Craniosacral Biodynamics Glossary

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Augmentation practices: denotes the various practitioner skills that facilitate an expression of potency within deeply inertial conditions. Within a biodynamic context, the practitioner does not introduce new forces into the client’s system, but augments naturally occurring processes, which help the system deepen into the healing potential of primary respiration and its potency.

Automatic shifting fulcrums: a term coined by W. G. Sutherland DO to denote natural organizing fulcrums within the human system. These fulcrums are concentrations of potency (embodied ordering forces), which maintains overall tissue organization throughout life and orients tissue form and motility to the primal midline. Automatic shifting fulcrums naturally shift within the cycles of the fluid tide as part of mid-tide dynamics. As the natural fulcrum shifts, the related tissue field shifts in resonance. Classic locations of automatic shifting fulcrums include the sphenobasilar junction—the ordering fulcrum for bony organization and motility; the anterior aspect of the straight sinus, called Sutherland’s fulcrum—the ordering fulcrum for membranes and connective tissues; and the anterior aspect of the third ventricle—the ordering fulcrum for the central nervous system form and motility. Research has discovered the importance of organising fulcrums, torus-shaped ordering fields and midlines in the chemical formation and stability of proteins, hormones etc. When Time Breaks Down, by Arthur Winfree, Princeton University Press (July 1992), (see “Fulcrum” “Potency” “Midline” and “Ordering field or matrix”).


Becker’s Three Phases: Rollin Becker DO, outlined three commonly expressed healing stages as the holistic shift deepens and potency shifts within the fluid body towards an inertial fulcrum—seeking, the state of balance and reorganization and realignment.

The first phase of Becker’s healing awareness is called seeking where potency, fluids and tissues are sensed to be seeking a state of balance or equilibrium around and within the inertial fulcrum. This may be sensed as eccentric motions within the fluids and tissues around the inertial area.

The second phase is the accessing of the state of balance, a state of dynamic equilibrium of the forces within the fulcrum, suspended within all three bodies. This is a systemic state, where the inertial forces within the fulcrum enter a state of equilibrium suspended within the wider field. When the forces within the fulcrum enter this state, potency will act to resolve the conditional forces within the inertial site. Healing processes of various kinds are then engaged. The practitioner may sense many things both locally and systemically as healing dynamics emerge. Locally, he or she may sense pulsation, heat, fluctuations of fluid, resolution and dissipation of conditional forces as heat and permeations of potency from the wider fluid body into the inertial area.

When the healing process is complete, a settling is sensed and the third phase, that of reorganization and realignment of the fluid-tissue field to natural midlines and natural automatic shifting fulcrums, is engaged (see “Holistic shift” “Midline” “Potency” and “Inertial fulcrum”).

(1) a term used in craniosacral biodynamics denoting the nature of the creative forces at work, which organize our mind-body system from embryological development, throughout life. The term biodynamics in cranial work was first used by Rollin Becker DO. He coined the term “biodynamic potency” which acknowledges the bio-physiological dynamics governed by the embodied life force that Sutherland called potency, which has organizational, protective and healing functions .

(2) the term biodynamics is also used to denote the scientific morphological model of human embryology. It means the movement of the whole over time through successive stages of development. This implies that all growth and development is an interconnected whole constantly shaping without a permanent reference point or static cause (see “potency”).

Bio-field: an inclusive term which points to the holistic suspensory nature of the three bodies as three interrelated fields: the physical body, its cells, tissues, and physiology—suspended in the fluid body, the unified and holistic field of body fluids and the potency which enlivens it—both suspended within the tidal body, the tidal form of the Long Tide (see “The three bodies”).

Biosphere: is Rollin Becker DO’s term for the whole of the body and its local field of energetic interaction. The biosphere consists of the physical body, its anatomy and physiology; the fluid body, including the potency or life force that enlivens it; and the local bioelectric ordering matrix which is suspended in the tidal body of Long Tide (see “Ordering field or matrix” and “The three bodies”).

Breath of Life: is W. G. Sutherland DO’s term for the mysterious and sacred presence that connects all of creation to its Source. As part of its creative functions, the Breath of Life generates the ordering forces of life—primary respiration and its ordering potencies. When the Breath of Life comes to the forefront of awareness, one’s heart is cast open in love and compassion for all beings. The experience of the Breath of Life in a clinical session totally changed Doctor Sutherland’s understanding of his work.


Centering action: a term coined by Rollin Becker DO, to describe the action of potency or life force in centering and compensating for unresolved conditional forces within the human system (forces generated by trauma, toxins, pathogens etc.). In this action, potency functions to confine the effects of the unresolved force to a local area and to limit, as best as possible, its effects on the wider system (see “Inertial fulcrums” and “Potency).

Coherency wave: a term coined by Peter Levine PhD to describe his experience of the Long Tide as a coherent wave form which emerges as traumatic forces are resolved in healing processes.

Conditional forces: are the inevitable forces met in life, which may affect the human system if not resolved in some way. These include traumas of all kinds, birth process, pre- and perinatal experience, developmental trauma, emotional shock, toxins, pathogens and even genetic disorders. Potency functions to “center” the conditional force in some way by locally coalescing within and around the unresolved force in order minimalize its effects on the system. An inertial fulcrum is then generated (see “centering function” and “inertial fulcrum”).

Cranial field: denotes the scope of work developed by many teachers and practitioners in osteopathic and craniosacral practice.

Cranial rhythmic impulse (CRI), or cranial rhythm: a superficial and composite rhythm that is like the waveforms of experience. Its expression includes autonomic activation, unresolved history and related unresolved inertial fulcrums, manifesting as a relatively fast and variable rhythmic impulse (6-14 cycles a minute). It is not a tide, but is more like ocean waves moving erratically on top of the tide.

Creative Intelligence: a term that denotes the mysterious intelligence from which all creation emerges and all things arise and return to. Dr. Sutherland used the term “Intelligence with a capital I” to denote the inherent intelligence at work within the human system and all of life.


Dantian (Tan Tien): the Chinese term for an energetic, primary ordering and organizing fulcrum. The three Dantians are located at the umbilical center (and local area below the navel) , heart center and third ventricle, which are the major fulcrums of Sutherland’s ignition process.

Dynamic Stillness: the ground of dynamic and alive stillness that holds the potential for all form and from which the Breath of Life and primary respiration emerges. It is an implicate field that supports all form and function within the human mind-body system. It is perhaps similar to David Bohm’s concept of the implicate order in physics; an underlying field of infinite potential which underlies all of explicate reality. Bohm believed that the universe is an explicate expression of the play of consciousness, an implicate realm that underlies all form.


Fluid body: see “The three bodies”

Fluid tide: the relatively stable tidal motion (1-3 cycles a minute) within the fluid body generated by the action of the potency or embodied life force within it. The fluids of the body are the media for the potency and when potency shifts in its respiratory cycles, the fluid tide is generated. The fluid tide will change in expression and quality depending on what is unresolved within a person’s mind-body system. These qualities can be sensed and “read” by the practitioner, an aspect of what Sutherland called “reading the nuances of the Tide.” As the holistic shift deepens, the three bodies enter equilibrium and suspension. The fluid tide then commonly manifests as this occurs. As potency within the fluid tide begins to make healing decisions, the fluid tide itself may enter equilibrium and stillness as the field of potency within the fluid body shifts towards an inertial area. Over time, as potency within the fluid body acts to center unresolved conditional forces within the system, the fluid tide itself may be affected in various ways. It may be dampened down in expression, clearer in different parts of the body and shift in eccentric ways. It may even shut down in protection as potency acts systemically to protect the mind-body system in states of overwhelm and shock (see “potency” and “inertial fulcrums”—for fluid and tidal bodies see “The three bodies”).

Fluid-tissue field: fluids and tissues form a unified field of action that manifests in a matrix-like fashion. When the holistic shift deepens, the tissue field settles and softens, is sensed to return to a holistic, fluid state¬—a return to the fluid-embryo state—where the forces of primary respiration come to the forefront.

Fulcrum: denotes an organizing point or location around which form and motion are organized and coordinated—a coalescence of potency that organizes form and motion.


Health: the understanding of health in biodynamics is very different from what is commonly understood. Commonly, one is either healthy or ill. In biodynamics it is understood that health is a manifestation of an ever-present life force and, even in the direst situations, is never lost.

Holistic shift: a primary stage in the unfolding of the inherent treatment plan where the client’s system settles out of conditional forms, tension patterns and the CRI level of rhythm, returns to wholeness and reorients to primary respiration. As the holistic shift deepens, the practitioner can sense the three bodies—the physical, fluid and tidal bodies, entering a deepening state of equilibrium—physical body suspended in fluid body, suspended in tidal body of Long tide, all suspended in Stillness. As this occurs, the tissue field, now suspended in fluid body, can be sensed to shift to a state of wholeness and fluidity, a return to the fluid-embryo, fluid-tissue state (see “The three bodies” and the “Inherent treatment plan”).


Ignition: a term coined by W. G. Sutherland DO which denotes the process whereby potency manifests within the body’s fluids via transmutation (a change in state) from the Long Tide and local ordering matrix, to become an embodied ordering force within the body’s fluids. In a wider context, there are a series of primary ignitions which allow for the incarnation of spirit or being in the physical body. These are: conception ignition, heart ignition and birth/umbilical ignition. Conception ignition lays down the ordering matrix within which the embryo forms, beginning the process where a body is formed within which spirit or being can incarnate, this is the ground of being, heart ignition occurs as the embryo folds into a body form and the heart spirals towards the midline. Spirit or being follows the heart into embodiment and heart ignition is the embodiment of being. Umbilical ignition occurs after birth when the umbilical cord stops pulsating and potency “lights up” or ignites in the body’s fluid, which empowers the little one to be physiological separate from mother. This is the empowerment of being. Randolph Stone DO was the first Osteopath to work directly with the ignition process via umbilical ignition. He passed this on to Robert Fulford DO, who brought it into cranial osteopathic practice (see “Transmutation” and “Ordering field or matrix”).

Inherent treatment plan: a term coined by Rollin Becker DO to orient practitioners to the knowledge that the arising and sequencing of what has to happen within any given healing process is a function of primary respiration—not of practitioner analysis or motion testing, and will unfold in its own way. The practitioner does not have to analyze or diagnose to learn what needs to happen. However, they do have to develop an inner state of receptive stillness and listening, which opens a perceptual doorway to this inherent process.

Intelligence: a mysterious ordering and healing presence that W. G. Sutherland DO called Intelligence with a capital “I”. This Intelligence is a direct manifestation of the intentions of the Breath of Life and primary respiration within a client’s mind-body system. This innate health is present even in the most dire situations and conditions.

Inertial fulcrum: denotes an organizing fulcrum/location of unresolved conditional forces and history. If a conditional force is not resolved at the time of its impact upon the system, then potency will act to “center” it in some way, and an inertial fulcrum is then generated. Potency acts to protect the system from the intrusion of conditional forces by locally coalescing and confining the force to as small an area as possible in order to minimize its effects on the system. This is an expression of health at work as potency acts to protect the system from the impingement of the conditional force. An inertial fulcrum is then comprised of two forces: (1) a local coalescence of potency within its wider field, and (2) the conditional force being centered and confined to the local area.

The local coalescence of potency can sometimes be sensed as a vortex-like force within the inertial area. The generation of an inertial fulcrum will have repercussions in various ways. Local tissue changes will occur such as density, compression, loss of flexibility, etc., along with changes in tissue motility, both locally and globally. The local change in the tissues is classically called an “osteopathic lesion” and the inertial pattern generated around it is classically called a “strain or lesion pattern.” The presence of an inertial fulcrum with also cause changes in the expression of the fluid tide, locally sensed as eccentric fluid fluctuations around the inertial area, and globally sensed as changes in the quality and expression of the fluid tide. It will also generate sensitization in the nervous system in various ways, including the generation of stress responses and nervous system activation. This is classically called “nerve facilitation” (see “Conditional force”  “Fluid tide” “Holistic shift” “Centering function” “Potency” and “The three bodies”).


Jing (Ching): The Chinese term for the formative ordering and enlivening forces within the fluids of the body, commonly translated as vital essence, similar in concept to Sutherland’s potency.


Long Tide: a term coined by Becker DO to denote the primary ordering forces generated by the creative intention of the Breath of life. Sutherland called this the “Tide”—the most formative expression of primary respiration, which maintains organizational, protective and healing functions throughout life. It manifests in stable respiratory cycles of 50-second inhalation and 50-second exhalation, within a vast field of action—seeming to move from the horizon to the midline of the human system in a torus-like fashion. The field that it generates in this action is called the “tidal body”, within which the bioelectric ordering matrix is suspended, embryological differentiation is supported, and cellular order is maintained throughout life. The Long Tide supports life and its conditions, but is not affected by these conditions. It is the intrinsic health of the human system, which is always present supporting life, even in the direst circumstances. In clinical settings, it can be oriented to by the practitioner to help stabilize and resolve traumatic activation and entrenched history arising in session work.


Midline: Midlines are organizing phenomenon that are laid down at conception, around which the tissue and fluid bodies are organized. The three primary organizing midlines are the quantum midline, the fluid midline and the primal/notochord midline. The presence of midline organizing phenomenon becomes a direct perceptual awareness in biodynamic practice.

  • Primal midline: The “primal midline” is the midline of the wider bioelectric ordering matrix laid down at conception, suspended within the tidal body of Long Tide. Throughout life, it can be perceived as a helical, spiral-like uprising force through the notochord axis (center of the vertebral bodies through the cranial base and ethmoid bone). It is the midline around which the embryo forms, and around which cellular-tissue organization is maintained throughout life. Embryologically, the primitive streak and notochord are generated in the embryonic disc due to its presence. Awareness of the primal midline can help the practitioner holistically orient to tissue organization during session work, to vertebral axis and cranial base inertial areas, and to tissue reorganization after conditional forces have been resolved. The primal midline will shift to maintain overall compensation for the presence of inertial fulcrums within the mind-body system. The tissue field will then shift in compensation as this occurs, and the classic “compensated structure” results (see “Ordering field or matrix” and “Long Tide”).
  • Fluid Midline:  This is the organizing midline for the fluid body, which is generated within the neural tube as the embryo is forming. It is present throughout life through the neural axis—the central canal of the spinal cord and central axis of the ventricle system within the brain. It is the midline to which potency is oriented within the respiratory cycles of the fluid tide (see “Potency” “Fluid tide” and “Primary respiration”).
  • Quantum Midline: This midline of light is the midline of the quantum field generated at conception by the creative impulse of the Breath of Life. It is a stable midline which acts as a centering midline throughout life and is the midline within which the various “ignition processes” occur. The three primal ignitions are conception ignition, heart ignition and birth/umbilical ignition (see “Ignition”).

Mid-tide: a term that denotes the totality of the holistic expression of primary respiration within the physical and fluid bodies. Potency is the embodied ordering force, fluids are the media for that force, and cells and tissues are ordered and maintained by its action. Within the mid-tide, potency is sensed as a driving force within the fluids, fluids manifest this drive as the fluid tide, and tissues express its ordering principle as motility (inherent motion) oriented to natural fulcrums and the midline. The mid-tide manifests a relatively stable rhythm from 1 – 3 cycles a minute (see “fluid tide” and “potency”).

Motility: the natural expression of cellular/tissue organization and motion generated by potency within the fluid body. Motility is sensed as a holistic fluid-tissue motion oriented to natural automatic shifting fulcrums and the primal midline (see mid-tide).


Neutral: an osteopathic term which denotes a state where all of the factors and tensions present have entered a dynamic state of equilibrium.

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