Primary Respiration and the Power of Potency

The Fulcrum, Issue 86 May 2022

We were delighted that Franklyn Sills was able to join this year’s AGM to present his thoughts on primary respiration and the power of potency. A pioneer in the development of a biodynamic approach to CST and Core Process Psychotherapy, Franklyn co-founded and co-directed the Karuna Institute in Devon. Author, teacher and speaker, he is a much valued and respected member of the craniosacral community.

Franklyn began his presentation by introducing the pioneering work of Dr. William Garner Sutherland DO and Rollin Becker DO and their contributions to the foundational principles of CST.

Primary Respiration, Potency and the Breath of Life

Relating Sutherland’s discovery of primary respiration, motility and tides, intelligent potency and the Breath of Life, Franklyn shared Sutherland’s profound thought that the process is something you can depend on to do the work for you.

Life is fluidic.
Primary respiration supports the generation and organisation of life itself.

As Sutherland oriented his work to the Breath of Life and witnessed the transformative power of potency, his understanding changed from a biomechanical orientation to a biodynamic one. Work is based on presence, relationship, and orientation to primary respiration, in which we let the unerring potency do the work. As the client’s system settles out of the waveforms of history and conditions and deepens into the tide, healing intentions that are beyond the practitioner’s analysis or techniques begin to clarify.

The Inherent Treatment Plan

Franklyn followed with an overview of Becker’s work, which further developed Sutherland’s concepts of cranial work. Becker oriented to what he called the inherent treatment plan, a term that describes the unfolding healing intentions that Sutherland spoke of. Wait until the system shifts to wholeness and primary respiration, urged Becker. He articulated this as a holistic shift at which point the healing forces of primary respiration come to the forefront, guided by an Intelligence beyond our own.

Applying the power of the holistic shift to our own lives, Franklyn shared a meditation in which when stressed or anxious, we acknowledge our anxieties, settle into gratitude and wait for a holistic shift within ourselves.

Breath of Life

Expanding on the Breath of Life, Franklyn spoke of it as a sacred presence that generates the ordering forces of life called primary respiration. In explaining this presence, he recounted an experience early in his career that proved to be a turning point in his understanding of the Breath of Life. It concerned an elderly female client who was referred to him after having tried many different therapies. A survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and a refugee at the age of 15, Franklyn perceived her system intensely defended; very dense and locked down. He worked with her over many sessions, with little evidence of change. Finally, he realised there was little he could do to make any difference. With this realisation, he said that he literally let everything go. Settling into darkness and stillness his fear and tension subsided and he was able to maintain a still and receptive state. The stillness deepened into something he had never before encountered in clinical practice. He described how suddenly, a presence moved through us and cast our hearts open with love that completely changed our lives. This was the sacred presence, the Breath of Life, the heart of life emerging from the dynamic stillness of the tides.

Reflecting on the experience, Franklyn shared how it illustrated the importance of trusting the Intelligence, of not doing, of being present.

The Tide

He continued with a practical review of how primary respiration supports the generation and organisation of life itself and how we can recognise its manifestation through the rhythmic phenomena of the tides. Franklyn described the characteristics of the Long Tide and how it can be sensed as a stable tide-like, or wind-like streaming towards and away from a person’s midline; as a stable field of suspension, or radiance. He delved into how potency in the fluids generates the fluid tide, or mid-tide, sensed as a slow rhythmic tide-like motion throughout the body. He reflected on how the cranial rhythmic impulse (CRI) waveforms manifest inertial fulcrums and patterns that communicate a person’s experience and history, autonomic activation, and unresolved conditional forces; how, as the CRI settles, primary respiration comes to the forefront in a holistic shift that deepens allowing healing intentions to emerge from any of the three fields of action: the physical, fluid and tidal bodies – fields suspended in fields.

In all this, Franklyn reminded us, the practitioner’s role is to trust the process of the inherent treatment plan, and in so doing to facilitate and support healing.

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