health, vitality and wellbeing

cranio-sacral therapy

Tanja Råman RCST

My research and thoughts...

By tanja, Feb 24 2016 06:57PM

Last weekend, I attended the Ilon Valkeat event in Oulu, Northern Finland. This is a bi-annual wellbeing event that offers lectures and workshops covering a range of ’new age’ practices, as well as presenting possibilities to try out new treatments and products. As a practitioner, I found this a great opportunity to introduce crania-sacral therapy to people. I attended the event as part of the Neo Eheä Olo team and gave 15 min taster treatments.

Although this is only the second year that Ilon Valkeat is running in Oulu, it was attended by more people than I had expected. It seems that there is a lot of ’awakening’ happening in this area. This is the first time I have attended the event and came away full of energy and inspiration. People seemed curious to explore what health and wellbeing meant to them personally. They arrived ready and willing to explore the new experiences which were on offer. I was certainly busy throughout the weekend.

I will definitely be there when it returns in the Autumn. I am curious to see how Ilon Valkeat continues to develop.

By tanja, Feb 17 2016 02:25PM

It has been nearly nine months since I moved back to Finland after living in the UK for 18 years - the previous 11 years were spent in Wales. I expected it to be hard, both practically and financially, to get everything sorted here: register, become part of the Finnish system, find a place to live and school and nursery for the children to attend, gain work… The list goes on. I knew what to expect in this sense. I had already done this twice before in my life. I moved to Estonia to study when I turned 20. This was me living on my own for the first time and it was a disaster and returned to Finland after half a year. Valuable lessons learnt, I moved to the UK two years later to study and then to work.

Although my previous experiences of living abroad were filled with a range of emotions, the internal process of change was difficult. It felt as if I was trying to push myself through a weirdly shaped and tight tunnel. I managed and emerged from the other end eventually. I adapted. I am now back in my homeland. Is it what I expected?

The last three months have been very hard in every way, which have resulted in old symptoms of eczema beginning to appear on my skin (my typical stress response). I have been trying to analyse the cause of it without getting to the root of the issue. I have just visited a colleague of mine at Neo Eheä Olo and had a cranio-sacral theatrment, which brought some thoughts to the surface. I now realise that being busy with sorting things out for my whole family I have been neglecting the need to process my own inner change. There simply hasn’t been any time. I am faced with this angular and tight tunnel called ’change’ again. I can now see that sub-consciously I have been fearing to go through it again. I have been prevaricating and hiding behind the busyness.

Now that I have identified the issue I hope that I can deal with it better. I hope that I can give it the time and space that it needs to resolve. After all, I am a different person now than in my early twenties. I have better mental and physical resources, tools and experience to cope with the change. At the end of the treatment, I had an image of me flowing through the tunnel in a more liquid form needing less effort and being less restricted by it. I believe that everything is going to be just fine in the end.

By tanja, Dec 19 2015 06:40PM

Yesterday I attended a TRE (Tension, Stress & Trauma Release Exercise) course by Niina Ailovuo (Sielunliike) at Joogastudio Oulu, in Northern Finland.

TRE® (Tension, Stress & Trauma Release Exercise) has been developed by Dr. David Berceli, PhD. TRE® is a series of exercises that aim to release deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. The exercises activate our natural reflex mechanism of shaking which is our natural way of discharging muscular tension and calming down our nervous system. Shaking after a fight-fright-flight situation is our in-built mechanism we share with other animals that aims to return our nervous system back to a state of balance. I say shaking is natural to us and yet if we see someone shaking it can seem odd or even scary and most often people feel embarrassed by their own body shaking uncontrollably.

The problem with inhibiting shaking after a traumatic event (whatever the cause of trauma) is that our nervous system might not manage to calm down back to normal after the hightened state during the traumatic event or period. A prolonged period of hightened nervous activity is taxing for our wellbeing. TRE® exercises simply decrease the level of physical and psychological stress, tension and trauma that we accumulate in our lives.

Shaking and trembling can happen as part of cranio-sacral therapy treatment too. The difference with TRE® is that during TRE® session shaking is induced whereas in the cranio-sacral therapy treatment shaking usually arises in its own time, but it is not actively encouraged and it is not the main aim of the treatment.

I believe that TRE® provides very good tools for reducing stress in our lives and it can benefit most people, particularly those who work in traumatising situations. My only concern is that sometimes our conscious and sub-conscious minds disagree with each other. Our rational mind might want to process our deep traumas from our childhood, for example, but sub-consciously we might not be ready for it. There might be such deep underlying fears that grind the healing process to a halt or even cause re-traumatisation if actively induced too quickly. I am looking forward to learning more about TRE® in the future and using it as a tool to maintain my health and wellbeing.

By tanja, Nov 12 2015 04:32PM

Touch is a subject that I have been interested through my work as a dance artist and as a therapist. Touch is powerful. It is considered the deepest form of communication and has a profound influence on us. Violent and abusive touch leaves the victim deeply effected - often with life-long traumas - especially if it has happened in childhood. Gentle and caring touch, on the other hand, has many emotional and physical health benefits and there is no wonder why warm and non-sexual touching is a very important part of many ancient and current healing and therapy practices.

According to Finnish child psychologist, Jukka Mäkelä in this interview, gentle touch is as vital for a child’s development as is good sleep, food and exercise. Touch has a profound influence on our brains and our development as people. It is commonly known that skin-to-skin contact helps babies to calm down, reassures them and supports their immune system. It is also commonly known that a parents’ loving touch enables premature babies to gain weight quicker and to regulate their bodily functions better.

During gentle touch our brains secrete a hormone called oxytocin. It makes us feel good, improves our ability to deal with stress, as well as reduces blood pressure and pain. It also promotes trust in other people. Swedish research found that gentle massage amongst young children in pre-school reduced aggressive behaviour in them.

Touch is important to an adult’s health and wellbeing too. Our Western cultures, however, can be touch-deprived as Dacher Keltner, professor in psychology, says in his article: Hands On Research: The Science of Touch. Warm touch signals safety and trust, which calms down cardiovascular stress and activates our vagus nerve that is linked with compassionate responses. According to Keltner, people who are more tactile can even succeed better economically.

There are many reasons to give a hug to someone!

By tanja, Oct 2 2015 06:36PM

I am pretty sure all of us have suffered from lack of or disturbed sleep sometimes. There have been times in life - like when children were young and woke me up regularly or when there are too many things to do and 24 hours just isn’t enough to do them or I have been worrying about something that is beyond my control - that I find my sleep gets disturbed for a longer period of time. I start noticing that it is hard for me to fall asleep. I might be tired, but I just can’t fall asleep. Sometimes I have suffered a pattern of waking up in the early hours and I am unable to fall asleep again. My mind has taken over and started going through the following day’s to-do list. For me these are very clear alarm bells as I am usually a sound sleeper.

Chronic sleep deprivation may have a much wider effect on us than we might anticipate. With age I have noticed the effects even more clearly. Sleeplessness doesn’t just make us grumpy but it can also influences our mental ability, impairing our attention, concentration, alertness, reasoning and our ability solve problems. Lack of concentration leads easily to accidents. Amongst dancers and athletes there is an increase in sprains and strains towards the end of the day or the end of a training period when performing over-tired. One of the symptoms of sleep deprivation is forgetfulness. I noticed this very clearly after having children.

Sleep deprivation has also been linked to the higher risk of heart disease, heart attacks, higher blood pressure, strokes and diabetes.

Sleeplessness does not just make us feel less healthy, but it also affects our looks. Lack of sleep makes our bodies secrete more of a stress hormone called cortisol, which breaks down collagen, the protein that keeps our skin healthy looking, smooth and elastic. Sleep deprivation also reduces the secretion of human growth hormone, which in adults helps to thicken skin, strengthen bones and increase muscle mass. This means that lack of sleep is slowly destroying the body and aging you quicker.

However, it is not the fault of the skin that this is happening. The root of the problem is what is causing the sleeplessness - the issues that influence our nervous system and keep it overstimulated. Solve the problem causing your sleeplessness if you can! You will notice the difference and how your body starts relaxing with your mind. Sometimes, however, there are underlying issues that are out of your control and cannot be dealt with or changed. In these situations, I have found cranio-sacral therapy a great way to give a break to my overworking nervous system. At the end of a treatment, I feel that I have noticeably slowed down - the many jobs that I might have previously had don’t seem so important that I couldn’t walk slower or smile - I feel happier and more relaxed. Cranio-sacral therapy usually improves my sleep too. Once the nervous system relaxes, the disturbed sleep patterns disappear. After sleeping well for few nights I feel younger and healthier again.

Sleep yourself healthy and beautiful!

Sleep yourself healthy and beautiful!