How Are Deep Massage and Zero Balancing Related?

blog photoI began teaching what I call Deep Massage in 1982. This was after studying extensively with Rolfer, Daniel Blake, studying cranial work with early students of John Upledger, and teaching anatomy and deep tissue massage at the Chicago School of Massage Therapy. I realized that “deep” has more to do with quality of touch and anatomical accuracy than with quantity of pressure. So I changed the name of what I then was teaching at CSMT and out of town workshops from “Deep Tissue” to “Deep Massage”.

When I began studying Zero Balancing in 1986 with Dr. Fritz Smith, its founder, there were a number of concepts and experiences that amplified my teaching and practice.
One is that the experience of energy in the body can be felt distinctly as flowing through the body’s anatomical layers. This helped me totally let go of the idea of energy as some vague woo-woo sort of substance.

Another is that quality of touch, and with that, the feeling of contacting both structure and energy is a function of the attention the therapist pays to systematically engaging the boundaries of the client with techniques that incorporate pauses as well as movement – called in ZB terms, the “fulcrum”.

Lastly, I came to appreciate a more systematic way of observing clients’ response to the work and in turn refining my response to them on the basis of observed changes in breath, facial expression, voice vitality, etc. In this way it helped me out of what Tom Myers charmingly calls the “just press and pray” approach to massage.

For about 10 years I continued to study and then became certified to teach Zero Balancing. During that time organically the insights from Zero Balancing began to unite with the ideas and practice of Deep Massage.

Deep Massage since 1996 has been a unified approach to engaging the structure and energy of the whole person through the medium of the neuro-muscular system. Zero Balancing aims to help the person more through medium of the skeletal system and so focuses more on bones and joints and the energy flowing through them, as well as incorporating some soft tissue fulcrums.

So Deep Massage is a series of soft tissue fulcrums based on my background in art, science, teaching with essential influences from the traditions of Rolfing, Cranio-sacral Therapy and Zero Balancing. More generally, Deep Massage (and really all profound bodywork) calls upon us to commit ever more deeply, asking ourselves and experimenting with:

1) What ideas and movements enhance our touch quality?

2) How can we develop an ever better understanding of our individual clients, in order to help them better?

3) How can we best help them overcome the challenges of injury, disease, and disposition, evoke the experience of optimized health and, ultimately, hopefully, as Lonnie Jarrett put, “nourish” their destiny?

For more information on Deep Massage, read the Deep Massage Book
or contact me at

For more information on Zero Balancing, go to