By Keith Renninson
I first met Jim Bowen in 1992 when a friend of mine and I were preparing to go trekking in Nepal. Jim was the brother of her boyfriend. Back then I knew that he was in to personal growth and lived near Boulder. The reputation of Boulder jaded my thinking when I first met him, yet after talking with him I realized he was sincere in his desire to help people.
Bowen has developed a real passion for helping people discover who they are and how to harness their own energies for that all-important feeling of well being. To quote from his Wellness Newsletter: Integrative Body Psychotherapy is a body-mind psychotherapy which integrates healthy relationship boundaries, Family Systems Theory, Reichian breath work, and Gestalt Psychology.
KER: How did you get in to this line of work?
Bowen: I got in to it by wanting to give back to people from a place of meaning, depth, and integrity. I have had a lot happen to me in my life and I found out that the human spirit or soul is very, very resilient. Many of our models of intimacy portray the human being as a wounded child. I have found that most adults are very resilient and want to come to their relationships from a place of integrity, fullness, and aliveness. This is a way that I can give back in a meaningful way to people.
Bowen went the traditional route obtaining his MA in counseling Psychology from UCD in 1992. Then he went on to the Rosenberg-Kitaen Institute of Integrative Body Psychotherapy for three years. Now, after more than 20 years of his own inner work, Bowen utilizes his professional education to offer a wide range of services to those of us ready to really discover who and what we are.
Bowen: Would you like to take an abbreviated session with me, so you can experience for yourself what I do?
KER: I’m a Sixties kid and we will try almost anything at least once. Sure, I’d love to.
Bowen had me sit on the floor on a comfortable pad and then take a colored rope to form a circle around me that would illustrate my comfort zone. In other words, this represented how close I like people to stand to me in conversation. He then proceeded to ask me a series of questions: Where do I feel good, Where do I feel grounded in my body, How did I feel about how close he was seated to me in his own circle of rope (which was about six feet away)? Each time he would ask me what I felt in my body in answer to these things. All of this was discovering my boundaries and it was fun and interesting.
The next step involved questions about my family, their personalities and traits, so I could find out how these things affected my boundaries and how I developed my own habits. This is called the Primary Scenario: a map of what the environment looked like while a person was growing up. Bowen did all this Family Systems mapping in a soft compassionate manner that was unassuming and comfortable.
The last part of the session surrounded breathing. In the three days prior to this interview I had bicycled 194 miles on the Courage Classic tour of the Rockies and I was tired. When we finished the session I felt completely rested and my tiredness had disappeared.
During the Reichian breathwork part, Bowen had me lay down on my back with my knees bent and my feet about ten inches from my buttocks. He then put me through a series of what he called belly, grounding breaths. Here you allow your belly to inhale first instead of just your upper chest. I would take five deep breaths and then breathe normally. Next I inhaled five high chest lung breaths. Both of these let me relax and I felt great. In fact I felt like giggling. Next five more were accomplished while raising my arms over my head during each breath. This seemed to place me in a very clear state of mind and made my hands and feet feel a tingly aliveness in them.
Bowen teaches the breathing techniques as well as exercise and nutrition in a series of unique classes. These include Enhancing Adult Sexuality, Meditation: The Art of Centering, The Enneagram and Relationships, and Personal Aliveness, Breath, and Relational Autonomy.
In today’s hectic world it’s nice to find a refuge of safety and a source of direction in someone that actually cares how you feel. Eventually in life, most of us find the need to do self-examination. We learn to grow from our experiences, and sometimes we do it alone with self-help books and impersonal seminars. With counselors like JIM BOWEN we can explore these deep recesses safely and successfully.