Myth #3 - So, what's the deal with the two minute waits?
More so than any other ‘myth’ surrounding Tom Bowen and Bowen therapy, I think the topic of the two minute wait causes more discussion, among practitioners and clients alike, than any other aspect of the man and the technique credited to him.
Just today on one of the closed Bowen groups on Facebook there was yet another post on the waits - Are they necessary? Do you observe them? Why does one school teach mandatory two minute waits in between nearly every move? The debate can run hot between practitioners and those teaching Bowen content.
Then there is the client’s perception of the two minute wait - Why do you leave the room? What do you do when you leave the room? And my personal favourite - Tom was a smoker and he needed cigarette breaks.
It all remains, in a way, conjecture because the man isn’t around to ask. And the men who were in his clinic, watching him and learning his methods? Even they aren’t on the same page about it. What most practitioners do agree on, though, is that the waits between moves allow the body to process the inputs it has received.
Here’s my take on the waits. They are necessary but not prescriptive.
First of all, I am a big proponent of putting in waits between sets of moves. This isn’t because it gives me a chance to check email, or cook lunch, or nip outside for a fag drag. Nope. I’m a fan of waits because it’s what is best for the body.
Let me explain. Who out there has a computer? And who out there can get impatient with said computer? Who gets frustrated when you give the computer an input and that little ‘I’m thinking’ dial comes up indicating that it would be best to WAIT before trying to input another command? What happens when you don’t listen to the little ‘I’m thinking’ dial? The screen locks or freezes and the whole computer needs to be rebooted. And what happens when you wait for the computer to finish its thinking before adding another input? The computer works more smoothly and efficiently. Yes?
Well, my friends, guess what? Our body is a sophisticated computer. Too many inputs without enough time to process means computer jam. Wouldn’t it be better just to give the body a few moves it can process and then step away for a few minutes to allow the moves to go where they need to go and do what they need to do? Yes. I think it would.
Why two minutes? I don’t think this is a random amount of time. I read somewhere (and damned if I can find the reference now) that it takes ~ 90 seconds for an impulse on the fascia to move along the nervous system to the brain and then for the brain to relay the impulse to where it needs to go in the body to facilitate a healing effect. Pretty cool, eh?
Why leave the room during the waits? To allow the body the time and space to do what it needs to do without my energy distracting it. A bit of privacy for the healing to occur, if you please.
Are the two minute waits mandatory? I believe not. They are necessary but as your skills increase, so too does your awareness of tension in the body. Sometimes I leave waits after two moves; sometimes 10. It’s how the body is responding that informs the session. Also, sometimes the wait is two minutes but sometimes longer. It all depends on the client. And each client is different.
I love Bowen therapy and what it can offer a client. It can be easy to get caught up in the myth debate but personally I would rather spend my time working on my skills and listening to each client’s body as it presents with symptoms.
Our lives are busy. We multitask our way through the day. We forget what it’s like to shift from fight/flight to rest and digest. How beautiful that we have this therapy available to us that helps the body to remember to slow down and take a deep breath. The waits in between moves help facilitate this. In this busy day and age do we really have to rush through our healing treatments as well?
More about what I do and what I offer at www.balancingacttherapies.com
I am available for appointments on the Coffs Coast.