Principles of Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy (BCVT) Practice in Descending Order of Importance

Michael J Shea, PhD


  1. The essence of BCVT practice is synchronizing with Primary Respiration and resting in the stillness. First perceive the dynamic interplay of Primary Respiration and dynamic stillness inside your body, around it and out to the natural world. BCVT is a compassion based system of manual therapy in which the priority is kindness and sublime gentleness of the heart.
  1. The cycle of attunement skill precedes palpation skills in order of importance. Spontaneous and deliberate attunement is critical for the work based on number 1 above. The ground of attunement is the therapist’s body, breath and heart, the natural world and then the hands last. Biodynamics is a study of perception.
  1. Work with the fluid body precedes work with the cardiovascular system in order of importance. Work with the fluid body is integrated throughout the session. This can be palms up or palms under the body sensing one drop. A session can consist of only fluid body work.
  1. Afferent, buoyant hands precede the palpatory relationship with the surface tension and pressure in the client’s artery. In other words, one’s hands must already be in receptive mode prior to contact. Your landing gear is like a “feather on the breath of God.” Initiation of contact with the artery starts with one hand. The artery is discovered and then the other hand explores the other artery. Likewise, disconnecting starts with one hand, pause for a breath and then release the other hand. Releasing both hands at once can cause a “whiplash” in the vascular tree.
  1. Any micro pressure placed into the artery is only done in A microgram of pressure is used, then pause for the artery to surface and if it does not, then the next microgram of pressure is offered, pause and then another microgram, pause until the artery becomes clear. So the formula is: micro pressure, pause and attune, breath, wait for the artery. When the artery shows itself, then soften contact to its surface where the most superficial contact can rest which is not rigid or static.  It is called floatability, buoyancy and afferent hands. Your hands are buoys floating on the surface of an ocean which is constantly contracting and dilating, ebbing and flowing. Stylistically, some practitioners will prefer to sit at the surface without much use of micro pressure and wait for the artery to surface. Other practitioners prefer the micro pressure, pause and release skill. It is the pause that refreshes in both styles.
  1. Ipsilateral work is preferred over bilateral work on the arteries wherever possible. This is especially true with the arteries of the neck, specifically the subclavian and carotid arteries. Regular verbal solicitation of a client’s comfort during a session is necessary, especially around the neck and shoulders.
  1. Practitioners have unique aptitudes for integrating the basic BCVT protocol. The first priority however, is to follow the above steps. Then practice each step in the protocol from beginning to end as long as possible before moving to the next and position in the sequence. On the other hand, some learners need to go through the whole protocol in a short period of time with the practice client. Remember to check in with your client. Remember point three above: fluid body work with palms up or the Pieta precedes vascular work.
  1. Without care and attention, mindfulness and compassion regarding the above steps, it is possible to alert the protection system of the heart and recruit defensive physiology both in the brain and heart. This most frequently manifests as anxiety, rapid heart rate in the client or a sense of deep discomfort. By practicing the above steps the protection system of the heart, which is both a safety system and a trauma resolution system for catastrophic injuries, will not likely get recruited, awakened or triggered. Do no harm. Start with step one above. The protection system of the heart is balanced by the pleasure system of the heart. The cycle of attunement and coherent breathing by the therapist tickles the pleasure system.
  1. Establish a heart to heart connection with the four-step process: • sense the movement of the heart • open the space in which the awareness of the movement is occurring • place attention outside your body into the heart field • sense Primary Respiration moving through the interconnected heart fields. This attunement process precedes sensing Primary Respiration in the client’s fluid body and their vascular system via palpation. Start with your heart, literally.
  1. Dynamic stillness rules the artery and its endothelium. Whenever available, completely and thoroughly rest in the stillness. Hands can become rigid when searching for an artery, concentration narrows and an inertial fulcrum can be placed into the vascular system. Be still and know. Let your hands and body melt into the stillness.

Thus, I, Michael Shea, have written the Ten Commandments of BCVT on July 26, 2017

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Stephen Elliott is the originator of The Coherent Breathing method.