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On (Zero) Balancing, whatever that is
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Once a month or so, I do something called Zero Balancing — don’t even ask me what it is, I don’t really know, which feels vaguely irresponsible, but alas, I’ve done every other kind of bodywork a person can imagine and this seemed like such a gentle, benign little friend to add to the mix, so there we are!
It all came about because, in a time of great need a few months ago, I found a British acupuncturist (truly chosen for her vibe online alone?) who is just the most delightful woman: early sixties, down-to-earth in her scrubs and mask and trainers and blunt bangs, pragmatic and yet also sort of weirdly un-British in her allegiance to so many “California” (her word) things: Zero Balancing and acupuncture and Chinese medicine, to name three. She’s also the sort of person you end up spilling every one of your beans to, like maybe she’s actually my British therapist? She knows more about my kid and my husband and my energy levels and my emotional states and my relationship to the weather than any bodyworker I’ve ever seen and not because I’m just chatty but because she is so damn maternal and it always, somehow, seems medically relevant. I will miss her terribly when we leave.
Anyway, back to where I started: I barely even know what Zero Balancing is but it, predictably, has something to do with finding the body’s ever-shifting point of balance. I lie on the table fully clothed and after a few quick needles (again, for God knows what, weather, wind, energy pathways, she talks in a funny way), Rosanna goes to work. But the work is profoundly gentle: a nudge here, some pressure here. It’s closest, in my experience, to cranial-sacral work, but all over the body: not a ton of movement often yielding sort of enormous results. A freeing of sorts. I walk out feeling like, oh, there’s my right leg!
It reminds me, every time I’m on the table, of something my Uncle Dan used to refer to as his religion or his highest belief system: “I believe in homeostasis,” he’d say. (Although in writing this down now I have a feeling he called it something else, something much more poetic.) But the idea was not only that the body does actually have an internal sense of balance, but that it could absolutely be the anchor around which we understood our lives (rather than, say, religion or capitalism or love or success). It might, in times of crisis and pain, be challenging to return to it or find it, but it is there to be accessed, if we listen and slow down and gently coax ourselves — or allow ourselves to be coaxed — back there.
Obviously this is the kind of work that is ripe with metaphors, especially in an era where “balance” seems like the unattainable thing we all desperately want and don’t know how to get.
But where my mind wandered while getting the work done was to the wonderful moment-to-moment nature of this process (both Zero Balance and life): about how little we actually know or can grab onto, about how much in our lives we need to just sense as things unfold, as life occurs. How “balance” isn’t, of course, a fixed place, in our bodies or our lives, but one that is dynamic and changing and endlessly discoverable. I return to Rosanna once a month and every time it’s slightly different: she has to touch my spine, my head, my feet, take my pulse, and sense: what does she need today? What does the body want? Where has she veered off to? How could the body feel more connected?
When I got off the table and wandered to the bus and then came home to write to you, I thought about another kind of balance, that stupid life-work one we talk about endlessly and about how, when we return to LA, the chances of me going for bodywork at 1pm and then having an afternoon unfold before me for more writing will surely be out of the question — that’s not the balance of my life there. This, of course, annoyed me. (See previous instalment!)
But if I’m trying to be honest about the moment-to-moment realities of our days, what do I really know of our life when we return? What is the point of anticipating it? Of getting worried and worked up and complain prematurely that part of my day has been lopped off rather than simply reconfigured? Maybe I will be ready for a new sense of order and balance, one I cannot possibly understand until we are there, trying to find our feet, our spines, our breath, nudging ourselves into a new, yet undiscovered sense of equilibrium?
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