Nerve Facilitation and Psychospiritual Impacts

Roger Gilchrist, MA, RPP, RCST

Psychospiritual Implications of Nerve Facilitation

Presentation for the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association Conference

Autumnal Equinox, 2008

Roger Gilchrist, MA, RPP, RCST®

ABSTRACT: This seminar reviews the concept of facilitated pathways in the nervous system, which is

best articulated in osteopathic medicine.  We extend this concept to its broader implications for human

behavior and spiritual growth.  We will define the process of nerve facilitation. anatomically, then discuss

the physiological cascade that can lead to increasingly challenging levels of nerve facilitation.  The

seminar includes practice sessions to cultivate the primary skills that are useful in working with nerve


Why an awareness of Nerve Facilitation is important in Craniosacral Therapy

Facilitation of specific pathways in the nervous system is one type of inertial fulcrum that practitioners

encounter in the practice of craniosacral therapy.  Having therapeutic skills that mitigate nerve

facilitation heightens the practitioner's ability to reach more effective resolution with clients.  Nerve

facilitation is often associated with other types of inertial fulcrums, including physical injuries, organ .

toxicities, connective tissue adhesions, traumatic history, compulsive behaviors, and repetitious patterns

in psychology, emotions, and physical movement.

In an advanced seminar in March 2000, Franklyn Sills inquired: "What may happen in the body when it

gets caught in a loop with its own stress responses?  This is essentially the question we are addressing

here, and we are extending the question to what may happen in the psychology and to the very spirit of

the person when the nervous system has facilitated pathways.

One of the primary reasons that an inertial fulcrum can reestablish itself, even after beneficial therapy,

is that nerve facilitation is running behind the obvious symptoms.  When the practitioner can skillfully

address this level of the process, this leads to more effective resolution.

Definitions of Nerve Facilitation

A facilitated nerve is induced to conduct signals more than it otherwise would in normal circumstances.

Facilitation means that the threshold of firing is lowered in a certain pathway, thus nerve firing becomes

continuous.  "Facilitation refers to hyperactive nervous system circuits arising from chronic

stimulation."--John Chitty.  Note that it also arises from intense stimulation (which might not be

chronic). Metabolic changes at the cellular level perpetuate this aberrant physiology.

"Facilitation" ... means that certain neurons which mediate sensory, motor, and autonomic function are maintained in a state of hyperexcitability. This condition allows these neurons to respond more easily to normal,, augmented, or prolonged stimuli acting on them from many sources. --William Walton, DO

The process of Nerve Facilitation

A series of stages occur in the process of nerve facilitation leading to an increasing cascade of disturbed

functioning that moves generally upward through the nervous system. This process usually begins with

a localized inflammatory process in relation to an injury, toxicity, or other stress on the body.  (There are

also other origins for nerve facilitation such as direct facilitation of the brainstem due to mechanical

stresses, vagal nerve syndrome, spinal cord tethering, etc.)  At this stage, this is a local process affecting

the peripheral nervous system.  Sensory nerves become heightened in their functioning.  Substance P is

produced; this is proinflammatory and irritates nerve endings.  This stimulates the sensory nerve(s} to

increase its firing, sending more signals to the spinal cord.  Afferent signals enter the dorsal horn of the

spinal cord, travel through interneurons within the spinal cord, to the ventral horns where efferent

signals are sent out to the tissues.  The spinal cord generates a response to the increased sensory

information and sends a signal back out to the affected tissues, influencing them to protect themselves.

Now a feedback loop has been created between the affected local tissue and the spinal cord.  There will

be cycles of communication between the local injury and the spinal cord.  These sensitized nerve loops

are essentially a sensory-motor feedback loop that can escalate its own process. Note that this is all

happening beneath the level of conscious awareness. The spinal cord is generating its own responses to

localized stress and, at this stage it is not sending signals up to the brain. The nervous system is

designed to do this so that many processes can take place beneath the level of conscious awareness.

As this cyclical process of a feedback loop between the tissues and the spinal cord continues, the dorsal

horn of the cord becomes more and more impacted by the extent of sensory messages. As nerve

synapses work via neurotransmitters being secreted and absorbed across the synapse, a process of

neuronal flooding now starts to occur in the dorsal horn.  Transduction occurs in the cells of this area,

where they become morphologically different and more receptive to sensory signals. The transduction

of cells in the spinal cord defines the second order of nerve facilitation.  Now, all sensory input at this

segmental level starts to be perceived as nociceptive (danger signals).  For example, a person living with

fibromyalgia can perceive a gentle touch as activating, threatening, or painful during a flare up of the

symptoms.  Again, at the level of the spinal cord, this action is beneath conscious awareness.

When the spinal cord is facilitated long enough, it will start to send signals through its ascending

pathways to the brain, in order to lead to a) more systemic responses, and b) conscious recognition.

Nociceptive signals are sent upward through the spinal cord where they impact the brainstem. Most of

the ascending pathways in the spinal cord synapse in the brainstem, though some go directly to the

thalamus and other brain areas. When the brainstem becomes sensitized to the extra stimuli beyond

the normal range of input, it too becomes facilitated. Nerve facilitation in the brainstem defines the

third order of facilitation.

Sympathetic nerve responses (primarily) are generated as the reticular activating system is affected by

the increased stimulation of the brainstem. The brainstem will also send signals to the thalamus, the

hypothalamus, the amygdalae, and other brain structures. The organism rallies to protect itself beyond

the localized cellular or tissue level, and the relationship and communication with the spinal

cord---the organism as a whole starts to go into systemic responses.  These systemic responses involve

the nervous system, the endocrine system, and will affect vast levels of functioning in the organism.  A

General Adaptation Response is generated in which the entire living system is responding to stress all

the time.  This is certainly evident in relation to traumatic history, yet it is important to note that this

whole cascade can occur in relation to a simple injury that goes unresolved long enough or is intense

enough in the first place. The General Adaptatian Response is pathological when lengthy sustained

adaptation becomes maladaptive.  Facilitation of the brainstem interacts directly with the HPA axis in

the body (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) and, thus, has implications for the nervous system, the

endocrine system, autonomic responses to the effects of stress, and thus the entire organism.

The cascade of nerve facilitation is a common process, one that typically goes unrecognized in medical

evaluation, yet often is at the root of seemingly intransigent conditions.

In summary, there are

Three Orders of Nerve Facilitation:

1st Order---a localized inflammatory process that is cycling information through the spinal cord and back

to the tissues.

2nd Order---spinal cord facilitation, in which the feedback process becomes self-perpetuating because

of the neuronal pooling of neurotransmitters and the transduction of dorsal horn ceHs.

3rd Order—brainstem facilitation, leading to overall systemic responses.

Each stage must reach a critical threshold and become overwhelmed in order to progress to higher

orders of facilitation.  Once a nerve pathway is facilitated, relatively small stimuli can lead to very

pronounced responses.  For example, hyperalgesia is increased sensitivity to pain; allodynia is chronic

clinical pain, in which most stimuli are perceived as painful.  Nociception is the perception of danger

(anything that threatens part or all of the organism from within or the external environment), more

broadly than just pain.  Once the spinal cord is facilitated and there are metabolic changes in dorsal horn

cells, then other sensory signals coming into the cord that are not normally nociceptive signals

(pressure, temperature, touch, etc.) can be perceived as nociceptive because this area of the nervous

system is already so over stimulated and is hyperactive in its functioning.

Perceptual Sensation of Nerve Facilitation

Facilitated nerve pathways or areas will typically feel one of two ways to the sensitive practitioner:

1) buzzy, electrical, stochastic, similar to how the brainstem/fourth ventricle area can feel during

pronounced sympathetic activity, OR

2) dense, inertial, heavy, thick, where the tissue demonstrates less motility than normal and appears

"fixated" in a particular relationship.


Anatomy in relation to Facilitation in the Nervous System

• Remember, the spinal cord ends in the area of T12 to L2. This will vary among individuals, but it does not go below L2. Inferior to the end of the integrated spinal cord are the freely traveling nerves of the cauda equina, serving the lower torso and the legs.

• The brain stem is essentially seated in the foramen magnum and lying on the basi-occiput, just

above that. It can be subject to structural pressures here, for several different reasons. Dr.

Sutherland would advise his students: "Think osteopathically."

• The brain stem has relay synapses from the spinal cord to the thalamus (especially) and some

other parts of the brain.

• The brainstem includes all autonomic nuclei. Thus, strong signals from the spinal cord or

from the cerebral cortex can impact upon autonomic functioning and influence the stress

responses in the body.  Significantly, this occurs through a set of structures known as the

reticular activating system (RAS).

• The thalamus is the primary relay station among most parts of the central nervous system.

• The tissue elements of the thalamus form the walls of the third ventricle, the space in the

lower central portion of the brain, just superior to the sphenoid body and superior-posterior to

the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland interact very significantly. Thus,

influences from the nervous system become hormonal messages in the endocrine system.

• Biodynamically, the third ventricle seems to be the primary area for the potentization of

cerebrospinal fluid. This is the action of the Breath of Life in relation to the physiology of the

body.  Dr. Sutherland sometimes made reference to this phenomenon as liquid light.

• In relation to spinal cord physiology, sensory nerves enter the dorsal (posterior) spinal cord,

and efferent signals (motoric impulses going out to the tissues and organs) leave the ventral

spinal cord anteriorly. Some practitioners are perceptive of this distinction.

• The anatomical idea of a spinal cord segment is a myth. It is only a reference to a given level of

spinal nerves that serve specific areas of the body. The spinal cord itself is an integrated unit of function,

with "segmental" levels of communication and longitudinal pathways to and from the brain. Because of

this integration, transduction at one segmental level will often affect two or three levels of spinal nerves.

This process is often behind the effects of referred pain and transference of pathologies from origins in

one area to effects in other areas. Note: the somatic and visceral nerves converge on the same

interneurons between the dorsal and ventral horns.  Facilitation of the spinal cord can lead to confusion

between the organs and the musculoskeletal system.  For example, an organ can start to be reactive to an injury in a limb.

• The area of the spinal cord that serves a given organ or tissue is typically about 2-3 segments

higher than where the tissue is.  This distance increases as you go lower in the body, and it is

important to remember that with facilitation of a lower limb or the pelvis the relationship to the

spinal cord will be in the region of T12 to L2, not the lower lumbars!  Another exception is the

upper limbs, as their nerve service originates in the cervical area of the spine.

• To be clinically effective working with nerve facilitation, the practitioner needs to have a clear

knowledge of the anatomy of the nervous system in relation to the affected tissues. Or be able

to look it up!

• To return to the idea of wholeness and the "unit of function," here is a thought from Australian

osteopath, Sam McCarthy: "Really, the nervous system is just one big nerve."iii  Interesting.


Principles in relation to working with Nervous System Dynamics:

Always keep in mind the continuity of the triune function of potency, fluids, and tissues.  These three

fields of function are completely interactive.  Understanding this interaction is at the basis of integrative

therapy.  The nervous system lives in a fluid environment.  Fluid dynamics will affect the nervous system

significantly.  In my own work, I find that the nervous system generally, and particular areas of it

specifically, respond best to stillpoints and direction of fluid skills.  States of balanced tension are asking the nervous system to center a lot more, and therefore may be more challenging; however, they can be useful.  Obviously, there are not membranous or connective tissue strains in the nervous system itself, however, membranous strain in relation to the nervous system can affect it (e.g,, abnormal tension

patterns in the dura mater, or a fascial relationships as they interface with, and are continuous with, the

dural membrane). Vertebral relationships near facilitated spinal segments often become inertial in an

effort to protect the spinal cord or spinal nerves at this level.  Randolph Stone, DO argued that soreness

on the spinous process indicates stagnant cerebrospinal fluid at that level.iv

Directing fluid is effective for clearing things held in relation to the nervous system.  This includes builtup

neurotransmitters in specific areas.  Direction of fluid can be rather general, or it can be very specific

in a given locality.  Directing fluid in relation to the nervous system should always be done in the

direction away from central processors (downward and outward, or from center to periphery).  While

directing fluid may be used in very specific areas, it is often quite effective when done from the area of

the occiput and cisterna magna down the length of the spinal cord.

Stillpoints are useful to the nervous system in a very particular way.  In the nervous system, more readily

than in other tissue structures, stillpoints seem to allow a reset of the physiology to more normal

baselines.  Something about the entry into stillness and a period of rest there seems to allow the system

to emerge with a new expression following the stillness.  The stillness creates a neutral that can allow

the system to shift from one style of function to another.  Often, this means a change from dysfunction

to true function, or at least relative function.  The stillness, the neutral, the emptiness ... the unmanifest

ground allows the living matrix to generate a unique expression, potentially quite different from the

patterns that were previously so ingrained.  This new arising as things return to motion is an entirely

unique expression.  Honor it.  Be intrigued to discover the artistry of life in how this is different from the

previous patterns.  Embrace the experience of Primary Respiration as it moves through the field.  Some

systems of holistic inquiry suggest the nervous system has a more direct relationship with primary

energy than other systems in the body.  Of course, everything participates in the Whole.

The State of Balance, when used in relationship to the central nervous system, is an

extraordinarily subtle thing.  Appreciate the extreme sensitivity of the nervous system when facilitating a state of balance here. The process requests a great deal of nuance and this must be respected as well as

cultivated through gentle practice.

I believe that we most commonly work with the nervous system in relation to other functions in the

therapeutic process; rarely do we work with the nervous system in isolation.  These other functions

include fluid dynamics, membranous strains, vertebral orientation, connective tissue adhesions, visceral

work, and postural strain.  Often times, a little bit of work with the nervous system goes a long way.

Remember, the nervous system lives in a fluid environment.  It is oriented to the primal midline, and the

primary chakras are vector potencies behind the major plexuses in the nervous system. When we

consider the translation from life energy to the physical body, the nervous system is the first level of

expression of this.


Practical Exercise:

1. Stand at the side of the table. Sense the field, and notice where you are drawn.

Or from the feet, with contact, sense what you get in touch with and where you are drawn.

Or, have the client request specific work in a particular area.

2. Work in the area of local facilitation. Use any skills that are appropriate for the specific

dynamics at play (ligamentous strain, vertebral compression, etc.). This step is not about work

with the nervous system---yet!  Reduce the local disturbances before you go to central


3. Next, work with the relationship of the local area to the spinal cord, i.e., one hand is on the local

area; the other hand is one the spinal cord at the relevant segmental level.

Think osteopathically! .

4. Use a mutual State of Balance between the two areas. You will probably notice that one area

tends to settle into the state of balance more easily than the other one.  Typically, this

demonstrates where greater stress is being held (commonly the area that does not settle as easily).

5. Direct fluid as needed.

6. Take the particular area of the nervous system into a stillpoint, or the nervous system as a

whole into a still point.  This is not necessarily a CV4 or an EV4. It is a functional stillness in

relation to the nervous system's motility.  Allow the system to manifest its own unerring


Practical Exercise 2:

1. Come into a gentle, occipital cradle with your client.  Allow the relationship to settle between

the two of you.  Allow the dynamics of the brainstem and fourth ventricle to settle.

2. Orient to  the fluid and potency dynamics of the Tide.  Simply be present, without doing anything.

Trust the Tide.  Remember the nervous system has a direct relationship to Primary Respiration

and its expression as the Tide.  Encourage the Tide to express itself freely.

3. You may start to perceive the motility of the central nervous system if you let yourself orient

here.  Keep a wide perceptual field.  The nervous system retreats in its perceptibility if our

perception starts to crowd it.  Simply be aware of this.  The nervous system responds deeply to a

clear awareness. Many times it will clarify its function through being perceived in an open field.

4. Direct fluid down the neural axis.  Direct fluid down the length of the spinal cord.  Continue this

direction of fluid for 1-2 minutes.

5. Option A:  Assist the brainstem area into a stillpoint ..

6. Option B:  Work between the brainstem and one kidnev/adrenal area, with one hand on each

area. Attain a mutual state of balance between the two.  Wait for something else to happen.

7. Return to the occipital cradle. Starting with an open perception of central nervous system

motility, encourage the entire nervous system to go into a deep, CV4 stillpoint.  This is about the

depth of relationship to the ground of being.  Honor the potency in this relationship through the

depth of this stillpoint.


The general implications of Nerve Facilitation

These are commonly acknowledged in osteopathic medicine. There will be:

• Changes in visceral function

• Changes in somatic function, especially hypertonis in the musculoskeletal system

• Changes in vasomotor tone and fluid dynamics generally

• General Adaptation Response

• Imbalances in the HPA Axis, leading to wider systemic degradation

The broader implications of Facilitated Nerve Pathways

Consider the biodynamic concept of potency being inertial in unresolved experiential fulcrums.  To the

extent that energy is bound up in one process, it is not available to others or to the dynamics of the

larger field.  Now consider energy being bound in certain processes in the nervous system.  Whether it is

excess neurotransmitters built-up in the fluids of a synapse, the repetition of certain thought patterns,

the recycling of an emotional Achilles heel, a given style in relationship dynamics, or behaviors that tend

to repeat themselves, a certain amount of potency is caught in sustaining these patterns.

When the system develops certain patterns, a given amount of potency is always utilized in those

patterns to initiate, support, and perpetuate those patterns. Like grooves on a record, a process can go

around and around, repeating the same phrase without moving on to the next expression in the song,

One of the dynamics of life is the possibility of getting caught in our patterns. This is both good and

problematic.  We develop habits that become more efficient to live by.  We can do some familiar

activities on autopilot.  How often do you bring you full conscious attention to preparing your morning

beverage?  Or is it just a habit?  A very powerful practice is bringing conscious awareness to simple


Some of these patterns that repeat themselves are just fallout from the debris of past experience.  This

is similar to how the majority of DNA in your cells has no contribution to your physical manifestation

now, it is simply left over from the musty catalog of evolutionary history.  So all of that history is there,

but it actually has very little to do with the present, except, it is what got us here.  Learning to distinguish

between history and present experience is vital to our personal growth.  Learning to recognize when the.

annals of history are influencing the present is valuable.  With that recognition, we are able to make

choices about our experience, choices about our relationship to the present moment.  Without it, we

are bound to the storyline of our experience just as potency is bound in perpetuating the conditioned

patterns of the system.

The traditional concept of Nerve Facilitation in osteopathic medicine describes a physiological process.

In this seminar we have explored more obvious ways that happens in the body.  When we consider the

larger field of activity in life, we must appreciate that psychology and our emotions utilize a certain

amount of potency as well.  In fact, psychology and emotions have a physiological ground to their

process, and that is the dynamics of the nervous system.  While psychology and emotions are not

limited to this arena (they express in a larger field), they definitely participate in the earthen vessel of

the physical body.  As Peter Levine, the founder of Somatic ExperiencingSm , says: "It's not psychological; it's physiological"V    The great thing about Biodynamic practice is that we can have a direct, palpable

engagement of these processes as they are held in the body.  Therapeutically, it is my experience that

when we change the ground of a given pattern, the entire field superordinate to that changes as well.

To the extent that potency is bound in historic patterns, it is not free to generate novel expressions in

the present moment. The past is always being dragged forward into the present and, thereby, is made

part of the present.  Do you see how your history becomes built into th~ present?  Do you know you

have a choice about whether or not that happens?  One of the best processes for reorienting to the

present moment is to take yourself into an awareness of stillness. Just orient to the stillness and be with

that.  When the system emerges into new activity, you can bet it will be oriented differently as its

expression arises in an original way from the freedom of the stillness.

Both Western and Eastern Psychology discuss the conditioning of personal experience. From the

perspective of Western Psychology, this is largely in relation to behavioral principles, and how the

system gets reinforced toward certain conditions, perspectives, emotions, and ways of acting in life.

This conditioning is held in the nervous system (and, from a bodywork perspective, in the other tissues

and dynamics ofthe body as they interact with the nervous system).

Eastern Psychology typically views this same process in a much subtler way. In general, Eastern

Psychology has a much more developed awareness of the dynamics of mind and the conditioned nature

of awareness. In relation to these principles, it is a rare individual that has a completely open,

unconditioned awareness of experience as it uniquely arises in the present moment. Each one of us can

attain this state at any time (many of us reach an approximation of it as we practice therapeutic,work),

yet learning to sustain this over longer periods of time is one of the most empowering lessons life gives

us the opportunity to learn. Learning to be directly present as this moment transitions to the next is one

of the most important things we can do.

Buddhist Psychology in particular discusses these dynamics in a very insightful way.  According to its

tenets, conditioned awareness creates "obscurations" (veils) to the vivid reality of experience in the '

present moment.  To the extent that we are caught in our conditions, we are not free to experience the

present.  We are interacting with the illusion of the conditioning; we are participating with an image of

the experience (and often times, lots of overlays and projections onto the experience), rather than the

immediacy of the experience itself. I cannot emphasize this enough.  To the extent that we are caught in

our conditions, we are not/ree to experience the present. There are many lineages and systems of

thought within this field, each one of which has developed useful practices for becoming present.  'A

good translation of many of these principles and practices to the Western understanding has been the '

lifelong work of William   Interestingly, Mikulas is a Western psychologist with a firm grounding

in behavioral psychology and transpersonal psychology---an unusual combination to be sure!  Yet, think

about the implications of this combination.

Something that I like about Mikulas' work: he is taking a cross-cultural perspective and describing spiritual practices that are relatively universal. The work .of Stephen Batchelor is also useful in this regard.vii

The problem with conditioned patterns is that we start to identify with them. They feel familiar.

Indeed, they are repetitious parts of our experience—of course they are familiar!  We start to claim

them as part of ourselves, rather than simply perceiving them as processes moving through time and

space.  We own them. (Or da they own us, to a paint?)  The psyche becomes oriented to a particular

way of being, a self-identity---which is a construct, a set .of patterns, more than a genuine experience of

the reality  of the moment.  As the psyche is oriented to a certain way of being, the emotions often

charge in to either defend that way of being or reinforce it (e.g., "I value my tight poaas because it

protects me---it keeps me from stepping forward in a new way and from moving into new experience

that might be painful."), and then the body summarizes that orientation in pasture, movement,

immobility, constrained motility, and inertial potencies centering the disturbance.

Note that throughout this seminar, we have been discussing the interaction of mind and body.  More

than a dyad, this is actually a continuity of relationship.  The two aspects participate at different levels .of

one integrated spectrum of human experience.  So, essentially, we are talking about bodymind.  Indeed,

that is more true to our real experience.  The Sanskrit word, rupa, literally translates as "body."

However, the meaning of rupa in its original linguistic and cultural context is much broader than that.  It really means all the fields of our "body";  that is, all the dimensions of our  embodiment.  One useful

schema is to appreciate four dimensions of being:  the physical body, the emotional field, the activity of

mind, and the nature of the spirit.  (These relate to the four manifest elements.)  Again, this is one

continuity.  Each dimension affects the .others; each dimension exchanges information with the .others.

The actions .of the nervous system help us see the translation .of these dynamics into the physical body.

To the extent that the nervous system has its energy involved in recycling processes, like those at the

root of nerve facilitation, one's being is not free to move to higher levels of expression or clearer states

of being.  The feedback loops of facilitated nerve pathways have many origins.  Mast obvious is physical

pain or other distress associated with injury, connective tissue strain, vertebral campressian, and similar

conditions. This is the level discussed in the literature ta date. Nerve facilitation .of the limbic system

can be a direct result of tra uma.  Even one's personality structure and behavioral tendencies can involve

facilitated nerve pathways. What if the energy/potency involved in these processes was free to express

itself more creatively?  What if the patency centering the disturbance became free of that condition?

What would be the condition of the spirit if the body were not encumbered with the physiological

necessity of responding ta historic baggage?  Jim Jealaus, DO, the well-known biodynamic osteopath,

asks: "What if your mind was not facilitated?"viii

Perhaps similar to entrapment of a given nerve causing the nerve to become facilitated is the

entrapment of the spirit in the body and its processes.  This includes the activities of the mind and its

house-of-cards creation of self-construct. This is the “illusion" that many Eastern psychologies refer to

and the “obscuration" that Buddhist psychology points to as the reason we do not see the Truth.

Perhaps a useful, reframing is that the spirit is not entrapped in the bodymind and its complicated

processes, but is in relationship to those.  The real question is the clarity of that relationship.  Can we

view a process for what it is?  Can we relate to an experience without becoming attached to it?  This

question and its opportunity will arise again and again throughout life.  

What is the nature of liberation?  This has been discussed throughout the millennia in many cultures.

There are subtly different points of view on this but basically it boils down to freedom from our

conditions.  The clearest path to this freedom seems to involve the following steps: 1) Learn to relate to

the conditions; see them for what they are. 2) Make peace with the condition as it is (it is, after all)

rather than wishing or trying to change it into something else. 3) Come into a center of stillness in

relation to the condition, or achieve a state of balance in relation to all the tension dynamics that

participate in the condition. 4) Something else happensf"  I believe the heart of our therapeutic practice is using our skills to shed light on this process on behalf of our clients.  Spiritual growth and personal evolution is really the greatest opportunity in life.  It is very simple.  May you have a clear view of this.


Psychospiritual lmplications of Nerve Facilitation·

Instructor Biography:  Roger Gilchrist, MA, RPP, RCST® is a psychotherapist, polarity therapist, and

biodynamic craniosacral therapy practitioner.  His experience includes working in the hospitals and

clinics of the mainstream healthcare system.  He has worked as a medical psychotherapist in behavioral

medicine practices.  Roger published a paper in a peer-reviewed journal on the relationships of physical,

energetic, psychological, and spiritual processes. He is also the author of the book, Craniosacral Therapy

and the Energetic Body, and several articles in trade journals on integrative therapy.


i Franklyn Sills. (2000). Neuroendocrine Immune Connections: Advanced Seminar in Craniosacral Biodynamics.

Boulder, CO.

ii Hans Selye, MD. (1956). The Stress of Life. NY: McGraw-HilI.

iii Sam McCarthy. (2007). Personal communication. Sydney, NSW, Australia.

iv Randolph Stone. (1986). Polarity Therapy: The Complete Collected Works of Dr. Randolph Stone. Sebastapol, CA:

CRCS Publications.

v Peter Levine. (1996). Conference presentation. American PolC!rity Therapy Association. Boulder, CO.

vi William L. Mikulas. (1987). The Way Beyond: An Overview of Spiritual Practices. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.

vii Stephen Batchelor. (1997). Buddhism Without Beliefs. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

viii Jim Jealous, DO. (Jan. 1997), Healing and the Natural World: Interview with Jim Jealous. Alternative Therapies.

x Rollin Becker, DO. (1963-1965). Diagnostic Touch: It's Principles and Application. (There were four parts to the

article spanning three years.)  Academy of Applied Osteopathy Yearbook. American Academy of Osteopathy.

Note: This is where the term biodynamic was originally coined in relation to osteopathic practice.

Glossary of Terms related to Nerve Facilitation

Afferent:  Sensory signals through any nerve pathway coming back to the central nervous system.

Afferent indicates direction of flow in from the body and senses toward central processors. (See


Efferent:  Motor signals through any nerve tract moving downward and outward from the central

nervous system to effect motor control and influence tissues. Efferent indicates direction of flow

away from central processors. (See Motor.)

Entrapment:  The fixation of any nerve within its local surroundings such that impingement upon

the nerve's functioning is generated.  Facilitation typically results.  Common causes of entrapment

are vertebral compressions and connective tissue strains.

Facilitation: A nerve is induced to conduct signals more than it otherwise would in normal

circumstances.  The threshold of firing is lowered for this nerve.  Aberrant forces that can result in

facilitation include nerve entrapment. tissue toxicity, sustained or intense stimulus, nociception.

Homeostasis:  A relative state of balance throughout the living system.  Function of the system's

self-regulating capacity.  Ability of the system to return to its inherent baselines following stress.

The capacity of the organism's various systems to interrelate and achieve an overall organismic


Motor:  Nerve conduction away from central processors to effect the organism's tissues, systems,

and behaviors.

Nerve:  A collection of neurons in a unified trunk, able to carry many messages and serve many

functions.  Similar to a cable TV cable carrying multiple channels.

Neuron:  Nerve cell. Neuron refers to a cell in the nervous system, specifically a cell that

conducts a signal.  Neural physiology is electrochemical: primarily electrical within the neuron

and chemical between neurons, where neurotransmjtters act as messenger molecules and influence

synapsing neurons.

Nociception:  Neurophysiology of the perception of danger.  Commonly refers to pain signals, yet

is actually broader than just pain.

Potency:  The Breath of Life as force and organizing potential Life force.  Order.  Extends the

Original Matrix into present time functioning.

Potential:  Electrical conduction through a neuron.  Also related to threshold of firing.

Psychoneuroimmunology:  Field of study embracing the relationships between psychology,

nervous system functioning, and the immune system.  Developed originally by Candice Pert and

colleagues (see her book, Molecules of Emotion).  Demonstrates clear and direct interactions

between thoughts, emotions, and physical states of health. Suggests the depth of how humans are

designed to self-regulate. The ability to change states of health, emotional patterns and cognitions

can be guided from higher processing centers. This de-facilitates life challenges at all of these

levels and thereby leads to increasingly clear ways of being.

Segment (spinal segment):  A transverse section of the spinal cord in relation to the areas It serves

(dermatomes).  A level at which a given spinal nerve emerges.  The idea of a spinal segment is a

conceptual schema, not an anatomical distinction.  The framework is actually more general than


Sensory:  Nerve conduction toward central processors, inward from the periphery, from receptor

sites toward the spinal cord, upward in ascending tracts of the cord, and to higher processing

centers in the brain when necessary.

Stimulus:  That which induces a neuron or set of neurons (nerve) to fire.  Action upon receptor

sites of neurons (e.g.,  light on the retina; acidity at chemoreceptors;  touch at pressure receptors).

Transduction:  A change in nerve potential where previously non-threatening information is now

perceived as nociceptive. Physical cellular changes accompany this. Classically, the term is

applied to dorsal horn cells Which lower their threshold of firing, leading to hyperalgesia (pain

sensitivity) or allodynia (increased sensitivity to all stimuli). Flooding of dorsal horn receptors

with neurotransmitters causes them to transduce, whereby low level stimuli (e.g., touch, muscle

contraction) become perceived as painful. in contrast to. the normally high threshold signals

perceived as pain. A more modem extension of this understanding is that any cell can transduce .

Transpersonal: That which is beyond the personal; greater than individual circumstance.  Beyond

conditioned experience.  Superordinate to the ego-based reality and personality structure.

Spiritual dimension of being.

Trauma:  The result of an experience that overwhelms the system's available resources

(psychological, behavioral, adaptive, metabolic, potency) and therefore cannot be processed or

integrated at the time it occurs.  Thus, inertial potency results in order to "center the disturbance."


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