Photo by Erin Larson on Unsplash
This may seem a little off topic to some but I'd like to take some time to let you know about what's been keeping me busy in recent times.
The next morning I started doing my research. Catching up on 15+ years of development in the tech world was not easy - and I'm still researching to this day - but one thing was abundantly clear almost immediately. I had been totally unaware of my boundaries in the electronic world.
I learnt about my 'digital footprint' and all the means that the big tech companies use at their disposal to find out as much about you as they can. Subjects such as browser fingerprinting and metadata became recurring themes, and the fact that our mobile phones are used to gather data about us.
The world's biggest internet companies use our over-reliance on their free products to their own advantage. Data is sold, analysed and in some cases this is used to manipulate the political future of whole countries. In other cases, poor security means that personal data is leaked and various online accounts around the world are hacked. I was loosely aware of all of this, yet I wasn't aware of the technologies these companies implemented to achieve this nor the scale on which it happens.
I felt uncomfortable. I had been totally unaware that my boundaries had been breached. It's one thing using my information in this way, it's another thing to do it without my explicit consent. So I was spurred into action to remedy my engagement with the online world. Naturally, part of that includes this very website.
I am duty bound by law to protect my clients' files and these will soon be moved to a more secure cloud service (farewell Dropbox). The same data protection law also includes all correspondence which has for several years been managed by Google (sayonara!). Going forward, I will instead use an encrypted email service for all client emails and appointment records.
And further still, I will strip Google Analytics from this website and all embedded Facebook like and share buttons - all of which are used to track you around the internet whether you have a Google/Facebook account or not.
The principles of Zero Balancing include respecting a client's boundaries and holding them in the highest personal regard. I cannot in good conscience allow Google to scan the emails that are sent to me for content and log who emails me, when and where from. I cannot turn a blind eye to my client's files being on an insecure cloud service which can, in theory, be accessed by others. Neither can I allow people who visit my website in good faith be tracked by Google and Facebook.
I can't escape the reality of the world we live in. Nonetheless I am responsible for what I can control.
P.S. For anyone curious about where to start, I would suggest downloading Jumbo on your phone (you can press 'skip' on all the paid-for features) and doing an assessment of your online accounts. If you want to take it further still, check out the In Cognito course on Techlore's youtube channel. I'm not affiliated with either Jumbo or Techlore, other than that I am indebted to them for helping me out on this learning journey.
I've had the pleasure of seeing a certain client most weeks throughout this second lockdown for 'virtual ZBs' over Zoom. I share this story with their permission.
During a recent session, the client mentioned that one of his close friends was in hospital after a serious heart attack. He was devastated. The hospital staff performed open heart surgery on his friend multiple times, blood oxygen levels were low and there were signs that the friend's organs were really struggling. The family had been called to come to the hospital to bid farewell. This session was one where a deep grief loomed large.
During the framing, the client verbally expressed, and at the same time dismissed, the notion that we could offer the session for his friend, and then went onto describing what he himself needed. He was feeling powerless because he was unable to visit due to the pandemic, let alone help his friend's struggling wife and family. He was visibly shaken and upset. I offered that we tend to all those things: offer the session for his friend, address his powerlessness and balance his emotional state.
And so began my first ever virtual ZB by proxy. The client received the session on behalf of his friend who lay in hospital - someone I had never met, yet I knew because of my client's close relationship with him that it would work. And, now that I think about it, at the same time it would naturally address the client's feelings of powerlessness and dread. He now had utility and agency in the otherwise helpless situation he found himself in.
I invited the client to first become grounded in his body, by focusing on his breath and then on the weight of his body on the couch. When there was a certain level of quietude, I invited the client to bring into his mind's eye his good friend. Happy, vibrant memories were encouraged. Then, verbally stating that this session was for his friend, I went about doing a virtual ZB.
Working on someone who has recently had such major physical traumas and is in such a state of physical deterioration had a very different feel to it. I could sense it in my hands as we worked - the heart bleeds, the trauma to the chest, the fear of death.
At the end of the session, I recommended the client disconnect from his friend and drop all imagery from his mind's eye. When he came to and sat up, his countenance was very different. He glowed, smiled, and expressed his gratitude for the session. He left feeling empowered to take action and try some remote healing work on his friend.
The following week I learnt that the friend was doing better, with a long road to recovery ahead. The sedatives for the induced coma had been stopped some five days beforehand and there was a slow return to the waking world. To cut this a little short, suffice to say we did another session by proxy, this time focusing on the liver and the nervous system. And more specifically, on purification (liver) and light (central nervous system).
I felt inspired to share this account with the ZB community for two reasons... Well, maybe just one, really. I wanted to share that it's become increasingly clear to me how often clients limit themselves. This client did so by dismissing the idea what we could gift the session to his friend. The way I see it, a huge part of the role of the therapist is to empower the client. Had I done a session like this before? No. Did that stop me from offering it? No. And that's where the (sort of) second reason comes in. How often do we limit ourselves as practitioners?
My inspiration in this regard comes from Fritz in 'Alchemy of Touch'. In the book, Fritz dowses the age of a trauma, facilitates ancestral healing, works directly with the Water Official. He even expresses disappointment at not getting to the root of a client's Crohn's disease. At no point does he dismiss a client's frame, no matter how audacious or seemingly out of reach it may be. And neither does he limit himself. His is an example for us to follow.
Doing a ZB by proxy in this way has changed my perspective not so much of what is possible - although it did that a little - but more of myself. If I am to empower my clients, what use is it if I disempower myself? If a client wants to go somewhere in a session that is not familiar territory to me, who is to say that it's not possible? That's not going to be me. I'll continue to get out of my own way, so the client can get what they need.
Before tackling this question, I'd like to first make it clear that every Zero Balancing session is different. Whilst what the therapist may do during the session may be more or less the same, the client's experiences and the outcomes are rarely - if ever - the same.
This is mostly because the client is different every time. I'm pretty sure that you the reader are aware that your feelings and mood changes from day to day and moment to moment. It is in this sense that the client is different. And, as a a result, how the client feels after each Zero Balancing session will differ depending on what's going on for them in their lives at the time they receive their session. The same is also true for the therapist. And it's the meeting of these two individuals that determines the client's experience and outcome of the session.
There are, however, some general themes.
So what does Zero Balancing (ZB) feel like?
Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash
It almost goes without saying that the coronavirus lockdown has a far reaching impact across many levels of society. As a therapist, I was able to start seeing clients again in late July, meaning I had a four month break since lockdown was first introduced. What I have seen in my clients since starting up again is not something I could have predicted. The impacts vary from client to client, however, one thing is for sure: not one of them was left unscathed.
Looking solely at how lockdown has impacted individuals on emotional and mental wellbeing, there are three general themes that I have noticed in my clients. Sometimes a client will present with just one of these being prominent, others have had a mixture.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash
I am delighted to inform you that I will re-open my Zero Balancing practice from Wednesday 5th August.
There have been lots of changes, not least because of the pandemic, so there's plenty to tell you about. I've done my best to keep this email as informative as possible and as short as possible. So without further ado, here goes:
1. New location
After two year's of working at Santosa it was time for a change. I made the decision earlier this year to move my practice and I can now confirm that I have secured a new location at 10a Rutland Square, right in the heart of Edinburgh's West End. This is where I will be operating from from Wednesday 5th August.
I share the space with Pointe Ahead Pilates, Reid Reiki and The Yoga Transformative - although I now have my very own room :) The room may be a little bare in the first few months, so please be patient while I try to make the room more comfortable for us all.
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash
I embarked on this project to explore the role of bodywork as a potential adjunct to existing methods used to integrate psychedelic experiences. The project involved working with volunteers who are using psychedelics for therapeutic reasons, to see how bodywork - and in my case I use a bodywork modality called Zero Balancing - could help them integrate their experiences. The three volunteers that came forward each wrote about their experiences and these can be read here (one, two and three).
I've been reflecting on this topic over the past few months, in part because I knew I wanted to continue it, or at the very least wrap it up with a summary. Quite where this blog post will sit in the scheme of this project remains to be seen. Regardless, it's a good opportunity to take stock.
Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash
For those of you who know me and have worked with me for some time, you will appreciate that I really miss connecting with my clients and working with my hands. You have all, without exception, been such a pleasure to work with.
To keep my love of this work alive and to nourish my creative side, I have been exploring something I call 'virtual Zero Balancing'.
What is virtual Zero Balancing?
Zero Balancing is a touch-based therapy and because I can't work with my hands during the lockdown, I am available to do this work via Zoom instead. Hence the name, virtual Zero Balancing!
The sessions will be verbal, rather than touch-based, and will have a similar structure to a regular ZB session (i.e. consultation, verbally guided ZB and time afterward to integrate).
How does this work?
In Zero Balancing we work with both the body's physical structure as well as its vitality, or energy. Whilst I can't work through touch during this time of social distancing, it's possible to work with the flow of vitality from a distance and through verbal guidance, enabling the client to reconnect with their body and help them work with whatever ails them physically, emotionally and/or spiritually. It is calming, balancing and can help you to feel more present and at home in yourself.
Sounds great! What do I need?
You'll need the following:
How much does it cost?
Virtual Zero Balancing sessions are available on a donation basis. Give whatever you want! If you're uncomfortable with that, then let me know. Funds can be transferred after the session via BACS.
How long is a virtual Zero Balancing session?
A session should take between 30 and 60 minutes.
If you have any further questions or would like to arrange a session, get in touch by email to email@example.com.
This is the last in a series of guest blog posts about psychedelic integration. See here for an introduction to this project, here for the first case study and here for the second case study.
It's hard to know where to start in summarising my experience of psychedelic-assisted therapy and Zero Balancing as, in James' words, 'the healing potential of psychedelics is so incredibly broad'. The reality of the healing experience, for me, was also incredibly broad. So much to consider!
I was both honoured and excited to have James invite me as a volunteer to help him with his exploration into how Zero Balancing might benefit the integration of psychedelic, or any plant, entheogenic or psychotropic healing experience. It felt, to me, like together we were doing something for the greater good.
What follows is a guest blog post from psychedelic integration volunteer #2. See here for an introduction to this project, and here for the first case study. A third case study will be published in the coming week.
I'd recently taken psychedelic drugs (psilocybin mushrooms) as a therapeutic aid and was looking for a way to integrate the experience into my everyday life. This opportunity to work with James was recommended by a friend.
Prior to this, for the last 20 years, I've been a very traditional businessman working in sectors where "feelings" are consciously suppressed. Much of the terminology of Zero Balancing was meaningless to me, for instance "bodywork" is the panelling on my car. So please forgive any naivety in the language of this report, I hope it's readable to all.
My interest in all of this is my need for self-development. I want to improve my life, change harmful behaviours and patterns that I see playing out repeatedly in my relationships, and ultimately to move towards self-realisation.
To celebrate the new decade, I'd like to offer everyone (existing clients included) three Zero Balancing sessions for the price of two!
Get in touch before 31st January to book the first session and state your intention to take advantage of this offer by quoting 'JAN2020'. Pay Â£90 upfront and you'll get three sessions for the price of two :)
The only condition is that you have all three sessions before 31st March.
Book by calling 0131 210 0131 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you happiness, health and abundance for 2020 and beyond,