By Maria Esposito
The Fulcrum, Issue 82 January 2021
I find that the more I follow my intuition and connect to the heart, serving everything that makes my client whole and integrated, the faster they heal and in so doing transform their lives and mine.
Having held CST workshops on how to deepen one’s practice for the past five years, I was recently invited to write about the journey that led to teaching. Hesitant at first about how to put my thoughts and experiences in words, I was reminded that there seems to be a hunger to understand ‘grounding’ more deeply and learn to apply it to our daily lives, and a desire to develop a more intuitive, heart-centred connection with ourselves, our work and our clients. In recalling my own efforts to learn these things, and the wonderful transformation when I was finally able to apply them to myself and my practice, I’d like to share my journey.
I first came to London from Italy thirty years ago and I ended up studying and living my life here. A massage course led to further qualifications in sports massage, reflexology, nutritional therapy, muscle testing and Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET). I found that I loved helping others to resolve their problems and pain and have been a holistic therapist for more than 28 years.
Informed by anatomy, physiology, nutrition and Eastern approaches, I spent many years helping clients and yet I still felt a need to meet them more holistically. My first experience of CST was when cranial-osteopathy was recommended for my son’s recurring colds and coughs. The process that led to the release of his birth trauma made me so curious that I eventually enrolled to study CST at the College of Cranio-Sacral Therapy (CCST).
My scientific and therapeutic training was comfortable with the physical focus of cranial-osteopathy but I found myself unsure about the whole-system approach that was taught at CCST. Nevertheless, during treatments and practical sessions, I felt much-needed changes occurring within me and experienced profound results. Whatever it was, it was working. Still, it was challenging; I was very good at the physical and scientific aspects of CST but not as good at grounding and working off-body. I became increasingly conscious of being ungrounded, of not being fully present in my body, especially in the mornings and evenings, which led to exhaustion. Not able to ground well, I did not pass my practical exam. It was the first time that I had not succeeded in something that I had put effort into and it was difficult to accept. So, as a positive and stubborn person, I set out to understand everything I could about grounding.
A healer brought a fresh perspective on grounding that helped me understand the concept of being fully present and embodied, and why I was ungrounded in the first place. At the same time, Octavia Kelly, a CST colleague, brought her experience and insight to my training. I am very thankful to both and for my failure to pass the practical part of my final training assessment, as my journey would have been completely different otherwise. I would not have understood the concept of grounding as deeply as I do now and how essential self-healing is to our work.
I realised that the more grounded I was, the more I felt calm, focused, alive and less tired throughout the day.
I began to attend healing classes to become more grounded. The technique that helped me become more embodied and less stuck in my head (with my logical, scientific mind) was to visualise that my legs and feet were weighed down by anchors. Thai Chi and Qi Gong classes, where grounding and body awareness were practised in every class, and swimming and Pilates classes, also helped me to become more embodied. After a few months, I was grounding well enough to pass my practical exam, and a door opened to a new experience of life, professionally and personally.
I realised that the more grounded I was, the more I felt calm, focused, alive and less tired throughout the day. I could see clearly what I wanted to do in my life, and I experienced inner peace for the first time. Reaching a steady state of inner peace is not an easy thing to achieve; it takes time, especially when life challenges you. Still, the more whole and grounded I became, the lighter I felt, and when life ungrounded me I recovered my grounding and balance more quickly.
‘Just ground’ became my personal mantra and after a few years of experiencing the benefits of this amazing change and self-transformation, I wanted to share this simple way of being. This led to developing my CST workshop ‘Grounding and Healing Tools’ and, judging from its popularity, it seemed to fill a gap for many therapists.
This workshop is a reminder of how far I have come on my own journey in grounding and in my own life, and it is a privilege to pass on what I have learnt to others who are ready to understand the concept more fully and embrace their potential. Through teaching grounding techniques I hope to remind, reconnect and deepen practitioners’ understanding of why grounding is so powerful, transformative and important for ourselves as individuals and therapists, and for our clients.
I have also found healing tools useful in my practice. Healing, defined as ‘the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again’, resonates with me and I feel that my work is part of a healing process. The danger is that we can become vulnerable to our clients’ issues, and if not careful, can internalise them. As part of my toolkit, healing techniques help to protect me from holding on to my clients’ emotions and feelings. I find that I feel much more exhausted if I do not combine CST with these tools, and my hope in sharing them is to help others stay protected, resourced and energised in their work.
I found that the more I followed my intuitive sense without fear or judgement, the more accurate my treatments became.
Developing Intuition and Heart-Connection
My interest in intuition and heart connection first began when I started to practise CST in combination with the NAET method of treating allergies. Many clients began sharing what they saw and felt during treatments, which was often beyond my wildest expectations of what was possible or logical. My natural curiosity led me to explore this. Hence, when I tuned into and followed a client’s whole system during a treatment, I often saw images, for example, a femur or tibia or fibula in an incorrect position, and sometimes I would feel pain in my own leg, knowing that it was not mine. This would lead me to ask if there was a problem with the limb that presented to me, and I found that the answer was always ‘yes’ when I worked this way. So, I started to mention more of what I felt or saw during treatments and the answers often confirmed where a problem that affected their body and sometimes their mind had started. If my hands felt something hot or cold, or if my clients spoke of seeing images and/or colours, I would follow and see where it led.
Fascinated by this process, I started consciously to develop my ‘right brain’ – thought to be the most creative and intuitive part of our body. Inspired by John Upledger’s experiences in the ‘Inner Physician’ and ‘Somato-Emotional Release’, I found that the more I followed my intuitive sense without fear or judgement, the more accurate my treatments became. I then read ‘The Biology of Transcendence’ by Joseph Chilton Pearce in which he describes the heart as the fifth or highest brain. As a result of this study, I now practise CST with intuition and heart-connection.
Developing heart-connection transformed my practice. The first time I understood this profound power I was treating a client who shared something I was simply not able to understand. Beyond my comprehension, the only way I could follow and support my client was to let go of judgment, fear and worry and connect to unconditional love for them and their journey. I focused on just being there, trusting and allowing the whole system to do what it needed to do, following where it led. This, of course, is the principle of CST – observe, listen, allow whatever needs to unfold and integrate. Yet, in my experience, we all come to a profound recognition of this truth in different ways.
As I deepened my intuitive perception, following where the client’s system led, it felt natural to share with colleagues, to help them strengthen the intuition that many already experience. I felt that some just needed guidance or reassurance that whatever they were experiencing needed to be followed and taken into consideration for the benefit of their client’s whole system, health and deep healing. The workshop ‘Integration of the Self, Strengthening Your Inner Intuition,’ grew out of this desire to help therapists grow further in their knowledge and awareness to push beyond their comfort zone while remaining sensitive to their boundaries.
Thanks to my inner curiosity, my therapy practice has evolved far beyond my expectations. As I have sought ways to deepen my connection to clients, I have come to realise the power of working from our hearts is essential to serving them in the best way possible. Focused by grounding and guided by intuition, the unconditional love and peace that is inherently present when we are led from the heart enable us to grow both personally and professionally. It is this truth that I wish to share with others.
Maria lives and practises in London where she offers CST alongside a range of nutritional, physical and behavioural therapies.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the CSTA.