Craniosacral Biodynamics is an approach to the teaching and practice of Craniosacral Therapy that has been developed here a the Karuna Institute under the guidance of Franklyn Sills, Director of Training, which has spread worldwide in various forms. In a biodynamic approach there is a real shift from a biomechanical orientation with narrowed attention, analysis, motion testing and techniques applied to the tissues and fluids of the body, to a holistic field of awareness where the practitioner learns to perceive the underlying forces of life that maintain health and organization in the human system. In the training, students learn to deepen into a state of presence, to generate a safe holding environment for clients, to develop perceptual skills which allow the student to orient to what is called primary respiration and the forces of life and organization it orchestrates, and to be in appropriate clinical relationship to these forces.
Work is founded on:
The original work was developed by an osteopath, Dr. William Garner Sutherland. Early in his studies and career, he began to sense subtle rhythms and motions within the human system. He initially applied his biomechanical osteopathic understanding to the subtle motions he was sensing, and gave what he was sensing various biomechanical names like "flexion-extension" and "internal-external rotation" and developed relatively subtle biomechanical techniques to motion test for and resolve osteopathic lesions (areas of tissue and fluid change, and nervous system sensitivity, commonly sensed as inertia, strain and restriction in ease of tissue motion). Later ¬– in the last ten years or so of his career – a real shift in his perception, orientation and clinical process emerged, to what is now called a biodynamic orientation. In this shift, his terminology also changed from more biomechanical descriptions, to descriptions of the nature and quality of "primary respiration", and its "unerring potency" (the primary organizing forces of life). Work shifted from analysis, motion testing and application of techniques, to a deepening orientation to these life forces and the stillness from which they emerge.
Franklyn Sills is the early pioneer in bringing a biodynamic approach into Craniosacral Therapy. He undertook pre-med courses and medical research work in University in the 1960's, and his early complementary studies in the 1970's were in relationship to the work of Randolph Stone DO and Polarity Therapy. Dr. Stone had a component of this training that was resonant with Dr. Sutherland's work, which fascinated Franklyn. In this, Dr. Stone asked his students to orient to the "neuter essence" (the stillness within all things) and to settle into a still inner state, allowing the healing to emerge from within. In the early 1980's Franklyn went on to attend Osteopathic College in London and to apprentice in an osteopath's office one day a week over a three year period. Here he was introduced to aspects of a biodynamic approach, with a settling into stillness and an orientation to what Dr. Sutherland called the "fluid tide." He was encouraged to bring the work out by an osteopathic colleague and his first course in 1987 was a relatively short one year-36 day training, with a mixed biomechanical-biodynamic orientation. Later, Franklyn and teaching colleagues decided to lengthen the training to two years, as it was recognized that it took students at least two years of learning, supervision and feedback to settle into the perceptual and clinical skills needed in a fully biodynamic approach.
In 1992, at meeting with colleagues, it was agreed that they were not teaching what they were practicing and a shift to a more fully biodynamic training program began. It took a good ten years before this was in place and, more recently, in the last six years, (2008-2014) further major clarifications and shifts in teaching orientations have occurred in the Karuna Institute curriculum. Franklyn and teaching colleagues began offering trainings in Europe and the USA in the mid-1990's and a biodynamic approach has now spread in various approaches throughout the world. With Franklyn's encouragement, a Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association was started in North America in the 1990's. He also helped start the Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust, an independent training organization in London. The current training at Karuna is a 45-day residential training given over two academic years. Franklyn is also currently helping to create a grounded fully biodynamic teaching organization in New York City. He also helped start a worldwide affiliation of biodynamic craniosacral therapy courses called the International Affiliation of Biodynamic Trainings.
Again, the Karuna Institute has been a leading light in the development of a biodynamic approach to craniosacral therapy, and many leading teachers worldwide have had input from Franklyn and/or present or past Karuna tutors. In coming to Karuna, you would be experiencing a clarity of teaching that has taken many years to clarify and ground. The importance of personal learning and healing, and of inquiry into interpersonal process, is also held clearly by the Karuna tutor team, as personal development is one of the important grounds in practitioner training. In order to be truly present for the healing of another, we must also be present for our own inner healing and personal development. People come to Karuna not just to learn a particular approach, but even more importantly, in order to deepen into their own personal and interpersonal healing processes, which may include early pre- and perinatal and childhood wounding and the various traumatic impacts met in life.
Karuna is located in beautiful Dartmoor National Park, Devon, UK, in a lovely old manor house with a purpose built seminar room. The residential nature of the course allows a safe holding environment to be generated more easily, where personal issues and learning can be held and explored within a supportive residential context. People find that the residential nature of the training also facilitates their learning and deepening into the work without distraction. Karuna is also a lovely place for people from all over Britain and the world to meet, learn and develop. We also get constant praise and thanks for the lovely vegetarian food on offer during our residential courses.
The training includes lectures, meditations, movement and chi kung exercises, and experiential exchange sessions on treatment tables. Teaching is shared by the tutor team. At least 50-60 percent of time is spent in table work, where tutors work with students in their exchange sessions to help clarify, develop and deepen both perceptual and clinical skills. The curriculum includes the development of the perceptual skills needed for effective clinical work. These include the development of practitioner presence, the ability to generate a safe holding field for client healing process to emerge, mindfulness-based meditation and relational inquiry, meditations oriented to the perception of primary respiration, perceptual skills related to primary respiration and the facilitation and emergence of healing processes initiated by the inherent "Intelligence" of primary respiration, clinical skills in relationship to particular healing needs of the client, the development of appropriate clinical relationships to the inertial issues in the client's system, and the neurobiology of stress and trauma and related craniosacral biodynamic and verbal skills.
During the training, the larger student group is divided into smaller tutorial groups of five to six students. Each tutorial group is assigned a tutor and meets twice every seminar, except for seminar one, where it meets once for the first time. The tutor who holds this tutor group changes twice during the training, so that each tutor group receives feedback and holding from three different tutors over the two-year training period. The assigned tutor is the "link tutor" who receives student coursework and is available for contact and help between seminars. There is homework given each seminar to be sent back to an assigned tutor approximately two weeks before the start of each seminar. Homework assignments contain various kinds of question/inquires which always include two session write-ups from practice sessions undertaken between seminars. A minimum of 150 practice sessions is required to graduate. Students are also asked to have a minimum of ten sessions with a qualified biodynamic-oriented craniosacral therapist over the two year period. Students also give a tutor a table session towards the end of each academic year which is called a "feedback session" where tutors get a chance to directly sense student progress in the perceptual and clinical aspects of work on treatment tables and offer tutorial help. A clinical project is also set in the second year of the training, where students take on two clients in a way that simulates private practice, under the supervision of an assigned tutor. This is handed in during seminar nine. There is a formal graduation ceremony at the end of seminar ten. A completion plan is created for each student not yet ready to graduate at that time. Students not ready to graduate are usually given a six month extension period to refine clinical skills or complete their coursework. All students, however, take part in the graduation ceremony and celebration in the final seminar.