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Do Be Do Be Do - Our Human Song

Essay #1


Aiming to be a cohesive exploration of interface touch, a key principle and hallmark of

Zero Balancing - this essay clusters my own thoughts, experiences and reflections

alongside the inspiration of others to weft and weave seemingly contrasting threads into

a contextualised fabric and tangible whole.

There is a simplicity and intrinsic clarity to interface touch that I find quite unremarkable,

deeply profound and all too rare. I say unremarkable as a way to illustrate how

remarkably absent of drama and doing ZB touch inherently is. Being at interface is

about being with things as they actually are, without contrivance or fabrication. So there

is this tendency to feel met, as Interface touch is a practice of discernment and

continues to reveal relationships, of how they are and where they are.

I explore as key themes the notions of Being and Doing, our tendency to favour one

over the other which can be perceived as a function of grasping. When we grasp we

cause suffering, reinforcing rigid habitualised behaviours and mindsets. There is a

discipline of repetition when applied to learning new tasks, however could we take our

first steps as a child if we didn't have this innate ability to try and try again. When we’ve

grasped it we must then let go (or let be) just as the Buddhist parable of the raft



‘My dear friends, the Dharma I offer you is only a raft to help you get to the other

shore’ (1) Buddha.

Having reached the other shore, to then lift and carry the weight of the raft on our backs

and proceed to walk is surely an unnecessary burden. How are our attachments to the

rafts in our lives functioning today and what is the cost of not noticing? Introducing the

notion of stuckness characterised by a reductive, narrow margin of experience and

possibility, I explore it’s dangers and antidotes. Those being stillness, movement and

flow some of the foundational, innate elements within Zero Balancing.

I will introduce and examine interface as a skillful relationship, a practice of sanity, of

solitude and safety. Interface is also a paradoxically shared yet solitary experience, a

radical act, a practice of acceptance, patience, authenticity and clarity. What is clear to

me is that being at interface in its right relational core, is also a practice of ethics. A

practice of not taking the not given which can then give rise to the generosity,

abundance and aliveness of the present moment.

I have found that Zero Balancing whilst being distinct, also has many parallels, shared

principles and truths with other practices. Therefore I would like to acknowledge these

shared truths and Celebrate them. Most notably my interest in ‘mindfulness’ which has

its origin in the Buddhadharma whilst flourishing in secular non religious ways. Many of

the mindfulness sources I include were authored by Jon Kabbat Zinn who pioneered the

‘MBSR’ mindfulness based stress reduction system, helping people to cope with stress,

pain and illness. This also seems to be an outcome of Zero Balancing practice in that

life becomes more bearable. I for one have felt much more nourished at a deeper level

through both giving and receiving ZB and have subsequently been able to be with

stress, pain, anxiety and illness in healthier more responsive ways. That most basic of

Buddhist teachings, the truth of suffering and the path that leads to suffering’s

cessation, I touch on as a source of guidance and inspiration. Most notably the four


noble truths and the eightfold path, foundational aspects to the path of insight,

awakening and freedom from suffering.

Identifying the difference between solitude and isolation I touch on why this is important,

especially within the present day context of pandemics, mental & physical health crisis

and the deeper spiritual truths of interbeing and causality.

Touch and the felt sense are our primary tools and it is through the art of mindful touch,

of anchoring into and being present in moment to moment awareness/experience

without agenda, that skilful relationship arises. As Jon Kabbat Zinn eloquently declares:

‘We discover who we are by coming into felt relationship with the world around

us. The more deeply we come into felt relationship with the world - the more

deeply we discover who we are, not as a fixed known entity but as a responsive

presence illuminated by the world’ (2)

Main Body

On Doing I was thrilled to hear Zero Balancing founder Fritz Smith talking about the life

principles of Being and Doing, during his Zoom ZBUK call in July 2020. Especially as I

had already begun writing and reflecting on this subject myself, a wonderful

synchronicity and lots of food for thought.

‘We’re all doers caught up in and programmed to do, which always involves the

future and the world of duality.’ Fritz Smith (3)


Zero Balancing and the practice of interface touch finds it’s anchor in the me - the you

and the place we meet Fritz refers to as duality but with a recognition of the ever more

subtle shifts and refinements of attention/awareness, that can liberate amplified states

of consciousness and experience ultimately of the non dual. A non dual dissolution of

the separateness of subject/object perceiver/perceived relationality and thus becoming

absorbed into a blissful union. This may sound lofty and conceptual but ZB is actually

very practical and grounded too. In ZB we aim to work without an agenda, holding a

space where the receiver is free to have their own experience without judgement or

over influencing from the practitioner.

Doing comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There's the kind of doing that involves

doing the dishes, completing a task, driving the car or cooking a meal. There's a lot right

with being in doing however if the doing has become our modus operandi, that is a

different matter entirely. There's a virtue associated with being a do’er, of getting things

done which left unchecked can become an addiction to the shrine of accomplishment

and attainment. The shadow side of which can often be dissatisfaction and greed as

nothing is ever enough. There are maybe times where getting stuck into doing

something is a healthy distraction and can actually give some respite from the

overpowering directness of an experience or event like with a bereavement. However

taken to its extreme, being stuck in doing can escalate into a long term strategy and

avoidance tactic but how long can you keep going in that lane?

Stuck in doing & Getting Unstuck. Doing clearly has its rewards and is a necessary

agent of change and growth. However, finding yourself stuck in perpetual states of

doing is ultimately unsatisfactory and can have disastrous outcomes on our health, even

if what we are doing is nothing. Don't we see this state of unrest and exhaustion invoked

in the faces, bodies, energies, histories and health crisis of those around us. Are we

able to notice how stuckness and ill health present in our own lives that extend


outwards to acknowledge not simply others but other species, life forms and the planet


Author and Teacher Dr Joe Dispenza draws the analogy of being stuck, as someone

who is ‘caught in the narrow margins of Beta brain waves for example whilst driving a

car in 1st gear with the foot on the gas’ (4a) which is unsustainable - destination


Apologies for the driving analogies but they’re useful and there's more to come.

According to Dispenza ‘people drive through their lives without ever stopping to

consider shifting gears, changing and forming new behaviours and brain wave states’

(4b). Most adults in their everyday waking conscious states inhabit the three upper Beta

brain wave frequencies of the analytical mind. The highest of the Beta’s being a

hyperarousal stress induced state.

For clarity here is a summary of Dispenza’s Beta brainwave activity.

● Low range Beta is characterised by a relaxed attention with an absence of

vigilance, like when reading a book that you're enjoying.

● Mid range Beta is characterised by learning, analytical reflexive rational thinking.

● High range Beta is characterised by hyper arousal and stress.

‘In high Beta the outside world appears to be more real than the inner world, with

our attention awareness primarily focussed on everything that makes up the

external environment. In high Beta we are preoccupied by time, have a tendency

towards criticising others as well as judging ourselves, becoming overly focussed

and obsessed with ourselves. In this emergency state the nervous system

prioritizes survival over anything else, activating the biochemical arousal of the

fight flight freeze response’. Dr Joe Dispenza (4c)


I want to emphasise that being in high Beta can be absolutely the appropriate place to

be, serving us well when we need to respond quickly and get the job done. Our

tendency however to overutilize and become dependent on this innate ability can be an

issue. We can become obsessive and compulsive in our behaviours, overly attached,

chronically fatigued and disempowered. As a caution, Dispenza further illustrates:

‘the potentiality of unconsciously seeking out emergency situations in our lives to

fuel our addiction to stress hormones’ (4d).

The three main players of which are adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine and

cortisol. Fascinating considerations of more recent research discoveries that Dr

Karsenty and his team at Columbia University have made into the role Osteocalcin, a

molecule found in bone - has to play in the fight flight stress response. (5) Yella

Hewings Martin.

In my understanding the primary role of adrenaline and norepinephrine are arousal,

activated when we're stressed and need to respond quickly. For example we’re

changing lanes on the motorway (told you) and out of our blind spot races a car at

100mph. Without hesitation we get back into our lane, our heart is pounding, our

muscles are tense, breathing is faster and we’re sweating. That’s adrenaline which also

gives us the surge in energy we need to get out of danger. But also we may have a

spike in adrenaline when we receive an unwanted email from the boss, whilst waiting in

a queue to buy groceries (heightened during pandemics), walking alone in the dark or

any perceived threat be it real or imagined.

According to Amit Sood MD ‘Depending on the long term impact of what is

stressing you out and how you handle stress, it could take anything from half an

hour to a couple of days to return to your normal resting state’ Sarah Klein (6a).


A year or so ago I recall an experience of being in a hyper arousal stress response, the

result of an unprovoked attack from someone I knew. In fight - flight - freeze mode I

managed to get away and find safety. Yet a day later I was still feeling troubled,

unsettled by the experience as the stress hormones coursed through me. I felt

traumatised, confused, angry and also a victim. Blaming myself, what had I

unintentionally done to provoke such an attack and betrayal of trust. Knowing that I

needed support to help integrate the experience and move on from it, I received an

impromptu ZB session from my nearest practitioner. The session helped immensely and

I was able to feel safe again in my body and return to a restful neutral state pretty much

immediately. To my knowledge this was the first time I’d called upon ZB within a context

of emergency and crisis. As a result I understood experientially how ZB and the ZB’er

are so perfectly placed to support this kind of integration and regulation of body

chemistry. It is remarkable to me, this ability to support a gentle yet rapid return to the

normal resting state, in contrast with what can ordinarily take much longer periods of

time. Also to recognise the very real potential of getting stuck in endless loops and

cycles of stress response that can present in chronic autoimmune conditions. I myself

had a fibromyalgia diagnosis several years ago, of which some of symptoms include

exhaustion, body held pain, inflammation and brain fog.

Cortisol releases into our system more slowly and helps to regulate body functions that

aren't crucial at that time like our reproductive, digestive and immune systems.

‘When we stew on problems the body continually releases cortisol whereby

chronic elevated levels can lead to serious problems suppressing the immune

system, increasing blood pressure and more’ Dr Amit Sood (6b).

Completing tasks and getting things done thus takes on another hue, in the knowledge

that leaving things unfinished can be incredibly fatiguing. Unfinished business, an often


outcome of stuckness is a tough behaviour and mindset to remedy, but also is

damaging within a context of body chemistry and developing chronic health conditions.

Whilst in the survival mode of high Beta like a serpent eating its tail we are stuck in

hypervigilance, stress and emergency response, which creates a massive burden on

our bodies functions and systems in the long term. The continuous repetition of survival

based thoughts can also create feelings of anger and fear, sadness and anxiety to

name a few. The stress response can be activated by thought alone and isn't

necessarily an appropriate intelligent response to ‘real’ perceived threats and dangers.

Everyday existence can for some be traumatising with a potential minefield of triggers,

threats and dangers apparent. We see this more and more with the abundance of

autoimmune disorders, mental health conditions., PTSD and depression.

Dr David Hanscom similarly talks about how crucial mindset is in relation to our sense of

stuckness. Mindset is defined as:

‘how the things we think about govern the world in which we live’ but also how

our ‘mindset determines body chemistry’ (7a)

When we feel trapped, angry, anxious, in survival and hyperarousal mode our central

nervous system and inflammatory responses are fired up. When the body is under

threat as Dr Hanscom states then:

‘The inflammatory and immune systems fire up and being in a constant

inflammatory response, actually destroys the bodies tissues and increases

degeneration. Whatever poses a threat, be that real or imagined, fires an

inflammatory response and so chronic pain is a response to perceived threats

and dangers. Anxiety, Parkinsons, Alzheimers and Schizophrenia are all

inflammatory disorders. Being trapped in negative thinking and repressed


emotions are also threats that trigger inflammatory responses.’ Dr D Hanscom


The loop of how mindset affects body chemistry - which affects life outcomes needs to

be interrupted and the key to this according to Hanscom is ‘safety’. When we learn how

to feel safe then we learn how to be resilient in the face of perceived threats and


‘feeling safe is learning how to stop’ Dr David Hanscom (7c)

Getting a glimpse of insight and understanding into the value and significance of safety,

especially within the context of healing and wellbeing fills me with gratitude. A Gratitude

in knowing that safety is so deeply embedded within the fabric and practice of Zero

Balancing through our practice of interface touch. Of establishing and maintaining a

healthy boundary that allows someone to be just as they are. I have as an outcome

grown to feel more safe within my own practice, a long process of acknowledging

certain overly empathic/listener/rescuer behaviours and traits. Learning that my own self

value isn’t dependent on what I can produce in other people. Learning to care a little

less actually feels more broadly like coming into a sense of wholeness and clarity.

Paradoxically then, being able to support others with more discretion and less need, is a

natural expression of how well I can support myself.

On Being Fritz Smith in talking about the spiritual nature of Zero Balancing explored the

principals of being and transcendence within a context of his own world view.

‘Being is a state of stillness which is the doorway to the transcendent, being in

the bliss of consciousness’ (8a) Fritz Smith


Being touched on bone opens up possibilities and experiences of consciousness that

aren’t bound to everyday waking states. My view is there are no higher teachings, only

deeper experiences and therefore ZB is perfectly placed as a tool for transformation. As

Fritz says:

‘Bone has no looseness, so the minute you are touching bone you are touching

vibration (energy) and the minute you touch vibration you are touching the

mystery. The minute you touch the mystery you are touching the creative force of

possibility’ (8b)

Perhaps touching into the unknown, the mystery of the creative force of possibility is

synonymous with an experience of Being in the Bliss of Consciousness. The Sanskrit

word and epithet Satchithananda is a compound form of being, bliss and

consciousness, deconstructed by Fritz to illustrate the kind of states people can have

when being touched on bone and receiving what might be called ‘spiritual fulcrums’ (8c)

Sat - pure existence (being)

Chit - pure consciousness

Anandam - pure bliss

Ways Of Being This is what I am most captivated by and wish to practice in my

everyday and ZB life alike. Being in skillful relationship rather than being separate from,

actually includes the unwanted experiences and emotions, pains and discomforts that

can be so readily abandoned and denied. Being in skillful relationship with the actuality

of things whether they be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral is as Jon Kabbat Zinn


‘not a technique in the McMindfulness tonic & cure all sense but as a way of being’ (9a).


Therefore to practice Zero Balancing as both giver and receiver is also a way of

practicing Being. Of being with one's ever present unfolding moment to moment

experience, synonymous with Jon Kabbat Zinn's own definition of mindfulness as:

‘the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present

moment and non-judgmentally’ sometimes adding ‘in the service of self

understanding and wisdom’ (9b)

If the practitioner embodies the principles of skillful relationship, of unconditional positive

regard, non judgement, no agenda nor attachment to outcomes etc by being in moment

to moment experience then it’s possible a modelling and mirroring of behaviour can take

place. Like an imprint or transmission from one to the other without the intention to do

so, or to contrive this in any way. Perhaps this is a natural phenomenon, an occurrence

of coherence, just like what happens when adding a drummer to a group of people with

drums but unable to keep a unified rhythm. The modelling of rhythm invites the others

into harmony and balance of coherent energy wave patterns. (10) Dr Joe Dispenza

Being alone and the practice of solitude The etymology of solitude originates from

the Latin word ‘solus’ meaning to be alone. Solitude can be seen as either a practice of

liberation, or a punishment and descent into madness and hell. Ascetics, hermits, yogis

& mystics of old have embraced solitude, in their quest for God and oneness with

creation. For someone who has been incarcerated, where solitude has been forced

upon them they will need to be kept on scuicide watch. There are always exceptions to

the rule and I once had the privilege to meet an old Tibetan monk Palden Gyatso, who

gained notoriety with his book Fire Under The Snow. Palden Gyatso spent 33 years of

his life in Chinese concentration camps from the beginning of the Cultural Revolution,

had been systematically brutalised and tortured yet miraculously he survived. I

remember how he explained so humbly (through a translator) his ability to remain stable


and continue to practice meditation, the isolation was in a sense like being in retreat and

though imprisoned he felt free within his mind. Despite the hatred felt for his torturers,

he was ultimately able to find compassion for them and therefore not be tortured by his

own hatred. Palden Gyatso was clearly a remarkable man with an indefatigable spirit

who escaped the Gulag and his occupied Country to find sanctuary in India. Doing so

with several torture instruments that had been used on him, so that he may explain to

the world and find justice. In 1998 Palden Gyatso was awarded the John Humphrey

Freedom Award during the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights. (11)

Is suffering a choice

On the flip side there's also a kind of privilege to living in solitude like that of the Artist,

painter and writer who sharpen their minds and refine their tools unencumbered by the

grind of everyday existence.

Eminent Buddhist Scholar and Author Stephen Batchelor explores solitude as an artistic

practice, particularly inspired by the life and works of Painter Agnes Martin:

‘Solitude, the expression of which Art becomes a means of making solitude

visible’ (12a) Stephen Batchelor

The Art of being alone with ourselves can be paved with challenges, perhaps the

greatest challenge is the one we’ve been avoiding all our lives and that is the challenge

of ourselves. The French Renaissance Philosopher Michel De Montaigne wrote about

his own solitary experience:


‘Retreat into yourself but make sure you're ready to receive yourself there. If you

don't know how to govern yourself, it would be madness to entrust yourself to

yourself’ (12b)

I would say the madness of a perpetual outward orientation and projection of

personality, is also the madness of having never stepped inside yourself to taste and

touch as Rilke so intimately illustrates:

‘the great gift, great sorrow and necessity of being alone’ (13) Rainer Maria Rilke

RIilke’s solitude isnt a solitude of despair or alienation but a recognition that solitude is

our natural home and we must love and protect the solitude of ourselves and others.

Zero Balancing could also in this way be framed as a practice of solitary experience in

which we receive the great gift of ourselves whilst in relation to another. Again isn’t this

a most delicious paradox. Entrusting oneself to another is perhaps less daunting than

Montaigne's madness of entrusting oneself to oneself. Entrusting oneself to another and

being in therapeutic skillful relationship could be for some, a precursor to being able to

entrust themselves to themselves.

Unlike De Montaigne who had the privilege of retreating to the southern tower of his

Chateau in search of solitude, most people have neither the space, place nor taste for

solitude in their lives. Yet we can find solitude in the most ordinary places and in

everyday kinds of ways like whilst travelling on a bus to work, or sat fishing by the lake.

There is actually nothing to do but to simply be - in this very moment illuminated by our

encounter with life itself.

‘You'll never have a greater opportunity to wake up and give yourself over to the

full dimensionality of who you already are than this one’ (14) Jon Kabbat Zinn


Batchelor's expression of solitude as being a practice of Art made visible, caused me to

consider what artistic, solitary expressions co emerging with the experience of Zero

Balancing might be. The clues to which I believe are embedded in the words of


‘the greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself’ (15) Sterling

quotes Montaigne.

To be introduced to ourselves with such discretion, skill and safety is the Art of the

practitioner. Perhaps the art emerging from and made visible, is in the lived experience

of the receiver and the embodied qualities they wish to move forward with in their lives.

The art emerging from the mindful touch of ZB expresses itself in that quiet new sense

of groundedness, a releasing of something old that weighed us down, a spontaneous

joy and reverence for life, or in my case tears that had been held down for far too long.

‘The sorrow which has no vent in tears may cause other organs to weep’ (16)

Henry Maudsley

Similarities exist between the practices of solitude and the practice of interface that we

in ZB refine as fundamental aspects and hallmarks of what makes ZB [ZB]. The

interface between energy and structure - the interface between self and other.

To paraphrase John Hamwee in his book Zero Balancing, the guiding principle of

interface may sound simple but if you get it and therefore understand it - you’ll have a

lifetime of possibilities that open up to practice. The infinite possibilities and ways to

practice interface, a practice of discernment and discretion - of knowing where you are

in relation to where you are not. Of where we need to be and where we don't need to

be. In the perception of objects be they other people, concepts, inner and outer

environments, emotions, landscapes, sensations, pain, joy, of how we are in our

relationships be they intimate or otherwise. There's a clarity in understanding and


experiencing interface, a clarity that isn't always needed or appropriate in other aspects

of our lives. Getting stuck in or attached to Interface could be a hindrance, for instance

to developing close intimate bonds and relationships with others. In ZB we acknowledge

how interface isn’t the panacea but simply one way to be relational with another.

Nonetheless interface touch is the method we work with.

I have not just an instinct but experiential understanding that to practice Zero Balancing

most effectively, facing ourselves becomes necessary. That we can best serve another

by serving ourselves or as Ram Dass so clearly states;

‘I can do nothing for you but work on myself and you can do nothing for me but

work on yourself’ (17)

Somehow this statement sums up what I so often feel when giving a ZB, in the sense

that we both are free to do our work, collaboratively through the felt sense.

This also feels well and truly in the domain of interface that references Rilke's Two

Solitudes. A refinement of ZB skills ought to be matched also with deeper work on

ourselves in multi disciplinary ways, talk therapy, voice dialogue, dreams, embodiment

practices, Feldenkrais, Chi Gong, contemplative practices, artistic practices, working

with our disowned shadow selves etc. Jim McCormick in his recent ZB Webinar calls

this processing. A term that comes from the work of Psychologist Carl Rogers who

founded a psychotherapeutic humanistic approach. (18)

Creatures or Beings Sadhguru’s incisive question to his audience ‘are you a human

being or are you a human creature’ (19) is a provocation, a call to wake up and restore

one's humanity in the skillful compassionate service of others. As the only creatures on

this planet that are afforded the title of being a Being, it is evident that our species

despite its magnificence, hasn’t risen to embody this title wholeheartedly. Is this not now


the greatest existential responsibility, our race to be human, a human being? Humans

are a paradoxical species, capable of great feats of altruism, compassion and intelligent

evolution whilst also being primitive, violent, cruel and destructive. Is not our rallying call

now to create safety, not just for ourselves but for everyone else and this planet we

belong to. How can we protect the solitude of this planet with it’s fragile planetary

biodiversity and ecosystems instead of taking, consuming and destroying its limited

resources? What is the alternative? Not being human at all?

As it turns out, we may be less human than we think? Many strides are being made in

understanding the human microbiome ‘the hidden half of ourselves’ (20a) and how the

causal factors of a compromised immune system and proliferation of autoimmune

disorders lie in our modern pharmaceutical attack in the thus named ‘microbial


‘We have over the past 50 years done a terrific job on eliminating infectious

disease but we've seen an enormous and terrifying increase in autoimmune

disease and allergy’ (20b) Prof Ruth Ley

‘You're more microbe than human’ says professor Knight our ‘human cells make

up 43% of the body's total cell count, the rest are microscopic colonists’ which

include ‘bacteria, virus’s, fungi and archaea’ (20c)

To be is to inter- be Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and his community of Interbeings

teach that we can not be by ourselves alone but only always in relation to something


‘If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in a sheet of

paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain, the trees cannot grow and without


trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the

cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. Interbeing is a word

combining the prefix ‘inter’ with the verb ‘to be’ then we have a new verb,

inter-be. Therefore we can say the cloud and the paper inter-are recognising that

‘to be’ is to inter-be. You cannot be just by yourself alone, you have to inter-be

with every other thing. This sheet of paper [is] because everything else is’ (21)

Thich Nhat hahn

A: What’s the difference between a baker who makes bread and a baker who doesn't?

B: I don't know, what is the difference between a baker who makes bread and a baker

who doesn’t?

A: A baker who makes bread doesn't understand they are simply a participant in the

process of its making, whereas a baker who doesn't make bread appreciates that they &

the bread, along with the living yeast culture, the seed & flour, the farmer & the field, the

sun cloud & rain - inter are.

Interface might exist within a context of interbeing as a recognition of being distinct yet

not separate from each other. That a non solid and impermanent I, comes into being

through the inter relational play of our sense perceptions and conscious awareness.

‘Unless I’m stimulated I don't know who I am’ (22) Fritz Smith

Interface and interbeing might also exist within a context of tensegrity. The body with its

rods and poles, bone and connective tissue, organs, systems, fascial networks all exist

interconnectedly rather than independently. Therefore we know when holding a

scapulae or a tarsal bone we’re also holding and connecting with the life that is lived

with its history and memory, traumas, wounds, blind spots, successes, achievements,

joys and pains all inter are’ing.


Being with Crisis The stark reality of how fragile and uncertain life realy is, has now

come into sharp focus in a way that is perhaps unprecedented as a global universal

phenomenon. As the news spread, the world watched as the realisation hit home that

life may never be the same again. Nation by nation in quick succession turned their

lights out and told its citizens to lock down, stay at home and isolate themselves. The

days became weeks, months and now just falling short of a year the world can seems a

very dark, confusing and distressing place to be. We call this the Global Coronavirus

Pandemic. Many months have passed since our first lockdown period and now into our

third and soon to be fourth lockdown with a confusion of tiers and ever changing

approaches to managing this public health and economic crisis.

How to be in extraordinary circumstances

At large people and populations simply haven't been able to cope with being forced into

isolation, fearful of contagion with a sky rocketing surge in mental health issues,

domestic violence etc.

How to bear witness to suffering

My own experience has been largely wholesome, applying myself to this new

opportunity to practice solitude, however the effects of long term closure and social

restrictions have become more challenging to live with and sustain as time goes by.

What has become clearer throughout is that as humans we’re unable to survive very

well in isolation as we are by our very nature social beings. I've been disappointed in the

language our leaders have used throughout and I believe the language has amplified

the panic, fear and anxiety in people. Instead of socially distancing we can maintain our

social networks whilst physically distancing from others. Rather than becoming isolated

and on our own could we begin to perceive solitude in a different much more healthy


way. Of course when a vulnerable person becomes isolated this is a huge problem as

we have seen during the pandemic who suffer, unable to access resources and

healthcare. The psychological effects of lockdowns, isolation, loneliness, fear, anxiety

accompanied by economic downturn, loss of income, loss of livelihood and purpose,

dignity, self respect are a tragedy unfolding.

Are we now on a precipice where the complex balance between peace and war, human

growth - productivity - technological advancement and the utter devastation of our

planet is at a critical point of no return? Are we truly living in a time of extinction and of

life potentially never being the same again.

Ecologically ‘extinction is the metric we use to recognise wildlife decline’ (23a) and yet

Naturalist and writer Michael McCarthy also states that in comparison ‘declines don't

make the headlines in the tabloid press and we don't hear about them until it's too late’


Examples of ecological impoverishment and decline are often to be found in quiter

almost unnoticeable ways as with the decline of insect life across Britain and the world,

a result of pesticides and the industrialisation of food production. The act of de bugging

our car windscreens is well and truly a thing of the past. This is not simply a theory:

‘Scientific tests on the windshield phenomenon measured an 80% decline of

insects over a 20 year period on a Danish road. In 63 nature reserves across

Germany the abundance of flying insects since the fall of the Berlin Wall had

declined by 76%’ (24) Gretchen Vogel.

With Insects being at the bottom of food chains, their disappearance is none other than

catastrophic for the interdependent biodiversity of our planet and eco systems. Similarly

the phenomenon of the moth snowstorm as McCarthy poetically puts it has completely


disappeared. Those of us a certain age may remember the flight and fluttering of moths

caught in our car headlights on a balmy summer's night.

How to be when the world is dying

I have become all too aware in subsequent years of declines in various aspects of my

mental/physical health and wellbeing that have similarly gone unnoticed until not

noticing has no longer been an option. As unaware as we are of much of our bodily

functions that are regulated by the autonomic nervous system, like breath and breathing

for instance, it is possible to go through life in a kind of willful ignorance and blind faith

that our physical and mental health will always be there for us. Until a time comes

where we can no longer function in the way we used to, having not paid attention to how

decline is presenting, to the aches, pains and their potential causes. We may not notice

how much we live in our armchairs, sedentarism and sitting disease are:

‘major contributors to increased risks of heart disease, colon cancer,

hypertension, diabetes and death according to the World Health Organisation


Let us not forget how sedentarism impacts the musculoskeletal systems of the body.

Is comfort killing us

Addiction to thinking often goes unnoticed, yet can literally drive us insane and embed

deeper negativity and unconscious behaviours. How do we change this mindset?

Perhaps through starting to notice and by paying attention. Making a conscious effort

helps us then to be able to make intelligent rational choices, freeing up the stuckness

and stagnation that lead to healthier changes and outcomes. In ZB we are alo working

below the level of everyday conscious states that are characterised by arousal and


analysis. As we move from beta brain wave states into Alpha for instance, we become

less preoccupied with our external environment which according to Dispenza:

‘allows us to dream or imagine more creatively in pictures and images’ (26).

Alpha brainwave states are essentially resting states of the body and coming back to

our bodies is what we do so well in ZB. Zero Balancing seems to me to be the perfect

antidote to our frenzied modern lifestyles and gives a potent opportunity for the receiver

to experience themselves in profoundly restful ways.

The scarcity of rest

Living with threats, dangers and declines seems unavoidable, yet more to the point is

how we deal with them. What is the nature of our relationship, how are we interfacing?

Living with a virus that has the power to kill is most certainly not a new phenomenon in

our collective human *herstory. I wonder what gay men may teach the world about how

to live with, die with and ultimately survive a virus that over four decades later still has

no known cure.

Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome When a deadly virus hit the gay community first

in the early 1980’s, a 15 year period of unmitigated death ensued before an effective

treatment made the virus survivable. It was common for people to be blamed for their

illness, said to be caused by their own behaviour which led to the further stigmatisation

of an already marginalised group of people. The virus persists with an estimated 75

million HIV infections globally and a death toll of 32 million people 40 yrs later. (27)

How it all started timeline,Terrence Higgins Trust UK

Bearing witness to suffering


HIV & Aids exist as a deep collective trauma and the LGBT community has learned to

adapt, organise and survive. To be gay is to know your status, regular blood tests are a

fact of life. The process is a lot quicker these days and the results can be texted over

but it's always an agonising wait (Disclosure - HIV Neg). There's no doubt that my teens

and into my twenties were characterised by feelings of alienation and inadequacy,

anger and fear. Society felt oppressive growing up accompanied by a deadly virus and

a Government that was hostile, introducing the first anti gay legislation in the UK for 100

yrs. ‘Clause 28’ a vitriolic response to calls for equality for LGBT people so famously

captured in Thatchers ‘Family Values’ party conference speech to rapturous applause:

“Children who need to be taught to respect traditional family values are being

taught that they have an inalienable right to be Gay. All of these children are

being cheated of a sound start in life, Yes Cheated” (28) *cue applause.

I still to this day hold contempt and hate for the above politicians and their authoritarian

bashing of the Gays and the Miners. An unlikely alliance seemingly poles apart, yet

famously finding mutual respect and support in their shared fight and right to exist.

Being both gay and the son of a miner, I not only identified strongly with the cause but

furthermore on a certain level it made me who I am. The armouring of heritage,

identification with the historic self image and that familiar quality of being obscured by

the past. Can the sense of past and its contents begin to take on a different role, no

longer a heavy burdensome weight but as a resource and source for acceptance, love

and transformation..

How to not become a victim

Turning hatred into compassion


As a 14 yrs old kid in 1981 I watched with horror the early news reports on how gay

men were dying lonely agonising deaths, caused by a mystery illness the media

irresponsibly called a Gay Plague. I was far from being a fully formed Homo at this

tender age, I knew I identified with the men on the screen but had not yet the language

nor experience to validate that. Only my secret longings that for the time being would

remain unexplored. Feeling alone and somewhat cautious, I wondered if my life and

death would be characterised by loneliness just like the men on the news and in some

ways, so far it has. Rather than being a sad indulgence, I’ve learned to accept and

empower the aloneness I feel as solitude. I’d not yet heard of the term coming out, not

knowing the Mother of all rights of passage was awaiting my monumental next step, a

step into selfhood. Coming out is more than a declaration to the world ... *cue drum roll

... ‘I am what I am’ ... but is also a coming in - into self acceptance and embracing not

just a sexual truth but reclaiming one's own agency and desire to live authentically in a

world that would rather you didn't exist at all.

It would be another 5 years until I breached that closet, meeting my first partner Fred at

an Aids awareness benefit disco in the beautiful Ballroom of Sheffield City Hall. As a 19

yr old and considered under age, Fred risked arrest, a criminal record and/or

imprisonment. So there we stood not knowing how to be, should we kiss and hold each

other? Are we safe? Will we survive?

How not to be in a perpetual state of anxiety

Just a few years later in 1991, 169 men were convicted of underage sex in England and

Wales of which 13 of them received prison sentences. The age of consent would

eventually be lowered to 18 yrs and then subsequently lowered to 16 yrs bringing Epic

Equality to all in the UK, regardless of sexual orientation in 2001.


Trauma seems to be unavoidable, have we not all had experiences we failed to have

the resources to handle at that time. For instance the trauma of not being validated or

loved as a child, or trauma in the sense of the post traumatic stress of the combat

veteran. How about the shame based trauma of difference and self loathing that's

embodied in the LGBT experience or that of being neuro diverse in a world that doesn't

understand you. Historic protections are worn like a suits of clothes, and yet are we

being held back by the compensation of safety and governance of the limbic system.

How can we meet difficulty and challenge in more resourced ways, so that experiences

of shock are recoverable and we live life thriving not simply surviving.

I think I’m safe to say that the people we work with in our ZB practice will all

undoubtedly have their own unique experience of trauma and how this plays out in their

lives. Some may even be traumatised but that is a very different condition that may

need referral to a psychotherapist or counsellor, as was discussed during Amanada

Brauman King’s brilliant Zoom webinar: ZB and working with trauma. (29)

Not only is trauma a universal truth but so is the truth of suffering. The historical Buddha

taught the four noble truths, a framework for liberating Wisdom. The first noble truth is

‘Dukkha’ the truth of suffering or unsatisfactoriness, inherent in our basic ordinary

experience of life. Remembering that the Buddha's teachings are not presented as

something to believe in (necessarily) but are an invitation to be curious, to look deeply

and reflect on for ourselves.

Being with Truth and the truth of suffering. Presented in the 4 noble truths are three

major categories and differences in the causes of suffering. American Author and

Insight Meditation Teacher Joseph Goldstein's clear illustration, helps to frame and

contextualise the complexity of suffering into a surprisingly distilled format:


1. The suffering of experiences that are painful in themselves (where suffering most

frequently applies) in wars, violence, pain, hunger, political oppression etc

externally. Internally the pain of childbirth, ageing, sickness and death.

The optional but deeply conditioned suffering of pain in the mind, of fear, envy,

paranoia, greed along with numerous other conflicting emotions and mind states.

2. Suffering through the direct perception of changing nature, that whatever has the

nature to arise (which is everything we experience) will also pass away. Due to

the impermanent nature, nothing can be relied upon to bring lasting fulfilment.

3. Suffering caused by the burdensomeness of conditioned experience, inherent in

acquiring what is needed to fulfil the basic necessities of life like clean water,

food, shelter, medicine that often take a lot of effort and struggle. Joseph

Goldstein (30a)

There is a distinction to be drawn between pain and suffering, being two differing

experiences. The underlying theme of the four noble truths as a whole is the suffering of

attachment, aversion and craving that can be overcome by awakening.

‘Suffering is not inherent in the phenomenon of the world, only in the way the

unawakened mind experiences them’ Analyo (30b)

Suffering is a choice

The Budhha taught a path that leads to the cessation of suffering called the Noble

Eightfold Path, which is the fourth noble truth. This path involves ‘eight comprehensive

categories to practice, that can be refined into three dimensions of:


‘Mindfulness practice, ethical behaviour and compassionate action, or

understanding, cultivation and embodiment’. (31a) Jack Kornfield

The eight dimensions of awakened living are:

Skillful understanding, skillful resolve, skillful speech, skillful action, skillful livelihood,

skillful effort, skillful mindfulness & skillful concentration.

Taking this both literally and experientially, the eight dimensions of awakened living

could be an essential treatise on how to be a ZB’er. As Fritz says ‘spirituality is built into

ZB’. In the right circumstances, a comparative study could be insightful and worthy of

further exploration. The Venerable Ajahn Chah’s following statement however inspires

me greatly as an exploration of awakened living. Not alive on the page in thoughts and

concepts but in our everyday experience. A path we can all walk and embody for


‘The real Eightfold path is two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, a mouth, a tongue and

a body. It is the actual life you live, this is the Eightfold path. As you sit and as

you walk, you are the Eightfold path.’ (31b)

Jack Kornfield quoting his teacher Ajahn Chah.

Zero Balancing and being at interface [is] a practice of non grasping, avoiding extremes

and meeting in the middle. Neither getting lost in self, nor negating the other but by

being in the essential moment to moment with clarity and wholeness. As Fritz explains

when giving spiritual fulcrums:

‘I go deeper into myself, I become more quiet and more into my own being. But if

I’m totally in my own being space, then I’m no longer in doing and I can't do that.

Someone has to steer the ship and navigate the space of duality’ (32a)


Navigating the space of duality at interface surely takes a lot of practice. However it is a

skill to be learned in the unlearning and letting go of constructs, of how we think things

should or could be, with an ever deepening awareness of how things actually are.

‘There's nothing outside of awareness. Resting in mindful awareness itself is the

gateway to the liberated heart. Or we could translate that as Loving awareness.

The middle path neither removes you from the world nor gets you lost in it. To be

present and to love but without grasping’ (31c) Jack Kornfield


What I feel is being expressed in the unfolding of my writing are reflections on the

nature of human suffering and our relationship with it. Understanding how suffering isn’t

a necessity of living a life and can be brought to an end. Or at the least we can suffer

less. Made up of pairs of opposites our human experience is both animal and being,

sadness and joy, love and loss, pain and ease, illness and health, kindness and cruelty,

attraction and aversion, solitary and social, around and around in cycles of being and

doing, life and death. All of this somehow within a context of Zero Balancing and

specifically interface touch that is rooted in and promotes clarity of the oppositional

pairings of self and other, emptiness and form, energy and structure, cause and effect,

time and space. Whilst also opening up a space and potential to include and transcend

mundane experience, into more subtle states on consciousness and being. Somehow

within the many paradoxical truths of ZB, selfhood is both necessary and yet ceases to

be a major instrument in what unfolds as Fritz explains:

‘I relax into myself, into something deeper & beyond myself when someone

touches me on bone’. Fritz Smith (32b)


Clearly Fritz is referring to states of consciousness and having what we might call

a spiritual experience. Perhaps this is what separates the human being from the

human animal, or as Sadhguru suggests ‘the human creature’. In this way ZB is

also a practice and experience of resting into our essential nature, beyond the

dualisms of time and space, beyond an experience that is mine and into an

experience that lies beneath the constructs and personality we might call Unity,

God or oneness.

A thread of safety has emerged within my musings as a fundamental experience

necessary for change, wellbeing and transformation. Feeling safe is an essential

component of being able to survive and also to thrive. When we feel safe, our lives tend

to progress in happier healthier ways. Yet we can also become stuck in the habit of

safety, unable to venture into the deeper more turbulent waters. However I've shown

that Zero Balancing, amongst many things is a practice of safety. Through the practice

of interface touch, we define and support the integrity & autonomy of the individual. If

that’s not a skillful and wise relationship then I don't know what is. By anchoring into the

felt experience of whatever is happening, whilst it’s happening with presence, attention

and awareness we maintain a healthy boundary.

‘When we create a safe space by working from interface we create very clear

boundaries and connection with the other person. All of this adds to creating

safety, feelings of love and possibility’ Fritz Smith (32c)

Science has for some time now been evolving methods that measure the effects of

mindfulness based practices. This opening of a whole new interface and dialogue

between the historically polarising scientific, religious traditions and modern technology

and science is according to Dispenza:

‘demystifying the mystical, science has now become the contemporary language

of mysticism’ (33)


Finding new language to evidence the effects of mindful touch and Zero Balancing has

on the body, mind & spirit of recipients is precisely what the Zero Balancing Touch

Foundation ‘ZBTF’ is discovering. The ZBTF is able to show evidence based changes in

heart rate variability, potential brain wave states, polygraph testing etc that indicate

reductions in stress accompanied by a new sense of equilibrium and balance.

‘As a result of the new environment the body mind and spirit finds itself in,

positive changes to lifestyle and behaviour are more likely to occur’ (34) ZBTF

The scientific interface and measuring of the cause & effect of ZB is an exciting and

crucial leap forward. An advancement in ways not only we as ZB’ers can appreciate and

have confidence in the work we do, but also in the way Zero Balancing is perceived and

understood by the world around us. It is my hope and ambition for the art of Zero

Balancing to be elevated by new science, giving ZB even greater legitimacy and

potential to grow, flourish and reach others.

Looking at the broader implications of interface as a way of being with past experiences,

emotions and traumas. To perhaps look through a different lens and rediscover with the

clarity interface brings, how certain emotions, mindsets and behaviours run our lives

that are calling for closure and a clean disconnect. We've become so enmeshed and

identified with who we are, in relation to the heritage of the past. I marvel at the simple

elegance and wonder of ZB to offer someone an experience of themselves, as they are

without fabrication. Perhaps a momentary freedom from the complex enmeshment of

their lives into a truer felt sense of themselves, with their own agency and solitude.

Within the balance of Zero Balancing lies equanimity, which isn't an indifference and

retreating in fear from the world but a balance and openness to the dance of life, just as

it is.

This is the do be do be do - our human song



1. IMH (2017) Dukkha: All Things Suffering, Insight Meditation Houston [Blog]

Quoted from The Alagaddupama Sutta: The Water Snake Simili and The Raft,



2. Jon Kabat Zinn - Mindfulness Wisdom and Healing in a time of Coronavirus

(Uploaded 2020) Youtube video added by Wisdom 2.0

3. Dr Fritz Smith (2020), Fritz ZBUK Zoom Call, Youtube Video added by ZBAUK

4. (a,b,c) Dispenza, J. (2012) Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself, Hay House


5. Yella Hewings Martin PHD (2019) ‘Fight or flight: Do our bones play a part’

Medical News Today [online]


6. (a,b) Sarah Klein (2013) Quoting Sood, A. ‘Adrenaline, Norepinephrine and

Cortisol, three main stress hormones’, Huffington Post



7. (a,b,c,) Dr David Hanscom (2020) Introducing Plan A - Thrive and Survive

Covid-19 [Podcast] Back in Control


8. (a,b,c) Smith, F. (2020) Fritz - ZBUK Zoom Call, Youtube Video added by


9. (a,b) Jon Kabat Zinn (2017), Defining Mindfulness. Mindful [online]

10.Dispenza, J. (2012) Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself, Hay House


11.ICFT (2018) Palden Gyatso Tibetan Monk. International Campaign For Tibet



12. (a,b) Batchelor, S. (2020) The Art Of Solitude, [Podcast] Upaya Zen Center

13.Hermitary (2007) Rilke - Rainer Maria Rilke and Solitude, Resources and

Reflections on Hermits and Solitude [online]


14.Jon Kabat Zinn - Mindfulness Wisdom and Healing in a time of Coronavirus

(Uploaded 2020) Youtube video added by Wisdom 2.0

15.Sterling, J.W. (2020) “The Greatest thing in the World is to know how to belong to

oneself” Reflecting with Montaigne on liberation of the intellect and education in

times of crisis, St Johns Digital Archives [online]

16.Maudsley, H. (1835-1918) The sorrow which has no vent in tears may cause

other organs to weep, Quotes [online]

17.Ram Dass (1971) Be Here Now, Lama Foundation Publishers

18.ZB and the power of transformation, Jim McCormick


19.SadhGuru (2020)Covid Talk - Creature Or Being Youtube Video, added by Jaggi

Vasudev Path of Mukti

20.(a,b,c) James Gallagher (2017) More than half of your body is non human, BBC

Health News [online]

21.Thich Nhat hanh (1987) Clouds In Each Paper [online] Wisdom2be, Quoted from

Being Peace, Parallax Press Publishers



22.Tim Newman (1996) Chapter 14 Evidencing energy: experiences in Acupuncture

and therapeutic bodywork (Zero Balancing) Energy Medicine East and West,

Mayor, D.F. Churchill Livingstone Publishers (2011)

23.(a,b) Krista Tippett (2020) Michael McCarthy: Nature Joy and human becoming,

[Podcast] On Being.


24.Gretchen Vogel (2017) Where Have All the Insects Gone, Science Mag [online]

25.Jon Muller (2020) Sedentary Lifestyle: The Shocking Statistics, Ergonomic

Trends [online]

26.Dr Joe Dispenza (2020) The role of Brain Waves in Meditation: Part One,

Unlimited Dr Joe Dispenza [Online]


27.Terrence Higgins Trust (2021) The 1980’s - Our History [online]


28.The Gaily Grind (2013) LGBT History:Margaret Thatchers Anti Gay Speech

1987, Youtube Video

29.Katy Chase, Amanda Brauman King (2020) Working with ZB and Trauma,

Building Bridges Recordings, Zoom [online]


30.(a,b) Joseph Goldstein (2017) Insight Hour - Episode 30 - The Four Noble

Truths, Be Here Now Network [Podcast]

31.(a,b,c) Jack Kornfield (2018) Ep.72 Exploring the Eightfold Path, Be Here Now

Network [Podcast]

32.(a,b,c) Dr Fritz Smith (2020), Fritz ZBUK Zoom Call,Youtube Video added by


33.Joe Dispenza (2021) Scientific Research and case studies, Unlimited Dr Joe


34.ZBTF (2017) NSI Research Results and Overview, Zero Balancing Touch

Foundation [Online]


Further listening and reading

Harry Theaker (2020) James Salomons: Integration at the heart of

transformation, [Podcast] Listen Notes


Fischer, D. Jon Kabbat Zinn (2010) Mindfulness and the cessation of suffering.

Lions Roar, [online]


Batchelor, S. (2020) The Art Of Solitude. Tricycle Magazine [online]

Thich Nhat hahn (2017) The Insight Of Interbeing, Garrison Institute [online]

Strudwick, P. (2021) The Unique Catharsis of It’s A Sin, Vice [online]


Stonewall (2021) Love Wins: Age of consent equalised for gay and bi men,

Stonewall [online]


Bhodi Anjo Daishin (2021) 8 Rights: The Noble Eightfold Path, Buddha Weekly



Joe Dispenza (2020) The Role of Brain Waves in Meditation: Part One, Dr Joe

Dispenza [Blog]

Palden Gyatso Obituary


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