One of the comments Bowen Therapists often hear is that after a Bowen treatment their clients have a feeling of wellbeing and a lifting of anxiety. They are able to sleep better and feel they are better able to cope with life. Bowen stimulates the body to heal on different levels, so as well as physical healing we also experience psychological healing.
An important function of the basic Bowen moves and some other moves is the balancing of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is that part of the nervous system that we don’t give a lot of attention to until something goes wrong. It happens in the background, responding to our needs. There are 2 parts to it - the sympathetic, also called the fight and flight type response and the parasympathetic, also called rest and digest response. Often in today’s society we have a predominance of the sympathetic nervous system. Our bodies are ready to respond and our stress levels go up resulting in our adrenals becoming overworked and overstimulated. We become used to this and it seems normal, although our bodies end up in a state of distress. Our stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline have increased while our healing, happy hormones, like serotonin and melatonin have decreased. Our systems are less able to heal, sleep is compromised, life becomes more difficult and acute or chronic disease can settle in. Sometimes at the beginning of this process we can actually feel good because we’re super-charged and feel that we are accomplishing more, however this soon catches up with us and our bodies begin to tell us we need to slow down and allow rest and healing to occur.
“It is a physiological fact that it is very difficult for the body to repair unless the parasympathetic-sympathetic balance is restored. In any case, once the activation of the sympathetic system becomes lowered, they will begin to feel so much better in themselves.” John Wilks
The first Bowen moves and some following ones address this balance as they affect nerves along the spine and other areas that consequently affect particular areas such as the brain, adrenals, spinal cord and Vagus nerve, which is the major parasympathetic nerve in the body. This is part of ‘balancing the body’ that Bowen Therapists talk about and is important before addressing other problems. Research has shown that Bowen is effective in engaging the parasympathetic nervous system as shown by measures of heart rate, body temperature and mood states.
Once the body has calmed down it is in a state where healing can occur. The body is then able to receive messages that enable it to heal. This may take more than 1 treatment. Just as it took you a while to become out of balance and for problems to manifest themselves, healing may not necessarily happen overnight. This is particularly so for longer term problems. The body often takes longer to calm down and address all the issues involved.