The Rhythms of Life
In between the exhalation and the inhalation, threaded through the heartbeat, beneath the pulse, in the gentle and otherworldly throb of the cranial wave.
A Rumi quote springs to mind:
“Your deepest presence is in every small
contracting and expanding.
The two as beautifully balanced and
coordinated as bird's wings.”
Clearly, life is metaphorically a series of contractions and expansions. The agony and the ecstasy, night and day, love and heartache, the weather, the seasons.
I find great delight in the crossovers between literal and metaphorical. Life is also literally a series of contractions and expansions. The opening and closing of the flowers, wings, and other seemingly delicate creations; our bodies.
Aside from the more obvious somatic rises and falls, there is a tide that sweeps through our physiology, sustaining us with a vital, ineffable life force. We call it the ‘cranial tide’, and its ebbs and flows create our silent music.
Our skulls literally expand and contract at the sutures. This opening and closing happens approximately 10 times per minute. The motion only covers fraction of a millimeter, but we can learn to hone in on it and use it for our own unfolding. It can be a powerful tool for cultivating presence, and its beauty lies in its simplicity.
Tuning into this rhythm on ourselves, the rhythm of life, is the most profound sorcery, however it’s easier at first to feel it on another. The cranial tide swims through the entire physiology, but it’s perhaps most accessible at the skull. If presence is the origin of wisdom, the cranial tide, along with the breath, is the pathway to presence.
We are a symphony of vibration; a network of rhythms stomping upon rhythms. What song are you singing now?
Every life experience passes through the matrix of our physical bodies (with a few exceptions- near death experiences and out of body experiences, for instance). Our cells are orchestrating a massively complex yet exquisitely simple dance; each thunderous heartbeat washing our souls anew with a flood of liquid life.
This is the dance of life. Are you dancing in your soul?
Discovering the Cranial Tide (Cradling the Spirit)
Breathe into your belly several times. Allow the breath to relax the mind and soften the muscles. Come into flow and tune into the life stream coursing through you.
Gently cradle someone’s head in your hands, preferably with them lying down supine, though they may be sitting. Cultivate the gentles touch. It takes focus and clarity. Practice not doing. It is easy to crush the rhythm we seek by trying too hard. Some advanced practitioners can even sense the rhythm without physical touch.
Are you losing what you’re seeking in the act of seeking? In the trying? What can you let go of to find?
Breathe steadily and deeply. Draw breath into your hands and just be with the skin on the palms and the fingertips. Soften the fingers around the contours of the skull and listen with the skin. Close your eyes if this helps. Feel for an expansion that happens approximately every three seconds. Begin to tune into this pulse.
This is the spinal cerebral fluid sweeping through the physiology in what has been called the “cranial tide.” This is a sacred event; one life form touching another.
Across galaxies and centuries we have finally crossed paths.
It took a long time for us to find each other, and longer still to come together in silence and cultivate our unfolding.
As you cradle the skull, prepare for whatever comes. People can wax emotional, regress, fall asleep, or simply collapse into your presence. Allow each experience to arise and pass, and notice that the rhythm carries on.
Once we begin to feel this movement as a palpable phenomenon; a tangible movement of the spirit in others, it starts to arise in our own experience. At this point, there is no going back. The riddle keeps unraveling. Enlightenment is guaranteed.
Visionary Meditation- The Butterfly in our Skull
The sphenoid bone is situated at the center of our skulls, just behind our nose and eyes. In anatomical terms, “it is an unpaired bone located at the front middle of the skull in front of the temporal bone and basilar part of the occipital bone.” (Wikipedia)
The sphenoid has been referred to as the cornerstone of our earthly experience in certain traditions of osteopathy. Its influence is so pervasive that a slight twist or tilt can cause a digestive disorder, a prolapsed foot, or a psychological breakdown.
I have found that one of the most direct (and beautiful) ways to tune into our own cranial tide is to imagine the movement of the sphenoid in the center of the skull as a white butterfly fluttering its wings approximately once every 3 seconds. Though the rhythm differs slightly from moment to moment and body to body, this is a general guide that can help us reign in the experience. Imagine the wings moving in slow motion, three seconds upward and three seconds downward. With each flap of its “wings,” the spinal cerebral fluid moves throughout the body and suspires life into us. The skull expands and contracts to accommodate this.
This can be a walking meditation. Imagine this flutter in at the center of the skull holding you aloft as you move through your day. Tune in when you remember, and feel the deep peace that naturally arises.
As the butterfly floats delicately, so delicately at the center of our experience, know that this gentle flutter is a fountain of the life force. I cannot deny that it feels like life’s essence. Since the only non-contestable matrix of the present moment is experienced through the physical apparatus of our bodies, tuning into this subtle wave requires intense presence and awareness.
The butterfly is our gateway to the present moment. It offers a deeper presence than breath alone.
If your story is that you “can’t feel it,” imagine that you can. Before anything ever came into being, it was imagined.
Symbolically, the butterfly is symbolic of a profound metamorphosis and evolution of the soul. A beautiful transformation!
Once you begin to feel the butterfly, your newest totem guide and companion, notice if your butterfly is straight or twisted; symmetrical or asymmetrical. Notice if one wing flaps more quickly than the other or seems stuck. Just notice and be aware. Awareness will begin to balance out the symmetry. A gifted practitioner can assist with the rest.
We are spiritual beings, embodied. Connection hinges on embodiment. A deepening dialogue with your body and that of the other’s is critical for expanding our current concept of intimacy.
When you’re expanded and everything flows, revel in it but hold on lightly. We can lose the delicate rhythm with our grip; our holding on. Bask in the presence of her eyes; his soul. Feel the taste of skin on skin.
See if you can tune into her rhythms as you lie together. Move from the more obvious physical gestures to the breath, to the heartbeat. See if you can feel the vibration of life force or the subtle flutter of the cranial wave. Tune in, in, in. Notice where your rhythm enters the picture. How is your breath dancing with his? Do you feel her breath on your eyelid? What happens? What do you notice about the pulse? Can you feel yours and hers at the same time, or is one lost when the other is found.
These questions lead to a deepening presence.
And, as you focus on your 'issues' and your 'triggers', always remember that you may be caught in the past somewhere in your body. After years of wrestling with your darkest demons, it may be time to find someone to move your bones and smooth out any kinks in your natural rhythm.
When you’re contracted and suffering, experience it fully but don’t dwell. This too shall pass. The way it is through.
And love so deeply it hurts.
#buddenprocess #rapture #bloom #dlseed #consulting #somatic #cranialsacral #milne #rumi