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.