January 27 – 2008
Questions and comments for this issue:
+ Follow on from Jean in Ireland.
+ Blueprint follow on from Gayle in Cape Town.
+ Shingles follow on from Donovan in Durban.
+ Can you treat people with active Cancer?
+ CST and people recovering from Stroke?
+ Shingles follow on from Eva in Australia.
+ Treatment for Focal Dystonia.
Another brand spanking New Year fresh from its
wrapping is off and running. You know in olden
days Kings were very careful about what they did
on the first 12 days of each New Year. They
believed each day represented its equivalent month
in the year.
So if they wanted January to be peaceful they
would spend the first day of the New Year in
contemplation. If they wanted August to be joyous
they would have a party on the eight day of the
New Year and so on. They were careful to not
have anything happen in those first 12 days that
would affect them negatively in the coming year.
Considering it is now the 27th I suppose I am a
little late in telling you all this. Depending on
how wild and crazy your New Years Eve celebrations
were, January may be finding you with a continually
sore head and a feeling of remorse.
I’ll type softly.
For myself, the coming year will bring the
expansion of my Open Source Cranio project. This
is about making cranio sacral training information
available to people in developing countries
through my websites. For me this is a no brainer
as cranio sacral therapy doesn’t require any
technology to practice. Just a pair of hands. But
then you knew that already.
The idea is that if someone in a remote village
has internet access, which is not as unlikely as
it sounds, they can begin to learn the basics and
Would you like to help? Register
yourself as a mentor or contribute an article or
suggestions or perspective that you think might
help that person. If you can’t think of anything
else just let me know you want to help.
Anyhu John, on with this, bursting at
the seams, mailbag.
***FOLLOW ON FROM JEAN MCDONALD***
good on you for your description of
cerebral palsy – can’t really add to that!
Thanks for the listing. The practice is general
and of course working with the children is
In the Novara Centre some multidisciplinary work
is happening and this is working well. A boy of
four at present is being cared for from an acute
episode when starting big school- my colleague is
a Kinesiology’s suggested we work together.
Progress is apparent – from a craniofacial
viewpoint second trimester showed as problematic
and the child had suffered some bullying at
Stillpoints are amazing for this child, he becomes
so insightful of his own place in the
difficulties. He has returned to his birth and re-
entered many times over, a much calmer child!
Little Jodie (the case study I sent you a while
ago) is doing well. The treatment involves
palpating the parietals and now that she is older
some more on her cranial base which has
dysfunction with the left side. Drawing the
sacrum to lengthen the dural tube is always
necessary and the respiratory diaphragm with a
tonic liver for the last number of months has been
less so on the last visit.
Jodie is receiving remedies for her vaccines and
at present the polio one is being addressed. She
is much more affectionate to Mum and to her little
sister and initiates hugs and kisses with both,
this is separate form the craniosacral treatments
which would frequently end with a move to Mum’s
She has overcome her great difficulty with Music
class – she tolerates it now if it is not in the
big hall and can articulate that they don’t give
her the guitar or whistle.
Thanks for that Jean. From the feedback I get
from other therapists and students who subscribe
to this newsletter, getting a glimpse into someone
else’s practice is very helpful.
***BLUEPRINT FOLLOW ON FROM GAYLE IN CAPE TOWN***
I don’t know if they were in your part of the
world, but a few years back there were these 3D
pictures around. They basically look like a whole
lot of messy dots, and then when you relax your
eyes, you suddenly see the picture.
And you can always see that picture every time you
look at it. The more of these 3D images you look
at, the better you get at seeing the image.
Ok so I know that was using an image- like
description, but it might make sense to some
people. The blueprint – to me at least- is as
solid and as apparent as the image that you would
If I had to compare “seeing the blueprint” with
any other of the more common 5 senses, I would say
that it is like your sense of smell. Perhaps the
‘whispy and mist-like’ can be described as an
aroma. It is tangible, it is stronger from the
direction of the source. It has an associated
memory or emotion. It also has a “rabbit-hole”
effect. The more you try to analyse the smell, the
more you can describe the components that make up
Hope I made some sort of sense?
Gayle (Cape Town, SA)
Thanks for that Gayle. It is always good to
get another perspective on how different people
relate to different structures. I’m not a
‘smeller’ myself but I really like it when someone
can involve their sense of smell in their
palpation, it must add a whole other dimension.
Try as I might, I could never do those ‘magic
eye’ things. In the end I decided that there was
no image there really and it was all an elaborate
conspiracy to make me look stupid.
It might be . .
***SHINGLES FOLLOW ON FROM DONOVAN IN DURBAN VIA
HIS WIFE – HE HAS HIS HANDS FULL AT THE BARBEQUE -
GIVE HIM A BREAK***
Thanks so much for your lovely newsletters (this
is Dee, Donovan’s wife and mother of his adored
2.5 year old daughter Naomi!!!!).
I have to confess that I read your newsletters
with great enjoyment, especially as I am handling
the advertising and promotion of cranio here in SA
and I eagerly absorb all information about the
various conditions and problems it can treat, and
as you are a guru in this therapy, I hope you
don’t mind me sneaking a peak at the info you send
Yes, Donovan has treated a woman who had shingles.
She was brought to him by a student practitioner
who was feeling overwhelmed and asked for his
support. The whole top half of her body was
covered in the sores and she also had HIV AIDS.
She believed she was cursed by the local
witchdoctor and she was going to die if the
shingles spread and joined at the midline of her
body (she was told this by an “Inyanga”/aka
Yes, we live in a very interesting culturally
diverse country with many of our inhabitants being
governed by very strong cultural beliefs. He has
asked me to tell you this on his behalf (he is
braaining [barbequing] our meal and his hands are
filthy) that during the 4 sessions he had with
her, he worked on boosting her immune system and
holding into, and working with these deep seated
fears. When this began shifting, her healing
accelerated dramatically. Unfortunately, she was
very unreliable in keeping her appointments and
only came for the 4 sessions – even though she was
being sponsored to come.
I trust that you were suitably rewarded by Santa
for being a good boy this year, and I look forward
to more of your newsletters in 2008.
Warmest regards from Sunny South Africa and
wishing you a fabulous 2008.
Dee, Donovan, Naomi, Hamish and Angus (our 2
Thanks for that Dee and Donovan. It conjured
up a very cute mental image of Donovan up to his
armpits in barbeque sauce, roaring cranio sacral
descriptions to Dee.
‘I said holding into her deep seated fears,
not folding into her cheap pleated smears. What
does that mean anyway??’
It sounds like you helped the woman in question
a lot Donovan. It was also another glimpse into
the different sorts of issues that practitioners
in different parts of the world are dealing with.
I look forward to putting my details on your site
when I finish my course and get some more
practical hours up!
I am interested in your theories on treating
cancer patients? My Cranio teacher says it is a
contraindication if any cancer active is in the
I have tried looking it up in Cranio books but
have not found any information, if you do treat
cancer patients what are you treating them for,
the cancer, the pain, the side effects? I read
somewhere (it may even have been on your site) of
people having chemo being treated but it did not
say why or how?
Luv your work!
The main thing to get about contraindications
is they are for YOUR protection as much as the
The chances of you doing any harm to the
patient are slim to nonexistent. On the other
hand, the chances of you giving yourself a major
fright and setting you palpatory skills back years
is very high.
For example, let’s say you go against your
teachers/mentors recommendation and start treating
someone who is in the middle of dealing with
And let’s say they have a major episode the day
after you treat them and end up in hospital.
Take a minute and think about how you would
feel. Can you imagine how difficult it would be
to stay objective about your contribution to their
being in hospital. Can you imagine how hard it
would be to avoid putting yourself through the
wringer wondering if your intention was too heavy
or too light, how you could have missed what was
coming and so on.
I am not saying don’t treat people with cancer
or who are having chemotherapy. I am saying that
you need to nurture and protect your growing
palpatory skill. It is hard enough to develop
without unnecessarily putting it in the way of
potential body blows.
To answer your question, I have treated people
with most stages of cancer, benign, malignant,
aggressive, in remission and I have treated people
who are having chemotherapy and radiation
Here are some things to consider . .
When someone has a life threatening condition
you need to take a very long perspective on their
situation. We need to stand back from our
conditioned response that the happy ending is
where the patient ‘beats the big C’ and lives
happily ever after.
When working with people with life threatening
illnesses, more than anything else you need
humility and respect for their process.
Bearing in mind that you don’t know what their
process is about.
I have found it helpful to adopt the
perspective that the circumstances of a patient’s
life are not random but are very significant to
them. This includes the way they will die. I
take it that the way they choose to die is as
significant as the way they choose to be born.
This makes it is easier for me to stand back
and not try to ‘fix’ them.
I have talked about this in other newsletters
so won’t go on about it too much now.
Treating someone who is having chemotherapy or
radiation treatment can be very helpful for them.
I have found it is similar to treating someone who
has had a pin or plate put in their body to help
with a compound fracture.
Their body will be freaking out and trying to
dispel the foreign object. Treatment usually
involves helping their body to integrate or make
peace with the foreign object.
With chemo or radiation treatment the person’s
body will be freaking out in a similar way because
it is in essence being poisoned or attacked. Your
job will be to help their body deal with the shock
of attack. To find some kind of equilibrium in
Treating people with life threatening illness
is not for the faint hearted. It forces you to
look at very fundamental questions about what you
are really doing. Once you embrace the inherent
challenges it can be very rewarding.
Your Q&A’s thus far have tremendously contributed
to my knowledge as a cranio sacral practitioner.
It is now my turn to ask a question.
My mother is 76yrs old and has had a stroke due to
her tissue (mechanical) valve being in for too
long without replacing it. She had a clot in her
frontal area, which was dissolved with medication.
She is back to normal and does not have any after
effects. How can I help her in a cranio way?
All the best for the New Year.
Cape Town, South Africa
I am glad you find my newsletters helpful.
As you know, most strokes are caused by a blood
clot forming in some part of the body and then
travelling to the brain and causing a blockage to
the blood supply and then permanent neurological
damage to the effected area.
Recovery from stroke is the transferring of
function from the damaged area to another part of
If someone comes to me for treatment and they
are recovering from a stroke, the first thing I
would do is check if they still had a tendency for
clotting. If I got a sense that they did, I would
withdraw gently and not continue treatment.
Not because I could cause another stroke but
because of the effect it would have on me if they
had a stroke while I was treating them or even the
day after treatment.
Also the family of the person involved may not
understand that I couldn’t have caused a stroke
and that could cause a lot of complications and
ultimately interfere with me treating the other
people I treat now and in the future.
For me it’s not worth the risk.
So if you feel that the clotting is over. .
‘How will I know?’
If you are asking this question then you
haven’t had enough experience yet and you need to
get a second opinion from a more experienced
Assuming you are not asking that question I
would focus on assisting the transfer of function
process that will be going on in the brain from
the area that was damaged to the new areas.
Based on what you have written it sounds like
your Mother has recovered well. Has she asked
you to treat her?
If not, you have a very weak contract with her.
By contract I mean the framework within which you
work with a person. It is set by what they ask
you to help them with.
So if someone asks you to help them with their
painful knee then that is the contract.
Regardless of whatever other issues you may
feel in the persons system, if these issues don’t
affect the knee problem directly then you will be
going outside the bounds of the contract if you
start trying to treat these issues.
Just because you can feel it doesn’t mean you
have been asked to ‘fix’ it.
I have found the loosest contracts are nearly
always with family members. This happens because
of the history between you and the fact that they
knew you before you were a cranio sacral
There is no tricky way around this. It’s not
like you can go to your Mother and ask her, ‘Would
you like me to help you recover from your stroke?’
The strongest contracts come from a request
that has originated from the person unassisted,
What to do?
If your Mother hasn’t asked you to help her
then I suggest you wait until the next time she is
talking about her health. When she states a
concern that you feel you may be able to help with
then say it.
“I could help with that Mum.”
Then, and this is important, keep quiet. If
she doesn’t respond, leave it. You don’t have a
contract. If you respect the fact that she
hasn’t asked you it will make it easier for her to
ask when she is ready.
***SHINGLES FOLLOW ON FROM EVA IN AUSTRALIA***
Merry Christmas John!
I have two responses to your newsletter below:
I would be happy to be a mentor. I’m at Lisarow on
the Central Coast, just north of Sydney,
Australia. Contact phone no 0410234490.
I have had shingles myself, or at least that is
what it was diagnosed as when I was 25. Situated
in a particular place between two ribs on the left
side. Had pain off and on during childhood, then
a lot of pain and much longer periods during the 4
years I worked in Nigeria, which was a very high
stress time, emotionally.
What sent it on high alert was that I got mould
allergy and sneezed a couple hundred times a day
for a few months, and that’s when it was
diagnosed. It calmed down with nose spray to stop
the sneezing, but was still very much there in the
rib cage, just not rampant. I never have had any
blisters from it, though. Since I started having
and doing CranioSacral Therapy I haven’t had any
I have also treated someone with an acute shingles
outbreak on her arm. The lady had already been for
treatment a few times for a lot of other problems
a few months earlier. This time she came for
treatment the shingles had come out in blisters on
her arm just 2 days before the session. I treated
her as usual but also did Photonic Therapy
(acupuncture with a red light instead of needles)
on the specific points for shingles as well as
around the blisters.
2 days later when she saw the doctor the sores
were nearly gone. The doctor had never heard of
such a rapid retreat of shingles without
Eva Kuhl Bornefelt
Central Coast, Australia.
I will add you to the Mentor list.
Thank you for sharing your personal experience
It sounds like you did a great job with the
woman you were treating too.
Hi John, Hope all goes well in the wider world
beyond our shores. . .
A quicky that may be a useful topic for the next
newsletter. . .
I’m currently treating a fellow who has presented
with Focal Dystonia. Being a writer, and avid
keyboardist, he is experiencing a gradual increase
in tonic spasm mostly within carpal/wrist flexors.
He is a man who lives life on his own terms, his
own agenda, despite the fact he has a couple of
very young children and a loving wife. Driven,
Any resource/ideas/anecdotes . . . politically
incorrect focal dysplasia jokes???
PS Happy X-mas to you and yours.
I don’t make jokes about conditions.
I am far too wonderful and holy for that.
From what you have written it sounds like your
patient has focal dystonia only and not focal
dysplasia, which is more on the epilepsy side of
things. Let me know if I got that wrong.
The thing that stands out to me about focal
dystonia is that it mainly occurs when the person
is focused on a particular task. Classic cases
being the concert pianist or surgeon who only get
the spasms when they are about to perform or
It always feels to me like the bodily version
And in terms of root cause, this is where I
would be looking. What is going on for the
person in relation to their expression or their
Are they happy/frustrated in their work?
Do they feel the work is a good vehicle of
expression for them?
Do they feel like they are bursting with
expression and their work holds them back?
Are they frustrated?
Are the spasms symmetrical? If they are
predominantly in his left hand/wrist it could be
to do with receiving. If on the other hand . . .
‘Hang on, that’s a joke!’
No it’s not. I actually meant his other hand.
His other hand is his right hand . .
‘Oh. . . ‘
If his spasms are predominantly in his right
hand it could be to do with expression or power or
expressing his power.
The medical model for what is going on
mechanically describes the brain as being a bit
like a cartoon character that has been given too
many instructions to carry out at once.
Eventually they shake their head vigorously, with
an accompanying sound effect, which I can’t spell
and shake the confusion away.
I know you have probably looked this up Greg
but bear with me while I explain it for the other
readers who may not have.
You know the way the left side of your brain
controls the right side of your body and visa
Well it gets more specific. There is a sort of
map called your somatosensory cortex that deals
with each part individually. So each finger, for
example, has a specific region.
This is different from you tomato-sensory
cortex which is the part of your brain that helps
you find tomatoes in the dark.
No, not really. That was a joke.
‘But you said . . .’
It wasn’t about a condition.
‘Oh . . ‘
Can we get on?
If you have ever watched a musician in full
flight you will notice that their fingers move so
fast they are almost a blur.
The medical explanation for focal dystonia is
that with repeated practice of the same movements,
the brain gets confused and the regions of the
somatosensory cortex for the fingers involved get
kind of mashed up. But unlike the cartoon
character the brain is unable to shake the
While it is a good explanation I don’t think it is
the full story. To fill out the picture a little
more let me include a little quote from an
interview with John Upledger that adds another
perspective to the smearing of the somatosensory
Here’s Johnny . . .
‘I just wanna share a little study that I came
In February 1988, ‘Brain Mind Bulletin’
published in the abstract some work that was done
at UC San Diego. They were trying to understand
how somebody like a professional pianist or a
professional violin player could move so fast,
with the messages going up to the brain, decision
made, and back down again. So they used
electrodes, and they used an EEG.
What they found was that the electrical
impulses that control finger movement were not
going up the arm! The decisions were being made
right there in the hand! You could use electrical
measurement of neuron impulse conduction as a
reasonable indicator. So what that says is, you
have decision making ability in your hands!’
You can read the full article here
Now that’s jolly interesting isn’t it.
So another way of looking at it might be that
the people who don’t get focal dystonia could be
more surrendered to the intelligence of the hands
that John Upledger is talking about. While people
who do get focal dystonia could keep engaging
their brain and so confuse it.
This would lead me to ask the questions I
always ask about anyone with any condition.
Why did they get it? Lots of people don’t.
Why them and not someone else?
What does it mean?
While you are thinking about that here are some
of the mechanical places you can look because
regardless of the deeper issues everything prints
As you know, nerve impulses are conducted by a
mixture of chemical and electrical means. The
chemicals are conveyed in fluid and the electrical
impulses are . . . well . . energy . . . and
guess what we work with fluids and energy!!
I would check the nerve supply from the brain
to the area involved, in this case his hand. I
would also be taking a close look at the brain and
in particular the cortex around the posterior
aspect of the parietal lobes, around where they
meet the occipital lobes.
This is generally where the somatosensory
cortex is considered to be located. I would be
checking the cerebro spinal fluid in this area and
the meninges. The lambdoid sutures might give you
an indication for what is going on beneath.
That’s it for this issue. I know,
hard to believe but don’t fret there will be more
Cheerio for now.