Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 6, 2003

Lester Prairie pastor offers a different kind of healing

By Julie Yurek

Pain is something that Pastor Bill Baldwin of Prairie Community Church in Lester Prairie is familiar with, since he visits and serves many people who need healing.

However, Baldwin has found a way to heal people not only spiritually, but also physically.

Baldwin has learned the technique of craniosacral therapy, cranio, meaning skull, and sacral, meaning the bone just above the tailbone.

Craniosacral therapy is like a closed hydraulic system for the human body that lubricates and nourishes many systems in the body, Baldwin said.

This type of therapy is considered a gentle, safe, non-invasive mode of healing that is most often practiced by massage therapists and physical therapists, Baldwin said.

As a pastor, he spends time with people in pain and prays for them. But with craniosacral therapy, he can help them feel better. "I feel useful," he said.

"Craniosacral therapy is a very spiritual experience. The source of healing in this therapy is when the inner wisdom of the client connects with the inner wisdom of the practitioner, leading the practitioner to the areas that need release," Baldwin said.

It's easier to experience the therapy than to explain it, he said. "Just give it a try in order to understand it better."

Baldwin attended a four-day program in February to learn techniques of craniosacral therapy in Madison, Wis. through the Upledger Institute of Palm Beach Gardens, Fl.

This past May, Baldwin completed the second level class of craniosacral therapy in Minneapolis. All classes are four days, Thursday through Sunday.

Before he could take the second level, he required 75 hours of hands-on practice with the techniques, which he completed on about 25 volunteers total.

He is planning on taking a class called SomatoEmotional Release I in January or February, he said.

There are at least six or more classes that he wants to take, he added.

He is now beginning to build his clientele. He currently works out of his home in Hopkins, which he shares with his wife and 12-year-old daughter, and in the basement of the church. He would someday like to rent space from a health clinic or a similar location to practice craniosacral therapy.

Even though craniosacral means skull and tailbone, the therapy can focus on any part of the body, he said.

Clients remain fully clothed and they lie on a cushioned table for the duration of the treatment, if possible. Baldwin can also work on a person who is sitting, if that is more comfortable, he said.

He usually starts at a person's feet to feel the rhythm of his or her cerebrospinal fluid, which is similar to a heartbeat, but not as strong, he said.

He usually sees regular clients about once per week. Release in the body lasts between 24 to 48 hours after the session, he said.

"Therapeutic bodywork is great for all the aches and pains, injuries and malfunctions, stresses and strains we experience in the course of a lifetime in our bodies," Baldwin said.

"There is a big connection between chronic pain and lack of joy in life," he said.

"As bodies, we are so interconnected. The pain may be relieved when therapy is applied to a separate location on the body," he said.

"If the therapy doesn't help, at least it's not going to hurt," Baldwin said.

Baldwin first experienced craniosacral therapy in 1996 or 1997, and again in Sept. 2002. He suffered from pain in his neck and right shoulder.

When he went to a massage therapist who practiced craniosacral therapy, and received a lot of relief in 2002, he began asking her for information on the therapy and how to learn it, he said. He attended his first craniosacral therapy class a few months later in February.

"To those who know me as a church pastor, this is an addition to the ministry and pastoral care I am able to offer to those in my care. Craniosacral therapy is very much a mind-body-spirit therapy that integrates the whole body.

Therefore, it compliments the rest of my church ministry very well and allows new options for helping that I previously lacked. I welcome you to experience the sacred quality of this gentle healing art," he said.

The first two sessions are free, with a fee of $25 per hour after that. Most sessions are one hour, but if a client only has 15 minutes, then that's what Baldwin will work with, he said.

Baldwin understands that there are some instances when a person should see a traditional doctor, he said. But when traditional medicine can't relieve the pain, there are many avenues of healing available.

For more information, Baldwin suggests the Upledger web site at www.upledger.com.

To call for an appointment or to discuss craniosacral therapy, Baldwin may be reached at the church at (320) 395-2320.

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