Archives for posts with tag: Touch

Recently I had the privilege of offering Zero Balancing to two young men just out of their teens, college students who are exploring various complementary therapies as part of their undergraduate health care studies. Both athletes, they were full of excitement about their education and their futures. I asked about their health. One had sustained several concussions from soccer “a long time ago,” meaning high school. A lacrosse stick whack had broken the other boy’s wrist, causing chronic pain and numbness in his dominant hand.

So fit and upbeat, these kids could hardly hold any distress beyond their sports injuries, I figured. But as I worked, first one one and then on the other, I was surprised. My job as a bodyworker is to feel for tension. I could feel with my hands that their twenty-year old bodies had accumulated physical, mental, and emotional strains since they were small. I could feel it in the weight of their ribs, in the shallowness of their breathing, in the tension in the shoulder blades, in the stiffness of the arch of a foot. As I placed fulcrums–the touch tools of Zero Balancing designed to feel good (gentle traction, lifts, compressions, or pressure into bones and joints which I create with my hands and hold for three to ten seconds)–I felt each man deeply relax, unpack, and drop much of what he had been carrying, without either of us needing to know the who, what, why, or how.

After his session, the first young man said he was surprised at how quiet his mind had become. The other reported that after ZB his shoulders actually felt broader. “I feel more powerful,” he said. Neither student had experienced bodywork before, beyond the short, focused physical therapy treatments prescribed for their injuries. It’s not inaccurate to say they were amazed.

Of course, one ZB session will not undo a lifetime of pain–but it’s a start. What a gift to offer our children a chance to let go of both injurious events and anxious minds as they start their adult lives.

If we can free our kids, and allow them to live fully as the brave and generous beings that they are, imagine what a beautiful world we can create.

A young client of Zero Balancing practitioner Cynthia Allred.

 

Amanda King, LMT, CZB
Salem, Massachusetts

When I was young I hoped to find love. I never expected to find it in a seminar for manual therapists.

In any Zero Balancing workshop, a common belief holds that mutual respect and safety to be oneself fosters rapid and deep learning. As a result, at the opening of a ZB class there is presented the concept of holding each other–including oneself–in the “highest personal regard.” In other words, before we put our hands on each other, especially when we have no prior knowledge or relationship with the person we are about to touch, love overrides any tendency or propensity for snap judgments or prejudices or assumptions about the other.

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Evaluating the pelvis in Zero Balancing. Photo by Kim Lindner, Time Bandit Photography.

In this way, because we all agree to do it, we let go of the norms that rule most social or professional gatherings. How often have you been in a group where you scan new faces to see who you might trust and call friend and who feels strange, risky or even phony? It seems to be human nature to huddle with those who feel sympatico or like-minded while discounting others who seem just that–other.

In my Zero Balancing training experience spanning sixteen years (and I’ve noticed that over time, I seem to be getting better at H.P.R., so it is a practice!), in groups from Boston to Chicago to Baltimore, I join others in consciously, yet tacitly, acknowledging that we all have hearts that have been overlooked or trampled at many points in our lives. If we are going to make any headway in our work of learning and practicing a therapy that works with bone-held tension–hence the deepest parts of ourselves–we had better feel not only safe, but also loving towards those with whom we engage. Love, after all is a potent healing agent, and love is the glue that bonds parents with their children, life partners, and other deep and lasting connections.

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved and uncared for.” –Mother Teresa

“Highest Personal Regard” offers a chance to experiment with loving those you might discount, disregard or shy away from. Its request is to respect others for their humanity, their intelligence, and their sensitivity, for as I’ve learned the hard way, even the toughest looking people have soft and tender hearts.

 

Amanda King
© October 3, 2018
Salem, Massachusetts

In the days when Zero Balancing first appeared, people were not sure what to call it. The name ‘Fritzing’ was suggested, after Zero Balancing developer Fritz Smith, MD, an osteopathic physician and Master of Acupuncture. He rejected this moniker, not wishing to bring undue attention to his person and to enable ZB to grow and flourish independent of his authorship and personality.

‘Structural acupressure’ was his name for the work, which combines principles of Eastern approaches to energy healing and Western understanding of body structure, anatomy and scientific inquiry. It was only when a person receiving the work exclaimed that she felt “balanced to zero” that the current name was born.

What is balance but internal harmony and equilibrium? What is Zero? A complete abstraction, whereas nothingness defies quantification, by definition. In our world of stuff, how we long for open, empty space. In our cluttered minds, how we long for peace from thought. Imagine a blissful Zero, without the need to know, or judge, or understand. Imagine your ideal of balance with yourself and within yourself. In a moment, the slate of life is washed clean, and new possibilities, ones never before considered, arise.

Another reason why the name Zero Balancing is quite right for the work of bringing us back to ourselves.Image

©Amanda King, April 2014
Salem, MA

In massage, which is one of my foundational studies and loves, touch is attenuated. Some practitioners even work through a session without removing their hands from the client’s body. In a massage this type of touch equals value, and it is what the person on the table craves.

In Zero Balancing, my other foundational study and love, the long strokes of massage on skin are replaced by the gentle staccato touches of the practitioner’s hands or fingers on the client’s bones.

Touch to the tarsal bones of the foot.

Touch to the tarsal bones of the foot.

Bones, Zero Balancing founder Fritz Smith, MD, discovered early in his over fifty years of teaching and practice, hold and transmit vibration. In touching them relatively quickly and firmly, using an approach called Interface, Zero Balancers seek to both access and free that held vibration back into the person’s system.

The best way to do this, Dr. Smith teaches, rather than to linger, is to be quick and clear when touching bone.

This clarity of touch pays dividends. Released tension once held in bone tends to recharge and animate a person’s entire musculoskeletal system. Often, after a ZB session, people report feeling more energized while at the same time feeling calmer.

Because this touch occurs on such a deep level, we hold it usually no longer than ten seconds. If an area is particularly tight or congested — say on the scapula, the lower ribs, or at the upper trapezius muscles of the shoulders and neck (yes muscle, but sometimes as hard as bone!) — often a series of even shorter touches or fulcrums are used. This allows the tension to mobilize and dissolve, leaving the person feeling deeply open and refreshed.

Long or short, one type of touch is not better than another. In working with the muscles, fascia or soft tissue, long continuous strokes bring great relief and elongation of the tissue. In working with the bones, tiny touches or brief, deep contact are akin to striking a beautiful bell and allowing its music to pour forth.

Amanda King
Cambridge, MA
© 2013