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Craniosacral Rhythms 

There are several biological rhythms described in craniosacral therapy and these include the cranial rhythmic impulse, the mid-tide, and the long-tide. The cranial rhythmic impulse is the classic rhythm that can be felt with flexion and extension. This is a more superficial level of rhythmic movement related to the movement of different body parts in relation to the mid-line of the cranium and spine. 


The mid-tide and long-tide are deeper levels of rhythm with the long-tide being synonymous with the divine ordering principle.  

a woman is receiving craniosacral therapy and thumbs are placed on her forehead

The Cranial Rhythmic Impulse (CRI)


As you begin your studies of craniosacral therapy the first rhythm you will learn to perceive is the CRI. This is the basic and most superficial level of rhythm that you can feel. The CRI is influenced by unresolved trauma and stress. The rate will vary and is changeable depending on a persons current life situations. If we think of the different cranial rhythms like the ocean, the CRI would be the smaller more variable waves that we can see, and that are easily influenced by wind and other movement on the surface of the water. The mid-tide and long-tide are comparable to the deeper currents in the ocean. 

When you do craniosacral holds, first ground into your center, and then feel for motions as you apply gentle touch. The cranial rhythmic impulses are movements that you first begin to feel and perceive. These are motions that occur around the mid-line of the client and relate to flexion and extension as it occurs in the cranial bones, spine, and limbs. The CRI is typically between 8 - 14 cycles per second. Remember that the CRI is like the most superficial and variable waves on the ocean surface. 

Craniosacral Rhythms - The Mid-Tide


The mid-tide is deeper and slower than the CRI and tends to move at about 2.5 cycles per minute. Feeling the mid-tide requires more sensitivity. It requires that the therapist listen carefully and perceive beyond the superficial levels of the CRI. In a sense it is like an ocean current, that at first is not perceivable, but when you are in the ocean you can feel a more profound motion that can not be seen on the smaller more frequent surface level waves. 

To feel the mid-tide requires deep listening, it is beyond the surface level movements, and it is essential to have a quiet mind to feel the mid-tide. If the therapist is "trying" to fix or heal the client, it is likely they are not perceiving the mid-tide. Similarly, if the therapist's mind is active and engaged in thoughts they will likely not be able to feel the mid-tide. A quiet mind is very important to reach the subtle level of feeling and perceiving the mid-tide. 

As therapists, we often want to know what to do to heal our clients. However, to reach the more subtle levels of healing it is essential to go beyond the surface fluctuations and desires of our own minds. When we are able to drop into the subtle sensitivity required to feel the mid and long-tides, our minds are silent, yet attentive. When we as therapists move into these more subtle rhythms, it assists our clients in dropping into their own deeper healing rhythms. The mid-tide is one of the rhythms that is a manifestation of our bodies own natural healing ability.

The Long-Tide

The long-tide is even more subtle than the mid-tide and emerges from stillness. As life and consciousness emerge from emptiness and stillness, the long-tide can be thought of as the first arising of movement and tidal like rhythm.

Within the long-tide we tap into the innate divine healing energy.

To more fully access the healing potential of the long-tide it is helpful to have a quiet mind. The fluctuations and thoughts of the mind prevent us from directly experiencing the long-tide and stillness. 

While the long-tide is always ever-present, our direct perception of it is relatively rare, unless we practice meditation craniosacral therapy, prayer, or other contemplative practices that allow access to this divine state.

We can all learn to perceive the long-tide as it is an innate rhythm that is a foundation of life. However, to consciously experience the long-tide and stillness we must quiet the mind. 

Read more about CST

Craniosacral Therapy for Headaches and Migraines

Online Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Classes

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