What is a still point?

Like the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, and other systems in the human body, everyone has a craniosacral system. This system consists of the bones, membranes, and fluids that surround your central nervous system — your brain and spinal cord.

Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the brain in a tide-like, rhythmic manner. Craniosacral therapists can feel this subtle rhythm. It is palpable bodywide. It’s subtle but not magic — most of us learn to sense it in an hour or two of training.

With experience, we learn to read its qualities (weak, strong, fast, slow, whether it’s symmetrical in both sides of the body, etc.). These qualities vary from person to person, day to day, even moment to moment.

Still points occur when this rhythm pauses. They occur naturally and spontaneously. No one knows precisely why they occur, but they are regenerative. It feels as if the system is gathering resources during these pauses.

Still points can also be induced biomechanically or invited biodynamically, depending on the craniosacral therapist’s training or preference.

They help rebalance the autonomic nervous system, which because of stress often tilts to the sympathetic branch. The parasympathetic state feels more relaxed and refreshing. The body has more resources in this state for repairing and renewing itself.

Someone experiencing a still point may enter a state of internal stillness that feels deeply peaceful.

When the rhythm resumes, it feels as if the body has reorganized itself in the direction of greater health and well-being.

Still points can last for a few seconds or much longer, 20 or 30 minutes.

Craniosacral therapists stay connected to still points and can usually feel a difference in the qualities of the rhythm when it resumes. They may invite (or induce) multiple still points in a session as well as note when the client has spontaneous still points.

I enjoy inviting still points at the beginning and end of every session, including TMJ Relief sessions.

The poet T.S. Eliot wrote about this pause in 1936. I am not aware of whether he was familiar with craniosacral still points, although they were known to cranial osteopaths at the time. He captures the in-between state, the pause, the gathering, well in these words:

Treating TMJ issues: de-stress quickly with these relaxing breathing techniques

Learning how to de-stress yourself is huge. Everyone experiences stress. It’s just part of life.

Stress becomes an issue when there’s too much of it, and your system has trouble rebounding resiliently to a calm, alert state.

How is this relevant to TMJ issues? So much TMJ misery is related to stress. It’s one of the major contributors to TMJ issues. People clench and grind due to stress, and stress is always accompanied by muscle tension.

Staying stressed is bad for your well-being. It affects your digestion (including absorption of nutrients and detoxification) and creates unnecessary wear and tear on your vital organs.

I’m talking about bad stress as opposed to good stress, such as anxiety before public speaking, which makes you a better speaker, or the adrenaline you feel when a bad driver nearly hits you that helps you successfully avoid being hit.

In my opinion, bad stress includes most news about politics (just donate money and volunteer for candidates you like) and traumatic events (there’s always something awful happening in the world). Also, the desire to control others’ behavior can bring about bad stress.

You can still care and have a constructive strategy to manage stressors.

You can do these things from a calm, alert state. Imagine that.

The beauty of using a little breathwork to get yourself out of an unhelpful state of stress (any stressor that does not require immediate action) is that breathwork bypasses your mind.

Has “you need to calm down” ever helped anyone to actually calm down, whether it’s yourself or someone else telling you this?

It’s also quick. You can simply do a little breathwork when stressed, and your system starts shifting into parasympathetic mode.

The more you practice it, even when not stressed, the more it gets wired into your neurology.

The physiological sigh is breathwork technique that’s getting a lot of attention now. It’s been recognized for 80 years as a behavior people do automatically when claustrophobic and in other stressful situations.

Now you can put it to work for yourself when you need to de-stress yourself.

I learned about it from Dr. Andrew Huberman, a Stanford University professor who runs a neurobiology lab and has a podcast.

In brief, it’s two inhalations through the nose, and one longer exhalation through the mouth. (I think of it as the “sniff sniff ahhhhh” breath.)

Here’s a video demonstrating technique.

Dr. Huberman says sometimes people fall asleep if they do it 15 times in a row, but just three of these physiological sighs are enough to start slowing your heartbeat down in 20-30 seconds.

I nearly always yawn when I do three physiological sighs.

Another fairly quick breathwork technique for quickly reducing stress is the 4-7-8 breathing (the Relaxing Breath). Dr. Andrew Weil, who has been practicing and writing about holistic health and integrative medicine for 30 years, came up with it.

Dr. Weil recommends doing four of these breath cycles at least twice a day for two months to get the benefits. This wires it into your neurology.

He recommends slowing the cycle down, with the limiting factor being how long you can comfortably hold your breath.

It can also help with cravings and falling asleep.

In essense, you are retraining your nervous system to be more relaxed.

You may become less stressed from using either or both of these techniques and still benefit from receiving a TMJ Relief session to retrain your jaw muscles into relaxation. The breathwork will help your body retrain itself more quickly and prevent relapses.

If you’re ready to have that conversation with me, please connect. I’d love to hear from you.