Gentle Touch Produces Miracles

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by Gerri Shapiro, MS Ed.

For as long as I can remember, I've suffered from back
pain. Although I have experienced some relief using heat,
cold, massage, chiropractic and acupuncture, invariably the
pain has always returned. Until one day I visited a friend
in California who had similar back problems. She told me
she had some body work done called Bowen. Her back and hip
pain were gone after just one session!

I was definitely intrigued. I couldn't wait to find out
more. When I arrived back home I got on the internet and
learned that the Bowen Technique involves a series of very
gentle rolling moves on the body using thumbs and fingers.
It was developed in Australia in the 1950's by Thomas
Bowen, a gifted healer who devised a simple but powerful
method for releasing pain.

Hoping to find a Bowen practitioner near me, I emailed
close to 40 practitioners around the U.S. and asked if they
could refer me to someone. After 39 "no's" I got
one "yes!" I arranged to have three Bowen sessions. After
the third session, my back pain and sciatica
were "history!" I got so excited I decided to train to
become a Bowen practitioner.


Tom Bowen was a gifted natural healer from Australia. Late
in life he discovered he had an unusual gift that allowed
him to intuitively know what was ailing people and how to
help them relieve their pain. His healing technique is
unique in that it was developed without him having had any
previous medical or healthcare training.

He claimed he could feel tiny vibrations in people's
muscles that helped him find the exact location to work
on. He spoke of his skill with great humility and
frequently stated that his work was "simply a gift from

Tom had the capacity to quickly assess what was wrong with
someone and where they were out of balance. He could look
into a room full of people, glance at them for about 20
seconds, and know what their problems were. Although he
never advertised, it was estimated that he treated over
13,000 people in the course of one year, and he claimed a
success rate of about 88%!

Like Palmer (Chiropractic), Rolf, (Rolfing), Feldenkrais
(Feldenkrais Technique) and Usui (Reiki), Tom Bowen had a
unique talent. He dedicated his life to turning his gift
into a practical application that has proven to be of great
benefit to thousands of people all over the world.

A Unique Technique

The Bowen Technique is quite unique. There are several
features that set it apart from other modalities


It is so gentle that you hardly notice you're being
touched. People usually become very relaxed right away,
and often fall asleep during a session.


Rapid pain relief is common. Most pain and injury will
respond within two or three sessions.

Long-Lasting Relief

People often experience a deep and long-lasting relief.
Two to three sessions spaced one week apart are usually
enough to achieve lasting relief, even from long-standing
pain or injury.


There is no one who cannot be treated safely with Bowen.
It is so gentle, it can be used on babies, pregnant women,
the elderly and the disabled. It is not dangerous to those
suffering from chronic illness and it is ideal for treating
children because it is non-invasive and non-threatening.

Two Minute Pauses

It is a unique feature of the Bowen Technique that there
are two minute breaks in which the practitioner actually
leaves the room. These pauses are crucial as they allow
the body time to absorb the "messages" presented by the


There is no cracking, no force and no needles. There is
little discomfort or pain involved because there is no
heavy pressure or hard probing into sensitive muscles or

Less Is More

The practitioner does the minimum needed to bring about a
healing response in the body. The more acute the pain, the
less they do. The less they do, the more profound the
effect on the body.

Great First Aid Tool

When you apply the Bowen Technique right after a fall,
injury or accident, the release of tension acts in a
preventive way to help correct any imbalance before it can
adversely affect the body.

Easy To Learn

The technique is easy to learn. There is only one basic

How Does Bowen Work?

The gentle yet powerful Bowen moves send neurological
impulses to the brain resulting in immediate responses of
muscle relaxation and pain reduction. The moves create
energy surges which are concentrated in specific areas of
the body using "blockers" or "stoppers." These are
released when you stand up.

The Bowen Technique helps the body remember how to heal
itself. Electrical impulses sent to the nervous system
remind the body to regain normal movement in joints,
muscles and tendons. This helps relieve muscle spasms and
increase blood and lymph flow. Several of the moves are
located along acupuncture meridians or on specific
acupuncture points which are known to stimulate and balance
the body~s energy.

A Bowen Session

A Bowen treatment lasts about 30-45 minutes. No oils are
used. Treatment can be done through clothing or directly
on the skin. The practitioner "rolls" over the muscles with
her fingers, which causes the muscles to relax. The moves
are done in groups. Between sets, the practitioner leaves
the room for at least two minutes to allow the body to
relax and make its own adjustments.

The moves send out signals which:

* stimulate energy flow;
* facilitate lymphatic drainage of toxins and waste;
* promote good circulation;
* release tension;
* increase mobility;
* encourage the body to relax, realign and heal itself.

Some people feel shifts in their bodies during and after a
Bowen session. While many experience immediate pain
relief, improvement is just as likely to unfold over the
next few days to a week. Two or three treatments are
usually enough to achieve long-lasting relief. Even long-
term conditions may respond very quickly.

The ideal situation is to give the Bowen Technique a try
for 3 sessions, once per week, without having any other
kind of bodywork in between.

Surprising and Unexpected Recoveries

People with chronic disabilities such as chronic fatigue
syndrome, MS, fibromyalgia, cerebal palsy, muscular
dystrophy and arthritis have been known to show a gradual
improvement in the condition and quality of life. If
someone has not responded to other forms of treatment, it
is always worth trying the Bowen Technique because in many
cases it has been known to trigger sometimes surprising and
unexpected recoveries when nothing else has worked.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue - One Woman's Story

Exhaustion had become a stable part of her life, as had the
pain. During a visit to a new doctor, a brief mention of
the Bowen Technique was made and she was referred to a
practitioner. She had no idea what to expect and she was
very nervous during her first visit. The therapy was
explained in a very reassuring way, even though she didn't
really understand the part about "energy flow" and she
found the whole thing a little weird. But she had come
this far, so she thought she might as well give it a try.

The treatment itself was very relaxing. In fact, she
almost fell asleep several times. Since she was accustomed
to a life of conventional drug therapy, she tried to
rationalize how Bowen could possibly help, especially after
nothing else had worked. The week after her first session
she remained skeptical, and so it was to her surprise that
within a few days she began to feel different. Her pain
was still there, but she felt different. Like she could
do more. She decided it was probably a coincidence.

Over the next few weeks she began to take regular walks and
without even noticing it, she slowly developed less
reliance on pain killers. Gradually the time between
Bowen treatments grew longer. It is now months since her
last treatment and she still doesn't understand the whole
process, but what does that matter? When did she ever
understand how conventional medicine worked? All she
knows is that without the aid of prescription drugs, she is
slowly regaining much of the life she had lost for so long.

The main difference between Bowen and other modalities is
how fast it works, how gentle it feels and how long the
pain relief lasts. Anyone can learn how to do the Bowen
Technique: there is only one basic move.

The technique has been successful in treating back pain,
sciatica, headaches, migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia,
sports injuries and much more. For me, the miracle lies in
the fact that doing so little produces such long-lasting

Gerri Shapiro, MS Ed, is a leading health educator and
Bowen practitioner who has worked with the World Health
Organization, Asian Development Bank, USAID and Management
Sciences for Health in the areas of alternative and
traditional medicine. She is a member of the American
Massage Therapy and American Holistic Health Associations.
She is the editor of, a Bowen
information and resource site, and is the producer of the
self-help video Miracle Pain Relief - The Gentle Power of
Bowen For Family and Friends, (,
designed for lay people who do not have access to a Bowen


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