When the tissues and structures of the body are engaged and held in stillness… In that stillness there is opportunity for change and enhanced self-awareness.
I attended Phil Greenfield’s http://www.corealignment.co.uk/ talk on Zero Balancing this week. It seemed very timely following my experience with Authentic Movement therapy. One of the descriptions he used, regarding Zero Balancing, was – ‘psychotherapy without words’. Which was part of my excitement in my Authentic Movement work.
One of the strengths in Gestalt is the importance of the body, the embodied experience and the option to use touch and body work within the therapy. Sadly the very ‘hands on’ therapy that I experienced in my therapy and training in the early 90s, is not as common now as the more dialogic work.
I am concerned that as soon as we give something words, as soon as we define the experience, that we gain something and lose something. Often in Gestalt we invite clients to stay with the sensation, the feeling and the knowing, and to stay away from explaining and analyzing, at least for a while, in order that the fullness of the experience is had.
A phrase Phil used regarding the body was ‘letting go of what no longer serves’, this is, of course, what I help my psychotherapy clients with every day. We build up psychological and physical patterns to help us with difficult issues in our lives, but once these issue pass, we retain the old patterns. As we are aware, there is not much distinction between physical and psychological patterns, psychological patterns are invariably held in the body, and most bodywork released tensions involve some change of mood or mind as well.
As Phil pointed out, his clients come with sore bodies yet only about 10% of these people have had accidents, the others have built up years of tensions and patterns. The basis of these patterns are, certainly from my viewpoint, emotional and psychological.
So what did Zero Balancing seem to say about letting go of these patterns? “If you can balance something to neutral without judgement or comparison by holding it in its own space, it will naturally move to its highest possible benefit”. The holding something without judgment sounds familiar to me as a therapist, that if it is simply allowed, it will change, also may be something that Gestalt therapists will recognize as the paradoxical theory of change. The theory seems to share the belief that we are self regulating organisms who will be well as long as we don’t get in our own way.
Phil spoke of the simplicity of Zero Balancing. Do we make psychotherapy more complicated than it needs to be sometimes? Both therapist and client should beware of rushing to know, to speak, to understand. Taking time to pause and experience is key to Gestalt and we lose much by rushing from embodied experience into our heads.
Just as the the Zero Balancer may effect psychotherapy without words, I hope that sometimes the psychotherapist supports physical healing without touch!