Sunday, March 27, 2011

House Within the Brain

I have been meditating on the 4th ventricle, one of the four connected fluid-filled cavities within the human brain. These cavities, known collectively as the ventricular system, consist of the left and right lateral ventricles, the third ventricle, and the fourth ventricle. The fourth ventricle extends from the cerebral aqueduct (aqueduct of Sylvius) to the obex, and is filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The fourth ventricle has a characteristic diamond shape in cross-sections of the human brain. It is located within the pons or in the upper part of the medulla. CSF entering the fourth ventricle through the cerebral aqueduct can exit to the subarachnoid space of the spinal cord through two lateral foramina of Luschka (singular: foramen of Luschka) and a single, midline foramen of Magendie.

The imagery of a "house" has really captured my imagination. This small diamond shaped space has walls, a floor and roof. It fills with fluid from a small tunnel and exits through another. It is lower than the elegant 3rd and lateral ventricles where the cerebral spinal fluid has room to flow and the membranes move, the tent and the falx like a bird flapping is delicate wings. This idea, the 3rd ventricle, surrounding the potent limbic brain and the magical pituitary and pineal glands were seared into my young craniotherapist brain, especially the role of the amygdala and its keen sense of danger or safety in the world. So what of this "house" in the brain, this squamous space at an angle just below the symphony of anatomy and flow above?

I have been meditating on it, feeling into its small space, imagining I could see the anatomy so clearly and maybe I could, like a small fish inside the fluid system. This small space is heavily compressed during head down vaginal deliveries. The head is tucked and the baby, if in optimal position, uses the occiput to maneuver down and out. I imagine the compression on the bone and the brain anatomy underneath. There is something about this small space and the intensity it goes through to be born that is currently captivating.

When working with the anatomy, we are taught a particular hold called a CV4 where the practitioner holds the occiput and the feeling can be comforting. The presence of the practitioner has to be just right. In the old days, before biodynamics, the CV4 could be used to instill stillness in the system. A little compression, a little downward movement. That is what I read anyway. I have not put any compression on any bone in years. I simply, hold, follow, wait, and augment space. I have conversations with the system. I get even more present. My heart opens like a flower, I watch the system and listen. That is what I do. For most babies, I complete a decompression of the occiput, an EV4 it is called, with this approach of waiting, following and augmenting.

Doing the dishes tonight I was actually meditating on the 4th ventricle, this house within, and the phrase, "in my Father's house, there are many mansions" wafted up into my consciousness. What? Not being a biblical person I knew this was a phrase I had heard at funerals. So, I looked it up. It is John 14:2. I tried to discover its meaning. I gathered it means that there many places on earth and in heaven to dwell, so do not grieve if separated from love because God is in every one of them. Sutherland was a Christian mystic, as were many of his students. Today, the teaching of the method is often accompanied Buddhist language, but it is very similar in theme: that we are spiritual beings and the anatomy is a reflection of this deep spiritual connection. We are formed in relationship with that divinity, and our ancestors, housed in our mothers first of all.

The fourth ventricle is one of the many rooms in the divine place we call home, earthly or spiritually. A unique expression, and I am plunging into the depths of its meaning.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Big Love

With hands on, I think, Big Love.
Big Love, wider.
Big Love, deeper.
Big Love, slower.
I close my eyes and see the sharp edge of a path in the snow. In my mind, I go into wide angle vision. It is a path in the snow, deep snow. Looking down, I see ice, I feel ice. "Frozen." I think, "Thaw." Then there is flow.

While I holding her, her legs kick out. She gets up off the table and says, "I so calm and grounded."