Sailors understand that in order to sail a boat smoothly, the sail must line up with the wind and water currents. In order for the boat to go in the desired direction, the structure of the boat must be in correct relationship with the energy of the wind and the water. The same principles apply to the human body. For ongoing health and ‘smooth sailing’ the structure of our bodies need to be well aligned with the energies flowing through us. Zero Balancing (ZB) is a form of body-energy therapy that directly addresses this relationship.
ZB was developed in the 1970s by Fritz Smith, an Osteopath, MD and Acupuncturist. During his continued exploration of healing and wellbeing, he studied Rolfing®, Yoga, meditation and eastern philosophies. His resulting work is an integration of energy and structure, a bridge of old and new healing wisdom. ZB’s firm roots in Western anatomy, fused with an Eastern understanding of energy, results in a simple protocol that allows the practitioner to touch both systems simultaneously.
The structural body is what you can see and touch – the skeleton, muscle tissue and internal organs. The energy body is the seen and unseen movement, which includes movement of muscles, fluids, cellular and molecular vibrations, and movement of the life force itself (referred to in different cultures as Qi or Chee, Prana etc.).
It is not uncommon for structure-energy imbalances to become ‘stuck’ in the body. Picture for example a child in a high-chair reaching for their parent. The parent is attending to an older sibling and doesn’t notice. The child falls, breaking her collarbone. The bone heals quickly enough, but for years there is still pain and discomfort in her shoulder. Additionally, the child begins to show signs of difficulty in forming close relationships. The vibration or energy of ‘rejection’ from the busy parent has become lodged at the site of the physical trauma. As the child grows, energy and movement continue to stick at this point in the body, over time causing a series of related health issues. To bring health and balance back to collarbone, the ZB practitioner creates a still point, anchor or ‘fulcrum’ around which the body can re-organize.
When structure and energy are well balanced, dysfunctional habits – such as old emotional patterns and held energy from past traumas – are able to release. You’re able to function with more ease and efficiency, cope with stress better, and enjoy increased vitality. People often report an increased sense of fluidity, integration and well-being after a ZB session.
People in any number of situations can benefit from Zero Balancing: someone with a collarbone injury, knee problem or chronic headaches, someone having stress-related symptoms, someone who is in good health and wants to maintain it, or even someone on a journey of self-discovery.
The ZB Session begins by talking with your practitioner. He or she will ask you questions about your overall health, previous injuries, any hospitalizations, and your emotional state. ZB is a non-diagnostic, holistic practice, and therefore any symptoms are considered in the context of the whole. You and the practitioner will then find a positive way to state how you would like to feel. For instance, “I would like to have a freely moving, and pain free shoulder.”
After framing the session in this way, the practitioner gently assesses joint movement and energy flow, with you in a seated position. From there you relax on your back on a massage table, remaining fully clothed. The practitioner evaluates and then invites the body to balance the relationship between energy and structure through carefully placed ‘fulcrums’ involving gentle lifting, stretching, pressing, or rotating parts of the body. This is done at ‘interface’, which refers to the quality of touch. While at interface, the practitioner is aware of an energetic boundary between themselves and the receiver. This honors the personal boundaries of the client, providing a safe container for deep transformation.
Throughout the Zero Balancing session, attention is given to the skeleton in particular, the structure which maintains our posture and our spatial relationship with the world. The densest living structure of the body, our bones contain the strongest energy currents. Often, imbalances at bone level relate to core issues. English has common sayings such as “bad to the bone” and “bone deep” pointing to the relationship with bone and our core or fundamental selves.
At the closing of the session, a clear energetic disconnect is made, so that the client gets up off the table feeling well grounded and self-contained. Often the full effects of the session are not realised until the next day, as the structure and energy continue to adjust and come into new relationship.
With your structure and energy aligned, stresses and difficulties will still arise in your life. But like the well captained boat, you can ride out the big waves with greater ease, and stay your course without getting capsized.