The challenges of being sensitive

One of the challenges of being a craniosacral therapist is encountering the belief systems of clients (or with babies – their parents). I understand! Before I got into this work I, too, was sceptical – how can light touch do anything?? And how does the craniosacral therapist feel all those things? With the hands? Through the body?

But, in the two years of training myself to tune into subtle sensations, I was shocked to find that not only could I feel what was happening in the clients body through my hands, but also in my own body!! I have a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) and science is yet to fully explain this phenomenon. There are some studies on emotional contagion and mirror neurons and I absolutely loved reading this Phd Touched by Touching which looks at the bi-directional nature of touch and the embodied experience of bodyworkers – it was incredibly validating! At first, I was in denial about my ability to feel from my body, believing these sensations were simply my body’s own healing being triggered in a session – but no! – countless sessions with adults validated that these somatic imprints that I was feeling, were the same thing they were experiencing. A body-to-body resonance. I now completely trust it and it guides me in a session – a true gift!

When this ability awakened in me, I became very sensitive, unable to be in crowded, visually busy, noisy environments. My ability to function in daily life was extremely limited. I was chronically dizzy, and ended up being diagnosed by a neurologist with persistent postural perceptual dizziness (aswell as being told by other health professionals that nothing was wrong with me and that I needed to see a psychologist or to go on SSRI medication). I now believe that many people on SSRI’s and those suffering from dizziness, anxiety or depression are actually also super sensitive, picking up on the energies and emotions of others, people struggling to function in this fast paced, noisy world. My healing journey was a very isolating one that has taken me years to understand and harness, involving deep reflection, radical self care and letting go of relationships and jobs that no longer served me.  

In the past, as a nurse, I recall emotionally struggling through some difficult shifts, patients were dying, suffering – their families too. I was told that I will eventually “toughen up”, but instinctively I didn’t want to. I am now at a point where I truly value my sensitivity. I see it as a gift and I am tired of hiding it to fit in with the expectations of society.  It allows me to be a sensitive therapist that can recognise the tensions and inner healing forces in others. In babies this is even more valuable because they can’t talk, sure, they cry but they can’t tell you specifically what is wrong – but their body can in a cranio treatment. Sometimes information from others comes to me without even putting my hands on a  baby/person (eg. I suddenly get a sore neck or shoulder). Professionally it can be an awkward thing to explain to someone. Many of my cranio clients come with an open mind but my lactation clients have often never heard of cranio and I am introducing a completely new concept to them. Other baby clients are referred to me by an LC or midwife but their parents are not quite sure what to expect.

I have received regular cranio sessions for years now, during many of the sessions the therapist held my feet for the whole session. My body is so used to the healing space that it knows exactly how to self-correct in the presence of a listening touch. Recently I received a completely hands-off, in-person cranio treatment. My body is now so sensitive that I don’t necessarily need direct touch to stimulate my own self-healing. It still blows my mind that this is possible (though working with mobile toddlers has also shown me it is). In fact, my nervous system and energy field prefers light touch or “far” touch. Most manipulative work puts my system into protection mode, not healing mode. I do find that the people who most resonate with cranio work are those who are sensitive and open, including babies and children (esp those with autism) – a little (touch) goes a long way! Those who don’t feel much in a session are more likely to be drawn to bodywork that is more tangible – different strokes for different folks (literally)!

One thing I am grateful for is the fact that my kids will grow up knowing that touch heals, that I have been able to help them shift sore necks, backs, knees, ear infections, nasty head injuries and headaches – often in just one treatment. They haven’t had to discover this at middle age like me. I often feel when they have a headache without touching them and they have no doubt this is possible – how cool is that!?

My son Chester getting a treatment for an ear infection

Cranio is a hard thing to describe and is best experienced. But it is a beautiful therapy and it works! I have seen incredible results; babies who sleep better, who cry less and adults whose pain resolves. So I continue to put myself out there – mostly for the babies, to bring peace to their systems – despite external judgement and my own fears of rejection and ridicule. I don’t care what people think anymore (most of the time). The therapy takes a leap of faith, a suspension of belief on the parents’ part, but it does not hurt – it heals! I am proud of the work I do and feel privileged that parents trust me to work with their babies, even if they don’t understand it.

Please get in touch if you consider yourself a sensitive person, or want to experience this gentle work for you or your baby/child.

*This article was inspired by Anita Moorjani’s book Sensitive is the New Strong

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