How Tom Bowen read clients' body  

Summary of talk by Ossie Rentsch

Tom Bowen would just look at a client, and in the space of time that it has taken you to read this - say what their problem was, and walk out of the room. He said: “The body reflects and tells you everything.” The presenting symptoms are not the cause of the problem: You need to get to the underlying cause.

He would begin building his interpretation as the client was walking in – how they walked and moved with their bodies. Of course, as Ossie explained, we are already ‘building our case’ when we first talk to them on the phone to make their initial appointment. Then he would assess how they sat, how they held their head, whether their shoulders were level, whether they sat evenly on their chair.

The eyes revealed much information to Mr Bowen. Were they bright and alert, or clouded? Are they parallel and even, if not, a neck problem was indicated. If the corners of their eyes were not level, then the person is not able to hold themselves level and balanced to see in a straight line. The need for this adjustment puts immense pressure on the whole body.

The sclera itself reveals a story; he would observe if there were any large red veins standing out. Consider the eye as a clock face that represents an upright body with the head at 12 o’clock, feet at 6 o’clock, and arms at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. Wherever the red vein is, it reflects the corresponding area of the body that has an imbalance, and which side of the body holds most imbalances.

Bags under the eyes or dark rings around the eye indicated problems with the kidneys and liver, or an overload of toxins.

With the face, he would observe its colour: a pale complexion meant poor circulation, sallow meant overload of toxins. Evidence of red veins indicated a circulation problem as well. If the mouth was open, it could indicate breathing problems. Lines across the forehead indicated worry and stress, and emotional problems in the body.

How the client speaks or holds their jaw can indicate a jaw problem. A jowl (lower parts of the cheeks are over the jawbone) in the jaw area also can indicate problems – back near the eyes and ears it would indicate a back problems; a jowl under the chin indicates neck problems. When Mr. Bowen observed the head and neck, he would look to see if they were straight and balanced. If the head was titled forward it indicated a problem at the Occiput. Where there was a restriction in ROM, it would indicate a problem on that side.

He would assess the height of their shoulders, whether they were level, how they sat, and would then know to do the North, South, East or West special procedures. Where the arms hang when the client is standing also indicate the need for different procedures: if they fall forward of the sideline of the body, then he would indicate the need for the Psoas procedure; arms back from the sideline would show back problems. Difficulty on raising the arm would indicate the need for the Shoulder procedure.

Shrunken chest or shallow breathing indicated the need for the Respiratory or Non-response procedure. He would also look at the abdominal area for a protruding stomach. Bloating of the abdomen (other than excess weight) can indicate digestive problems. If the top half of the abdomen protrudes it indicated gall bladder and liver problems; the lower half protruding indicated bowel problems or chronic fatigue.

He also believed a sallow complexion could indicate Ileocaecal valve problems and would plan to do the Respiratory and Lymphatic Drainage procedures.  The Lower Back BRM moves 3 & 4 activate the ileocaecal valve.

If the client sat more on one buttock it revealed problems with the lower back or pelvis. Sitting forward or sideways can indicate a coccyx problem. If the area where he performed moves 1 & 2 of the lower back BRM’s was tight, it indicated lower back problems. If the area around moves 3 & 4 were tight then it indicated a problem with the gluteals. Unevenness in the height of the buttocks or unevenness of muscle tightness also indicated a gluteal problem. A deviation in the gluteal cleft showed misalignment in muscle tissue and indicated the need for the Pelvic or Coccyx procedure.

If they could not lie with their legs flat on the treatment table, or if there was a space between their knees and the surface of the table, a Psoas move was needed. If their feet were turned out then a Pelvic procedure was needed. Lower Back BRM’s moves 5 to 8 were used to assess tightness in their legs.

At times Mr. Bowen would only do moves 1 & 2 of the lower back, if the body was very tight or overloaded. He would say that ‘that is all the body can take today’, and ask them to come back a week later.

Ossie stressed that we do not diagnose – just choose our Bowen procedure.

Tom Bowen would write down on the client card the procedure needed, not the possible disease or condition. Mr Bowen would assess what procedure he thought they needed according to what their body presented, rather than according to what they said about their problem. He believed a short glance was enough to get started with; he would get them onto the treatment table and assess again.

But Ossie did say we should treat the area of concern – if they come with an ankle problem, then work on their ankle. Don’t overload the body. Moves 1 & 2 of the lower back BRM’s tell the body “the emergency is over”.

Sometimes longer delays are needed. It may take 10 or 15 minutes for the body to respond.

Ossie asks that we always keep the client informed of what is happening.

BAA newsletters:  Dec 2003 /No. 4; March 2004 /No. 5 & June 2004/No. 6)

Home Introduction About Bowen How it works Case Studies Gallery Understanding Bowen Symbol Mechanics Bowen & Asthma Contact Info


Past monthly newsletters can be downloaded here:

Latest News