Myth #5 - Will the real Bowen technique please stand up?
In honour of Tom Bowen’s 100th birthday on 18 April, today’s blog takes a look at Tom Bowen’s legacy.
Bowen therapy is named after Tom Bowen, the man who ‘created’ the technique. While Mr Bowen never taught anyone what he did, he did allow a handful of men to watch him in his clinic for a number of years as he treated hundreds of clients. Mr Bowen seems to have taken aspects from a number of different modalities but overall he was self taught in his healing technique now known worldwide as Bowen.
All of the men who shadowed Mr Bowen in his clinic took away their own interpretation of his work. They translated what they saw into their own language. That’s what we do, as humans. Ask six people to describe the same scene and you’ll get six different answers. Is one description more right than another? One perspective more valid? My answer would be no. We all interpret our own reality.
It’s not surprising that it’s no different with Bowen. Each of those men have their own interpretation of Tom Bowen’s technique. We need to start working with that and seeing it as a positive for this amazing healing modality.
The Bowen world is divided. There are strong factions within the community. This school believes that; and that one believes this. One school believes they are the real Bowen technique while another school believes they are more in tune with how Bowen worked. And here’s another man claiming his technique is more true to Bowen and on it goes. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? For me, it’s more: Who cares? Certainly our clients don’t care. They just want to feel better. And that’s what we should be focusing on. How to support and grow this technique for the health and benefit of our clients.
Politics are generally divisive and that’s no good for anyone. Especially the client. If a practitioner is worried that they are doing Bowen wrong or aren’t being true to their original teacher or teachings then ultimately it’s the client who suffers. Let’s agree to disagree on who thinks they are the only ones teaching the real Bowen therapy and get on with helping humanity, shall we?
I am Bowtech trained which is, admittedly, quite prescriptive in its teachings. The beauty of this is that anyone can be taught the basics of this amazing technique. The simplest of moves can result in the most profound results and this can be achieved by a body worker as easily as a car mechanic, accountant or astronaut. Bowtech teaching brought Bowen to the world in an easily teachable and repeatable form. Bowen therapy would unlikely be a known technique throughout the world today if not for Bowtech teachers teaching Ossie Rentsch’s interpretation of Tom Bowen’s work.
Those who teach Bowen therapy offer their own interpretations of how Tom worked. They argue that Bowtech is far from how the man worked. And I believe that is most likely true. But how do you teach a technique that was created by a man who didn’t know how to explain what he did? Tom Bowen wasn’t a teacher. He was a healer. The world is just lucky that Mr Bowen allowed those few men to watch him so they could further his technique and results. It has been said that Tom was very gifted at reading bodies. He worked intuitively to shift unhelpful patterns in clients. He worked quickly and efficiently. It would also appear he worked without ego. Just saying.
The thing is, though, who cares whose interpretation of Bowen therapy is the ‘right’ one? All the infighting takes away from the focus of sharing Bowen with the world.
I don’t think we are honouring the man by denigrating those teachers of Bowtech. While I am proud to be Bowtech trained, I am also grateful to other names in the field who bring their own interpretation to the game. I love the different perspectives they bring to the Bowen table. They encourage thinking outside the prescriptive teachings of Bowtech. They share their interpretations and like anything - it’s up to us, as practitioners, to take on what resonates, question what confronts us and look to provide each and every client with the best Bowen therapy for their condition and situation.
I don’t think Tom Bowen had prescriptive sets of moves he used. I think he assessed the body and applied the least amount of moves needed to get the best job done. One of the things everyone in the Bowen community agrees on is the ability of Bowen to heal profoundly and wholistically. This is what we need to keep as our focus - making a consolidated effort to work together to continue sharing Tom Bowen’s legacy with the world. We believe in what we do because we see results time after time. We see the quality of life in those we treat increase as their pain and dysfunction decrease. What a gift! Thank you, Tom Bowen. And Happy Birthday.
More about me and what I offer at www.balancingacttherapies.com Appointments available on the Coffs Coast. Give me a ring on 0426 241 435. Thanks for listening. I’m off now to bake Mr Bowen a cake…
Myth # 1 - That's the thing with magnets, right?
I work in a multi-disciplinary wellness centre that is heavy on massage therapists and light on “weird, esoteric” modalities like Bowen therapy.
People know what massage is. They generally know what acupuncture is and chiropractic and osteopathy, and even reiki. But Bowen? Not so much. When people ask me what Bowen therapy is, I find I spend time explaining what it’s not. It’s not like a lot of things, it turns out.
You know when you are trying to figure some life things out (work, relationships, where to live etc) and people ask you, ‘Well, what (job, partner, address) do you want?’ and it’s easier to come up with what you DON’T want than it is to actually drill down to what you do want? Well, that’s the same with explaining Bowen therapy. And just like listing all the things you don’t want isn’t helpful, it’s the same with ticking off all the things Bowen therapy isn’t. It still doesn’t answer the question of what Bowen therapy IS.
It can be hard to convince people to try Bowen therapy because they want to know what it’s like. The thing is, though, it isn’t like anything. It’s its own healing modality, just like acupuncture isn’t ‘like’ anything else; it’s just acupuncture.
This means there are a lot of misconceptions about Bowen therapy. My favourite is that it has something to do with magnets. When a person walked into the wellness centre wanting to see a practitioner to help with her back problems, the receptionist recommended Bowen. It took a lot of convincing this person to have a Bowen treatment because for some reason they heard from someone who heard from someone that their friend had Bowen and the practitioner used magnets on them. And they didn’t like that.
So let me set the record straight: if ever a Bowen therapist uses magnets on you, you are not having Bowen therapy.
I can talk for ages on what Bowen therapy isn’t but instead I will focus on what Bowen therapy is: Bowen therapy is a soft-tissue healing modality which helps the body to heal itself. Bowen moves help to shift the body from the sympathetic (fight/flight/freeze) to the parasympathetic (rest/digest) nervous system. Because the Bowen moves work with the body’s innate ability to heal, deep levels of healing can often be felt on the physical, mental and emotional levels. Bowen is non-manipulative so instead of the practitioner imposing moves on a system which may not be able to handle it, the practitioner instead facilitates change by applying small moves where the body needs input.
It’s simple. It’s wholistic. And it’s certainly not magnets! It’s also not particularly weird or esoteric but that will be a myth to debunk at a later date.
For now, just know that Bowen therapy is probably the safest, most gentle and wholistic treatment you will ever come across. It will most likely also be one of the most effective therapies your body can experience. It works equally well on chronic and acute conditions and there are few contraindications.
Interested in a session (without magnets) or want more information about what Bowen is? Contact Susan on 0426241435. Bookings essential but same day appointments often available.
As humans, we live in duality ie. good/bad; right/wrong; left/right; light/dark; masculine/feminine. These dualities are constant and extremes to each other. While sometimes we are at one end (extreme) or the other of a duality spectrum, often we are somewhere moving along the continuum. It is the dance between the masculine and feminine duality which interests me, especially in regards to clients presenting with one-sided issues.
We, as humans, are both feminine & masculine energies. The balance between the two varies, often depending on what we are doing and what our perceived roles are. Our world, right now, is very much based in the masculine. For the most part, we live in a male-dominated patriarchal society. This means that traits such as success, wealth, empire building, climbing corporate ladders, excelling in tangibles (sports, business, finances) are to be admired and emulated. Our worth is tied up in the tangible aspects easily measured and compared. These tangible traits are especially coveted in men. Women are often encouraged to strive towards the same goals as men, and to hold the same ideals. This is detrimental to society because it minimises the importance of the masculine and feminine roles in our relationships, and our communities, by implying one aspect is more important, or better, than the other.
The balance of energy in the world is shifting. We are moving into the feminine being the dominant energy, while the masculine energy moves along side to hold the space, and support, what the feminine energy offers. Feminine aspects are intangibles such as intuition, empathy, creating community and connection, flow, opening space, being, vulnerability.
The shift from the masculine (or mental) to the feminine (or emotional), means that traits such as kindness and empathy and compassion and opening space so others can live in their truth, authenticity and integrity will be the traits of ‘success’. It doesn’t mean the masculine aspect is diminished. Quite the contrary. It is movement towards an equal partnership where the energies of each are celebrated and appreciated instead of vilified and disparaged. The dance between the masculine and the feminine goes something like this: The masculine is the building or house; and the feminine is the interior of that house. A man works for, and provides a house (tangible) and a woman fills it with love and warmth and belonging (intangible). The two energies are equal but different and work together to provide and create a home. Our male/female relationships should be a dance of weaving the two energies together and allowing, and encouraging, each to stand in its power.
South Coast boat (c) 2013
First day of autumn. And with it - rain. All through the night. Such a welcomed sight, sound, smell. In between the gusts of wind and shaking leaves, a collective sigh can be heard. A kind of 'ahhhh' as the water soaks into the trees, flowers and earth.
The temperature has also dropped. Being a born and bred New Englander, I don't go much by the southern hemisphere's idea of seasonal change dates. Here, the new seasons are heralded in on the 1st 's- 1 June; 1 September; 1 December; and 1 March - autumn. In my bones I know the seasons change on equinox and solstice dates. So when people here say things like, 'This isn't much of a day for the first day of summer!' I hold my tongue and think, 'Give it three weeks.'
Old timers in the parts where I grew up used to say that if you look at the weather on the equinox, you will get an idea of prevailing weather for the next six months. I have got to say, the times I took note of this, it proved eerily accurate. What no one wanted to see on March 21 or September 21 was the weather blowing a strong nor'easterly gale. The old timers also used to say that winter wouldn't come until the ponds were full. In other words, if there wasn't sufficient autumn rain, then the winter would be mild. Another observation which proved its truth many times.
These bits of Yankee wisdom were told to me by old timers who lived their lives on a small island, 14 miles to sea. There is a reason why talking about weather is a commonality - it is something we all live with every day. And when you live in a small community, buffeted by weather, wind and tides, you develop keen observational skills. The weather determines your livelihood. We come from agrarian societies - the weather meant feast or famine. Being able to read the weather patterns, and intuit what they meant, could be the difference between life and death.
We live now in a society where other people tell us what the weather is. Sometimes, listening to their forecasts, you have to wonder if they have windows to the outside or if they have ventured out of doors. They rely on computer mapping to tell them what's coming, instead of their senses, memory and intuition.
Sound familiar? Sometimes we can get so far from our own selves that we believe what others tell us instead of what we intuitively see, feel and know to be true - in our bones.
The old timers didn't have the technology we have today. Yet I would listen to their observations every time over what a weather report on TV might tell me. They listened and felt what was going on around them. They were connected to nature and to community. They took the time to listen and observe. And those skills allowed them to sense things 'in their bones'. They put trust in what their surroundings were telling them.
We have had a very hot and dry summer and throughout it all my husband has been saying, at least once a week, 'I think we could be in for a cold winter.' To which I think, 'Yeah. Not going to happen unless we get rain.' So, as I sit here on the first day of autumn (southern hemisphere time) and the weather is cool, blowing a gale and raining, I think it could very well be a cold winter. And I am thankful for my husband's persistence in getting us set up - there is already wood in the shed and a new, hopefully warmer and more efficient, wood stove waiting for installation.
I will be noticing the weather again on the equinox but for now, I am listening to my intuition which is saying, 'My husband might just be right...'.
Bright blessings for this transition between seasons. Remember that all you need to know is within you, if you are able to still the mind and listen. If you are feeling out of touch with this, step outside. Immerse yourself in nature. It will help you to hear and feel what you need to know. It will ground you back into your body; back into your intuitive self. Happy autumn/spring.