Curriculum Overview

We begin life, and our body develops in a fluid environment in the womb. Science tells us that 70% or more of the adult body is fluid. When we touch our clients, we primarily relate to the bones, muscles and organs which make up the other 30%. Throughout life we are more fluid body than solid body. To engage the fluid body and its healing potential, we need to learn different skills than those we were taught, and have used for solid body touch and thinking.

The LHS curriculum is based on the cranial concept developed by Dr. William Sutherland, D.O. He began by exploring the inherent motions of the bones in the cranium. Dr. Sutherland then sensed that these movements were being driven by fluid forces. This evolved into his perceiving continuous and unchanging forces outside the body, which are creating these ordering, subtle movements within.

Dr. Sutherland's 50 year perceptual journey began with the solid body, then progressed to the fluid body and then the energetic body. The LHS curriculum will follow this "journey of perception".

Dr. Sutherland described 3 models of Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) and their whole body responses.

These models are:

  1. Biomechanic (the manipulation of bones and membranes)
  2. Fluid (interaction with the rhythmic movement of fluids)
  3. Biodynamic (alliance with the Inherent Health of the body, guided by what is called Primary Respiration)

You will learn to interact with these 3 bodies - Biomechanic, fluid and Biodynamic.
Most cranial practitioners learn the Biomechanic model but often don't continue on to learn about the other 2 models. There are also many who have learned the more energetic Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, but have learned little about the Fluid body and more subtle aspects of the solid body. This leads to a limited view of the full potential of CST, and the value of integrating all three models into ones skill set. You will learn how to shift between these 3 models and apply them not only to the cranium but to the whole body.

There is much interest in fascia for very good reasons. Dr. Sutherland described the fascia as a seamless, fluid whole, with no divisions (such as superficial fascia, ligaments, deep fascia, etc.) This seamless fluid matrix pervades the entirety of the solid body. Learning the skills necessary to work with all components of fascia, from bones to fluids, is the beginning step to interacting with the Fluid Body and Inherent Motion.

The LHS curriculum begins by teaching "listening skills" so you will be able to perceive states of balance in the fascia. With practice, these skills become refined and lead to perception of the Fluid Body and Wholeness, as expressed by Inherent Motion, and Primary Respiration. It is a proven pathway, though it requires patience, and continual practicing of Presence, and synchronizing with ease.

"The soul of man with all the streams of pure living water seems to dwell in the fascia of the body. Thus a knowledge of the universal extent of the fascia is almost imperative and is one of the greatest aids to a person who seeks the cause of disease."
Dr. AT Still,D.O. founder of osteopathy

Much of what is taught in all manual therapy trainings is how to use our hands for "doing". The ability to shift between the 3 cranial sacral models requires that you learn to develop "listening or receiving hands". LHS shows you a path to improve the effectiveness of your doing hands, while at the same time developing listening hands.

In order to widen our perception, we need to think differently. Here is a simple yet accurate metaphor. Imagine a water ballon shaped like a human body. This water balloon is essentially made up of tubes and bags containing solid pieces. These tubes and bags contain blood vessels, nerves, organs, muscles, bones, etc. All of this is floating in the human shaped water balloon.
All of the solid body floats within the bags and tubes.

These bags should glide against each other, maintaining an order and spaciousness within the fluid ground substance.
Now, imagine a finger poked into the body balloon and how the whole balloon would be affected, just as a rock tossed in a pond will effect the whole pond.
Through life, we get "fingers" in our body balloon (accidents, trauma, etc.). The bags can get stuck together, leading to stiff movement, pain, tightness, etc., and the order, spaciousness, balance and flow are disrupted.

LHS teaches you to work with the fluid ground substance, the fascial containers, their relationship to each other and their relationship with the whole. You will learn that synchronizing with Wholeness can reorganize the containers, their contents and the fluid environment they float in, just as a water balloon will reestablish its shape when the finger is removed.

"Sickness is, in effect, caused by the stoppage of some supply of fluid
or quality of life."
Dr. AT Still,D.O.

We believe that developing cranial touch skills on other parts of the body, before contacting the sensitive cranium is very important.
It is usually thought that one should use different contact skills with the cranium than the rest of the body, however if cranial touch is effective for the cranium then why wouldn't it be effective for the rest of the body?

Dr Sutherland spent 50 years listening to the body and describing what he perceived. You won't learn all of what Dr. Sutherland learned in 6 modules, but you will learn the principles of that journey. (Then you can spent the next 50 years deepening into them!). LHS is a principles based training. The Principles always apply, whether helping to get more order in the legs, working with birth trauma in infants, or helping with traumatic brain injury.

When we first began studying craniosacral therapy in 1992, we found it difficult to integrate the information into our Rolfing® practice. Rolfing® is very much an "in the body", doing hands modality. (It also can be hard on hands and our clients's bodies!) We found we could either do a Rolfing® session or a craniosacral therapy session. Our experience with integrating listening hands into our Rolfing® practices will be valuable as we guide and mentor you during and between modules. We will teach you a simple way to include listening hands into your current skill set.

The LHS curriculum is based on osteopathic principles, foundations of biodynamics, and is an exploration of the laws of nature as articulated by the osteopathic profession

The intention of the curriculum is to guide you through these necessary, and proven steps, which can be integrated into your current modality of practice.

After the Module 1 introduction, If you choose to pursue the entire curriculum, the expansive significance of the Biodynamic model, with practice, will be more easily accessed and appreciated.

For a more detailed explanation of these models and the foundations of the development of this curriculum, read the article:

Bones to Fluids - A Path to Understanding Wholeness

The LHS curriculum is comprised of six sequential modules that flow from anatomy, to fascia, to fluids, to the tidal body and the bioenergetic body:
Module 1: Foundations – Introduction to the Fluid Body

The content of this beginning Module teaches the fundamentals for every Module that follows.

Much of this Module will be oriented toward exploring the felt sense of “presence” and how it can expand your perceptions. This will allow the body's Inherent Healing and self organization to reveal itself. As we learn to support and stay out of the way of the healing wisdom of the body, our work will become more systemic.

The science and the foundational concepts of Wholeness will be introduced and experienced using hands-on explorations.

Fascia, is a component of the Fluid Body,
and it's fluidic nature is the medium for these explorations.

Much of what has been taught, traditionally, about fascia and fascial manipulation has been shown, scientifically and experientially, to be inaccurate and incomplete.

Recent studies have shown that fascia has no divisions or structures. For example, "Myofascia" is not separate from the rest of the fascial complex. Myofascial release then is a limited, reductionist practice, as the concept of "muscle-fascia" is flawed in it's suggestion that fascia can be separated into pieces and worked separately from the Whole of the fascial system.

You will be introduced to the process necessary for balancing fascia as a whole, through what is called Balanced Membranous Tension. Instead of having a conceptual understanding of fascial continuity, you will experience it.

4-day class
  • Presence, Inclusive Attention and neutral
  • The autonomic nervous system and the therapeutic relationship
  • 3 models of cranial sacral therapy and their whole – body expressions
  • “Listening Hands”- doing hands vs receiving hands
  • Balanced Membranous Tension - Finding states of balance in the fascia
  • Introduction to Wholeness and Primary Respiration
  • Embryology of Wholeness
Module 2: States of Balance

Having had time in your own practice to work with presence and perception, Module 2 is focused on becoming much more familiar with fluid qualities of fascia. In this module you will continue to progress from anatomical thinking to a more comprehensive perception of the body as a fluid whole. You will learn to balance fascial tension and learn more about the body’s response to trauma and normalizing the nervous system. The hands on work will address joint structures in the appendages of the upper and lower body. We will begin to consider the bones as surprisingly fluid tissue and learn to decompress and untwist them.

4-day class
  • Arms and shoulder girdle, legs and pelvic girdle
  • Balanced membranous tension
  • 1 hand working / 1 hand listening
  • Introduction to the fluid body – 2 hands listening
  • Joint midlines
  • Bones – interosseous and intraosseous relationships
  • The body’s response to trauma
  • Balancing the Autonomic Nervous System
  • The Vagus Nerve
  • Polyvagal Theory
Module 3: Applying Fluid Body Skills to the Cranium and Spine

In Modules 1 and 2 we used the fascia and the fluid body to learn about the 3 models of Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) and the basic skills and principles needed to interface with the subtle signals and motions they express. In this module we will deepen our understanding of these three models exploring their inherent polyrhythmic expressions in the cranium and spine. We will learn, in detail, about the biomechanics of the spine and sacrum and how to easily normalize spinal dysfunctions. We will learn to balance the diaphragms to optimize their influences on order in the spine.

4-day class
  • Anatomy of the cranium and spine
  • The biomechanics of the spine and normalizing dysfunctions
  • The inherent motions of the cranium and spine
  • Balancing the sacrum
  • Diaphragms
  • Beginning to work directly with the cranium
  • The Lesion Field
Module 4: The Neurocranium

In this module, we expand into the cranial-sacral portion of the training. At this point, you will have deepened into Presence and using listening hands to shift from engaging dysfunction to synchronizing with inherent motion. These skills are critical to work safely and effectively with the sensitive cranium. One of the goals of the first 3 modules is to provide the concepts, Presence, and listening hands necessary to be able to work most effectively with the cranium. Through this process, we have explored how to enhance order, balance, harmony and flow in the whole body which will diminish compensations in the neck and cranium. You will learn how the bones actually float within the membranes of the fluid cranium. We will not be shifting bones but balancing the fluid membranes.

4-day class
  • 2 hands listening
  • Introduction to cranial anatomy especially of the bones and membranes of the neurocranium
  • Reciprocal Tension Membrane
  • Structural (biomechanical) and functional aspects of the cranial base - occiput, temporals and sphenoid
  • Balancing the relationship of the cranial base with the neck
  • Integrating the spine and cranium
  • Concussions
Module 5: The Viscerocranium

In the last module, you learned the importance of order and function in the neurocranium and the cranial base as a precursor to overall balance of the entire cranium. In this module we will learn how the face is actually suspended from the membranes of the cranium. Balancing these membranes is critical for organization of the facial bones.

4-day class
  • Balancing the relationship of the neurocranium and visceral cranium
  • Decompressing facial injuries
  • TMJ
  • Sinuses
Module 6: Around The Edges

In this module, we will learn to perceive dysfunction as a palpable field within the Whole field of the body from much further away than where you are touching.

Wholeness has no boundaries. We will explore how allowing our own boundaries to be more porous will allow perception of that which is bigger than physicality to emerge.

By doing so, you will experience the ability of Primary Respiration to integrate that which has become isolated from Whole.

  • Disappearing hands
  • Synchronizing with the bioenergy fields in and outside of the body in yourself and your client
  • The therapist / client duality disappears
  • Perceiving dysfunction from a distance within and outside of the body