Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2019

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Ta k e 5 a n d t r y t h e A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 81 A NEW EXPERIENCE So, what perspectives are unique to Zero Balancing that may enhance these positive autonomic states of both givers and receivers? Autonomic/energetic impact depends on the modality, but perhaps even more importantly on the quality of touch and the therapeutic relationship of receiver and giver—both of which are explicitly cultivated in the teaching and practice of Zero Balancing. If, indeed, the musculoskeletal system is the medium, the instrument through which we communicate with the nervous system (if structure is the medium through which we affect energy), then it behooves us to understand our instrument. There is a natural focus on muscles in most massage therapy education because of the mistaken assumption that we are primarily manipulating soft tissues. But muscles are only half of the musculoskeletal system. Without the articulating skeletal system, coherent movement would be impossible. Here, we bump up against what may be the biggest fallacy of modern massage and bodywork. We can explain our effects by referring to the myofascia and the nervous system, but that's just an explanation, again, identifying the instrument with the music. Music is an experience, as is the experience of Zero Balancing and other forms of body-mind work. We are in the business of evoking new experiences that may result in learning and may, in turn, result in a change in one's body, mind, and/or spirit. Rolfers have called this process "somatic education," and that is quite accurate. Moshe Feldenkrais reportedly said, "A person can't change without a new experience." Ultimately, we work with the body's tissues (structure) to communicate with the nervous system (energy/information). And, as the nervous system relaxes and sends new positive messages to all the tissues and organs, the energy flows more fully, bringing a new level of health to body, mind, and spirit, and causing a new inner experience—or interoception. THE INNER EXPERIENCE: TOUCH AND INTEROCEPTION A deeper question for massage and bodywork is: What is the inner experience (interoception) of the client? How might changes we can facilitate manifest in a new experience of the self? Free nerve endings in connective tissue (bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and fascia, in general) directly influence the parts of the mammalian brain that have to do with tone, meaning, context, self-recognition, and consciousness. The type of stimulation that affects these nerve endings is slow and steady touch. Here, the interoception that arises from bones, ligaments, and joints becomes even more relevant. When we settle into it, the experience of the skeletal system is fascinating. Everyday language helps us see what experiences at the level of bone can be. For example: • "I just know it in my bones"—deepest level of knowing • "Bone deep"—at one's very core • "Chilled to the bone"—bottom line of anxiety; when one is very cold To learn more about: • Zero Balancing studies, visit www.zbtouch.org • Zero Balancing, visit www.zerobalancing.com • Fritz Smith, MD, read Life in the Bones: A Biography of Dr. Fritz Smith and Zero Balancing (Palm Beach Gardens: Upledger Productions, 2017) In the study, 30-minute Zero Balancing sessions were either preceded or followed by 20 minutes of rest. In this way, the researchers were able to note the difference between the physiological responses of just resting versus receiving Zero Balancing. In 12 of the sessions, where the rest period preceded the Zero Balancing, the measurements of reduced stress were 61 percent for the Zero Balancing session and 12 percent for the resting period. Also, study participants rated themselves at a 51.5 percent reduction of anxiety, stress, and tension in the questionnaires. The 2017 study did find correlations between several Zero Balancing techniques and a release of stress. Thus, both objective and subjective feedback suggest what we might expect—there was significant stress reduction based on electrophysiological data and self-evaluation. 2015 Study Interestingly, in a smaller 2015 study, the focus was on the correlation between the physiological measurements of the receivers and the same simultaneous measurements of the givers. Although the study had too small a sample to draw conclusions from, anecdotally there were fascinating physiological synchronies between the givers and receivers.

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