Samuel Hahnemann, founder of modern "classical" homeopathyPrinciples of Homeopathic Touch

Copyright © 2003 Stuart Greene

Homeopathy is a healing art with deep, ancient roots. The modern practice of homeopathy is almost universally attributed to Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), but the great Swiss physician Paracelsus (1493-1541) clearly described basic homeopathic principles in his work, and many more ancient references exist within the world's collective literature of healing.

Homeopathy can be described in many ways, but for this purposes of this workshop we will focus on two of its core principles. While these principles are usually applied through the preparation and administration of herbal, organic, chemical and mineral substances, we will explore how the same principles may be applied to an extremely effective manual therapy called Homeopathic Touch.

Core Principles of Homeopathy

The Principle of "Like Cures Like" (Similia Similibus Curentur)

This principle states that substances that might ordinarily induce symptoms of illness in a healthy person can, under other circumstances, actually facilitate a powerful healing response in someone who is ill. In later sections, we will draw a comparison between this principle and the concept of Indirect Action.

ParacelsusThe Principle of the Minimum Dose

This principle states that homeopathic remedies work optimally when their "energetic" or informational effects are distilled and separated from their gross, physical effects. This is usually accomplished through extreme dilution of the original substance in concert with its energetic activation through a process of agitation called succussion.

In the following sections, we will make an analogy between this principle and a subtle approach to manual therapy called the Zero Point Epsilon Principle.

Linking Homeopathy with Subtle Touch

Years ago, while practicing and teaching various forms of subtle manual therapy, I discovered a basic principle of touch that has become central to my work. For the purposes of this workshop, this insight forms the first bridge between the principles of homeopathic medicine and the practice of Homeopathic Touch.

The Principle of Aligned Intention
This principle states that an individual's response to touch is based primarily on the communication of intention between the therapist and the client. Many factors can influence this communication including skill and trust, but it is fundamentally the alignment of consciousness between the parties that characterizes the process and the outcomes.

In my years of teaching subtle manual therapy, I have had countless experiences where two people who are presumably executing the same therapeutic technique elicit totally different responses. In most cases, both students have correctly applied the mechanical aspects of the technique, but while one student's focus was on the technique itself; the other student's focus invariably embraced the emotional and feeling state of the client.

The Spontaneous Alignment of Intention

One dramatic example of this effect took place years ago during the first class I taught in subtle manual therapy. During an exercise intended to last no more than five minutes and simply demonstrate locations on the body where certain subtle rhythms could be felt, the entire class gently shifted into a quiet, almost sacred level of consciousness. I allowed the process of exploration to run its natural course, as it spontaneously became an opportunity for healing rather than just a demonstration of form.

After about twenty minutes, a female student suddenly rose from the table and ran outside. I could see that she was sitting quietly, by herself, under a beautiful tree, so I decided not to disturb her. She rejoined the class about an hour later and shared that while she was being touched, she suddenly gained access to intense memories of childhood sexual abuse. She shared with the class that it was the stillness, the trust, and the experience of being touched in a totally safe, caring way that opened the floodgate of her memories. She and I have remained in touch over the years, and it is clear that her experience that day was an opening and the starting point of a deep and sustained process of psychospiritual healing.

What is critical about this experience is that there was nothing whatsoever in the technique that could have elicited this response. In fact, there really was no technique at all, only an instruction to the students to tune their awareness to a subtle level and lightly touch certain regions of the body in a particular, extremely gentle way. But even this "non-technique" was enough to communicate a quality of intention, connection and trust that was, ultimately, life changing.

Far from being exceptional, this experience is actually quite common. While fumbling and unskilled touch may tend to block the kind of deep communication required to create this level of connection, no amount of technical skill can "make it happen."

That said, there are numerous techniques and insights that may be skillfully employed to facilitate therapeutic experiences that transcend the gross, anatomical levels of manual therapy.

The Zero Point Epsilon Principle

In mathematics, the Greek letter Epsilon is given a very special, wonderful meaning. Epsilon is used to indicate "the smallest value that makes a difference." For example, if I take any number and add "1" to it, the result will, of course, be a bigger number. But that's also true if I only add "½," or "¼," or even one billionth. In fact, any number I add will make the result at least a little bit bigger. Makes sense, right? So mathematicians use the symbol Epsilon to stand for just that - the smallest value that makes a difference.

Before we turn this observation into a principle of Homeopathic Touch, we need to look at one more idea - the Zero Point.

You know that as you turn the steering wheel of a car, there is always a little bit of "play," a little bit of motion that doesn't actually engage the wheels. Every part of the body is like this. In every dimension of movement there is always a little bit of play before the movement "catches" and engages the relevant anatomical connections. I call this initial point of anatomical engagement the "Zero Point" because it is the place at which the capacity to profoundly communicate through touch actually begins. Whether we are considering the rotation of a leg, translation of the head, compression of the sacroiliac joints - any movement at all - we can learn to make gentle corrections that "take up the slack" in the tissues and joints and arrive, with great precision, at this Zero Point. I have often observed that many unsatisfactory experiences of gentle or "energetic" touch are due to the fact that the therapist seldom, if ever, engaged the client's Zero Point.

Combining these two ideas, Epsilon - the smallest value that makes a difference, and the Zero Point - the critical, initial point of anatomical engagement, we are ready to approach the next principle of Homeopathic Touch.

The Zero Point Epsilon Principle
This principle begins with the realization that every possible touch and movement of the body has the capacity to elicit a significant and specific response in consciousness. These responses form an organized spectrum that spans between subtle, psychospiritual perception and gross anatomical awareness. Beginning from the Zero Point of any movement, the smallest levels of mechanical force (smallest Epsilon) will tend to elicit the deepest psychospiritual reactions, while successively higher levels of force (larger Epsilon) will tend to elicit more emotional, mental, and physical responses, respectively.

This principle declares that all other factors being equal, you can consciously choose the level at which to engage the client by selecting an appropriate value of Epsilon - the level of physical force applied after the Zero Point has been engaged. Small forces tend to engage karmic, spiritual, and pre-verbal states of consciousness. Somewhat larger forces lead the client into sub-conscious and conscious emotional and mental material, such as significant life issues. At a sufficiently high level of mechanical engagement, we leave the subtle realms and converge back into the mainstream of bodywork through massage, physical therapy, and chiropractic adjustment.

This principle bears a striking relationship to the Principle of the Minimum Dose from homeopathic medicine. In a sense, we are saying that diluting the gross physical component of touch is analogous to diluting a physical substance in order to separate its energetic, informational component from its material elements. In the context of Homeopathic Touch, the smallest values of Epsilon potentially create the deepest opportunities for the alignment of consciousness between touch therapist and client, providing access to subtle physical and psychospiritual awareness that may not be easily accessible by any other means.

The Principle of Indirect Action
The Zero Point Epsilon principle opens the door to another powerful therapeutic insight, the Principle of Indirect Action. To explore how this principle works, let's start by taking a look at its more familiar opposite - Direct Action.

In the world of anatomically oriented bodywork and physical therapy, it is common to deal with physical stress by opposing it. For example, if a person is "holding tension" in their neck and shoulders by habitually contracting the associated muscles, it's common for a bodyworker to traction and massage the tense areas, trying to stretch them out again. This may feel good to the person receiving the treatment, but this type of work seldom facilitates any truly lasting change. A "spa style massage" may be a pleasant and relaxing, but it is seldom a turning point in a deep, healing process.

But there is a simple reason why direct, oppositional therapy seldom creates lasting change -- it is simply trying to move the body in the wrong direction!

Consider the following analogy. Suppose you're walking in the park on a cool spring day, wearing your favorite loosely knit sweater. As you pass a chain link fence, a loop of your sweater is snagged on a projecting bit of metal. Your first impulse is to continue walking forward, tugging at the snag. But if you do, it will only build more tension between the fence and the sweater. The restriction - the place where the sweater is physically caught - is behind you. You must actually move backwards, taking tension off of the sweater, in order to free it from the fence. In theory, you could pull forward hard enough to either tear the sweater loose or topple the fence - but it's much simpler (and less destructive) to relax back to the site of the restriction, release the tension, and unhook the snag.

The same action occurs inside the body. Under most circumstances, it is more effective to return to the location of the internal snags that arise between muscles, fascia, visceral ligaments, joint capsules and other anatomical structures and gently move them in the direction of ease rather than against the pull, in the direction of tension. This is called Indirect Action, or Indirect Technique.

At first, Indirect Action may seem counterintuitive because when applying this form of subtle release, you might actually start by further compressing an already "scrunched" neck or pushing tense legs tighter against the pelvis. Of course, the ultimate aim is to take pressure off the site of the physical restriction, allowing the body a chance to free its ingrained fixations. In this way, Indirect Action is analogous to the first core Homeopathic Principle of "Like Cures Like" - using a conscious exaggeration of a dysfunctional pattern to help the body reorganize into a more balanced state.

Principle of Indirection Action
In general, fixations are more easily and effectively released by following and encouraging the body's natural tendencies for self-correction. This is accomplished by following the subtle "path of least resistance" back to the site of the original fixation, rather than opposing it with an opposite motion.

For Indirect Action to work properly, two things must occur. First, the therapist must accurately discover the direction of ease, following the flow back to the site of the restriction. Second, the therapist must use the appropriate setting of the Zero Point Epsilon technique. If too strong a touch is used, the client will unconsciously create a resistance opposing the indirect touch, thereby blocking its effect. If too weak a touch is used, then the Zero Point will never be engaged and the touch will never have an impact beyond a loose "play" in the tissues.

Indirect Action recognizes that the body - and in fact, all the other aspects of our being from the spiritual to the material - is alive, aware, and intelligent. Instead of seeking to "fix" the body by putting its structures "back where they belong," the Principle of Indirect Action works to gently clear blockages and restrictions. Once these fixations in the field are released, the natural intelligence of our system can restore dynamism and fluidity - both in the field of the body, and in the energetic field of consciousness.

The Principle of Developmental Resonance

Archeologists know that digging into the earth is actually a way to travel back in time. It is common for new civilizations to build upon the rubble of the past, so each successive layer uncovered by the archeologist in the field actually peels back a layer of history.

Human consciousness is organized very much like an "archeological dig." At the base, we have a repertoire of physiologically "wired" patterns of awareness and responses, and most of these remain unconscious throughout our lifetimes. These patterns, the product of thousands of millions of years of evolution, form a kind of bedrock upon which the civilization of our personal consciousness is built.

As a new human being begins to accumulate experiences - both inside the womb and after birth - a constant stream of new experiences vies for attention. The child engages in a continuous process of making sense of the world - and one of the first things that takes place is that new, challenging experiences are integrated as extensions of the instinctual, physiological level.

Even though these new experiences are not exactly the same, they tend to form associations based on similar qualities, and consequently, they set up patterns of resonance in awareness. These patterns, which are the first language the child uses to extend her experience into the world, comprise the next level of non-verbal reality within the archeology of consciousness. These patterns, with their powerful effects on our autonomic nervous systems, immune and endocrine systems, as well as our moods, choices, and behaviors, actually persist throughout our lives.

Principle of Developmental Resonance
This principle states that, beginning in utero and continuing throughout life, each individual develops unconscious patterns of association between their experiences and the physiological functions they most closely resemble. Each association creates a resonance between related anatomical structures, organic functions and movements patterns that can, through skilled touch and the appropriate alignment of intention, be used to access and activate a wide range of unconscious responses

Let's consider a simple example. When a newborn experiences hunger, she will cry or otherwise call attention to herself until the hunger is satisfied. There is no mental process here - no conscious awareness of plummeting blood glucose levels and interlocking neuro-endocrine signals, but rather, an instinctual response that triggers a set of behaviors and produces, ideally, an appropriate response to satisfy the hunger.

But at some later point, days or weeks later, even the happiest, best cared for baby in the world will experience a new, different sense of need. It might be the desire for stimulation and challenge, or the need to be held and comforted. And even though it is not the same as physiological hunger, with all its manifold biochemical and metabolic implications, within the repertoire of the infant, hunger may well be the closest familiar experience.

Despite the fact that the body is adequately nourished, the child will begin to activate many of the same neural and biochemical pathways appropriate to hunger. In turn, this association creates an experiential resonance between physical hunger and the new, as yet undefined experience of longing. Because the infant's awareness is so strongly seated in its internal, physical reality, the activation of neuroendocrine activities, visceral muscle contractions, and other physical signs of hunger may become deeply associated with this longing. This is what is meant by a developmental resonance.

Conversely, if the infant does not experience the satisfaction of this new type of hunger through appropriate care, she may eventually come to accept food as a substitute to quiet the painful, ill-defined sense of longing. In the deep, preverbal archeology of consciousness, this association may still be active within the consciousness of the adult that the child eventually becomes.

In addition to gaining insights into our unconscious motivations, behaviors, and preferences, the concept of developmental resonance also provides us with an incredibly powerful tool for subtle manual therapy and Homeopathic Touch.

Remember, the Principle of Aligned Intention tells us that a touch is not simply a mechanical act. Depending on the relationship between the therapist and client - a relationship that may develop from moment to moment during a session through a combination of verbal, nonverbal, conscious and unconscious exchanges - a touch may elicit a wide spectrum of possible responses. If the therapist is skilled enough to sense a variety of subtle cues and also knowledgeable enough to unravel some of the complex relationships between developmental resonance and anatomical patterns, then it becomes possible to facilitate deep exploration of karmic, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical consciousness.

Mapping Somatic Consciousness

What are these associations between anatomy and the often hidden qualities of our consciousness? Many esoteric traditions offer "received wisdom" about how emotions and other forms of awareness are "stored" in various parts of the body. The lungs, for example, are often associated with feelings of grief and loss, the gall bladder with bitterness and blame, the heart with loyalty, courage and love. Our language is full of idioms and poetic references to viscera such as "venting your spleen" or "lily livered coward."

When we look at these associations from the perspective of developmental resonance, we can see that these associations are rooted in the systematic extension of the infant's awareness from primary, physiological consciousness. Let's consider other examples of these relationships.

The lungs are often highly resonant with feelings of unendurable loss and grief. Smokers routinely anesthetize their lung tissue with nicotine, a powerful drug that in addition to its addictive "buzz" also deadens the lungs' emotional resonance. But why should this painful set of feeling states become associated with the lungs?

Let's start by considering what is taking place when the lungs are first activated. The developing fetus lives for 40 weeks wrapped in an abundant ocean, her entire body embraced, rocked, nourished, floated and soothed by the rhythmic beating of its mother's heart. In this world there is no strife, no duality, no divisions between self and others. At the moment of birth, however, this entire oceanic unity collapses, as the tiny infant is driven into the world. Gone is the 98.6-degree bath, the automatic fulfillment of bodily needs, the comforting heartbeat and all the other qualities of a life lived in total unity.

Birth is the beginning of a challenging, often difficult path laden with duality - the constant chafing of the needs and awareness of the self with the inexplicable needs of others. The need to breathe, to sustain one's own existence from moment to moment, is central to this transition. It is at this moment that the lungs are activated, and the transition into the reality of the world is irrevocably set.

Everyone shares this common experience of expulsion from paradise. It is, in some sense, the price of admission into the world. However, a child who is well loved, cared for, nourished, stimulated, and made safe and secure will tend to have an easier time through all aspects of life. A child for whom any of these critical needs is lacking may well have a very different experience. Instead of being integrated as the beginning of a challenging but rewarding journey, for this child the expulsion from the fetal paradise of the womb may be understood as the first of an unstoppable series of losses and tragedies upon which all of life is based. Each new experience of loss, separation or grief has the potential to engage the resonance of the lung's initial activation and reinforce a deep-seated sense of despair.

Through experimentation, theory, and research into existing traditions, I have identified dozens of associations of this type. I have experienced thousands of interactions in which the accuracy of these associations has been validated, often with far-reaching results. One of the most challenging developmental resonances to decode was the relationship between the knees and feelings of abandonment. I eventually had a remarkable experience that both validated this resonance and made a deep impression on my own inner world.

Drama of the Abandoned Child

My mother has a story I've been hearing all my life. When she was two years old, her father left their home in Poland and traveled to America. Six years later, in 1929, he briefly returned and brought his wife and young daughter back with him to New York. Even though his actions saved my mother and grandmother from the fate of the rest of our family - to perish in the Nazi camp at Treblinka - throughout her life my mother has been unable to see her history as anything but a terrible drama of abandonment and betrayal.

A dozen years ago, during a bodywork certification training, I needed to accumulate hours of documented "practicum" experience. My mother kindly volunteered for a treatment. At one point, after about an hour of very relaxing massage, I found myself working behind her right knee in an area called the popliteal fossa. After a few moments, I began to clearly hear a child's voice and I saw a scene that I immediately understood to be from my mother's childhood in Poland.

In the scene, my mother is four years old. She has run out of her house, into the woods. I can tell that she is furious with her mother. The scene is so powerful, so shocking in its immediacy that for a moment, I lose my trance-like concentration and have a thought - "Wait," I observe, "This is all wrong. I'm working in her right knee. This should elicit material about abandonment by her father - not anger at her mother!"

Fortunately, I was able to quiet my intrusive mind and return to the experience. In my inner vision, I once again see the four-year old, as she leans against a tree, panting from her outburst and sobbing with her pain and rage. Settling my own thought, I can clearly sense hers.

"I'm so angry with my mother! But I can't be angry with her…she's all I have since my father left. Why did he leave me here, alone with her? I'm so angry with my father!"

In that moment of internal childhood reflection, I felt a profound shift as my mother replaced her immediate, present tense anger toward her mother with a safer story about her anger towards her absent father. In that moment, I felt the birth of the drama of her sense of abandonment - a drama that has literally shaped all the major choices of her life.

After the session, while my mother was still in a very relaxed, altered state, I told her about my experience and how I had perceived her as a four-year-old angry with her mother - not her father. About how I sensed her drama of abandonment was constructed to allow her to face the emotional challenges of a situation she was powerless to change.

"Yes," she answered in a very small, distant voice. "When I was two and my father came to America, he bought tickets for all of us. It was my mother who refused to go."

In that moment, I heard for the first time the little girl's admission that she hadn't, in fact, been abandoned at all. That the central drama of her life was a construct. And that subtle touch with aligned consciousness had the capacity to activate this flow of information through the consciousness associated with her right knee. This experience served as a dramatic example of how the Principle of Developmental Resonance works in practice.

To complete this story, let's consider why the knee may become developmentally resonant with feelings of abandonment. When the young child begins to walk, she must face a kind of mechanical paradox. The child's intention is to stand up and move forward. But in the case of walking, the child must discover that to move forwards, the knee must actually facilitate a backward movement. To go forward, one must actually lead by leaving the foot behind.

If the child has experienced a painful experience of being left behind, the backward intention of flexing the knee joint stimulates a resonance with feelings of abandonment. For a child who has not had a painful experience of this sort, the feelings are less intense, and may actually have the opposite polarity - the liberating sense of discovering one's own power and mobility. The knee may, in this case, become more strongly resonant with positive feelings of individuation and self-worth. Often, both polarities are present, and skillful engagement of the developmental resonances of the knee may be used to help realign the individual's awareness from the painful pole of abandonment to the strong and joyful pole of individuation.

A Short List of Developmental Resonances

It takes a great deal of experience to work accurately and respectfully with the energies of developmental resonance. There is an implicit danger in simply reading a roadmap and plunging in…the potential to stir powerful, unconscious tides of feelings and create profound vulnerability is something to seriously consider. On the other hand, the connection is a result of aligned intention, and if your own awareness is centered in compassion, curiosity, and above all, a respect for the autonomy of your client, these experiences tend to be positive.

The following list describes a few of the more important developmental resonances as a guide for exploration. Please use these guidelines respectfully, and remember that, in the words of the philosopher Korzybski, "The map is not the territory." Our abstractions about something are not the thing itself, and each individual's experiences and developmental resonances are unique and richly varied. We may, because of our shared human anatomy, physiology, neurology and developmental sequences, have a common base of resonant associations, but each person is, ultimately, a unique creation - a being of substance, energy, consciousness, and intent.

Trunk (axial skeleton) Identity: The core-line of the body, from the head down the spine through the torso, is the seat of the self. We can lose limbs and still retain our identity, but the head and vital organs are essential to our being. At the highest level, this is the core of our identity.
Upper extremity (shoulders/arms/hands) Expression: We use our upper extremity to give, to receive, to shape, to make our unique imprint upon the world. Conversely, when we feel a lack of internal permission to express ourselves, we tend to experience repression in this upper extremity that often manifests as tension and a loss of freedom of movement.
Lower extremity (pelvis/legs/feet) Power: The balance of the body, the ability to stand our ground, to take flight, to run towards opportunity or away from danger is modulated through the lower extremity. Power, choice, the ability to make our own decisions and act on them is the material most closely resonant with this part of the body.
Lungs Loss: As discussed in the text, the lungs are activated at the moment of birth, and can therefore be resonant with the sense of loss and the need to strive to live. Many chronic lung problems are deeply associated with traumatic experiences early in life involving parental, especially maternal, bonding.
Heart Physiologically, the cells of the heart are "wired" differently from all other tissues. They are organized to beat with fierce regularity, to self-monitor and correct their function through subtle electrical impulses. In addition to the obvious resonances with love and intimacy, the heart is the center of our feelings of dedication, persistence, and integrity - mirroring the heart's unique physical requirement to beat persistently, without failure, through a lifetime.
Liver Purpose: The liver is the seat of masculine polarity in the body. It is therefore resonant with core relationships with men, including fathers, the internalized masculine aspect of the divine, and for me, the self. The liver is strongly resonant with our perceptions of life as being purposeful, and of our ability to lead a meaningful life. It is no coincidence that for those who have lost a sense of purpose, alcohol is the drug of choice. Like the numbing impact of nicotine on the lungs and the suppression of the resonance of grief, alcohol is often used to numb the existential pain arising from a sense of purposelessness.
Gall bladder The gall bladder, with its bitter bile, is often resonant with the outwardly directed, blaming aspect of anger. Conversely, engaging and calming the gall bladder often stimulates the possibility of reframing an experience to consider one's own role in the situation, reducing the need to blame and the sense of impotence.
Spleen The spleen is the complement of the liver, and is the anchor for female polarity in the body. It is therefore resonant with how we deal with important female relationships including mothers, the feminine aspect of the divine, and for women, the self. The spleen can become resonant with the type of anger that is rooted in resentment - often with a more complex, passive/aggressive quality than the direct, outward directed anger associated with the gall bladder and overheated liver.
Duodenum The duodenum, the first portion of the small intestine, can be highly resonant with a sense of personal shame. In touch, it can be used to access highly guarded material that may be in conflict with an individual's social persona.
Colon The colon has several sections, each with its own, unique resonance. In general, the colon is resonant with feelings and strategies about how we engage with or hide from the outer world. The ascending colon tends to be most resonant with material we suppress, even from our own conscious awareness. The transverse colon is resonant with strategies for diverting attention from painful feelings, the descending colon with how we socialize and hide material from others and finally, the sigmoid colon with feelings of deep desperation and futility.
Pancreas The pancreas tends to be resonant with feelings of karmic or spiritual shame. This may be similar in some of its qualities to the shame resonant with the duodenum, but tends to have more of a quality of challenges within the spirit and large scale patterns in life, rather than with present life emotions and experiences.
Neck The movements of the neck are central to our ability to control the environment. The movements of the neck are vital in the positioning of our eyes and ears and therefore have enormous implications for survival. The back of the neck tends to be resonant with patterns of self-control, the front with our feelings about being controlled by others, and the sides of the neck with strategies about how we control others, with a strong gender distinction between female (left) and male (right) interactions.
Knees As described in the text, the unique, back-bending action of the knee joint makes this the one place in the body that must move backwards to facilitate a forward motion of the body. For this reason, in early childhood development the knee becomes resonant with feelings of being left behind, which may be experienced as abandonment - or with feelings of leaving others, which may, if stressful, trigger shame or other types of pain, or may, when conscious and appropriately motivated, be emblematic of personal growth and individuation.

Basic Techniques of Homeopathic Touch

In this section, I will describe several of the simplest, most effective techniques of Homeopathic Touch. While mastering the techniques of Homeopathic Touch may take years, I have been gratified that each time I teach this work, students are able to immediately apply some of the basic methods with excellent results.

Before describing the techniques, I want to share two images that I personally find very helpful.

Surfing the Crest

Many of the qualities of Homeopathic Touch are a little bit like surfing in the ocean. When you surf, the object is to ride the crest of the wave. If you fall behind the wave, you're not surfing any more - you're just bobbing up and down in the ocean. If you get ahead of the wave, it crashes down on your head and knocks you off the board. But if you can stay right on the crest of the wave, you can ride the wave in a way that's free and exciting.

In practicing these techniques, try to picture the body as a kind of ocean, filled with waves. In most cases, what we're trying to do is surf the mechanical and energetic waves of the body, finding and riding the crests. Just like the ocean, the body's waves are constantly changing, so the process is dynamic.

Flying the Kite

When flying a kite, we have to constantly maintain tension in the string. If we let go of the string, the kite will soon begin to tumble and move in a disorganized way. It is the interaction between the energy of the wind and our conscious resistance through the string that organizes the elegant movement of the kite.

Because the wind in the sky, just like the waves in the ocean, is always changing, we need to subtly change the tension and position of the string to keep the kite flying. In much the same way, the quality of our touch must subtly change to follow the shifting energetic and mechanical patterns of the client.

I sometimes describe the ideal way to approach this type of subtle bodywork as "flying a kite while surfing." Both qualities are important -- riding the crest of the wave like a surfer, and constantly adjusting the touch relationship to keep the client's responses organized, like a flying kite.

Unwinding the Cerebellum

This technique is incredibly simple - so simple, in fact, that you may at first be tempted to think that nothing is happening. If, however, you have properly engaged the Zero Point, this simple method is better at rapidly releasing tension in the body and nervous system than any other technique I know. I tend to use it at the beginning of a session, especially if the client is "wired" and on edge. It seems to reduce the hypertonic stress of the sympathetic nervous system so quickly that the client frequently falls into a trance-like state, close to sleep.

With the client lying on her back (supine position), gently drape your hands over the tops of both ankles (dorsums). You should make good contact, but not press down onto the ankles - a good images is how a cloth would softly drape over the area. Full contact - little pressure.

From this position, gently flex the top of the feet towards your own body, away from the client's head (plantarflexion). Depending on the individual, there may be either a small or large range of loose motion before the Zero Point is engaged. It is critical that you engage the Zero Point. If in doubt, go beyond the Zero Point. The effect will be less intense, but if you do not engage the Zero Point, there will be no effect at all.

Once you have engaged the Zero Point, add just a little more flexion of the feet. If you are well tuned to the person's body, you may feel how this tiny additional flexion actually stretches through their legs, into the pelvis, and potentially, all the way to the fascia at the back of the neck and into the cranium.

At some point, the client may experience enough mechanical release of stressed muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia to shift the Zero Point significantly. Your job is to take up the new slack, find the changed Zero Point, and restore the proper tension. As described earlier, the smaller the value of Epsilon- in this case, the added level of flexion - the more effective this technique will be. As you gain experience with this type of touch, you will be able to continuously monitor and adjust the relationship of Epsilon to the Zero Point.

Why does this technique work so well? I suspect that it is related to the fact that the region from the ankle to the front of the foot mediates a large portion of how we balance the body in walking and standing. Therefore, this part of the body is in constant communication with the cerebellum - the "old mammalian" part of the brain that is responsible for many functions, including the smooth integration of our physical movements. When a person is highly stressed, this part of the brain becomes over-active. The plantarflexion of the ankles quickly communicates to the cerebellum that the feet are no longer dealing with gravity and the need to manage balance is temporarily suspended. Therefore, the exhausted cerebellum shifts into a much-needed restful mode, often taking the rest of the system with it.

Craniosacral Stillpoints - Head and Heart

The craniosacral stillpoint is a core technique of craniosacral therapy (CST). Properly applied, it is a perfect example of the principles of Homeopathic Touch,-The stillpoint is a temporary, deliberately induced pause in the craniosacral rhythm. The stillpoint has many well-documented actions, ranging from the release of chronic tension to the ability to lower a fever and stimulate immune system responses.

It is important to know that the body has a subtle, physical rhythm - the craniosacral pulse - that is generated by the regular increase and decrease of the volume and pressure of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord. To a skilled practitioner, this pulse is almost like an internal sonar signal. By reading how it spreads through the body, where it flows freely and where it is blocked, where the rhythm is regular, and where it becomes disorganized, we can gain tremendous insight and direct our therapeutic efforts appropriately.

I believe that almost anyone can learn to directly sense the craniosacral rhythm and, in time, become adept at reading the body through its many messages. But it is not actually necessary to accurately feel the rhythm to induce a stillpoint. I have taught this technique to hundreds of students, and while many of them went on to master the subtle art of craniosacral palpation, even the most inexperienced students successfully induced a stillpoint by properly following instructions.

These are two different ways to induce a craniosacral stillpoint. The first, the so-called CV-4 stillpoint, works by applying a specific type of pressure to the back of the head. It is the most common method taught at standard CST seminars, such as those presented by the Upledger Institute. The second method is one that I developed many years ago. In addition to eliciting the benefits of a craniosacral stillpoint, it also has the capacity to open the heart chakra, and often leaves the client in an emotionally joyful state.

Before describing the techniques, let me provide a little bit of background. Dr. Jonathan Upledger is the osteopathic physician who pioneered many of the techniques of craniosacral therapy and conducted groundbreaking research in subtle manual therapy during his years as the chairman of the biophysics department at the University of Michigan. Even though we all owe a debt of gratitude for his work, it's also important to know that many of the techniques of craniosacral therapy appear in ancient and traditional forms of healing. It is common for children on street corners in Katmandu to practice "skull shaping," a skill that has been passed down from generation to generation in Nepal and Tibet. In modern times, other practitioners independently discovered many of these techniques, such as Dr. Hugh Milne, a Scottish osteopath. Parenthetically, Milne's work is particularly interesting because he puts the practice of subtle manual therapy into an exciting evolutionary and spiritual/energetic context.

The CV-4 Stillpoint

The object of this type of stillpoint technique is to support the weight of the client's head on the soft, fleshy pads below the thumbs (called the thenar eminences). When properly positioned, even if you are not skilled in feeling the craniosacral rhythm, your pressure will eventually induce a temporary cessation of the cranial pulse. This is because pressure on the occiput - the curved plate of bone at the back of the skull - compresses the fourth cerebral ventricle (CV-4) and fools the system into thinking that the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid is already at its maximum level.

For this technique, the client is lying on her back. Provide support under the knees if necessary. In general, nothing is needed under head except your hands. With both of your hands in a palm-up position, place the back of one hand across the palm of the other hand, at an almost 90-degree angle. Now, let's the tips of both your thumbs gently touch one another. Your hands should form a sort of cup, with the fleshy prominences below the thumbs raised. It is this portion of the hands that must make contact with the back of the head.

When you are skilled in these techniques, it will be possible to slide your hands under the client's head, lift it off the table, and form this supporting cup in one smooth motion. Until then, have them lift their head gently, and position your hands behind the head. The proper position of contact is that the thumb pads should be close to the centerline of the head, and also close to one another - not spread far apart. Your point of contact should be positioned so that if you drew an imaginary line to the side of the head, it would emerge near the top of the ear.

Allow the weight of the client's head to completely settle into your hands. Let your hands rest on the massage table, floor, or other surface the client rests on. Make sure that you are not tipping the client's head too far forwards. Try to relax your own hands as you support her weight.

The human head weighs around 14 pounds. If the head feels light in your hands, it means that she is still holding significant tensions in the back of the neck. You can gently encourage her to relax, to release the weight of the head into your supporting hands. If necessary, you can have her push their head down into your hands, and then relax. Avoid this if possible - but it can be helpful if nothing else works.

If you can feel the slow pulse of the craniosacral rhythm, you can use it to tune and follow the stillpoint experience. It will feel like the head becoming heavier against your hands and then lighter again - usually about 6 to 10 cycles per minute. If you can feel the rhythm, follow it inward, as the head feels lighter in your hands, and then block the return. With experience, you will eventually feel the rhythm "struggle" against the barrier you provide, becoming disorganized. The rhythm may temporarily stop, restart, wobble, become erratic - but at some point, it will simply dissolve. This is a very restful feeling, and if you are tuned to it, you will feel a deep sense of release in your own awareness.

If you do not yet know how to feel the craniosacral rhythm, don't worry. The stillpoint will almost always occur anyway. I have verified this with hundreds of first-time students who all claim they haven't felt a thing. I have checked down the line of a dozen massage tables and after 3 to 5 minutes, every single person on the table is in stillpoint.

After several minutes - usually 2 or 3 - the stillpoint will lift and the craniosacral rhythm will return, usually with greater intensity, clarity, and regularity. On rare occasions, the stillpoint will last much longer. In my own experience it has lasted as long as 55 minutes. If you can feel the rhythm, then simply follow and encourage it as it returns. If you do not yet feel the rhythm, hold the client in this position for as long as it is comfortable for you both - usually 4 or 5 minutes.

The only contraindications for this type of stillpoint induction are with clients who are susceptible to cranial bleeding, strokes, or those who have recently suffered a cranial bleed. In these cases, it's possible to use a gentler stillpoint technique, avoiding physical pressure with the head. Also, avoid performing any type of stillpoint while a fever is rising - although the application of a stillpoint frequently helps to reduce a fever once it has peaked. Care should be used, however, because many fevers up to about 103.5-degrees Fahrenheit are biologically adaptive, providing the body with the ability to burn out some aspects of infection and create salutary inflammatory responses.

The Heart Chakra Stillpoint

In theory, a craniosacral stillpoint may be induced from any part of the body where the craniosacral rhythm can be felt. Given a sufficiently powerful alignment of intention and sufficiently penetrating skill, it should be possible to bring the rhythm to a half from a fingertip.

The heart chakra stillpoint is like the CV-4 stillpoint in many respects. The experienced practitioner should be able to follow the natural craniosacral rhythm and introduce a barrier to its expansion. However, for complete engagement of the energetics of the heart chakra, an unusual element is added. Once the stillpoint has been achieved, the polarity of the stillpoint is reversed and the client is taken into an energetic expansion. Here, the stillpoint initially breaks up and must be re-created. Once the second, expansive phase is engaged the experience is usually emotionally liberating and joyful.

For this technique, the client is also lying on her back, supported as necessary. Drape your hands gently on the shoulders, avoiding any kind of grip or claw-like contact. Follow the craniosacral rhythm if you can, being mindful to separate it from the gross, physical rhythm of the breath. This is sometimes difficult since in deep relaxation, the cranial rhythm and the respiratory rhythm may converge.

For the first stage, gently compress the two shoulders towards the center. This is easier if your hands are positioned more towards the edge of the shoulders, even cupping them slightly. You are not trying to mechanically force the shoulders together, but rather, to take up the slack, find the Zero Point, and then induce a little bit more compression. You may feel that this pressure energetically vectors towards the heart.

As with the CV-4 stillpoint, the experienced practitioner will feel distinct changes in the rhythm including stops and starts, chaotic pulses, and eventually, a deep relaxation as the rhythm temporarily halts. This halt, especially in this position, will sometimes mechanically release the chest and shoulders, and you will need to add a little more medial pressure to take up the newly presented slack.

When the stillpoint has become stable, or, if you are not yet comfortable feeling the craniosacral rhythm after 2 or 3 minutes, reverse the direction of the shoulders, gently rolling them outwards, away from the center. You may notice a dramatic, energetic shift around the heart - an expansive, opening quality. Again, find the Zero Point in this direction and gently add a little more expansive, outward pressure. The stillpoint process should re-engage and eventually stabilize in this position. Once again, if the client is comfortable, remain in this position for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the craniosacral rhythm naturally restarts. When you release the shoulders, make sure to do so gently, avoiding any abrupt transitions.

I discovered this technique in a most unusual way. I client of mine referred a friend who was suffering from "extreme emotional exhaustion." As we talked she said, "Well, I know you can't help me. I'm broke, I'm about to lose my house, and my whole life is a disaster. There's no way you can help with that, but maybe, if I can relax a bit, I can figure out what to do next besides shooting myself."

Before she got onto the table, I asked her to do me a favor. "Life is more incredible and more filled with possibilities than we can ever possibly anticipate," I said. "So what I'd like to ask you, just for the time you're on the table, is to let go of the idea that you're at a dead end. I don't know what will happen, but I know that if you're open to unexpected possibilities, things might change." She smiled wanly, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "OK."

I began with the Cerebellum work previously described and helped her into a deep, much needed state of relaxation. I then started a standard CV-4 stillpoint, but something called me to work the stillpoint through her shoulders - something I'd never done before. I easily transferred my hold on her the stillpoint to the shoulders, but when I energetically attuned to her heart, I was moved to reverse the polarity from the typical contraction (called craniosacral extension) into an expanded state (called craniosacral flexion). I could feel how her heart responded, and it felt wonderful.

I gently held her in this unusual state of expansive stillpoint as the minutes ticked by. Five minutes - the duration of an especially long stillpoint. Ten minutes - I'd only experienced a couple that ran this long. Fifteen minutes - where is this going to end?

When all was said and done, her stillpoint had lasted 55 minutes. I was stunned, but I remembered a story from the early days of craniosacral therapy. An osteopath called Dr. Upledger and said, "I have somebody on the table who's been in stillpoint for half an hour. What do I do?" To which Dr. John answered, "That's easy. You bless them."

When the stillpoint finally ended, I went on to do another hour of subtle work. No matter how amazing that experience was, I couldn't just leave her spheno-basilar torsion sitting there, and many parts of the body called out for subtle energetic and anatomical alignment.

When the session ended, she looked much better. Rested, relaxed - the sense of defeat had lifted. "I don't know how I'm going to deal with my problems," she offered, "but somehow, I feel for the first time in years like things are going to work out." She gave me a hug and left the office.

Early the next morning I got a phone call. It was my client, sounding breathless and excited. "You'll never guess what happened last night!" she exclaimed. "Ten years ago, when I was married to a miserable drunk, I buried five thousand dollars in a coffee can. When we broke up, I spent two years trying to find it, but I couldn't. It was lost. I cried and beat myself up for a year - but eventually I gave up. Guess what? As I was falling asleep last night, I actually saw the place where I buried the money - just like I was staring at it, plain as day. First thing this morning, I went out back and there it was! I'm rich!"

The results of subtle, Homeopathic Touch are not always quite this dramatic, but this experience - as fun as it may be - is not really that unusual. I worked on a man who, ten years earlier had been in a bad motorcycle accident. "My body recovered," he said, "but my memory never did. I had memorized more than a thousand addresses and phone numbers , and now they're all gone." The day after our first session, he called me. All the numbers had come back. His only complaint was that in the interim, some of the area codes had changed. "As you can see," I told him, "my healing powers do have some limits." We both laughed.

Exploring and Releasing Barriers

If you slowly, very slowly, turn your head to one side, you will probably notice that your movement invariable hits tiny "speed bumps" - little jerks and catches that break up the fluidity of the turn. It's tempting to dismiss these as purely physical intrusions, little adhesions around the muscles that get in the way. Actually, these speed bumps, called barriers, are often something much subtler.

We have previously discussed the fact that every touch and movement has the capacity to elicit a response in consciousness, and that these responses are linked to the "archeology" of the development of personal consciousness. In particular, we tend to bury the consequences of traumatic experience in unconscious ways. One very common, effective way in which we do this is to create little "blind spots" in our awareness. These are literally unconscious instructions within our motor cortex to avoid certain positions and orientations of the body - ones that are likely to be resonant with some aspect of the traumatic experience. We normally plow through these barriers at high speed, overpowering them as we move from one position to another. However, when we consciously slow our movements and tune in at this level, the barriers become palpable.

In the context of Homeopathic Touch, we can use barriers to access and transform the unconscious material associated with the blind spots they mask. Barrier work can be done anywhere on the body, but it is particularly applicable to the head.

Position the client comfortably on her back. Gently scoop your open palms under the back of the head and cradle it softly in your hands. Very slowly, raise the client's head a small distance off the table. Make sure to keep the motion in a single plane - avoid tipping the chin closer of further from the chest or rotating the head.

As you slowly lift the head, you will be able to feel a point at which the motion offers a slight resistance. If you continue the lift, this area will feel like a small "bump" in an otherwise smooth movement. The slower you lift the head, the more of these bumps you'll feel.

When you encounter one of these barriers, simply hold the head suspended at the point of resistance. After a few moments, while carefully maintaining the head at the barrier point, gently add a little compression of the head towards the feet. This compression will take up the slack in the neck, and will continue the compression down through the spine. After a few moments, you may feel a release. This is a cue to end the compression. If no release is felt, hold the head for a total of 30 seconds or so, then release the compression.

Compressing at the point of a barrier does something very interesting. Since the body's instinctual reaction to trauma is to signal contraction, and since these patterns of contraction can, over time become habitual holding patterns, supplying an external contraction can temporarily relieve the motor cortex of the unconscious task of maintaining the contraction - the retained imprint of the original trauma. This brief release is sometimes enough, especially in the context of more extensive work, to begin to release these chronic holding patterns.

After the first barrier is released, you can add a little more anterior translation to the head and find another barrier. At this point, you can repeat the process of compression, release, and relaxation, moving through a succession of barriers.

It's interesting to realize that the barriers experienced on the "outbound" journey - the one moving away from normal posture - are quite different from those experienced on the "inbound" journey, returning to normal, centered posture. Outbound barriers tend to be associated with anticipation - the projection of the mind into the future. These barriers are often linked to fear and prejudgment. Inbound barriers tend to be more strongly associated with emotional blind spots - feelings of loss, hurt, and other painfully charged feelings.

In this exercise, we only described adding therapeutic compression at the barrier point. It is also possible to add therapeutic traction or other movements. While compression tends to encourage a release of habitual "holding," at the appropriate time, traction tends to stimulate awareness of new, previously unrealized possibilities. Typically, the realizations elicited by traction arise after an experience of release.

Tentorium release

This final technique also is an element of craniosacral therapy. Dr. Upledger once surprised me by saying that if he were forced to choose a single element of CST to retain, forsaking all others, he would keep the Tentorium Release.

The tentorium is a plane of membrane that runs horizontally, inside the skull. Basically, it separates the upper, neocortical portion of the brain, from the lower structures. It intersects another, vertical membrane called the falx, and together they "quilt" the brain and limbic system into four quadrants. The tentorium anchors, in part, to the temporal bones, the portions of the skull that support the ears. Because of the geometry of how they connect, the temporal bones respond to the craniosacral rhythm with a very complex motion. As the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid increases, the temporal bones should roll forward, with their top parts getting circularly closer to the client's feet. At the same time, they also "flare," as their top parts move further apart, and then bottom parts, marked by the mastoid process just behind and beneath the ear, come closer together. This compound motion should be smooth and well coordinated.

When any number of factors blocks the movement of the temporal bones, the impact on the mind, body, and spirit can be extreme. Fixation of the right temporal bone is strongly correlated with dyslexia and fixation of the left with dyscalculia - a difficulty in dealing with numbers. These, in turn, are also correlated with the Kidney meridian points (specifically Kidney 6). If the temporal bones are out of phase with one another, that is, if one is rolling down while the other is rolling up, the person will almost invariably experience dizziness and vertigo. The list of possible dysfunctions from temporal bone "movement lesions" is extensive.

Within craniosacral therapy, there are many specific techniques to release, realign and resynchronize both the movements of the temporal bones and their proper relationships with other parts of the system. Some of them require subtle palpation skills, but the Tentorium Release, when done properly and gently, is simple to learn and apply.

Again, the client is positioned comfortably on her back, with whatever support is appropriate. Gently place the outside edges of your thumbs into the client's ears. At the same time, place several fingers - usually the pointer and middle finger - behind the ear, where it attaches to the skull. Our intention is to stretch the tentorium membrane by using the ears, which are attached to the temporal bones that anchor the tentorium. The position of your hands will allow you to gently grasp the ears between your thumb and other fingers, without pulling painfully on the earflaps.

Once you have a firm but gentle grip on the ears, begin to pull them gently - very gently - along a downward (towards the floor), outward (towards the walls), and forward (towards the top of the client's head) diagonal. This might seem complicated, but all we are saying is that the proper direction of the pull is a diagonal line towards the corners of the massage table.

For the Tentorium Release, the Zero Point is that level of tension at which the two ears become linked through the tentorium. It's like children using a "tin can telephone" - the toy we made as children where two tin cans are attached by a string. When the string is tight, the vibration generated by talking into one can is conducted over the string to the other can. But if the string is loose, the vibration is lost. It's the same here. When the tentorium is loose, there is no communication and coordination between the two sides of the head. But when you find the Zero Point by gently stretching the ears and temporal bones apart, the tentorium becomes like the string connecting the tin cans and information begins to flow.

Once you reach the Zero Point, the smallest amounts of additional tension begin to stretch, smooth, and release dysfunctional patterns in the tentorium and, through the connections this movement facilitates, releases are communicated to a variety of related structures. You can gently adjust both the tension and direction of the pull. When performed properly, most people find this very relaxing. If you develop the palpatory skill to accurately follow the subtle "sonar-like" messages generated by the interaction of fluids, membranes, and bones, you can not only realign anatomical structures and reset neurological pattern, but also access a deep reservoir of emotional and spiritual material.

A basic Tentorium Release might only last 30 seconds - a really fruitful release may last 2 or 3 minutes. But the effects are likely to be impressive. After all, it's the very last technique that Dr. John would be willing to surrender from his vast clinical repertoire.


This document presented a very brief introduction to the theory of Homeopathic Touch and an even more abbreviated presentation of its techniques. I consider Homeopathic Touch to be a part of a larger work that integrates the practices of biological, metabolic, structural, energetic, and psychospiritual healing into a unified system. I call this system EcoBiotics because it envisions the human being - not just the human body - as a rich and complex ecological system.

If you are interested in learning more about Homeopathic Touch, or the other elements of EcoBiotics, please contact me at


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