We all have direct and daily experience with the Sympathetic Nervous system, which drives our flight-fight-fright responses. In fact, we as humans and especially as Americans, are spending a steadily increasing amount of time in this state, much to the detriment of our health, both individually and I believe to the harm in our relations to each other. The response to stress and release of adrenaline causes a redirecting of resources from our healing and digestion- to mobilizing our bodies to fight or run. This continued focus on perceived threats, which can be experienced even simply by thinking about possible dangers- separates us from our calm, and distracts us from our hearts.
The goal of “Parasympathetic toning” is a listening, receiving and synchronizing of the system to a quieter more peaceful rhythm. The patient can be fully dressed, and the practitioner’s touch is very light at different contact points, namely along the cranial bones, along the spine and as I often say “along the joints and hinges”. Reiki and acupressure are also incorporated in my work, and this treatment may be included with an acupuncture treatment.
The goal is to help calm the nervous system so that the body can drop into a deeper state of relaxation and safety, which is where healing can occur. The ultimate goal is to help the individual experience this sensation regularly, and as we string together moments of calm, like lily pads across a pond, we reconnect the person’s inherent ability to find and cultivate calm in themselves. We must feel it, to know it, to find it.
People often describe the sensation of the treatment as feeling loved, cared for, calmed and soothed. When we get tummy rumbles we know we are on the right track! This is the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest system, the healing and rebuilding system.
This can be helped in ourselves by meditation practices, breath awareness practice, art and mindfulness practice, appropriate botanicals and as always in Naturopathic Medicine, identifying and treating the root cause of disharmony. Healing starts with listening to the body. It is amazing what can occur when we recognized and honor our innate healing system. Cranial therapy and parasympathetic toning is an important tool and access point to increase our healing potential.