CranioSacralBoulder: STORIES & INSIGHTS JULY 17, 2023
Updated: 2 days ago
Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Linda Ciampoli, CST-T. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Alright, Linda thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. If you had a defining moment that you feel really changed the trajectory of your career, we’d love to hear the story and details.
I was first introduced to craniosacral therapy (CST) as a patient. It was a week after I’d given birth and I was unable to sit down due to a strained sacrum. I had been working with an acupuncturist during pregnancy to address a variety of symptoms so I called her for a house visit. She was also trained in CST.
As defined by John Upledger, the founder of the Institute I trained with, “The craniosacral system is a functioning physiological system composed of cerebrospinal fluid, the membranes that contain its osseous attachments, and the mechanisms that produce and reabsorb the cerebrospinal fluid. It has a powerful influence over the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems, and a total-body effect. It is also characterized by a palpable, rhythmic, mobile activity that persists throughout life.”
My acupuncturist understood that this therapy would affect my autonomic nervous system, bringing me out of a state of stress and into a state of calm. From a state of calm, my body could begin to heal.
At that time, I’d been working in the Arts for a few decades, but in this single session I was pulled to begin studying craniosacral therapy, first simply out of curiosity to understand what I had felt in that session, but later as a new path and eventually my private practice; now based in South Boulder. The moment of that first session in 2010, positively shifted my life and work.
Linda, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations? I began studying craniosacral therapy in NY, in 2010. I’d worked decades in the arts in various capacities, managing William Havu Gallery in Denver, writing and promotion with Colorado sculptor, Jerry Wingren, in promotion and program development for Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti project in Arizona. Then later I coordinated the Architecture & Design curatorial team at The Museum of Modern Art, NY, and worked as studio director with Japanese sculptor, Mariko Mori at the beginning stages of her Faou Foundation. I dove into Upledger Institute craniosacral therapy training while living in Hong Kong in 2011. When my family later moved to Colorado, I continued my bodywork education earning a massage license and postpartum doula training certificate in 2015, and then earned a Techniques level certificate with Upledger Institute in 2019. I continually study with Upledger in their ongoing opportunities for education and teach-assist for their level 1 and 2 classes when available.
In addition to my private practice, CranioSacralBoulder, I am the editor of an online periodical, The Idea Crucible, which focuses on body, mind, and spirit integration. I am also currently active as a campaign manager in a capital project for Studio Arts Boulder, whose new community art center will open in the Spring of 2024. This center will bring its own type of change and healing to the region. From time to time, I’ve worked practicing CST with Healing Warriors Program. They offer acupuncture, healing touch, and CST to veterans and their families throughout the Front Range. It is a great joy for me to practice CST and I am thrilled to be able to offer this deep meditative bodywork three days a week in South Boulder. Your body is your guide to deep calm awareness and holds the potential to be your greatest agent for change.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us? We are talking about resilience a lot in our culture right now. I think this is a positive shift. Maybe it means we are moving away from a perfection-achievement mindset toward a striving-learning one. I am sometimes blown away by what people have been through emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Yet often they still hold a positive perspective and are in turn helping others. This “grit” is, I think, central to our humanity and when it’s turned outward to help someone else, it feels to be alchemic.
I can share the story of one client who agreed for me to share her story in my writing years ago. She was involved in two major car collisions in her lifetime. The first was when a vehicle struck the car she was a passenger in – from behind. That oncoming car was going about 100 MPH. Everyone was thrown from the small two-door sedan. Her second car accident was decades later. She was driving and another vehicle turned left into her car as she was going through an intersection on a green light. The airbag was deployed and the seatbelt held when her auto was struck from the front left side. She saw the accident coming toward her as if in slow motion. Her sternum was fractured.
This client is an intuitive, resilient woman. She has done a lot of physical, emotional, and psychological work. She has endured rounds of dental work to the left side of her mouth after the first collision and had recently been elected for PRP (platelet-rich) therapy to her left side/leg and hip. She pursued EMDR therapy and is physically, mentally, and emotionally fit, also practicing yoga and hiking weekly.
When she first came to see me, she’d just received PRP therapy in her left hip joint and was looking to release residual pain both in her hip region and deep within her chest just left of her sternum. She shared the story of these two accidents a bit each session. We spoke about her overall goals as well as her goals per session. Within three sessions of craniosacral therapy, there was a positive shift releasing the tightness in her chest. She felt a big level of relief as that was pain she’d held for years.
Over the next few days, she felt tightness in her left jaw. She experienced sharp pain and discomfort while eating dinner after a day of gentle hiking. One may hold a restriction for many years and not feel it, yet once something shifts in one area of the body, this older restriction can present as if ready to now release. “It’s my turn,” the jaw is saying, presenting pain. This is what she shared happened to her. We continued a few more sessions of jaw releases, which calmed the acute state. The muscles would release a bit each time, yet not entirely. As proactive as she was in addition to subsequent follow-up sessions, I shared jaw release exercises and we kept in over the next months. She continued her regular tissue massage therapy sessions and again pursued PRP therapy one year after her first PRP.
We then completed four sessions in quick succession. In those, she experienced significant physical releases to her left hip and left leg with felt sensations like energy ripples down and out her foot, major softening in the center of her chest, just left of her sternum, repeated temporal bone slow releases, especially the left side, left arm unwinding and release, she indicated that her right arm wanted to help unwind years of held tension. She stated a felt sense that the work is complete and that something has changed in her system.
At the end of her last session, she held one hand to her heart and said, “Good body.” I stood in silenced awe at this simple action of self-care she displayed. It was such an inspiring moment for me; a teaching moment. This woman sustained major injuries recovering over many decades and turns to herself in a heartfelt appreciation of what her body is capable of in healing. To me, it is a beautiful story of resilience.
I have witnessed so many stories of resilience in this work. We can’t really talk about resilience without also mentioning compassion. Our ability to practice compassion with one another is divine nourishment to our resilience. Carrying compassion, as a practice itself, can shift rigid patterns in our assumptions of “what is” opening us up to new surprising solutions.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
I began studying craniosacral therapy before I completed a license in massage. I spent a year working on my massage education. When I completed it, I needed to actually back up my palpation pressure. I’d spent a year learning to move with pressure into the muscular-skeletal structures. Interestingly, when doing early interviews with practitioners throughout the field in 2010, I spoke with John Chitty of the Colorado School of Energy. He’d advised me to not study tissue massage as it could disrupt my palpation level for CST. Craniosacral therapy is very different from tissue massage. I use my feet and hips in a practice of grounding and use my hands to a pressure that is sometimes imperceptible. It doesn’t always stay light in this modality. There are moments when working with fascia I will need to create resistance to check a restriction and it helps to release it, but overall it is a very subtle touch. It took me some time in 2016 to relearn my level of palpation and I remembered John Chitty’s advice as correct. I momentarily thought I’d dovetail the two practices, but realized soon enough that my heart is really in the craniosacral work. Once that truth clicked, I haven’t looked back.
Image Credits CranioSacral Boulder and Upledger Institute
Canvas Rebel link: https://canvasrebel.com/meet-linda-ciampoli-cst-t/