive cover. The designers initially came up with two colour schemes – a fabulously retro brown and orange version with a skull on and the blue and green version with the spine. We really struggled to find a representative image for the work we do, the spine is still a compromise but it speaks of the midline and takes the focus away from just the cranium, we also find we both orient to the spine a huge amount in practice.

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