Mother Earth, Father Sky
While I was studying Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, I learned a valuable technique for centering and self-regulation called Mother Earth, Father Sky. The article where this technique is described is primarily concerned with helping mothers with self-regulation to facilitate breast feeding. As a Reiki practitioner, an important part of my job is to regulate my nervous system, settle into my body and hold space for my clients.
In his article, Dr. Raymond F. Castellino defines self-regulation as, “the ability of the system to function within a wide range of activity while integrating the experience from moment to moment… Self-regulation is an unconscious process of fundamental physiological and endocrinological functions as well as emotional regulation in response to internal and external events.” In practicing biodynamics, this ability to self-regulate is mirrored by the client, facilitating their body’s natural ability to heal itself.
I’ll describe the centering exercise in the first person. The goal is not to try and calm or settle myself. Becoming calm and centered is a result of the exercise.
“I use this exercise to help me orient and focus my attention. I do not use it to change my feeling state. I could be frustrated, upset or overwhelmed about something, or feeling joyous. My intention in doing the exercise is simply to center and self-regulate. The practice itself leads to change.” - Dr. Castellino
I begin by noticing my body. I notice where I feel good, where I feel tension or pain, where I feel neutral, all without judgment. These are just sensations, without meaning. I feel the air on my bare skin. I feel where fabric is touching my skin. I feel the weight of my body as I sit in a chair. I feel some tension in the thoracic area of my back, a slight pressure under my diaphragm. I feel the pressure on the bottom of my feet as they rest on the ground. I am developing an awareness of my body. I follow with the centering exercise, Mother Earth, Father Sky.
I turn my awareness to within my body. I breathe naturally during the entire exercise. I notice the sensation of support from below my feet. Mother Earth. My awareness and sensation move down my body to merge into the earth below. My body settles. My attention and sensation move upward within my body, into my head. My mind clears. Father Sky. From top to bottom, I acknowledge the front of my body with my attention and felt sense. Then, in the same way, I acknowledge the back of my body. Then my attention moves to the left side of my body, then the right side of my body. I feel the sensations that have arisen within my body. I sense the difference between what is inside my body and what is outside my body.
The following instructions are directly from Dr. Castellino. While following his instruction, breathe naturally without attention to your breath.
Mother Earth, Father Sky Begin by taking a pause. Give your attention to your body. Locate your feet. Mother Earth. Find that safe comfortable place in your mind’s eye, Father Sky. Locate the front of your body. Find the back of your body. Locate the left side of your body. Find the right side of your body. Feel the inside of your body in relationship to the outside of your body. Repeat: Mother Earth; Father Sky; Front; Back; Left; Right; Inside; Outside.
After practicing this exercise for a while, you’ll find that you can center yourself in less than a minute. By simply repeating, “Mother Earth; Father Sky; Front; Back; Left; Right; Inside; Outside,” your attention and awareness naturally goes through the steps. I find this exercise to be settling and grounding and I use it in my everyday life as well as when giving a Reiki treatment.
Anyone can use this technique. You don’t have to be a Reiki practitioner or a Biodynamic Craniosacral therapist to learn how to self-regulate. I believe anyone learning to self-regulate and center themselves will benefit. And you might be surprised how your centered presence will affect other people in your life.
This synopsis is based on the article, Supporting Successful Breast Feeding and Attachment by Raymond F. Castellino, DC, RCST, RPP, RPE. I highly recommend reading the full article, especially if you are a parent or parent to be.
(If this link is broken, feel free to contact me and I can send you the original article as a PDF.)