An Emotional Salve- Lesson#1
Human Beings. We are flesh, blood, and bone. We are emotions and physical strength. We have abilities and desires. At the very center of us though is our Breath. The Breath is ever present. And it is a good anchor for us in our physical bodies. We (at least in this country) rarely if ever pay any attention to that- we are too inclined to just be busy, to move our bodies to think, and to accomplish stuff.
These days, given the current world situation, we are more apt to begin contemplating more internally simply because we are forced to slow down. Slowing down our external activities forces us to be more introspective. And this is uncomfortable for most of us. Perhaps it is time to change that. Little by little when we decide to allow this slow down, this introspection, we begin to become more familiar with ourselves. We never realized before that we have been operating mostly on autopilot. We never realized that inquiry into who we really are was never a “thing”. Now it is. So who are we really? What are we all about? Is there more to us than our jobs, our family responsibilities, our activity? OH YES. And is there something we can do for ourselves to help us navigate these turbulent waters more effectively, soundly, and peacefully? a resounding YES!
Now don’t get scared this is going to go off in some woo-woo direction. This is about being in conscious contact with our bodies, and what makes our bodies run so magnificently (or not). And how to make our bodies and our mind more efficient and effective when we are under stress. And we are ALL under stress right now.
So, what if under all this stress we decided to try something new to help relieve the intensity of what we feel all around us today? Just committing to a few minutes per day- first thing in the morning, and perhaps when the anxiety starts amping up? It’s super simple, but you have to DO it. My recommendation is to sit down and just consciously breathe. Sit, get still, no distractions, silence, and stillness, and focus on the breath. Not so easy to begin with because the mind goes ballistic. Don’t care about that. When you realize the mind has gone ballistic, take a breath (no judgement) and bring your attention back to the breath- over and over and over again. I am not asking you to make this a marathon. Start with 10 minutes. If you make it 2 minutes on the first day- awesome! Try for 3 minutes tomorrow. Just commit to doing it every day, say for a month- and see what happens. See how your mood stabilizes. See how little things don’t ruffle your feathers or ruin your day. See how your activities become more relaxed, more accomplished. Realize that you just feel better.
What happens next? This becomes habit, this becomes something you look forward to, this becomes something you do everyday before you even think of leaving the house!
And guess what? It’s called MEDITATION
And it is the single most important tool for living a happy, stable, effective life. Now more than ever, we need this tool!
Please feel free to contact me with questions or if you need assistance with this- more to come!
For now, as for many of us, I am out of business. Who knows how long this will be or where I will be when this difficult time is over. In the meantime, let me thank you all for trusting me with your magnificent body temples. It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with so many kind and generous people. You have kept me in business for many, many years and I am Grateful. Take Good Care of You and if I can help with any ideas for maintaining health or restoring function, please give me a call (772)643-5199- I always have ideas!
Much Love & Gratitude,
Client came in after 6 months wearing an orthopedic boot due to fracture of right foot. The chief complaint was low back, hip and left knee pain. Visual assessment revealed asymmetry in leg length with the left hip contracted making the appearance of a short left leg. Palpation showed restrictions in the right jaw. Following release of the jaw reassessment showed the coccyx deviated to the left. Once the coccyx was released, additional protocols for the ankles, knees, and pelvic was employed.
The client returned one week later reporting everything felt good. Another release of the jaw and coccyx was performed along with the ankle procedure.
On the third visit the client presented with tonal symmetry and no discomfort so treatment was terminated.
NOTE: Often after being required to wear an orthopedic boot the Bowen Technique is required to get the hips in balance (as the boot creates a “longer” leg). The hips remaining in imbalance creates torque and uneven load on the knees and if left untreated this dysfunction creates deterioration in the knees and pelvic structure.
Bowen Therapy for Complete Healing!
65 yr old tennis player with left heel pain for 6 months. Client presented with left-sided asymmetry in leg length. Restrictions were found at the right TMJ (fascial lines cross the body from cervical to low back). Knees were not responsive to palpation. At the second treatment the client reported no pain for 5 days. Some restrictions were released with additional knee and ankle protocols. During the third treatment the client reported being sore after the last treatment. She had been playing tennis with hard inserts in her shoes which we removed. Visual assessment showed restriction in the coccyx. The coccyx was released and symmetry was restored. At the fourth session the client reported no foot pain or stiffness. Treatment was terminated as she presented with tonal symmetry. She has had no further issue one year later.
The Bowen Technique is a soft tissue therapy developed in Australia in the 1980’s by an Osteopath named Thomas Ambrose Bowen. Today the technique is practiced in over thirty countries and taught in more than twenty.
The four basic tenets of Osteopathy may be summarized as follows:
1-The human body functions as an integrated, interrelated whole unit.
2-Structure and function share a reciprocal relationship.
3-There exists in the human body an innate capacity for self-regulation and healing.
4-Therapeutic intervention is based upon an understanding of these three points.
Structure and Function
In his book A Textbook of Bowen Technique Mr. Graham Pennington, Australian Bowen therapist, Naturopathic physician, and Acupuncture physician writes:
From the perspective of a Bowen therapist, we are particularly interested in recognizing the interrelationships that exist between the nervous system, muscle tension and the skeletal system, and how the interplay of these factors can create or compromise the structural integrity of the spine and its related structures. The following points illustrate this complexity:
-The tension within a muscle or tendon is produced by the nerve which supplies it. The nervous system is ultimately responsible for the tension of the muscles and tendons.
-The muscles and tendons exert force upon the bones and joints and thus abnormal tensions in the body may lead to joint dysfunction.
-Joint dysfunction at the spinal level (vertebral subluxation) may result in changes in the way the nervous system operates. The resulting nerve dysfunction may generate abnormal tensions in the muscles and tendons…and so the cycle continues.
-On the one hand, the structural integrity of the spine may be disturbed by the presence of a vertebral subluxation, but, on the other hand, dysfunction of the related tissues can result in the development of a vertebral subluxation.
The relationship between function and structure is particularly important to the Bowen therapist, who seeks to identify and correct dysfunction within the various systems of the body. Observation of symmetry forms the basis on which the therapist can develop specific therapeutic interventions and target them to resolve any abnormal tissue tensions. Correctly applied, these interventions restore function and associated symmetry.1
Fascia is currently being widely researched as it is now evident that it plays a key role in the structure and function of the body. French surgeon Jean-Claude Guimbertear’ s ground breaking discovery that fascia, due to its piezoelectric nature, governs thousands of processes throughout the body- a true engineering system. ‘Strolling under the skin’ 2, a documentary made by Dr. Guimbertears and his colleagues, visually depicts the tremendous array of processes that occur in the human tissue simply due to the pressure of the scalpel. Blood vessels disappear and others appear, fluid exchange occurs- all due to the piezoelectric nature of the fascia.
The Bowen Technique relies heavily on this fascial system. Piezoelectricity is defined as the electric polarization in a substance resulting from the application of mechanical stress. The fascia consists mainly of collagen and elastin- both peizoelectric materials. For bodyworkers this translates to the application of pressure applied to the fascia creates an electrical impulse that is sent to the brain. The brain in response sends a host of chemical messengers back to the origin of the electrical impulse with the result being the restoration of homeostasis. During a Bowen session the client is visually and tactally assessed. Functional asymmetry is determined followed by treatment. At the end of the session a reassessment is performed to determine that functional symmetry has been restored. Structure and function have been restored. Pharmaceutical and surgical intervention is no longer required.
The work of Tom Myers , author of the book Anatomy Trains3, maps out the main fascial lines in the body teaching us the important connections throughout the body. In recent years due to several important discoveries it has become evident that the meridian system may in fact run through these fascial lines. This work is evolving our knowledge of how the human body is put together and how it truly functions on an anatomical, mechanical, chemical and energetic level.
As Mr. Myers quotes in his book, “the close relationship between acupuncture and similar meridians and the anatomical basics of these continuities is inescapable.” Significant overlap between fascial lines and energetic continuities of the various meridians are obvious. Additionally, Mr. Myers states that Dr. Helene Langevin and others have shown that connective tissue winds around the end of the acupuncture needle when it is rotated in place, creating detectable mechanical tissue effects. 3Drawing these fields of study together we find a “unified field” theory appears and we begin to understand the intricacies of the body’s self-regulation with proper mechanical stimulation.
Graham Pennington’s evolution of the Bowen Technique resulted in his most recent class titled “Targeting Primary Dysfunction” in which he introduces meridian theory into the technique. As an acupuncture physician he understands how deeply connected these bodies of work are. As he states “meanwhile East and West continue to collide…” Many scholars now believe the meridians of Chinese medicine are actually ‘pathways’ through the fascia. In his book, A Textbook of The Bowen Technique, Mr. Pennington declares that fascia serves to provide structures which transmit mechanical tensions, whether generated by muscular activities or external forces through the body. Andrew Taylor Still “Philosophy of Osteopathy” (1899)….”all… nerves go to and terminate in that great system, the fascia.” Osteopathic theory holds that, in a state of health, fluids flow freely from one fascial compartment to the next states Mr. Pennington. As a result of traumatic injury the fascia may twist, constrict, and compress. The exchange of fluids through the fascial medium becomes compromised. Osteopathic treatments (as in the Bowen Technique) attempt to unravel these fascial strains to re-establish fluid continuity throughout the body.
“By its action (the fascia) we live and by its failure we…die” Andrew Taylor Still, founder of Osteopathy
The Bowen Technique
Many Bowen therapists follow a standardized approach to treatment. Today however, the technique has evolved because of some brilliant therapists such as Mr. Pennington. Mr. Pennington teaches these advanced techniques worldwide and has a handful of students who also teach his work. The first vast difference between the original Bowen method and today’s technique used by Mr. Pennington and his students is the visual assessment which allows for a more intelligent approach and effective outcomes. Fascial strains occur in the body and result in asymmetrical patterns. These asymmetries can be seen visually as leg length discrepancy. Leg length discrepancies are a key aspect of this visual assessment. As we now know the fascia dictates the stresses and strains put on the various tissues. These stresses and strains result in functional asymmetry throughout the body. Mr. Pennington’s technique uses this information to determine where in the body the restrictions are so that they can be targeted and released using the Bowen “move.” The Bowen “move” is unique in its simplicity and complexity. It is a very simple move across muscles and tendons yet the complexity comes with palpation skills which develop over time with intention and practice. This tactile recognition skill is the second difference between the original technique and that used by Mr. Pennington and students. Tactile recognition is the ability to delineate between various conditions of the tissue being palpated. The condition of the tissue determines the speed and depth of the Bowen move that is required. Tissue that has become hardened or stuck requires more time and depth than tissue that is soft and pliable. Differences in temperature of the tissue also lend information. The quality of the move determines the quality of the electrical signal sent to the brain and Central Nervous System. Every “move” is an assessment. Continual assessment during the treatment is a must to determine the course of treatment. Being able to put the pieces of the puzzle together along the way during treatment is what allows the therapist to determine the appropriate approach to treatment and to achieve desired results. Applying these skills to the practice exponentially increases the success of the therapy. Once identified, the asymmetry can quite simply be remedied using The Bowen Technique. Important fascial connections are addressed in a hierarchal order and the body is systematically brought back into balance, aka symmetry.
“We seek to find the site at which we can deliver a targeted intervention that will activate and benefit the nervous system and illicit a profound healing response from the body.” –Graham Pennington
The pathology (examples: disc herniations, torn meniscus, tennis elbow, plantar fascitis, migraine, back pain, knee pain) results from compressions in the fascial system clamping down on nerves creating pain, dysfunction and deterioration. Restoring symmetry using The Bowen Technique balances the tensional forces in the various planes of fascia and releases the compression on various nerves eliminating pain. The result visually is leg length symmetry validating the therapists success in restoring symmetry to the body. The number of treatments required to remedy a chronic or acute situation vary but often a handful of treatments is all that is necessary to remedy the condition. This is another remarkable trait of The Bowen Technique. Once a client comes in for treatment (once per week typically) with no pathology and visual assessment shows symmetry is still in tact, the condition is remedied. The pathology no longer resides in the body and the condition no longer exists. There is no need for further treatment. This distinguishes The Bowen Technique from virtually all other therapies. Most therapies in practice today provide only temporary relief treating symptoms but never accomplishing healing. With The Bowen Technique a true remedy is accomplished. Maintenance appointments are encouraged to keep the body in alignment.
1. Graham Pennington, A Textbook of the Bowen Technique, 2012, A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Bowen Therapy. Www.bowenseminars.com
2. Dr. Jean-Claude Guimbertears, “Strolling under the skin”, 2015 , www.youtube.com.
3. Thomas W. Myers, Anatomy Trains, 2014, Myofascial Meridians & Movement Therapists.www.myersmyofascialmeridians.com
As an engineer, educator and bodyworker for thirty seven years Penny Michaels brings a unique combination of science, technology, and bodywork skills for an intelligent conversation on the state of bodywork. She teaches nationally as an NCBTMB Approved Provider for Continuing Education to massage therapists through The Cortiva Institute. She holds private practice in Vero Beach, Florida. Visit her website at www. pennymichaels.com to read more of her articles and email her.
Simply put, we are releasing restrictions in the soft connective tissues in the body. When there are restrictions in these structures nerves get pinched, joints get compressed or pulled away from their natural track, and subluxations occur. This is what causes the pain and inability to function. Once tensional balance is restored to these structures, evertything is allowed to return to a normal position thus eliminating pain and dysfunction. Sounds and looks simple but it is not.
Understanding the complexity of the how these structures are interrelated is my endeavor, my expertise. There are often layers of dysfunction that must be identified and “unwound.” That’s my job and sometimes results are immediate, more ofthen than not it takes some time.
This system of bodywork is brilliant! It is effective and efficient and most times a handful of weekly treatments is all that is required to achieve complete recovery!
I’m honored by the continuous stream of clients coming to me through word of mouth- that’s the best acknowledgement for my work I can get! Not only that but if it weren’t for all the new clients coming in, I would put myself out of business! Thank You!
It is very unfortunate for us Amercians who were taught about all of our anatomical pieces and parts but were never taught about the interconnectedness of all these pieces and parts. Today, in Western medicine, the condition of a foot for example, has nothing to do with the condition of the neck. And the gallbladder certainly has nothing to do with a vertebral subluxation at thoracic vertabrae T12-L1. A podiatrist is not going to look to your neck to fix an ankle problem-ever! But guess what? A Bowen Therapist would! And, yes, a Bowen Therapist just may be able to remedy your sciatica by working on your jaw.
I know, this is where people think we”oh brother, here we go…” but at least read on a little about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) before closing your mind. I use TCM as an example because hopefully it at least carries enough weight for some consideration outside “The Box.” It’s been around for many thousands of years, much longer than Western medicine.
“TCM, above all, sees the human body as an organic whole, a complete system made up of physical structures, emotions, mind, and spirit. It does not separate your body into parts, nor does it just treat one part of your body. In the TCM view, everything in the body is seen as woven together into a seamless whole; all parts have a relationship with one another.” (www.tcmworld.com)
It is the same with Bowen Therapists. We understand that the connective tissue structures in the body are continuous and interconnected in a multitude of ways. The very same connective tissue that runs down the right side of the head also runs down the left side of the body. Low back pain can absolutely be caused by a problem in the cervical (neck) AND vice-versa!
It would behoove us Westerners to embrace this idea. We would benefit greatly- we would be taking less pharmaceuticals and having less surgeries and enjoying all of our pieces and parts working and playing together in one WHOLISTIC , highly functioning and painfree body.
Bowen Therapy is great when you’re hurt, for sure. It’s also a good idea for maintenance- you know, self care. We do lots of great things for our bodies here at The Boulevard- tennis, workouts at the gym, stretching, maybe even yoga?? Nothing better than yoga and stretching to help keep us balanced and fully functional and pain-free: EXCEPT Bowen!!
Just like we take our cars in for regular maintenance or we regret it later- same goes for our bodies! If we don’t keep them “balanced and lubed” we are going to regret it later- with injuries. Trust me, nobody loves stretching and yoga more than me, but Bowen Therapy balances our bodies like nothing else!
Our soft tissues that we hardly even notice- are the most important structures that need to be balanced tension-wise so that we can remain fully functional and pain and damage-free. Soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and FASCIA (no need to understand the structure just the function) are what keeps the bones where they need to be and gives our joints the room they need so that nerves don’t get impinged, pain doesn’t happen, and we are able to play as much tennis as our hearts desire!
Structure and function have a reciprocal relationship and if our structure isn’t balanced, function deteriorates and we are in pain and not on the courts. Then there are pills and doctors and oh no- surgery.
So, you want to be one of those “lucky” people that never gets hurt?? Come in for a tune- up regularly!
Yours in Health & Happiness,