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Pain Zapper

by Starr Tendo

Gerri Shapiro was suffering from pain until she met her neighbor five blocks away.  He changed her life and started her on an exciting new adventure.

Let's face it.  Everybody is in pain.  No need to sugar-coat this one.  You know it's true.  Whether it was a yoga move gone wrong, high school sports...20 years ago, or wrestling with your kids, at some point in your life you probably made a part of your body very upset.  Bodies have a way of reminding us of our past transgressions.  That old shoulder injury resurrects itself every now and then, and the lower back pain seems to go away for a while, but you can bet your bootie that, like good ol' Arnie, it's saying "I'll be baaack."

Gerri Shapiro knows this.  For 25 years she had chronic back pain from an injury she sustained while lifting a case of soda.

"It took me two weeks just to be able to get up," said Shapiro.  "No amount of pain killers or muscle relaxants did any good.  I knew I was in serious trouble.  I tried everything to get rid of the pain once and for all:  massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, and more.  They all helped a little, but the pain always came back."

Sound familiar?  The good news is that Shapiro found relief at the end of the tunnel.

"One day a friend of mine told me that she had some body work done called Bowen.  Her back and hip pain were gone after the first session and never returned!"

So what is this "Bowen", and was it too good to be true?  Shapiro had spent time working with the World Health Organization in places like Africa and New Guinea and decided that she would take an educated approach on Bowen before getting her hopes us.  She did extensive research.  She found that the Bowen Technique was developed in the 1950's in Australia by Thomas Bowen who devised a powerful method of releasing pain.  In her research she found that he estimated his success rate to be at about 88 percent.  She decided that she would give it a try.

She began searching for a Bowen practitioner on Maui.  She emailed 40 mainland practitioners before someone referred her to someone here on the island.

It just so happened that the practitioner lived only 5 blocks from my house," Shapiro laughed.  "That's Maui for you."

Shapiro received one session a week for three weeks, and after that... her pain was gone.  "It doesn't make you invincible.  I still hurt my muscles if I do things without thinking, but the debilitating pain I felt for 25 years is completely gone!"

She was hooked.  Three years ago she decided to fly to Oahu to be trained as a practitioner herself.

"There just aren't enough people practicing this technique here on the island," she said.

After her training, to develop her skills, she gave away 100 free sessions on Maui.

"Even as a beginner, I had an extraordinarily high success rate," she said.  "A local woman with severe pain in her shoulder couldn't life her arm.  Her hands and fingers felt numb.  The night after her second session she called me from Tony Roma's and said that during dinner she heard a 'popping' sound.  Her shoulder had popped itself back into place.  She's been pain free ever since."

So how does it work?  Is it some sort of mystical snake oil?  DOes it involve fire walking, channeling, or incense?  None of the above.

"Science hasn't quite figured out how it works yet," said Shapiro, "but they think that it has something to do with vibration of the muscles."

Decide for yourself, but the method seems logical.  Shapiro describes the technique in an interesting way.

"Imagine that your muscles are strings on a guitar.  They are cord-like.  Now, when you strum a guitar with your fingers, what happens?  The strings vibrate for a while even after our fingers have left.  Muscles are the same way.  By "strumming" or "plucking" the muscles you are sending messages to your brain via nerves.  This increases blood and lymph flow and reminds your body how to heal itself."

Because the Bowen Technique is easy to learn (there is only one basic move), Shapiro came up with the idea of creating a self-help video for people who do not have access to a Bowen therapist.  "Miracle Pain Relief - The Gentle Power of Bowen for Family and Friends" was filmed on Maui using local talent.

Released in September, the video teaches people to use the simple and powerful Bowen Technique to get rid of pain and stress... right at home with the people they know.  "After watching the video, you could give your partner a session."  You Bowen me.  I'll Bowen you.

Like massage and acupuncture, Bowen could be the next big alternative therapy.

"The difference is that Bowen is gentle and non-invasive.  So gentle, you could do it on a baby," Shapiro said.

2003 Maui Weekly

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