Dialoging With the Nonconscious Mind

By John Upledger, DO, OMM

Dialoging With the Nonconscious Mind

By John Upledger, DO, OMM

Recently, I conducted a CranioSacral session that took an unusual turn. "Serena" (name changed to protect privacy), a woman about 50 years old, was in for the second time. As she got on my table and began to relax, she became quiet and still. I was instantly drawn to the left side of her abdomen, where I placed my hands. I sank in a little deeper, focusing on the energy cyst I was feeling. An energy cyst is a highly compressed ball of disorganized energy that originally entered the body in the course of an injury or trauma. Essentially, it's the "energetic imprint" of trauma, and it can contain emotional as well as physical energy.

Within minutes, Serena spontaneously began telling me that she could see a little girl, but she could only see her head. She said the girl was in a yellow light, and that her hair was matted and unkempt. The little girl also had no eyes.

My training taught me that it's essential to get permission from the client's Inner Physician before proceeding. This ensures that it's always the client who sets the agenda. It's not up to the therapist to decide to go into a client issue. It's up to the client, and that includes her conscious and nonconscious mind.

After getting the green light from Serena's Inner Physician, I moved gently into using therapeutic imagery and dialogue. I asked Serena what the little girl was doing. She told me the girl didn't have any spark, that her brother had taken it away. Suddenly, Serena said, "He shouldn't do that to me, a 6-year-old girl."

After 10 years of practicing CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release, I've come to learn that a shift like this - from third person to first - is usually significant. So I asked Serena, "Do what?" She said, "He was behind me. He snuck up and squashed me." She went on to describe the scene in the woods, the pain, the violation of trust. Then she said her brother told her, "If you tell mom, I'll kill you."

The Ego Takes a Back Seat

This was obviously a traumatic experience for a little girl. I could feel the tension build in Serena's body. With my saying nothing more than "Tell me about it," she was able to discuss the scene in enough detail to gain some clarity around it. As she did, I could feel her tension begin to dissipate.

That's when I asked Serena what she wanted to do with this experience. It was her experience, after all; it wasn't my place to tell her what to do. Surprisingly she said, "Don't go to the forest. You'll leave me there!" Of course I hadn't mentioned the forest, and my own ego immediately began thinking that I would never leave her there anyway. But this session belonged to Serena, not to me. It was no place to defend what I thought I would do.

Indeed, the therapist's ego has no place in the treatment room. Whether I understood what was going on for Serena or not is irrelevant; I was just looking for signs in the tissue that my client was in some way releasing the energy of emotion that's embedded there. The therapist must adapt to the client's pace, never the other way around.

So instead I simply asked, "Is there a place that's safe for you to take this?" Serena thought for a moment, then said, "There's a place for the pain in the ocean. Look! There are ocean people." I'm not sure who the ocean people were or what they looked like, but it wasn't important at the time. She brought them up and they could take the pain. That was good enough for me.

Feeling the shift in her body, I asked Serena what she was experiencing. She said, "One of them took the pain and put it inside of him. Then they all went back into the ocean with the pain and now they're fine."

After sensing the relaxation come into Serena's body, I inquired, "So, where are we now?" She talked about a young girl who went to a gorgeous garden and was happy to stay there. She didn't want to leave, so I suggested that we could come visit whenever we want.

The Conscious Mind Returns

Throughout all this, I had spent the entire session on the left side of Serena's abdomen, never moving. It felt like the right thing to do. After a few minutes of allowing the peaceful feeling to permeate, I felt Serena move her arm. She said, "Wow, I must have drifted off." I was surprised by her comment, but it indicated to me that her nonconscious mind had not connected fully with her conscious mind.

A few weeks later, Serena came in for another session. She told me that after the previous session, she had woken up in the middle of the night and suddenly remembered it all quite clearly. She shared her surprise that she had spent years in "talk therapy" about that very issue, and yet it still came up through her body. Note: Even when something may seem unresolved from a session, it's important to remember that the therapeutic process continues long after the client leaves your table.

I was grateful to Serena's Inner Physician for allowing the imagery and dialogue to play out at her speed and her understanding. And I was happy to have learned from Dr. John Upledger and Stan Gerome, LMT, who both facilitated my understanding of using therapeutic imagery and dialogue in a CranioSacral session. To learn more about SomatoEmotional Release (SER), read Dr. John Upledger's article "Releasing Emotions Trapped in the Tissues" (June 2008 issue).