Today’s Therapist International Trade Journal - Issue 35 Jul Aug 2005
The Bowen Technique
Balancing the nervous system by Janie Godfrey
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls most of what goes on in our body. 80 – 90% of physiological and emotional functions are regulated by it and it manages such things as heart and circulatory functions, respiration, digestion, glands, muscles, immune system and blood pressure levels.
The ANS is divided into two branches, the sympathetic nervous system that speeds things up and produces the ‘fight or flight’ response that is so essential to our survival in dangerous situations, and the parasympathetic nervous system which slows things down, calms us and gives us rest.
When we are healthy, these two systems are balanced and this balance is vital for the body to stay in good health. As we are all too aware, serious numbers of people are under considerable and constant pressure to meet the demands of daily responsibilities, juggling family, jobs and other commitments. In addition, lack of job security and the rising costs of housing, food and lifestyle just layer on the pressure.
The faithful body does what it was designed to do: churns out the sympathetic nervous system messages that get us ready to do battle – to achieve all the tasks before us. As these are constant tasks, quickly replaced with new ones in a relentless tide, the parasympathetic never gets the message to rest, so we escalate into fear, anxiety and panic.
Among many symptoms of this state, blood pressure can rise and stay elevated. Medically, beta-blockers are used to decrease the sympathetic response, which results in decreased heart rate and lowered blood pressure. This is the desired effect of bets-blockers but there is a risk of unacceptable side effects, one of which can be poor performance, which is of special concern to athletes and performers – as well as to those just hoping for a good round of golf. Beta-blockers that pass the blood-brain barrier can cause a decrease in energy and alertness and in some cases real drowsiness.
Fortunately, complementary therapies can help with this situation and provide a more efficient way to create the desired inner calmness without harmful effects.
A therapeutically induced alpha state (parasympathetic response) is a natural healing state: blood pressure, breathing rate, and other vital processes normalise, and regenerate.
The awareness of the inner processes, physical emotional and mental, sharpens. The alpha state is the gateway to relaxation and, crucially to creating new behaviour.
“I don’t know what it is, but I just feel better in myself.”
“I slept like a log after treatment and woke up feeling life was worth living.”
“All of a sudden, I seem to know what I want / need to do and I’m making big decisions about things now.”
These statements are typical of patients returning for their second or third Bowen treatment.
Bowen therapists often witness big life-changes in people whose body-mind-spirit balance is being restored through treatment. Sleep disturbances result from low parasympathetic activity. After a series of Bowen treatments the parasympathetic response returns, sleep problems dissipate and well-being greatly improves.
A Bowen therapist, who is also a physiotherapist working with stroke patients, feels that Bowen is one of the best tools she has to restore the sleep patterns of her patients.
Bowen practitioner and medical doctor JoAnne Whitaker, tells of one of her clients who is an accomplished long-distance swimmer. She has said that after a successful swim she feels full of energy – very high and very excited. However, after a Bowen treatment she has that same bounty of energy – but feels very peaceful. The perfect balance, it would seem.
Janie Godfrey is a Bowen Technique practitioner in Frome and has been in practice since 1998. She also works part time at the European College of Bowen Studies office.
Contents provided by the European School of Bowen Studies (ECBS)
For further details about the Bowen Technique please contact Karen on 01954 260 982 / 07714 995 299 or email info@BowenByKaren.co.uk