Zero Balancing: Special Donkeys
By Zanna Heighton
Zero Balancing has been my inspiration for over 25 years. There’s not much you can’t work out with the Zero Balancing principles that its originator, Dr. Fritz Smith, teaches alongside the manual skills. When I started looking at the principles closely, I came to the conclusion that they resonate with the psychology of the energy body – the part that Fritz Smith labels ‘the donkey’.
To explain, Fritz noted that pack donkeys, when going up a mountain path, lean into each other as they ascend and that makes the journey easier. So he calls the “donkey” the aspect of the person that leans into high quality touch with instinctive trust.
Does the “donkey” have a psychology? I think it does, and I think there are circumstances under which it loses the adaptability it needs to be able to enjoy itself and live a full life. Zero Balancing is designed for well people, and those with challenged donkeys aren’t necessarily ‘ill’ but a full life is denied them. The majority of people with autism, for instance, have challenged donkeys, and their particular problems are well documented. When you look at it a bit more closely, it turns out that there is a Zero Balancing principle to match each problem. Therefore I maintain that Zero Balancing is uniquely able to address the psychology of the donkey.
There’s more. When you look at the problems more closely you realise that those problems are not unique to autism. Autistic people are have a lot more problems of course, but when the rest of us are pushed from within to our limits, either through physical pain or emotional distress, we can find ourselves going through similar difficulties. It takes some adaptation to the Zero Balancing basic protocol and some fancy foot work to the techniques, but if you keep the basic principles in place you can work with almost anyone in a way that will bring about a revolution in how they experience themselves.
This subject has fascinated me all my therapeutic life for two reasons. My own donkey gets challenged from within, and until I met Fritz Smith and Zero Balancing I avoided being touched. While I was a student I worked with autistic adults as a support worker, then as a home manager, and observed how they didn’t like being touched, even by me who understood where they were coming from. I couldn’t make them relax and enjoy. Bribery and commands were no good. It became my mission to devise a way of using ZB that would be acceptable to them. It worked out well.
I want to celebrate the potential of bodywork to have an effect that goes far deeper than the body and have put together a weekend workshop that makes that potential a reality in the hands of the therapist. The workshop is called Working with Special Donkeys and will be hosted May 2nd and 3rd. You can get more details from 512-374-9222 ext. 20. It is being sponsored by David Lauterstein, whose work I’ve used and admired for many years and is open to those who have taken at least one previous Zero Balancing workshop, and will take your understanding of Zero Balancing to an exciting new level of expertise that you will be able to adapt to as many different clients as you encounter.