Great Bodywork Modality To Know About
Periodically OSM posts articles about significant bodywork modalities, some of which massage therapists may want to add to their basket of professional skills. This article, by Elizabeth Zenger, PhD, LAc, is about Zero Balancing and stems from a workshop which she presented at Oregon School of Massage in October 2012.

Community, Collaboration and Engaging the Whole Person: Core Zero Balancing in Portland

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

“Lean into each other fully and completely,” I said, “Let go and trust.” It was the first day of Core Zero Balancing I, held at the Oregon School of Massage (OSM), in October, 2012. I watched as fourteen students paired up for one of the first exercises, called donkey leans. This exercise is a simple but profound way to experience energy and structure simultaneously, while being fully connected to another person. The result? Smiles and sighs, as people relaxed into the shared experience of leaning in. Trust and mutual support feel good.

The benefits of learning and teaching are amplified by working together, sharing and building community. The recent class held at OSM was a landmark collaboration, a big “donkey lean” for the School and the Zero Balancing (ZB) community in Portland.

Oregon School of Massage is a well-established leader in massage education. Body-mind therapies like ZB, offered as continuing education, support the School’s mission “to provide excellence in education by engaging the whole person – body, mind and spirit – in order to promote health through quality touch.” This recent class was by far the largest Core ZB I class in Portland in many years, thanks in part to connecting with OSM and the massage community.

Beyond massage, Zero Balancing brings together body workers from a wide variety of health care backgrounds. The students represented a cross-section of professions – acupuncture, physical therapy, occupational therapy and massage therapy — and brought with them knowledge and experience from many approaches to body work.

Breakthough Learning and “Ah-ha” Moments

Bringing conscious awareness of energy into a structural approach can be a breakthrough experience that brings remarkable results. Trish Lunsford, PT, wrote after the class:

“I did my first ZB session on a friend today and she had a somatic release when I was working in her sacral area. It was unexpected and she described it as totally involuntary. … I was amazed as this was coming from a deep place.”

For massage therapists who are used to working on the level of soft tissue, shifting the focus to bone can be a breakthrough. Reflecting on the class, Meg Hamlet wrote:

“This past week, doing massage, I could feel in myself and in my clients’ responses the positive effects from the ZB I training. . . aspects of ZB were presenting themselves both in actual use of some fulcrums as well as a heightened awareness of the level of tissue that I was addressing (ie: soft tissue vs. bone). I was feeling enticed by bone and felt a deep connection working at the skeletal level.”

Another hallmark of ZB that is profound for many students is working explicity with expanded states of consciousness. I saw one student’s eyes open wide with surprise when I introduced the concepts. He explained that the material presented gave him words for something he had been sensing in his clients as he worked — an expanded state — but never knew how to explain.

As a teacher, I never stop learning from my students. Watching these breakthrough moments, realizing the power of ZB to transform consciousness through body work, is humbling and rewarding. I am just the conduit for greater knowledge.

Thanks Liz.

You can learn more about Elizabeth Zenger and Zero Balancing at her website:

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