22 Jan 2018

Bowen therapy – what is it, what does it do, and how can it help me?

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Bowen therapy – what is it, what does it do, and how can it help me?

Bowen therapy, often referred to as simply Bowen and sometimes as Bowenwork, is a remedial musculoskeletal modality developed by our very own Tom Bowen of Geelong in the 1950s. Non-invasive and non-manipulative, different offshoots of it are now practised in many countries around the world.

There are many perspectives out there of what Bowen therapy is, what it does, and how it works. The one that resonates best with me and which I apply in my work is the one that embraces the Eastern dimension and defines Bowen therapy as a

‘unique system of bodywork that combines the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine with chiropractic and osteopathic intent’ [1].

Put differently: Almost 100 % of Bowen’s moves correlate with strategic points (gateways) on the Traditional Chinese acupuncture meridian system. Bowen also harnesses the power of trigger points. Osteopathy and also chiropractic both manipulate the spine directly. By contrast Bowen achieves its phenomenal potential through preparing and relaxing the environment of a dysfunctional site (pain). As a result the sustaining muscle spasms underlying that pain resolve by themselves. This allows the dysfunctional body component to ease comfortably back into its neighbourhood without force. Bowen therefore treats the whole rather than the symptoms. All of the above makes Bowen a great option for everyone.

Bowen improves brain-body signal communication

Bowen improves brain-body signal communication by removing the stress response to a traumatic event by clearing the cellular or body memory. Many of my clients hear me talk about cellular or body memory.

Body memory IS REAL

Body memory IS REAL and held in every cell (Dr Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief). The physicist Fred Alan Wolf (What the Bleep do we know) clarified its “mechanism” in as far back as 1986. Clients often report sudden resurfacing of old memories in their sessions.

Memory not only resides in the brain. It is present within every cell of our bodies. Our cells retain the body memory of a stressful event and our response to it. This happens through the musculoskeletal and myofascial systems. Trauma can freeze our muscles in unnatural alignments. If that imbalance remains, the body will compensate. This usually leads to to pain and discomfort and potentially a myriad of follow-on symptoms.

Animals shake the adrenaline rush off after a stressful event. We humans tend to hold on to it. It is vital that we find ways to switch off our stress response.

A theoretical quantum physicist describes how muscles hold memory

Below is a synopsis of how the theoretical quantum physicist Amit Goswami describes how muscles hold memory. The brackets are mine. Individual muscles communicate with specific organs, acupuncture gateways and meridians. Knowing these correlations helps me find the offending muscle and release it and with it the memory underlying the imbalance.

Muscles consist of cells and their nuclei, small fibres and fibre bundles. These small fibres consist of repeating units along the muscle’s axis, like a string of longitudinal beads. A muscle’s bioenergetics depend on the free flow of calcium ions. When a muscle tenses up as it defends against trauma [usually some aspect of Fear], these longitudinal units are flooded with calcium ions, which can remain to some extent after the traumatic event is over. It is this residue of calcium ions that maintains the tension in the muscle, converting the tension into a memory of a suppressed trauma. [The larger picture: Calcium is the energetic mineral of the kidneys which in Chinese Medicine are associated with the emotion of Fear].

If this memory is not released, the affected muscle remains in constant arousal as it is not allowed to relax [“collapse the reality of the memory”, let it go].

Result: The muscle stagnates and causes pain and asymmetry.

The quicker the stress response clears after a traumatic event the less chance the brain has to convert the stress response into a memory that we may not consciously remember. Along with muscle testing Bowen therapy can reveal and switch off the defence mechanism. This will return the body to maintenance mode where it can tap into and mobilise its own enormous potential for self-healing.


Benefits are usually fast to manifest. Three to four sessions are often enough for the body to “get the message”.

This appears to be the most common picture. Sometimes there are more layers to address. Bowen is usually short-term, relaxing, loosening and detoxing. As a remedial musculoskeletal therapy Bowen has very few contraindications and is good for – – – everything, everybody and even our pets.

[1] Pennington G, A Textbook of Bowen Technique – A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Bowen Therapy, Barker Deane Publishing 2012 (http://www.bowenseminars.com.au/

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