This morning I re-read Jim McCormick's guest blog post and it strikes at the very heart of why I do Zero Balancing and why I continue to dedicate myself to it. Zero Balancing is not just for aches, pains and physical realignment. It's a tool that can deepen our personal development and our understanding of ourselves - helping us to strip away all that we are not, so we are left with a greater knowledge of who we are.
To let go of all physical tensions that are no longer of use or necessary is to let go of all psychological habits or tensions that are similarly no longer of use or necessary. We literally hold our way of being in the world in our body. In letting go of who we were, we are able to re-define ourselves and adapt to the changes of life. This in itself is useful as it makes us adaptable to whatever may arise in our lives in any given moment. And it goes deeper still, we can gain knowledge of why we behave the way we do, to understand what happened in our lives to make us just so and, ultimately, to root it out so we can be more fully ourselves.
How we are now is the sum total of what we have experienced and how we chose to react to those experiences. As we gain knowledge of those reactions and what lies at their core, we find that they were actually choices. Let me give an example.
I was at a Zero Balancing workshop earlier this month and, when I was on the receiving end of some ZB - and remarkable as it may sound - I found myself in the womb. I was conscious that this womb I was in had been occupied before. So I made a choice to fit into the family structure. Whilst this choice of fitting into the family structure was not unreasonable, it limited me nonetheless. I couldn't just be who I am. I had to restrict myself somehow to survive in the dynamics of the family home. With this insight and knowledge - one I was totally unaware of having ever made until that workshop - I was able to forgive myself for making the choice to fit in. Now that I am no longer in the same family home, and no longer dependent on fitting into the family dynamics for survival, it is no longer necessary for me to have that decision at the core of my sense of self.
The result of this insight and subsequent resolution is that I am less concerned about fitting in, in general terms. Fitting into society, fitting into other people's projections of who I am, fitting into any sort of social dynamic. I therefore am able to re-define how I relate to the world around me. And to do so for the first time since I made that initial decision all those years ago.
When we realise that our inner life is dictated by decisions made in the past - however fleeting they may have been - and how we lost some part of ourselves in the process, we begin to realise the potential for change. And that inner change creates an external change in how we relate to the world. Or, if you will, how the world relates to us.
So I am now simultaneously not who I was and more who I have always been. And it's this uncovering of who we really are that is the great work of a lifetime. This is the same self-actualisation that Jim McCormick mentioned in his post. To get there, we need to realise who we are and who we are not. What we are, and what we are not.
It's these what-we-are-nots that block us on our path to self-actualisation.
We are not our traumas. We are not our upbringing. We are not our conditioning. We are not our tensions. We are not our pain; our emotions. We are not our ideas, thoughts or beliefs.
They consume our energy and underpin much of our behaviour. It's through gaining self-knowledge that we can begin to be liberated from their erroneous ways.
And what we are is for us to discover.
Guest blog post by Jim McCormick, Zero Balancing Faculty.
Part of my passion has been to let more people know of the possibilities of Zero Balancing as a personal growth and transformational tool.
One term for this process is self-actualisation. Self-actualisation is a term originally introduced by Kurt Goldstein in the 1930s and 40s, and followed up later by many others, particularly in humanistic psychology by Abraham Maslow. In Goldstein’s view self-actualisation is the “tendency to actualise one’s self as fully as possible, and is the basic human drive.”
Maslow said there are a hierarchy of needs in life and that self-actualisation represents the growth of an individual toward fulfilling the highest needs in that hierarchy: “creative self-growth, finding meaning in life and being.” His belief was that “finding your core-nature that is unique to you is one of the main goals of life.”
The fruits of self-actualisation include knowing and understanding one’s self, being able to be in the moment, a feeling of joy and peace and a sense of well-being that doesn’t depend on what happens in the outer world. A self-actualised person is often involved in the quest for spiritual enlightenment, the pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to give to and/or positively transform society are other examples of goals of self-actualisation.
To me, self-actualisation is the best route to a successful, satisfying, and rich life. The deep meaning in life comes from being able to listen your core self, “letting the spirits lead the parade” where you feel you are in harmony with both your true inner nature and with the surrounding world.
There are many paths to self-actualisation including meditation, psychotherapy, self-reflection and prayer to name a few. If people have heard of Zero Balancing (ZB) at all they tend to think of it as beneficial for relaxation and certain physical complaints. This would put ZB in the category of massage, chiropractic or physical therapy. What is much less widely known to the general public is that Zero Balancing is one of those tools which is also beneficial for self-actualisation.
Zero Balancing has several advantages over other means of getting to self-actualisation:
All of this is to say that Zero Balancing is a wonderful therapy that deserves to be more known and more used. It feels wonderful; it helps a myriad of problems; and it frees and unifies the body/mind and spirit in a way that permits and encourages self-actualisation.
Jim McCormick practices Zero Balancing and Five Element Acupuncture at Cambridge Health Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
I have a huge respect for Dr Gabor Mate. I saw several of his quotes in memes on the internet, and I liked what I read. In just those small sentences alone, he came across as a man with integrity, with a true and deep understanding of the experience of others. Or perhaps I should say the suffering of others.
In due course, I read one of his books - When the Body Says No - which covers a topic I will no doubt write about in the near future. It was a book where I found myself nodding and agreeing with much of what he wrote.
Fast forward to the present moment and I've just finished watching a Tim Ferris interview with the man himself. In this interview, he says something about trauma that I would like to share with you. It has direct relevance to bodywork and why Zero Balancing is so powerful.
"People often think that trauma is what happens to you. So trauma is a divorce when you were small and your parents fighting. Trauma is your mother's depression. Trauma is your father's alcoholism...
Those aren't the traumas. Those are traumatic. But the trauma is not what happens to you. The trauma is what happens inside you.
And as a result of these traumatic events is that what happens inside you is that you get disconnected from your emotions and you get disconnected from your body. And you have difficulty being in the present moment. You develop a negative view of your world and a negative view of yourself, and a defensive view of other people.
And these perspectives keeping showing up in your life in the present... So the issue is not just to recognise what happened ten, fifteen, thirty, however many years ago, but to actually recognise their manifestations in the present moment and to transcend them.
And how do you do that?
By reconnecting with yourself - by restoring the connection with your body, primarily - and with the emotions that you lost.
Once you do, once you've found these things again, then you have what we call recovery. Because what does it mean to recover something? It means to find it again. So what is it that people find when they recover? They find themselves. And the loss of self is the essence of trauma.
So the real purpose of addiction treatment, mental health treatment - any kind of healing - is reconnection."
This is more-or-less exactly how Zero Balancing can help with trauma. During a Zero Balancing session the client is reminded of their physical body in its present state - especially where all their tensions are. There, in the present moment, we assist in reconnecting you with your physical body. According to Dr Mate's quote above, this alone can help people heal their traumas and reclaim their authenticity. And there are more ways that we consciously work in Zero Balancing that amplify this process and multiplies its effects - more on this in future blog posts.
I'm reminded of one of my teachers, who, when asked 'What is Zero Balancing?', responds quite simply, "It's touching pain with kindness."
May your hurts be soothed by kindness.