Breath of Life

Breath of Life-Susan

Biodynamic Craniosacral Foundations and Practices


By Mary Louise Muller Ed., RCST®, RPP

Breath of Life

 Learn to be a more effective, efficient and gentle practitioner. Learn to use the foundations of biodynamic craniosacral therapy to encourage healing and self-regulation of the body as a whole.

  Continuing Education for Nurses, Massage Therapists, and Acupuncturists

Craniosacral therapy is rooted in the basic healing principles of the osteopathic tradition of Andrew Taylor Still and William Garner Sutherland. It is usually practiced by nonosteopaths whose background may include massage therapy, physical therapy, bodywork, acupuncture, chiropractic, and other modalities of the holistic health profession.

Andrew Taylor Still’s original intention in founding osteopathy was to support the natural healing mechanisms that exist in all human beings. William Garner Sutherland, a student of Dr. Still, discovered what he called “primary respiration,” a breathing at a cellular level of the structures at the core of our bodies. Also called the “breath of life,” primary respiration is the driving force underlying all natural healing processes.

In a biodynamic approach to craniosacral therapy, we focus on intrinsic health and its restorative qualities as the foundation of our work. LifeShapes Institute’s integrative model is based on years of experience by generations of practitioners.

In this seminar you will learn about the origins of craniosacral therapy. You will learn practitioner skills that help you become more neutral and present in relationship to the client. You will develop listening and palpation skills that open your perceptions and encourage the client’s internal healing process. To these ends, you will learn classical skills and concepts developed by some of the greatest teachers in the fields of cranial osteopathy and craniosacral therapy. In this class you will learn to “stand on the shoulders of those who have come before you.”

You will learn the basic underlying principles of osteopathy developed by A. T. Still, including concepts about structure, function, flow, and health. Philosophically and experientially, you will explore Dr. Still’s concept that “anyone can find disease; only a true physician can find the health.” You will recapture W. G. Sutherland’s journey from a physical “doing oriented” approach to an “intrinsic impulse oriented” approach and see how this led to the experience of allowing the “unerring potency” to restore the client’s health.

This class will briefly touch on Rollin Becker’s concepts of “biodynamics,” fulcrums, neutrality, and their practical application and James Jealous’s emphasis on embryology as a formative and informative impulse. We will support this all with Franklyn Sills’s integrative approach to presence and pre- and perinatal work.

Specific areas to be covered include:

  • History and foundations of craniosacral therapy,
  • Potency, motility, and tides,
  • Long tide as a field phenomenon,
  • Midtide as a fluid phenomenon,
  • Dynamic stillness and stillpoints,
  • The inherent treatment plan,
  • Wholistic shift, client neutral, and resonance,
  • The embryological impulse,
  • Classical practitioner “fulcrums,”
  • Developing nonreactive neutral presence,
  • Palpating health and its many expressions,
  • Perceptual skills of the wide field,
  • Divided attention between self, client, and field,
  • The state of balance as a wholistic phenomenon,
  • Primary respiration as a mechanism and a system,
  • Attachment theory and how practitioner-client relationship opens the possibility of healing deep wounds,
  • Relational skills of contact, touch, space, permission, and presence.

What Is Biodynamic Craniosacral Work?

“We come into relationship with that which forms us, informs us
and heals us throughout our lives.”—
Mary Louise Muller

A few days ago, I worked on a friend who had just had a pin surgically inserted in her arm bone. Her hand looked like a balloon with five sausages attached. In just an hour of craniosacral work, she had knuckles, fingers, wrist, contours, textured skin, and relief. She said, “I never thought I would be so glad to have wrinkles.”

I placed one hand under her forearm while the other rested on the swollen area. I listened. I waited. I held her arm in a gentle way. What did I listen for? Above all, I listened for a sense of health in her system.

Slowly, subtle movements began to emerge in the arm. When we use the word biodynamic, it refers to a natural order and rhythm in the tissues of the body. Every tissue and cell of the body “breathes.” There is a rhythmic impulse that can be sensed in bones, tissues, membranes, and the fluid field.

When William Garner Sutherland, the founder of cranial osteopathy, attempted to understand this breathing in all the bones and tissues, he called it “primary respiration” to differentiate it from thoracic respiration, which relates to the lungs and thorax. He thought that it had to do with the craniosacral core of the body. Yet, these core movements extend into the whole body and the field surrounding it. The core energies and natural breathing motions of primary respiration infuse the field of the entire body.

Ultimately, all craniosacral teachings have roots in osteopathy and the natural healing intelligence within the body. How does a scab heal? How does a bone mend? This healing process comes from a knowing that is inherent in the human form. There is something that forms, informs, and heals us throughout our lives.

Within the biodynamic craniosacral field, the use of the word biodynamic began to emerge in the 1990s. For Franklyn Sills, it relates to the work of Rollin Becker, who used it to describe the natural healthy movements that are inherent to the natural organizing forces within the body. Becker would refer to Sutherland’s concept that “in the science of health, disease and trauma, al

low biodynamic intrinsic force within to manifest its own unerring potency rather than use extrinsic force from without.”

For other practitioners, the word biodynamic relates to embryology and the work of Erich Blechschmidt, who describes the metabolic fields that form us in utero. We can look for an even broader definition from Webster’s dictionary, in which biodynamic is considered to be “the doctrine of vital forces or energy.”

When we look for words that capture the essence of all these definitions, we think of things such as health, wholeness, organizing principle, life breath. We put the two words together to create biodynamic craniosacral or craniosacral biodynamics and it becomes the name for a gentle, effective, long-lasting, and personally tailored method of healing that is generated by the natural organizing forces within the body.


Mary Louise Muller is course director for LifeShapes Institute, approved Biodynamic Craniosacral teacher, developer of Resonant Healing and the co-developer of Natural Facial Rejuvenation- The Lange-Muller Method. She is an internationally recognized teacher and author who has been active in the healing arts for 35 years. For over 30 years she has been teaching and studying in the fields of craniosacral, polarity, kinesiology, somatic trauma healing and energy medicine. She is the author of three books. For more information Visit

Rowena Duncan

Rowena Duncan will be facilitating here in Chico