In training later this week

I’m taking a long-awaited class in Zero Balancing November 1-4 at the Lauterstein-Conway Massage School. It’s called “Zero Balancing Expanded: Addressing the Skull.” This is the first time it’s being taught in Austin, and five ZB teachers who are training to teach this course worldwide are coming to participate as teaching assistants.

I will be out of the office Thursday afternoon, all day Friday, and all day Saturday this week. I return to the office on Tuesday, November 6, so if you’re thinking of booking an appointment this week, make it Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 10.02.40 PMAlthough the teacher, Judith Sullivan of Charlottesville, VA, is an accomplished craniosacral therapist and teacher of craniosacral therapy through the Upledger Institute, I’ve read her book Zero Balancing Expanded: The Attitude of Awaiting a Fish, and it is not about craniosacral therapy. It is more about the artful places that therapists can touch the skull that Judith has learned from decades of practice. It uses ZB principles to release stuck energy.

We all realize that our skulls/heads/craniums are extraordinary places on our bodies. The head is a huge ground for discovery. This training is so needed.

If you know me at all, you know I love integrating techniques after listening to what the body needs. What I learn in this class will be fun to experiment with and a huge addition to my skull-oriented skills.

I am mailing in my application to become certified in Zero Balancing to get the ball rolling on that process. I am so pleased to include this modality in my repertoire. I do stand-alone ZB sessions, and I integrate it with biodynamics, TMJ Relief, and more. It makes so much sense to get the body’s structure aligned and energy flowing and then build on that.

If you’re not familiar with ZB but are intrigued, it is a blend of traditional Chinese medicine and manual osteopathic therapy. It began being developed in the 1970s.

I don’t pretend to understand how it works, but it’s the most transformative technique I know for the time spent doing it (20-45 minutes).

To understand the range of responses, read my previous post, What People Say After a Zero Balancing Session.

Treating TMJ issues: what various professions do to help

What do various healing professions do to treat TMJ issues?

I’m going to try to answer that, to help you be better health-care consumers and know what to expect in terms of results.

By the way, I am a massage therapist who specializes in TMJ work, including intra-oral (inside the mouth) work, in which I’ve had advanced training from three teachers and experience since 2013. I admit, I am biased!

I want to say up front that most massage therapists do not work inside the mouth, which is where the jaw muscles most likely to be causing TMJ pain are located.

Most massage therapists do have the skills to release tension in the external jaw and neck muscles. Maybe that’s all you need, if your jaw pain is mild and intermittent. You will feel better after such sessions.

But if you are really suffering from long-term jaw pain and dysfunction, you definitely need more than that to get relief. You could greatly benefit from intra-oral work, which takes special training and experience to do effectively.

Do not hesitate to ask whether a therapist you are considering working with is trained in releasing tension in the internal jaw muscles.

Whole-body work can also help, when the TMJ pain is related to your posture (for instance, head forward posture) or to muscle tension due to stress.

Here’s a look at results you might expect from working with practitioners in different professions:

  • reducing stress (massage therapist, acupuncturist, yoga teacher, meditation teacher)
  • reducing tension in your external jaw muscles (massage therapist)
  • releasing trigger points in your external jaw muscles (massage therapist)
  • doing myofascial release on your external jaw muscles (massage therapist)
  • releasing neck tension (massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractor)
  • getting your pelvis aligned and balanced (massage therapist, physical therapist, craniosacral therapist, chiropractor)
  • getting your head aligned on top of your spine (craniosacral therapist, chiropractor)
  • preventing your teeth from cracking due to grinding (dentist or over-the-counter night guard)
  • checking whether grinding in your sleep is related to airway obstruction (sleep specialist)
  • reducing tension in your internal jaw muscles (massage therapist with special training, physical therapist with special training, Rolfer as part of 10-series)
  • restoring alignment in the cranial bones (craniosacral therapist)
  • repairing or replacing a dysfunctional articular disk (oral surgeon)
  • getting whole-body therapy to help with alignment issues and release strain patterns (craniosacral therapist, Rolfer, Zero Balancer, yoga teacher, yoga therapist)

There is one major caveat here: these are generalities based on my own knowledge and experience. Each profession has its specialties. Not all physical therapists work on the jaw or pelvis — in fact, not many do.

Do not hesitate to ask questions and do your own research.

This is a brief and imperfect overview to help you get the results you want, and there are many fine points not mentioned here.


What to do if you have jaw issues? I offer a 30-minute in-person TMJ consultation to gather information and evaluate your issues. I also teach clenchers an alternative to clenching and provide known ways to stop grinding, from those who succeeded.

These habits are major contributors to TMJ issues, and you can change them.

If you’re not in Austin, I can do the above as well as help you learn what to ask about when seeking TMJ relief near you. Just let me know if you need a phone or Zoom consultation.

I offer a combination TMJ Consultation plus TMJ Relief session in person in Austin, Texas, and in Taos, NM, in sumemrs. The consultation serves as an intake, so I have a better idea of what your issues are and how we’ll measure progress. Your consultation is free when combined with your first TMJ Relief session. This is a two-hour session.

To be fair, when you’ve had TMJ issues for a long time, or they are acute, you may need multiple sessions to retrain your system to retain the ease and alignment, along with doing your homework to stop clenching or grinding your teeth.

I offer a package of four TMJ Relief sessions for 10 percent off single sessions, best done a week or two apart. These sessions are 90 minutes and integrate various bodywork modalities — including work in your mouth — so that you feel great when you get off the table. They are best done over 4 to 6 weeks.

If you’re really adventurous, you can schedule a 75-minute Self-Treatment for TMJ Issues session on Zoom where we’ll do an intake and I will teach you how to work on releasing the tension patterns that cause problems, including working in your own mouth. You’ll need clean hands and short nails. It’s really not that hard! Learn more about it here.

Results of Zero Balancing research study show relief of stress, tension, and anxiety

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 1.52.48 PMNotably, there was a 61 percent reduction in stress after a Zero Balancing session on average, compared to 12 percent for people who simply rested during an equivalent period of time.

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 1.53.59 PMPerceptions of wellness, positivity, clarity, and harmony were higher after a ZB session as well.

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 1.55.21 PMI was lucky enough to participate in this study as a recipient!

Here’s a summary of the study’s findings, and here’s a more in-depth look at the study and findings.

Zero Balancing + Biodynamics = Wellness

Many, but by no means all, of my bodywork clients receive a combination of two modalities that I offer, Zero Balancing and Biodynamics. If you read my Happy Clients page, they have often given good feedback about this combination.

If you’re not familiar with these two modalities, both are done with the recipient fully clothed and for the most part lying on you back. I offer a table warmer and blanket if you need warmth.

I usually start these combination sessions with Zero Balancing, but I can end with it if you need high energy for your next activity. Most people enjoy relaxing after a session, and I usually end with Biodynamics.

Continue reading “Zero Balancing + Biodynamics = Wellness”

What people say after a Zero Balancing session

I just finished my fourth class in Zero Balancing, and so I am eligible to apply for certification.

The part I love most about giving my clients a Zero Balancing session comes after the fully-clothed bodywork has concluded, when the receiver slowly moves from supine on my massage table to sidelying to seated to standing, taking a pause after each movement, and finally takes a few steps around my office.

I ask, “What are you noticing?”

People pay exquisite attention to their own sensations, and I collect their descriptions, eagerly anticipating what they will say. Often they tell me with a sense of revelation that they feel:

Taller.

Lighter.

In less pain.

Less stress.

Having better posture.

Having better movement.

Expanded.

More aligned.

Looser in the tight places.

Stretched.

Their depression has gone to neutral.

More solid on the ground.

Less timid.

Not stuck.

More in their body.

More grounded.

Breathing in their back too.

In touch with their heaviness.

Zero Balancing works on both structure and energy, and you can definitely see that in these descriptions. Of course, structure and energy affect each other.

Zero Balancing is the most transformative type of bodywork I’ve received or given for the amount of time spent on the table, which is usually 30-45 minutes. The changes are simply not on the same level as, “Oh, my shoulders don’t feel so tight” or “My low back pain is gone.”

Those things happen, and ZB recipients experience themselves differently, more as whole-body energetic free beings. Many people rarely experience themselves as such. Working with the deepest layer, the bones, frees up so much.

It’s the modality that helps people experience complete embodiment in a positive way, as if they are healthy and well, and the universe is a kind and friendly place to be. No wonder it’s becoming a sought-after experience!

Maybe it’s more spiritual for one person and more grounding for another. It seems to be a little bit different for everyone, and different each time. And that makes sense because our needs and awareness all vary.

Who would not want to live deeply in and from their body when it feels like this?