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  • Writer's pictureCraniosacral Center of Grand Rapids

Finding Peace and Presence Amid the Pressure of Daily Life with Craniosacral Therapy

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

craniosacral therapy for stress and tension

“Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that'll never stop….

Pressure that'll tip, tip, tip 'til you just go pop…

Give it to your sister, it doesn't hurt and

See if she can handle every family burden

Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks…”

If you have kids, you’ve probably seen the new Disney movie Encanto at least once (or maybe 4, 40 or 400 times?!?). I don’t know about you, but the character that got me most was the oldest sister, Luisa. Not only was it amazing to see a Disney heroine who’s super strong and has the big muscles to prove it, her solo song “Pressure” talks about what it’s like when your entire family (or town, or maybe even world!) is depending on you. (If you haven’t seen it, check out the video here!)

Can you identify with that role? Maybe it’s your kids, your family, your co-workers, your company. Most of us have someone that’s depending on us. And like Luisa says, this pressure is like a drip, drip, drip that never stops. Except what seems like a little drip can turn into a tsunami of pressure on our bodies, minds and daily lives.

The past few months I've seen more and more clients who are wonderful leaders in many areas of their lives —- pillars in their communities, businesses, families. Like Luisa, they are strong. They are capable. And they are tired!

Our bodies do a lot of crazy/amazing things when we are stressed in order to meet the demands we take on— increase our blood pressure, increase tension, put us into a fight or flight state, where panic is at the ready and impulse control is feeble. Your body even might have specific responses, like Luisa’s signature eye twitch — a tight neck and shoulders, insomnia, stomach discomfort.

We can become more reactive when we meet unexpected demands with our family or at work. We can become financially impulsive. We can creatively freeze, unable to find the headspace where we can create solutions to promote business growth or support a family member with high needs. Our creative wealth can feel locked up.

These personal reactions ripple outwards and have numerous repercussions in our lives. A lot of my clients come and see me for this drip, drip, drip of pressure in their lives. They don’t have recurring migraines or some sort of chronic pain. But this constant, growing pressure can leave them without any margin of energy or resources, so when life goes sideways, as it often does, they can’t cope. They lash out or shut down. They feel helpless or enraged. They come to my table because craniosacral helps undo those reactive impulses from our body and calm the central nervous system.

“But wait….

What if I could shake the crushing weight of expectations,

Would that free some room up for joy or relaxation, or simple pleasure?

Instead we measure this growing pressure.”

- Luisa, Encanto from the song “Pressure”

They come to my table in a hurried rush, flopping on the table with an exhale and, for a minute, dropping all the demands from the people they care for and support. This rest, this moment of renewal calms their body and mind. When they leave the table, they’ve restored their margins. Their cup is refilled. When something happens — be it a toddler tantrum or an unexpected problem at work — they have a margin to receive it and respond from a place of calm, rather than explode from the pressure of it all. They’re able to engage those around them with more capacity and less tension. They’re able to find the space in our brain that sees opportunity rather than bombarded with limitations.

I often muse that when I work with a leader or caregiver I get to treat a whole community!

The constant drip of pressure often persuades us to neglect ourselves. After all, who can make time for an appointment when so many people need us? But the opposite is also true: how can we possibly meet the demands of the people who rely on us if we are so fraught with tension that one more thing is the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back?

So, if you’re overwhelmed with demands, how are you increasing your own margins, or taking your margins back? What can you do, right now, to give yourself a reserve to draw from when things get hard?

One of my clients, Neil Steger, owner of Full Strength Fitness, summed it up well the last time he came in for one of his regular visits.

“When you pour into other people every day, you need to take time to fill your own cup so that you aren’t trying to pour from an empty one.”

So true, Neil. Take a moment and think about the areas in your life where people are expecting you to keep pouring - your kids, your spouse, your community, your work team, your business. Now, take a moment to reflect on the fullness of your own cup. Is it brimming with energy, half full or almost empty? How can you proactively create space to fill it, knowing that that action will have immeasurable benefits for those around you?

While there are lots of ways to re-fill your cup — therapy, exercise, sleep, time with friends, etc. — coming to craniosacral has some unique benefits. For one, you can schedule it on your calendar and book an appointment, so it can't get pushed out as easily as the resolutions to sleep more or make it to the gym. Two, craniosacral doesn't ask anything of you but to be there. You aren't required to talk, to listen, to expend energy, to do anything but relax. Craniosacral is one of the least demanding ways to give back to yourself.

Another client, Stacey Pulley, co-owner of Family Tree Therapies and Speech Language Pathologist, told me this about her regular sessions:

“The biggest benefit I’ve experienced from craniosacral is a sense of peace and calm and being in my body versus being in my head, which is where I often live because I make so many decisions in one day. I think it really makes me a better communicator. I feel more calm and more able to connect with people without emotionality at times when I need to just get things done. There’s an unwinding that helps me to stay grounded and stay connected to my work in a very positive way.”

From one high-demand person to another, I hope you see how important you are to those around you and how much you deserve, just like Luisa, to have some weight lifted off your shoulders and be supported yourself sometimes (which has exponential benefit to those you pour into)! I love helping people expand their margins and tap into their creative wealth. Book a session with me and we can talk more.

(Also fun fact: Pressure was written while Lin Manuel Miranda was parenting during a pandemic… I feel seen! And let's get Luisa some CST!)

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