CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY ON THE ROAD IN INDIA
By Elizabeth Pasquale, LMT, CST
The bus is moving and we are all on the bus. By we, I mean 15 or so pilgrims from the U.S., Puerto Rico, Mongolia, and Russia and another 15 or so from Tibet, 2 from Bhutan, and about 5 from Nepal plus cartons of water, luggage, ritual objcets including long horns and drums and cases of candles. About 10 of the Tibetans are Buddhist monks, 5 of them very young (youngest is about 10 years old). The 2 from Bhutan are nuns and 1 nun is Tibetan. The nuns and monks wear the same deep red robes and their heads are shaved. There is one little Tibetan girl with a beautiful smile and an Indian bus driver and one other Indian–a pleasant thin man who is our cook.
It becomes a common sight to see the cows meandering down the road unrestrained amidst bicycle, car, ox cart, truck and bus traffic. Horns blow continuously as the sounding of the horn is considered to be polite driving–it lets everyone know that the vehicle is coming. Fields alternate with shanties and larger buildings lining the road. Everything is covered by dust and whenever our airconditioned bus door opens or a window is cracked, we breathe dust.
We crawl along the barely paved road, dodging the other vehicles and bumping over continuous potholes. We are on a Buddhist pilgrimage. We started out from Sarnath, the city where Buddha gave his first teaching after he became enlightened. We are headed for Shravasti, where Buddha lived for 25 summers, teaching, performing miracles and overseeing a monastery with over 100 monks. Our group has been supporting the building of a stupa, or shrine, in Shravasti. The stupa is a replica of one built by Buddha 2500 years earlier in the same spot but destroyed long ago. The building of the new stupa is complete and the purpose of our pilgrimage is its consecration and ceremonial opening to the public. It is named The Miracle Stupa for World Peace and its interior shrine room can hold over 100 people.
We ride for about 4 hours and then we stop for lunch at a roadside “restaurant”. One of the nuns, a Bhutanese woman looking about 19 years old, complained of a migraine through her friend, a Tibetan nun who spoke English. Her head hurt along the frontal area and she was having trouble with her eyes.I asked her to sit at one of the outdoor tables. We’d been travelling on a main highway which in the U.S. would have been considered the worst of country roads. Barely wide enough for two vehicles, it was jammed with trucks, buses, bicycles, rickshaws, ox carts, pedestrians, school children, cars, cows, dogs, goats, donkeys, and monkeys. It was bumpy and dusty. The straw shacks and brick houses on the side of the road wore layers of dust.
The nun, Ani Konchok Yangchen, sat at a table and I stood behind. Her sphenoid was displaced superior with a severe left anterior strain. In plain English, this means the bone behind her eyes was tilted at an extreme angle with the left side coming forward and the whole thing higher than it was supposed to be. Her left terporal, the left ear bone, was completely jammed and her right was almost as bad.
Standing behind her as she sat, I could place my thumbs on her sphenoid, the bone behind the eyes, at the temple area and my little fingers could reach the occiput. I could feel the strain quite clearly. I asked her inner wisdom what it would like me to do.
The spenoid began to unlock and move cautiously in a crooked approximation of its natural rhythm, what we call the cranial rhythm. I went along for the ride, and, as it moved in forward, I encouraged it off its stuck position. It responded with increased amplitude and began to move more freely. I followed and encouraged. I felt it shift.
After some time, I moved to the temporals. In the standing position, I placed the tips of my fingers as if in spokes of a wheel. Again, I asked what they wanted. They immediately went out of sync and I felt like I was shaking the rust out of the joints.The amplitude improved and the temporals came back into sync. They began moving more freely. The young Ani (nun) smiled and said she was starting to feel better. I finished by opening her lymph pathways at the clavicles and neck, allowing for greater circulation.
Someone gave her a bottle of water and I told her to drink it all right away. Then, we’re back in the bus bumping along rather quickly now. I thought it would truly be a miracle if anyone could get rid of a migraine under these conditions.
The monks told us we have almost reached the stupa, but it turns out to be another 2 to 3 hours. Ani was sitting far behind me and I couldn’t see her to check on how she’s doing. I tried to sleep.
The monks began singing deep throated chanted prayers and then we caught sight of The Miracle Stupa for World Peace. It was so white! And so big! Standing about 90 feet tall, its white body and rainbow colored cylindrical top and multi-colored prayer flags stood out impressively against the gray evening sky.
We poured out of the bus, overcome with the awe of its beauty and all chattering, laughing, and hugging each other. I saw Ani Konchok. She was all smiles. “Much better”, she called out to me in her simple English. “All better. I feel good”.