And talking of relaxing, if anyone feels like a spot of massage with a difference, try Zero Balancing. In December's issue of Cornwall Today....
Anna Colmer, 48, moved to Cornwall in 2003 to take up a post as acupuncturist at the Lister Natural Health Centre in Falmouth, but when they heard she was a Certified Zero Balancer, they were keen for her to practise that as well.
There are few Certified Zero Balancers in Britain, but Anna is passionate about her work and loves the fact that unexpected things happen. “I like being surprised!” she says. “The more unexpected, the more enjoyable it is. I like to believe in things being magical, and this work has a magical quality to it. I think there’s a real hunger for that in a lot of people, whether they admit it or not.”
Zero Balancing uses touch to balance body energy with body structure. The work is gentle to receive but potentially powerful in effect, capable of helping a wide range of people at many different levels. Finger pressure and held stretches encourage the release of tension in the body and as a result, emotional and physical problems may be resolved and symptoms relieved. Zero balancing aims to balance a person on all levels – mind, body and soul – and coax them back to optimum health.
Zero balancing was developed in 1975 by a Californian, Dr Fritz Smith, who was an osteopath, physician and acupuncturist. “Zero balancing grew out of him trying to bring together the Western concept of wellness with the concepts of energy and healing used routinely in the East,” says Anna. “He combined osteopathy with acupuncture, where you work purely with body energy. The name arose from a recipient’s description of the session she had just received, meaning that she felt her body had been set back as nature intended.”
Anna first heard about the practice when she trained at the College of Traditional Acupuncture in Leamington Spa. “The first 3 people to train in this country all trained at Leamington and they promoted it,” she says. “A person can only become a Certified Zero Balancer if they have another therapeutic qualification. 3 years after I qualified as an acupuncturist I had a buzz to learn something new. A friend had just done her first workshop and was looking for bodies to practise on so that was my first session and I signed up for a workshop.”
Anna attended various workshops and followed a programme of learning overseen by a mentor. “Unlike most training, zero balancing training is very flexible so you can work at your own pace,” she says, and explains what a Certified Zero Balancer entails. “This is a recognition by the Zero Balancing Association that my work is of a high enough standard to be accepted by that community.
“People come to me for varied reasons,” she says. “Many come for overall wellbeing and to maintain themselves, but zero balancing can help reduce stress and tension, migraine, jetlag, relieve body pain, whiplash, improve flexibility and posture problems, help with emotional problems, difficult life transitions and work overload. We work with the whole person and see what unfolds.”
For those who don’t want to undress, or talk about their problems, zero balancing is ideal. A short health history is taken before a session, which is a hands-on bodywork that is done with the client fully clothed and lying on their back.
“Zero balancing promotes a deep sense of relaxation and it is common for people to feel revitalised and rested afterwards,” Anna says. “People may move into a new state of awareness from which old patterns and habits in the body and mind may be more readily released. This can free things up mentally so that people can find they have greater clarity of thought or make decisions more easily.”
It is up to the individual to decide how many sessions to have, but 3 or 4 are recommended as it has a cumulative benefit. Some people enjoy it regularly whereas others find it helpful when they need a support or pick-me-up.”
Sessions cost £35 and last for about 45 minutes, and Anna has her own insurance through the British Acupuncture Council. She has been practising zero balancing for ten years and is a qualified teacher of zero balancing, having done a two year teacher training programme.
“Zero balancing has transformed my life experience in so many ways and being able to offer that potential to other people feels very rich,” Anna says. “It’s good not to have to categorise people; you simply work with them as they are. It’s very freeing. We’re not imposing change, we’re simply creating the potential for it.” In this way, control is given to the client. “They decide, albeit on a subconscious level, what is going to change and how much.”
For Anna, this adds to the interest, “You never know how a session is going to go, so it’s an exploration for client and practitioner. Some people experience big changes almost immediately whereas others say they’re not sure if they feel different but may do so later. We may have initiated something, like ripples spread out over a long time.”
Anna would like to see a greater awareness of zero balancing. “I’d like to see people routinely referred by the Health Service after accidents or injuries, or post traumatic stress disorder. Injuries, shock, abuse and unresolved emotional issues can all create blocks to the free flow of energy through the body,” Anna says. “After 9/11, one of my colleagues organised a team of local zero balancers to go to Ground Zero and give sessions to the emergency services personnel working there, to help deal with the stress and trauma of what they were having to deal with.” She also has colleagues who have worked with Victims of Torture, political refugees, and sexually abused women with tremendous results. “After zero balancing, people are able to feel healed and move on with their lives,” she says. “There is also great potential to take it into the prison environment.”
Anna would also like to take zero balancing into the workplace. “There are a lot of people who might benefit but wouldn’t take themselves to a clinic. I would like to offer samples and tasters of techniques as a way of reaching more people.” Anna has also worked with pregnant women, both before and after birth, with excellent results, and is interested in teaching the skills and principles which inform Zero Balancing to non-bodyworkers.
Anna is a firm convert to Cornwall and has had a warm welcome. “People are very tolerant of other people’s differences here,” she says. “It’s very much live and let live. You don’t have to fit in a particular way, there’s quite an acceptance.” She looks out at the pouring rain and smiles. “I like the changeability of the weather and there are so many varieties of landscape within a short distance. The north coast isn’t far away but there is such a contrast to the coast here. There’s something quite unique about Cornwall.”
For further information and workshops, contact Anna Colmer on 01326 210931 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Lister Natural Health Practice
30-31 Church Street, Falmouth TR11 3EQ 01326 210202
Cornwall Today, December 2008