I first met the founder of Zero Balancing, Fritz Smith, MD, in 1986 at the AMTA National Convention in Washington, D.C. At that time, I was a therapist, instructor, and the editor of the Massage Therapy Journal. I had heard of Dr. Smith as teaching, at the Esalen Institute and elsewhere, this modality called “Zero Balancing”. I had traded with a few of his students but I still wasn’t at all sure what Zero Balancing was and I wondered what its founder would be like.
The name “Fritz Smith” and visions of Esalen evoked for me the association of a big woodsman, stomping-through-the-redwoods-Paul-Bunyan kind of guy. I expected a tall, plaid-shirted, new age mountain man.
We met for breakfast and I was surprised. Here he was – bright, friendly, open, looking more like a young Burgess Meredith than Paul Bunyan! Over lox and bagels we conversed and I was delighted that he was so personable, not one-up, seemingly as interested in me as I was in him. I walked away with a refreshed feeling and very positive impression.
At that time I was in a curious place in my bodywork practice. I had studied and practiced many modalities – Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, Structural Bodywork, and cranio-sacral therapy. Nonetheless, I had come to an impasse, where I felt there was something in my clients that I wasn’t touching at all, yet I had no idea what it was!
Fritz began talking about his realization, over 30 years of studying, medical practice and teaching, that the anatomical layers of the body also corresponded to layers of energy flow. He briefly expounded on this anatomy of energy movement and correlated them with the anatomical layers of skin, muscles/organs, and bones.
I had never heard such an intuitively believable link-up of energy and anatomy. Then he began to explore the characteristics of these layers. When he came to bone, he noted that, since it was the densest, deepest tissue, it conveyed the densest, deepest energy currents – like a 220 electric line carries more voltage than a 110. It was this skeletal armature, the deepest, densest structure and energy flow in the body, he said, that was the focus of Zero Balancing.
As he spoke, I had a sudden revelation and literally felt that a light bulb had lit up about six inches above my head. I realized what had been missing from my work. I had learned to work on the skin and the body’s superficial layers through Swedish massage, and, from Structural Bodywork, on the middle and deep layers of muscles and fascia, even on the meningeal layers through cranial work. But I really hadn’t been touching bone! I had not been conscious of accessing its living structure, this most deep, supportive layer of being. And I had had virtually no sense of its being energetically significant.
At that moment I knew I wanted to find out more about this man, what he knew and what Zero Balancing was. From this start I was filled with the new yet obvious revelation that bodywork, to be truly complete and optimally effective, must address this deepest layer of structure and energy. It seemed this was the missing piece.