I recently went to a “Zen Body Therapist” for Zen Therapy and had a very good body work session to get back into alignment. I have been to massage therapists and other body workers, but nothing like this. Zen Therapy is a type of body work that is aimed at allowing yourself with the assistance of the therapist, to bring your body back into alignment. This type of therapy was the best body work I have ever received.
When I was in high school I sprained my ankle badly and lost a lot of flexibility. When you sprain your ankle and you lose that flexibility, you are also changing the rest of the flexibility in your body. This caused all of the flexibility in the same leg I sprained, to change as well. The angle that I walked was different, so the hip flexibility changed as well. Around the same time I also had a lower back injury, on the exact same side from lifting weights. This is where it all started. When you are young though, you can really get through these types of things, barely noticing that you are compensating for one side. But over time it is only going to increase the disparity between the two sides of your body, if you don’t take care of the imbalances. I learned that over time. That was about twelve years ago, that all of this happened. But once you start sitting in chairs all the time while working, do less working out over time, and don’t take care of the imbalances….you really start noticing over time. One of the symptoms that I started having was hamstring tightness in the leg that I sprained, and my hip started popping all of the time, when I turned certain ways. I tried a lot of different body work to bring it back into alignment, like stretching and yoga. But really nothing changed the way that everything was formed. That is when I decided to try this Zen Therapy.
What is Zen Therapy?
I like to call is zen therapy because you really have to be in the state of zen, in order for this body work to be effective. On top of the fact, that he calls it “Body Zen Therapy”. The basic approach of this therapy is that you are the one changing your body, and bringing it back into alignment. The therapist is there, but they are only assisting you. With this therapy, the pain you feel at first when the therapist pushes into your body in accordance with being in tune with your breath, guarantees you are in the moment or “zen like state”. The therapist told me that most body work is when you go in and you can fall asleep while they work on you. You are not actually THERE. Your body is there, but your mind isn’t. So you might feel better for a few days afterwards, but you didn’t really take care of the underlying problem.
What is the underlying problem?
The underlying problem is that your body records everything that you have done in your life. Every accident, words you have spoke, foods you have ate, etc. Your life is recorded in your body. So if you have accidents where you weren’t THERE and you flinched, but didn’t really live through the trauma, it gets stored in your body. I asked him, “If you were there and completely entrenched in the moment during the trauma, would it be stored in your body still? The answer : No. Because if you are living the moment and you PROCESSED the accident in that moment, your body doesn’t store it. It is unprocessed emotions and accidents that you didn’t live, that get stored in the cells of your body. Your body is the most intelligent thing in the world. And so if you have pain in your body, it is literally telling you to process that moment, so it can let go of the pain. Easier said than done.
The process of “Zen Therapy” is all about letting go of this pain in your body consciously. I knew when I talked to this therapist on the phone, that this was exactly what I needed. Something where I am actively involved in letting go of the pain, and not relying on someone else, while I fall asleep to meditation music. The way that you let go, is you are in the moment while the therapist puts pressure on the painful spots in your body. For me personally, it is in my left hip and left foot, that I held pain and needed to let go. It is also the feminine side of your body.
The therapist measured my hips and the rest of my body, looking for any imbalances. What was found on me personally? When I sit, my left side of the body has more pressure on it, because my left hip actually hits the chair a millimeter or two below my right hip. He told me to use a drink coaster, and stick it under my right hip for the time being whenever I am sitting. Interesting……because I already knew that it felt weird when I would sit sometimes, but never knew the root cause.
After checking the imbalances in my body, he went on to actually start the therapy. This is basically what it comes down to. You are laying on a table and the therapist is putting pressure on many different places in your body. Not just the place where you have the pain. That is the main spot, but you also have to work on other places in the body to balance everything out.
So the therapist begins putting pressure on a spot, and he will ask you on a scale of 1-10, how much pain does that pressure give you? A ten is unbearable pressure, your bones are about to break. A 1 is the opposite. Once you tell him what that number is between 1-10, you take a deep breath in, to the point of filling up your chest to the count of two. Then exhale counting to 6, very slowly. During the time that you are exhaling, I would consciously imagine the number of pain that I said at the beginning, going down to 1. By the time I got to the count of 6 for the exhale, I would be down to 1 in pain, almost every time. To be honest, there were sometimes that I felt like the pain was still a 2, when I was finished. What to realize is that the therapist never lets up, from how hard he is pushing, at all. It feels like he is letting up at the beginning, but really it is you letting go of that pain in that area, that makes it feel like the therapist is letting up. You are consciously releasing those unprocessed emotions regarding an event that happened in your past.
Why I like Zen Therapy over massage therapy?
As I stated earlier in this article, with this type of therapy you are the one responsible for your own results. Obviously, it helps having someone who has done this type of therapy for many years assisting you. But you are ultimately changing your body and letting go of the pain. I could have easily gone to a massage therapist and let them do all of the work, not knowing that it is not going to change anything in the long run. I could have gone to massage envy where you don’t really talk to the person you are working with, and you are “just another customer”. But I would rather take control and be the reason for my alignment or nonalignment in my body.
And, I have gained some very valuable knowledge. If I were to go to a massage therapist we barely even talk! It’s like, lay down, let me rub you, and then I will get you a glass of water in the hall. You PROBABLY are not getting to the ultimate problem in this scenario. Tom Davidson was the guy I was working with in Kansas City, and he had 25-30 years experience doing this type of therapy. He was personable and I could tell he knew what he was doing from the get go. And, we were talking a lot throughout the process, with him answering any questions I might have about the therapy, or anything in general. And I feel better! I released some of the pain or nonalignment in my body.
Zen Therapy isn’t magic. If you have pain in your body, it usually has layers. So if you remove the top layer, there might be some more layers below it. It might take a few sessions to remove this pain from your body. It depends how long you have had the pain or the unprocessed emotions lingering in your body. If it is an injury from years ago, it might take longer. It just depends upon a wide range of factors.
Important things that I learned from Zen Therapy
1) Words are things
Literally. Words are things. He emphasized this. Your self talk to yourself will get stored in your body. What made me laugh is when he said, if you ever have the thought about somebody else and think “there a pain in the ass”, change “ass” to “asphalt”. Because if you are directing “pain in the ass” towards someone else, you are actually talking about yourself. Your subconscious picks up on little things like that, you don’t think it would. Change your words, and you change your life. I already knew this, but it was an excellent reminder. During the session he told me that some people will remove the first layer of pain from there injury, and then a few days later start feeling that pain again. They automatically start thinking that the pain is back! The therapy didn’t work. Well, remember you were the one that was in control the whole time during the therapy session. You released the pain and felt good immediately afterwards. Just remind yourself, that another layer has come up, and you are moving in the right direction.
2) 99% percent of people are imbalanced
I asked him if my injuries were very common. He said that not only are they common, they are usually worse. Everyone is sitting in chairs, not very many people stretch, and a lot of people don’t have correct posture when they walk. It’s very tough to have a balanced body in this world, where everyone works 9-5 jobs sitting at desks all day. Check out Corporate Slave – Why to Avoid Working for a Corporation for more talk about this.
3) If you aren’t involved, it’s probably not going to be a long term solution
What do I mean by this? If you are laying on a table and someone is working on you while you are drifting off into lala land, it’s probably not going to solve your problems. In order to solve a problem long term, you have to be there. And this isn’t just for solving imbalances in your body, it’s for anything. If you aren’t actively involved, you are either not going to make any progress, or won’t be happy with the results.
4) You can let go with breathing
Just consciously breathing is one of the best things you can do for your body. Then if you add in the awareness, you can zero in on the spots that cause you pain, and use your breath to release that pain. I believe when you are aware of the pain and putting the intention to relieve the pain, that focus paired with your breathing can heal ANYTHING.
5) You don’t need a therapist for this
You need a massage therapist to massage your body. You can’t massage yourself very well, especially your back. With zen therapy, you can do it without spending ANY money.
How do you do this Body Work without spending money?
What you need
You need a Tennis ball or golf ball. And you. I am about to go to Europe, and he explained that a set of hands isn’t necessary. Just use a tennis ball or golf ball to put the pressure on the spot, become aware of the spot, and do the same breathing exercise. And you can release the pain the exact same as you do with the therapist. The process is outlined above. It is a lot like using a foam roller, but a tennis ball or golf ball is going to be able to get deeper. Try it out and see what you think if you don’t want to spend any money.
However, I do recommend that you find a similar body zen therapist in the area that you live, to give this a try. I haven’t done a ton of research to find out if they are all over the United States, so I can’t assist you in that way. But even if you can’t, you have the alternative exercise that can basically do the exact same thing.
Zen therapy will allow you to consciously relieve any pain and reintroduce alignment into your body. Once you realize that it is YOU that is the one responsible for the pain you allow to sit in your body, you can also take responsibility for healing yourself through your mind and your breath.