Bowen Therapy is quite simply one of the most straightforward and effective ‘hands on’ therapies available.
It is a system of subtle and precise rolling type moves called “bowen moves” which aim to disturb the muscles, tendons, nerves and fascia. The moves are performed using the thumbs and fingers applying only gentle, non invasive pressure. During the treatment there are periods in which the client is left resting to allow the body to absorb the gentle moves that have been performed. This gives the body time to make the subtle and fine adjustments which help to relieve tension, reduce pain and initiate the healing process.
Bowen Therapy encourages the body to realign itself; there is no manipulation or adjustment of hard tissue and no force is used or needed. It is not a form of massage.
The technique can be applied with some adaptation throughout the body in specific locations and in prescribed sequences to affect specific body systems (digestion, lymph circulation, respiratory apparatus, and so on) or body parts (pelvis, TMJ, shoulder, knee, etc.). Sounds simple! Well it is simple, but the practitioner must develop with practice a keen sense of the tension in the tissue. This will tell him exactly where stress has built up in the tissue and how much pressure to use, where and when to do a move to release that stress.
Bowen Technique – How does it work?
Tom Bowen never really explained how he came up with his remarkable healing modality nor how and why it worked so well, but the Bowen Technique affects the body primarily through two of its main regulatory systems – the energetic system and the nervous system – to bring it back to a state of balance.
The Bowen practitioner is a catalyst, setting in motion a self healing stimulus. The application of the technique is a study in delicacy and restraint. The Zen saying “less is more” really applies. It is important not to do too much. The Bowen moves are information being programmed into your body. The simplicity of the moves enables your body to integrate the information and do something with it in the direction of healing.
Think along these lines, if you are attempting to learn something, and in that process you get over loaded with complex information, then you get overwhelmed and your brain gets distracted and tired and proceeds to shut down. Your body is no different, information needs to be fed into it in bite sized bits and given time to assimilate, then the next piece of information can be, in turn, synthesised. After trauma or illness the tissues involved hold a cellular memory of that derangement. Often your body can heal itself without intervention, but sometimes it needs help to shake off the cellular memory of the shock, your body is still is protecting itself. It has forgotten, because of the severity or impact of the shock, how to be in balance. The Bowen Technique reminds the body that the trauma is over, and very quickly enables it to harmonise itself.
Autonomic nervous system rebalancing
This is maybe one of the most profound and important effects that the Bowen technique has on the body and where the self healing mechanisms of the body are mostly stimulated. The autonomic nervous system controls over 80% of bodily functions (cardiac, respiratory, peripheral circulation, reproductive, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and so on) and is very susceptible to stress and emotional states. Most people living in our modern “civilized” society are in a constant state of high stress and sympathetic over stimulation.
This could explain why so many people can’t heal, or experience incomplete recovery from sickness or injuries. For healing to happen the body needs to shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance, and for this to happen, it needs time and space to literally unwind and digest physical and emotional stress. This is what the Bowen Technique does.
What to expect during a treatment
When you go to your first session put your expectations aside. You will be disappointed if you expect chiropractic adjustments, deep tissue manoeuvres, or a massage, as it is not any of these things. You will be delighted by the deep relaxation, energy responses and easing of symptoms that will occur.
A Bowen session takes approximately 45 minutes and most of the work can be performed through light clothing or preferably directly onto the skin. Three to four treatments, at weekly intervals, are often sufficient to achieve lasting relief from even long standing pain, although further treatments may sometimes be required.
To receive maximum benefit it is recommended that other physical therapies are not mixed with Bowen therapy, such as massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy, and so on, as the energetic effect of Bowen in your body can last up to 7 days.
After treatment you will be given a list of things to do: including drinking plenty of fresh water to flush toxins from your body and prevent you from being dehydrated; walk 20 minutes a day; and ‘listen to your body’ for any reactions you are experiencing. You may experience reactions ranging from hot and cold flushes, emotional releases, headaches and body aches but these reactions are a positive sign that the body’s healing process is working.
Regular maintenance after recovery
The consequences of an imbalance in one area is unlikely to be localised to that area, one imbalance winds its way throughout your whole structure. This imbalance can affect your organs, your chemistry, the integrity of your muscles, and can lead to pain, emotional distress and disease.
In my experience most people will have good recovery having between four to six treatments. Long term chronic cases such as Parkinson’s Disease or Muscular Sclerosis respond really well to having a regular treatment, say every two to three weeks.
After your recovery back to health I would recommend you see your therapist for maintenance treatments, 4 to 5 times a year. It is rather like having your car serviced – you don’t wait for your car to break down before you have it repaired. Once your body is in harmony and pain free try it is in your best interest to try and keep it that way as your body is constantly changing and you can cause all kinds of injury to it on a daily basis, emotionally and physically.