Mental Health~By Naomi Chuah, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist
A lot of my life I struggled with mental health. I projected an outward calm while inwardly doing everything I could to try and feel calm. I mostly had a handle on it until my late twenties. I was happy to give birth, but didn’t know how to integrate the bodily trauma and everything else that came up around it. Within months I came down with an autoimmune disorder, experiencing extreme exhaustion along with many physical symptoms. My family also started dealing with allergies, sensory integration, gut issues, and behavioral issues.
I’ve always been curious about health – both mental and physical. Engaging in lots of random reading and asking questions, I was always looking, listening, soaking up information, and wondering what worked for people and why. This was especially the case as health issues came up for me and my family. In fact I would get in trouble for asking the doctors too many questions! But I believe knowledge is power, and taking responsibility for one’s own health is an empowering part of healing.
Researching, working through, and supporting my own and my family’s health with the support of various healthcare professionals greatly widened my horizons. I am grateful to Medical Doctors, Naturopaths, Chiropractor’s, Massage Therapists, Acupuncture, and Counsellors. And I am grateful to the groups I attended to learn about anxiety and aggression by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, and how to meet this in a family setting.
Starting with treating me and my family’s health issues on a physical level, I eventually threw myself into learning how our bodies heal through profoundly being seen, heard, and met through the presence and empathy of another human being. In psychology this is called attachment theory. Babies learn to regulate their internal nervous systems by following the nervous systems of the adults around them. As babies grow, their inner worth consolidates as they continue to connect with others but realize they are in fact separate beings. This process can be interrupted at any stage for various reasons, leaving internal self-regulation spotty. The good news is, when dysregulation is met with and interacted with skillfully, internal regulation can still happen in an interrupted adult body system.
When my family and myself tried Craniosacral Therapy, I was hooked. Enrolling in the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy training, I was blown open, learning so much about myself and others.
The training rooted me in anatomy, then trained me to understand strain, disease and discomfort through a trauma based lense (or instead of trauma one can simply call it stress overload). I learned to know myself, settle into presence, and to contact the client’s body and listen to what is happening inside the client’s body. The idea behind this is that the body knows what to do to feel better and work to the best of it’s ability in the given situation. And the presence and listening (attuning) of the practitioner (think attachment theory), greatly facilitates the body to re-organize in ways that cause less pain, less tension, and less emotional discomfort. At times this therapy includes dialogue and sometimes a technique called “focusing”.
Continuing my education, I took BCST postgrads “Advanced Cranial & Relational Skills for Families” and “Somatic Psychology and the Potency of the Psyche”. Results for me and my family have been deep. More internally regulated, I move between different feeling states in my nervous system with more ease. Simply put, I feel a wide variety of feelings, knowing I’m ok. And not to forget, I have LOTS more energy. My family has less chronic pain, less headaches, almost no allergies, and greater gut health.
All of this has given me tools and presence to work with people on a somatic level as they work through physical and emotional processes in their mind and body. This work brings me joy and so much excitement, as I come alongside others as they engage in their healing. BCST (craniosacral therapy) is a place where you can leave judgement at the door. For when your body feels safe and seen in its deep layers, the body response is to open and engage in healthier ways of moving, being, feeling, and interacting.