By Dr Jaimini Raniga
THE BOWEN TECHNIQUE is a natural and very effective form of body treatment, conducted within a holistic framework and encompassing a person’s health and well-being as a whole. It is a dynamic system of muscle and connective tissue therapy and activates the body’s own processes of self-healing. It has been used over the past 45 years with outstanding success to treat a vast number of people suffering from a variety of illnesses and ailments. The technique entails ‘hands-on’ healing and is safe and gentle for everyone, from the new-born to the aged, the chronically ill or the disabled, and causes fast and lasting relief from pain or discomfort. It has a wide range of applications from injuries to allergies, organic ill health or musculo-skeletal disorders.
Tom Bowen, an Australian, originated this innovative approach to healing during the1950’s, devoting his life to its development and the treatment of thousands of patients at his clinic in Geelong, near Melbourne, until his death in 1982. He became well known throughout his career as a remarkable therapist and attained fame for healing the ‘incurable’. Bowen had a unique ability of touch, with hypersensitive fingers and hands that enabled him to feel the vibrations of nerves and find blockages in the nervous and muscular systems. He also had a discerning eye for registering tension in his patients’ bodies. He treated everyone in the same compassionate way. Early on, he also spent a year on voluntary bodywork with polio patients at a nearby hospital. Adding to his understanding of nerve function, although he had no formal training as a medical doctor, he had a passion for acquiring knowledge and studied many aspects of medicine, constantly evolving his technique in terms of his experiences, learning and exploration of the nature and science of the human body. One of Bowen’s assumptions was that bodily malfunction in people arose from disturbances in their tissues and he referred to his work as Soft Tissue Therapy.
Oswald and Elaine Rentsch, whilst students of Bowen during the mid 1970’s, undertook the documentation of his work and knowledge, and then applied it in clinical practice. In 1987, they founded the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia to teach his original, authentic technique, which is rapidly becoming well known around the world. Orthodox and complementary health care practitioners, alike, highly commend the Bowen Technique for its therapeutic and healing benefits.
What is Bowen Therapy?
The actual technique comprises a series of soothing but precise moves on the muscles and connective tissue along the whole body, using the thumb and fingers. The sequence of moves will depend on the particular ailment or condition of a patient. Each move is applied with light, rolling pressure and gentle manoeuvering at a specific site on a muscle, tendon or ligament. The therapy, which is soothing and non-invasive, with frequent pauses from two to ten minutes, as well as releasing tension from the muscles and working on blockages and spasms accumulated from injury, stress or disease, also stimulates the flow of energy in the body and its own regenerative power. Patients consciously feel this resurgence of energy and experience a state of deep relaxation and healing, with substantial relief from symptoms usually after the first treatment. Most patients require only two or three weekly sessions, each lasting from 30 to 45 minutes.
How does Bowen Therapy work?
No theory underlying the Bowen Technique has, as yet, been verified scientifically, though its therapeutic efficacy is not in doubt. Some investigations into various theories have been initiated in controlled clinical trials currently underway with diabetic patients in Seattle and with asthmatic and stroke victims in New Zealand. Energy and Vibration may be ways of understanding how the Bowen Technique works.
Bowen never explained how or why his approach worked but he did describe how energy
could become temporarily trapped in some area of the body. He believed in the universal life energy ‘Chi’, which must flow freely throughout the body for optimum health. Bowen’s gift for healing led him to discover a technique of integrated body work on people who were ill that would reinstate this flow. thereby restoring their natural, metabolic balance. The key to his technique appears to be its holistic action, whereby all parts or structures and functions throughout the body, even if not treated directly, are energized and will respond beneficially to enhance blood circulation, normalise cellular physiology, encourage lymphatic drainage, promote the elimination of toxins and the assimilation of nutrients and improve the mobility of joints and posture.
Another theory that may explain the mechanism of the Bowen Technique is that of resonance. The human body may be compared to a musical instrument like a violin or cello that is intricately stringed and needs fine tuning to function correctly. Also, the fingers of a musician, as in the moves made by a Bowen therapist, must be placed at precise locations on the strings to modulate the right note that contributes to the entire musical piece. Any deviation will produce a different sound or effect.
The study of sound in relation to healing also suggests that specific frequencies favourably affect and realign different parts of the body. It appears possible that this can also occur by generating the same vibrational pattern using some form of energy other than sound. It is believed that the Bowen Technique does this, setting up patterns of vibration that correspond to particular areas of the body, which then alters its frequency to match these, and in so doing brings itself into harmony and a state of healing. There is a correlation in this with certain aspects of Eastern philosophies of healing, notably the meridians of acupuncture.
The Bowen Technique and Homeopathy also appear to have certain principles in common. Homeopathy, for example, observes Hering’s Law of Cure, which postulates that the body will heal itself of a disease with the symptoms abating from above downwards and from within outwards, always in the reverse order to which they appeared. This is also a general pattern observed in the healing of patients during Bowen Therapy.
What does Bowen Therapy treat?”
The Bowen Technique is a powerful means of healing for conditions such as:
Sciatica, Back pain, Ankle sprains and knee problems. Frozen shoulders, Tennis elbow, Neck restrictions, Migraine or headaches, Stress and tension discomfort, Chronic fatigue and depression, Sinusitis, Bronchial symptoms and asthma, Hay fever, Mastitis and other breast complaints, Hormonal imbalances, Menstrual irregularities and pre-menstrual tension, Infertility and impotence, irritable Bowel syndrome, constipation, Kidney and Urinary tract disorders, Fluid retention, and Hiatus hernia.
Bowen Technique is being used by health care practitioners in conjunction with other modalities of healing, particularly amongst osteopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors and medical doctors. The Bowen Technique is a model of simplicity. It produces maximum benefit with a minimum of intervention. A mechanism is not merely imposed on the body to control or remove the physical symptoms of any ailment. The therapy recognises the synchronicity of the human body and induces the entire, miraculous, natural capacity for healing inherent in each individual, thereby enabling an enduring cure for the underlying cause of an illness. Patients also experience a transformation beyond the restoration of physical health, extending to emotional, cognitive and spiritual wellbeing.
DR JAIMINI RANIGA is a medical doctor who specializes in the field of Family medicine, Homeopathy, Bowen Therapy.