What is Tibetan Cranial?

Tibetan Cranial: An Ancient Healing Art

Tibetan Cranial® is a healing modality that originated in the Himalayan highlands about 3,000 years ago and is now practiced in its traditional form in the West. TC Practitioners use their fingertips to read hundreds of pulses on the recipient’s head. With the pulses as their guide, Practitioners touch specific points on the neck and bones of the skull, including the face, the back of the head, and the palate. As the Practitioners apply gentle pressure, the pulses shift. The process continues until the pulses reach a place of balance. The practice is a disciplined approach, designed to re-align and restore our innate capacity for self healing. Recipients report that TC has led to transformation on all levels of their being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

From East to West

Known traditionally as “Thoba Khujatag,” or skull moving, Tibetan Cranial was historically transmitted orally from teacher to apprentice in a monastic environment in Tibet. Passed down through generations of deeply-devout Buddhist monks, the practice was not just a form of Tibetan medicine. It also was considered to be sacred knowledge. Thoba Khujatag nearly became extinct after the destruction of these Tibetan monasteries following the 1950 Chinese invasion and subsequent occupation. The work survives only because one monk, while in exile in Nepal, taught this healing art to Shar Lee, an American from the Midwest. Shar found the monk in Katmandu as she journeyed around the world to learn from healers of different traditions. Shortly after receiving the teachings and returning home to the U.S., Shar learned that the monk had passed and that he had not taught the practice to anyone else. Extensive research and searching led Shar to the realization that only a few monks who knew this work survived the destruction in Tibet, and that she was the only person taught by any of those monks.

With the survival of this ancient lineage resting in her hands, Shar began to teach it to others, always insisting on keeping the work true to its traditional form. The work is taught through oral transmission and hands-on instruction, without manuals or videos. Practitioners promise to maintain the tradition of TC, neither changing its methods nor integrating it with other approaches. Unlike typical training programs that rely on completion of standard requirements over a pre-determined timeframe, Tibetan Cranial Apprentices are released to become Practitioners they have become highly-skilled in doing the work and have achieved a level of spiritual maturity that is reflected in a change in their own pulses. Although these traditional Eastern methods can be challenging for those in the West, Practitioners agree they are essential for maintaining TC’s powerful healing effects.

With experienced Practitioners now spreading TC in the US, Europe, and Asia, Shar has taken the next step in ensuring the survival and growth of TC by training others to become teachers.

A Powerful and Unique Healing Modality

TC Practitioners employ a system of pulse reading that involves disciplined technique and attuned intuition. Practitioners learn to feel pulsations that reflect imbalances in the body. This pulse-reading is objective in that multiple Practitioners working with the same recipient feel the same pulsations. In deciding how to respond to the pulses, Practitioners apply their training and intuition developed from their experience in doing this work on hundreds of recipients.

People often ask if TC is similar to Cranial Sacral Therapy, massage, or energy work. It is truly different from other healing modalities. The system of pulse reading is unique, as is the method of applying touch to the bones of the skull (including the palate) in response to the pulses. In addition to working with the bones of the skull in a unique way, TC has methods for working with imbalances in the neck and jaw not found in any other healing method. Moreover, TC involves working only from the neck up. The recipient lies on a special table that enables the work to affect to the rest of the body. For example, even though the TC Practitioner never touches the sacrum, observers of a session often will see a physical movement of the hips, reflecting the body’s own adjustment of the sacrum in response to the work being performed at the head or neck.

TC involves physical work through gentle pressure applied to the neck and bones of the skull. It involves energetic work as well. The pulses reflect the flow of energy through the recipient, as well as the physical state of the body and the flow of fluids. TC works with other aspects of the Being, too. As the recipient lies on the table, the Practitioner kneels at the recipient’s head, creating a connection between the Practitioner’s heart chakra and the recipient’s crown chakra. Both the Practitioner and recipient engage in silent mantra, the repetition of a phrase, affirmation, prayer, or sound, generally of a spiritual nature. Because TC work is physical, energetic, and spiritual, it can affect the body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

TC assists the body in correcting its own imbalances. Practitioners listen to what the recipient’s body is saying through the pulses, and provide support for the recipient’s body to shift toward balance, health, and equanimity. The fundamental beauty of this work is its ability to support the body in its ongoing efforts to heal itself.

Because TC aids the recipient’s own healing abilities, the effects of the work can continue to develop even after the session ends. The results of even one session can continue long after it has been completed. People commonly experience further benefit from multiple sessions. Traditionally, people received sessions for seven consecutive days. Although that traditional commitment is more than many are inclined to make or to fit into their schedule, multiple sessions can be helpful even when spread out. Like peeling layers from an onion, multiple sessions can allow the work to penetrate to deeper levels of the body, mind, and spirit. Depending on a person’s circumstances, periodic “tune-ups” also may be helpful.


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"Third time is a charm!?! This was true for me and orthodontics, with the help of the Tibetan Cranial™ (TC) work. The blessing of my grandmother’s narrow British palate has precipitated years of 'jacking out' the upper palate with expanders by the orthodontics community. This resulted in severe pain and pressure, which lead to headaches. Also, because my palate was not properly aligned, the treatment progressed slowly. Thankfully, I came upon TC work. I carefully scheduled TC appointments to coincide with the orthodontics, before the orthodontic work could cause painful swelling. The TC work let the cranial bones realign and begin to create the space for the targeted shifts. There was even palate work I could release myself between visits. Finally, I could have orthodontia without waiting weeks for the pain to dissipate. Now that the expander and braces are off I rarely go out of my healthy cranial alignment. TC is now merely a good health check-up and not rescue. Because of the difference this work made for my family and I, I began to study it with Shar Lee. A year later my husband got whiplash during a ski trip. It was incredible to see the shortened healing process that TC work supported. He did not even miss the rest of the ski season! It is always a pleasure to see people begin to have relief from migraines, TMJ, concussions, and other stresses to their body that plays out on the cranial bones."

- Debbie Feyh, Boulder, CO