Working with forward head posture: Zero Balancing and more

Note from MaryAnn: This is a guest post by someone I’ve known for nearly a decade. Years have gone by without us seeing each other, and then we reconnect, and it’s a happy occasion. She is a wonderful writer with a fascinating and fascinated mind, a perceptive presence, and a wicked sense of humor.

We initially did a 90-minute craniosacral therapy session with Zero Balancing. Then we did a 30-minute Zero Balancing session that she writes about here. This is the first in a series of posts about her experience receiving bodywork from me to help relieve her forward head posture (and the pain and tension that accompany it) and work with anything else that arises.

Forward head posture is becoming more common with our sedentary, screen-gazing habits. Several of the modalities which I’ve trained in and practiced are very effective at relieving forward head posture, including Zero Balancing, myofascial release/Deep Massage, and craniosacral therapy. And Cate will have homework to do as well.

I hope you enjoy reading these posts as we progress. The bottom of the post contains a link to the following post if you wish to read them consecutively.

by Cate Radebaugh

Over the years, I’ve developed forward head posture. Some of it comes from many hours in front of a computer screen, and obesity and self-image issues haven’t helped any. I recently became aware, though, that carrying my head out so far in front of my body is exhausting, and my neck, shoulders, and upper back are so constricted from the constant weight that they never really relax or rest, even in sleep.

So … I went to see my friend MaryAnn Reynolds to find out if she might be able to help. I’ve already said a little about my first visit* and my second was just as interesting. It was a Zero Balancing session. I think Zero Balancing is a really funny name and an even funnier intent, because I already experience moments of what I think of as zero balance and would just as soon not. MaryAnn’s Zero Balancing is different from that. In fact, it seems to be something of antidote. Continue reading

New Year blessings for you from The Well

May you breathe fully and easily.

May you fully inhabit your body with your awareness.

May you discern the difference between stress and relaxation.



May you experience more and deeper relaxation.

May you experience just enough stress to keep you aware and safe.

May you delight in exploring how good you can feel.


May the relation between your diet and well-being become clear.

May the relation between your conscious and unconscious minds become clear.

May you soften to yourself and others.


May you seek help when needed.

May you feel gratitude for all the resources you have.

May you move toward happiness.


May you notice shine, wherever it appears.

May inspiration find you frequently.

May you have compassion for yourself and others.


May you set boundaries and manage conflicts with love.

May you experience breakthroughs in maturity and insight.

May you be present in every possible moment.

The most effective diet tip of all

Get in touch with your hunger.

That’s all. Just get in touch with your hunger.

How long has it been since you actually felt hunger? We live with abundant food all around us, but our bodies haven’t evolved much from 10,000 years ago when the human species was hunting and gathering its food, feasting in times of plenty and going hungry in lean times.

Many modern people go for years without ever feeling hungry, so that when it does happen, they don’t know the sensation—and if they do know it, they gobble food down to avoid feeling it as quickly as possible. Feeling anything has become something to be avoided.

Many people eat according to the clock, not according to their stomachs. And we wonder why we have such an obesity problem. It’s not just the HFCS. It’s not being in touch with our bodies, with our hunger, with what “enough” actually is.

If you feel stuck with unnecessary weight or a poor diet, if you’ve used food to numb your feelings while comforting yourself, try this:

Postpone your next meal until you feel hungry and really notice the sensations in your body of feeling hungry.

There are wonderful wise lessons to learn from feeling hunger that can help you live a healthy life that you actually experience and enjoy first-hand.

  • You can allow yourself to feel hunger and know that you are going to survive. You are not going to starve to death from a little hunger (even though your mind may be telling you so). Death by starvation unfortunately did happen 10,000 years ago and sadly still happens even now, but it’s pretty rare in first world countries. How much discomfort is actually there, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excruciating discomfort? Can you feel it as simply sensation without judging it as painful?
  • You can recognize the signature of feeling hungry. How do you know it’s hunger? Where in your body do you feel it? Feel it for 5 or 10 or 30 minutes. How does it change—does it ebb or constantly get more intense? Do you forget sometimes that you’re feeling hungry? Can you distinguish between feeling hungry and feeling thirsty? What happens to your hunger if you drink water?
  • You can experiment with how much food, and what kinds of foods, you can eat to no longer feel hungry. After fully experiencing your hunger, eat three bites of food slowly, savoring the taste and the mouth-feel and thoroughly chewing each bite before swallowing. Wait one minute and notice your hunger again. How has it changed? Now eat three more bites and notice. Notice how many bites of food you need to eat for your hunger to go away, and notice how long it stays away before it returns.

You can totally play with eating in this way! A couple of weeks of eating like this is quite refreshing after mindless eating and pretty much guarantees that just by being in touch with your hunger and eating accordingly, you will drop a few pounds.

More importantly, you may feel more energy and gratitude for your life.


Caveat: When is it not a good idea to play with hunger? When you have issues with your blood sugar. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic or have hypo- or hyperglycemia, or get really shaky when hungry, you need to take extra good care of yourself and consult a knowledgeable professional first.

I’ve touched 100 naked people

I realized today after carefully counting that I’ve touched 100 naked people in the last 7 months. That probably makes you wonder if I’m a sex worker.

I’m not. I’ve been a student of massage therapy since June 2011, and I’ve worked on my fellow students and teachers, many of my friends and family, and clients at the student clinic.

I’ve worked on many of these people several times. When I complete just 10 more massages in the intern clinic, I’ll have completed the requirements for graduation and will have given about 150 massages.

Every person I’ve touched has gotten my full attention, presence, and skill. Even that one person who happened to be my fourth recipient in one day, when it crossed my mind that I felt tired and cranky — I pulled myself out of that mindset, got a second wind, and gave them my best.

A naked and vulnerable human on the table in front of me is a divine gift with whom I hold a sacred contract to give my best.

Every person I’ve massaged has contributed immensely to the intelligence in my hands, heart, instincts, and awareness.

Most people are fairly silent when receiving massage, their attention on their bodies or breath or my hands, I presume, or perhaps their grocery list. I don’t read minds, so I don’t really know.

Silence helps me work.

Some people stay mentally alert and present the entire time. Some sink quickly or slowly into a state of deep relaxation, that state of no effort where the body is being breathed, the mind is loose and free, and imagery bubbles up out of darkness. Some fall asleep. Their snoring tells me.

Sometimes I go into a trance with you, and those are the best massages.

I watch and listen to you breathing. I feel your pulses. I see your scars — the ones on your skin and the emotional ones like the chronically rounded shoulders, that one tight hip, the rigidity in your torso. Sometimes your bodies tell me stories, of weight gained or lost, an old injury with a long recovery, a recent injury complete with road rash, surgery, playing a sport, working out regularly, working at a computer.

No one — so far — has had a perfect body. I belief that’s likely a myth created by airbrushing.

I’ve learned that nearly everyone has some tension in their shoulders — in the upper trapezius muscle, to be specific.

The low back is also a popular place for tension and pain to hang out. It’s amazing that by working on your rectus abdominis (the abdomen’s six-pack), the front and back of your body become balanced and your low back pain goes away.

I’ve learned that due to handedness, no one’s upper trapezius muscles are exactly symmetrical.

Some people think they’re relaxed, but when I pick up their arm or leg, they have a hard time letting go of control, giving me the full weight.

Some people want more pressure, some less. I’ve gained strength in my arms and hands and can now deliver more consistent firm pressure.

I’ve worked on fat people, skinny people, people with chronic health problems, healthy people, a lot of people stressed out from office work (I’ve posted before about too much sitting), an age range from 11 to 85, people with tight bodies and loose bodies, and one pregnant woman.

All precious.

When I worked on my daughter, memories of her infancy arose, and I realized that everyone who gets naked on my table is just this:

an old baby
no longer tiny or quite so helpless
nonetheless innocent and vulnerable like a newborn

I’ve learned that some people are not very knowledgeable about their own bodies, misnaming their body parts, unaware of tensions, oblivious to the postural or movement habits that cause them pain — that they’ve unconsciously created for themselves.

Your body tells the truth. It can’t lie.

Why aren’t body awareness and anatomy taught at home and in schools?

There are certain massage strokes that tend to get sighs of relief and moans of pleasure. I’ve developed an opening routine that opens.

Receiving massage is all about you becoming more alive and your nervous system waking up, your body shedding tension and moving into relaxation and pleasure, not to mention improving your circulation, breath, brainwaves, mood, compassion, immunity, energy flow, digestion, posture, alignment, balance, movement, and presence.

In many ways, allowing me to massage you is like letting me to take your armor off — the armor you probably weren’t aware of putting on until you started feeling tense or in pain.

Everyone can benefit from taking their time getting up afterwards, not rushing off in their cars to get somewhere else, not re-engaging their left brains too quickly.

Yes, leave your armor off for a while and stay for a cup of tea with me.