Healing With Bowen Technique

Things happen for a good reason. Sometimes what looks like misfortune in life is actually a blessing in disguise. A cosmic message which nudges you in the right direction where you need to be, for example my TMJ (locked jaw). I have suffered from TMJ for three years. Different health experts have tried all they could do, but to no avail. Last year my family doctor suggested that I should try the Bowen Technique. I had never heard of Bowen before and I was skeptical. His referral was lying on my desk for several months until one day I decided it was time to give it a chance. After four treatments of Bowen Technique my TMJ was gone, but the affect of the treatment went beyond that. Right after the first treatment I started sensing strange feelings come up to the surface. At the beginning I was confused by what I was going through, but then I connected my emotional turmoil with the Bowen treatment.  After two Bowen treatments my period, which in the past few years has been scarce and more like spotting, came in all its glory. It resembled the heavy menstrual bleeding I used to have during high school (more than two decades ago).  With the bleeding came a huge sense of an emotional release of something I wasn’t aware I was holding on to. Then came a time of restlessness that caused me insomnia, but after one Bowen treatment that addressed this issue I was able to relax and sleep again. My bothersome TMJ was just the nudge I needed to explore something new to help me embark on a new path of healing, just when I was ready.

Since Bowen Technique is not widely known, I have decided to interview my Bowen therapist Nupur Tenne and give you the opportunity to learn more about it. Maybe this post will be your nudge to start your own path of healing.

What is Bowen Technique?
Bowen Therapy is a gentle soft tissue release technique that helps alleviate tension patterns in the body. It is a healing modality whereby the practitioner manipulates the skin through a stretch and release motion. There are multiple layers of healing involved and that is what makes Bowen Therapy so effective.  The first and basic layer of healing works on a musculo-skeletal level, affecting the fascial layer of the body. It stimulates the stretch reflex, which then sends out an inhibitory response from the brain to the area that is worked on. The second layer of healing works through stimulating key areas of the body, so when you work over one of these strategic areas it causes a ripple effect to the surrounding tissues. There is a correlation between Bowen points and the meridian system from Chinese medicine. The third layer is the relaxation response that takes place during a Bowen session. It helps lower the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the system that is responsible for the “fright, fight or flight” mechanism that involves stress, awareness, fast heart rate, and high blood pressure, and increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, the system that is responsible for regulating our sleep, digestion, respiration, blood pressure, etc. By doing so it takes the body into an enhanced healing mode. In every session I assess the patient’s body and treat the areas that are holding the most tension to help align the body for better symmetry.

  How did you become a Bowen Therapist?
I used to work at Swedish Medical Center as an occupational therapist (OT). The hospital has a team of OTs and physical therapists (PT) in the out patient therapy department who use Bowen Therapy. They work closely with the chronic pain physicians.  Seeing the positive impact on patients I was curious to learn more about this technique.  It was also a time in my life when I wanted to do more, but I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. I approached one of the OTs at the hospital who treated outpatients with Bowen Therapy and asked her to tell me more about this technique. From there a chain of events happened that led me to where I am now. Two weeks after our initial conversation she invited me to attend a Bowen Therapy presentation hosted by Sandra Gustafson, RN, a Bowen practitioner from California. A day before that presentation I fell and hurt my neck.  The next day, during the class I asked Sandra to demonstrate Bowen Therapy on me.  The following day I was shocked to find out that all my pain was gone. Usually it takes me 5 days to recover from such an injury.  After that workshop I registered to learn Bowen Therapy with Kelly Clancy in Seattle. The more I learned about Bowen Therapy the more I wanted to treat people with it. Unfortunately the inpatient department at the hospital where I worked was not the right environment for me to treat people using this technique. As luck, or serendipity, had it Kelly, my Bowen teacher, asked if I would like to work with her. I didn’t need to think twice. While working with Kelly in Seattle, she encouraged me to also open a practice on the eastside. Soon my eastside practice became so busy, that I am now there full time.

   What attracted you the most about this technique?
Being able to treat the whole body and not just treating isolated areas. As an occupational therapist I helped people to cope with their pain and limitation. With Bowen therapy I help them heal.

    What can Bowen therapy heal?
There is a wide array of ailments that Bowen Therapy can heal such as low back pain, neck pain, shoulder issues, headaches, migraines, TMJ, asthma, vertigo, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, insomnia, arthritis, digestive problems, and fertility problems. I have had three patients who got pregnant after Bowen Therapy despite previous difficulties. Sometimes an ailment is just a symptom of a deeper problem that the patient may not be aware of, including emotional trauma. I had a patient who started to cry five minutes into the treatment.  She was aware that her body was releasing an emotional trauma that her physical body had held on to. Doing Bowen therapy on children with autism helps them calm down and be more connected to their body and more responsive to their physical and social environment. Because Bowen Therapy is a holistic healing approach it works on a much deeper lever than conventional medicine can treat. Bowen Therapy addresses the pain, the physical source of it as well as the emotional side of it.  It’s a very delicate work with a big impact. Unfortunately there is not a lot of research done about Bowen Therapy, but I can tell from my work with people that it’s very effective. By saying that, I would like to mention that Bowen practitioners believe that no one can heal a person but the person himself. We only facilitate the healing when people are ready to heal. Personally, I cannot take credit for people’s healing.

   How long does it take to see results?
In some cases you see improvement within a few sessions. When I meet a new patient I usually write most things that bother this person. In many cases, as people heal, they start to forget that they had any physical discomfort.

    What do you enjoy the most in your Bowen work?
Besides the ability to help people heal, I enjoy the connection with people; each person has a story and I enjoy being an observer and a listener of their individual story.