I sailed to the Solomon Islands in June 2011. On arrival, I attempted to make contact with local charities and organisations to introduce Bowen Therapy to the Islands. Guadalcanal Island is a hot sultry island in the South Pacific, with heavy humidity and huge amounts of tropical flora and fauna. Dried coral, being readily available, is used for paths and driveways; the coral turns to dust with time and sits heavily in the air. Many people on the island live with deep fear and emotional traumas due too past uprisings and riots.
While there is now a governing body, RAMSI - Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands - to control and keeps things safe, counselling has not been available or an option for the many of thousands of local islanders. I made myself known to everyone who I thought might be able to give me any leads within the community to bring about the introduction of Bowen Therapy to the villages. While everyone was wonderful and listened with interest, no one to date was able to offer any real advice in what direction I should take to make things happen. Then the Universe decided to help.
Visiting the yacht club where all visiting yachtsmen and women congregate, I seated myself next to Meri, an English woman. Meri had married a Solomon islander, and lived on the island with her grown family. Swapping stories, she told me she had been to many therapists and doctors on the island, and also visited a surgeon overseas, and she still could not lift her arm without pain. Asking her permission, I turned her chair around and proceeded to do moves addressing her upper back and shoulder. When I had finished Meri lifted her arm completely above her head without the pain. She picked up her phone and rang her son Gerald.
He was a priest at St Barnabas, the Church of Melanesia; this was something he would want to hear about. Gerald is popular within the islander community being a local minister and island healer. His church fills with about 1000 people every Sunday. Gerald arrived within 15 minutes to meet me. After a short conversation, we arranged to have our first Bowen Therapy class the next day. Was this all a Coincidence? God only knows. I was surprised to find a class of 22 Solomon Islanders, found at such short notice. I presumed many would be spectators.
Our classes were held in an open-air hall so removing clothes would not be an option. We lined up kitchen tables and church pews as our training tables and set to work. With time being short, and this trip only a tester to see how well received it would be, I decided on basic relaxation moves and a few extra moves for complaints.
With thoughts of post-traumatic stress, asthma, anxiety, and any chest related illnesses, basic respiratory moves seemed an obvious choice. The next most common complaint was hip and knee pain, so pelvic and sacrum moves for the lower body, where also taught.
We had Patterson (a young islander ) as our male model. Patterson would remove his shirt for us. This sent the islander women into hysterical giggles. Especially when I instructed them to touch his well-defined muscles on his back, while I demonstrated the belly of a muscle and the slack and challenge technique used in moving over it. I would do the move, and then draw it on the board explaining how to measure where to find the position of hands for the move, and then they would all practice on each other. They were very intent on getting it right the first time. In the group one little elderly woman carried, her brightly crocheted bag on her shoulder and wouldn’t put it down. All moves where done with the bag. On asking the priest her story I found she had no husband and her family did not want her, so she was homeless and lived on the generosity of others. Her life was in that bag. For her to learn Bowen would give her some importance in her village, and she would become more valuable to her family and, she hoped, a home may be offered to her.
Each person in the class had their own story. In this class, there were two boys in their late teens (unusual in my experience), the parish priest, with the rest of the class being women of all ages. Each person attending our classes was intent on learning the power of Bowen to improve their own lives and others.
Travelling around, I engaged the services of a taxi driver and on learning my story; he wanted me to meet his adult nephew who was unable to walk. The story told to me in Pigeon English made translation difficult, but my understanding was that medically, it appeared there was no reason why he should not be able to walk. Apparently, he lost the feelings to his legs and they just stopped working. With the introduction of basic Bowen Therapy, he will now be able to receive regular treatments that give him hope.
During my time on the island, I had attracted many people in need of treatments. Using the local dive shop, I spent my last day on Guadalcanal Island sharing Tom Bowen’s work as the sun set on the horizon in the South Pacific.