Lowen Systems: Dynamic Manual Interface


“In the Knowledge of the Art is the Science; in the Practice of the Science is the Art.” Frank Lowen

Lowen Systems: Dynamic Manual Interface is a beautiful blend of both art and science. Developer, Frank Lowen was, in fact, an artist before pursuing his initial studies in the healing arts. His original thought was that he would combine his interest in alternative therapies with a means to support his career in fine arts. His artistic mind, intense motivation and curiosity of the human body enabled him to excel in many modalities, but two mentors clearly stood out in terms of their work and influence: Dr. John Upledger and  Jean-Pierre Barral, D.O.

Frank connected with Dr. John Upledger in 1984 and after taking a few classes with him, was invited to join his teacher training program. In addition to his study and teaching with the Craniosacral classes, he illustrated the teaching manual and one of Dr. Upledger’s published books. From Upledger, Frank learned the effectiveness of light touch and the self-corrective nature of the human body, as well as the practice of this therapy form.

By virtue of his working relationship with Dr. Upledger, Frank was invited to a special class taught by guest Osteopath, Jean-Pierre Barral. Although the class was taught in French, it made a huge impression upon Frank, as he observed Barral extracting seemingly impossible information from his patient’s bodies with great accuracy. He was determined to learn as much as he could from this innovative practitioner. After studying with him for some time, Barral let Frank know that he was priming him to teach his work in the US. After spending four years studying intensely under Barral, Frank taught Visceral Manipulation for Barral via the Upledger Institute for eleven years, eventually becoming the Program Director. From Barral, Frank learned the importance of detailed anatomical knowledge, being extremely precise in treatment, how to listen to activities in the body. He also learned two important principles which still guide his work. 1) Symptoms do not emerge until their ability to compensate has been used up, and 2) Treatment is not about cure, but rather assisting individuals in their ability to adapt.

While striving for excellence as both a practitioner and student of Barral, Frank started to notice more details in how Barral interacted and was able to break down some of his methodology. But he also started to notice different phenomena and rhythms which were outside of what Barral was doing. He shared these findings with his teacher and was told that they were unique and important and that Frank should pursue this knowledge. For many years, he compiled and developed his work while continuing to teach in the Visceral Manipulation Program. A colleague who was sponsoring courses became aware of the new information and techniques when he utilized some of them while consulting with her clients and urged him to make these teachings available. Since she already had an educational company set up, they decided to collaborate on classes for advanced students. Named Therapeutic Horizons, these workshops combined techniques for assessing working with specific tissues to a new realm of energetic material, which created new possibilities for health and awareness to therapists and their clients.

Philosophical differences eventually led Lowen to recognize that there was a basic premise to his work that his partner did not share. He recognized that there would be more congruence for his students if he taught his material separately. The key element that he felt needed to be paramount was that the body of a person in a compromised situation was inevitably doing something to try to remedy the current situation and needed to be supported. This reverence for the human body and spirit is part of what keeps students and clients attracted to this work; we work with the body, we do not simply do something to the body.

The original name of this work Biovalent® Systems Manual Therapy has been replaced by Lowen Systems: Dynamic Manual Interface (DMI). DMI has three basic principles:
1) It is a purely manual therapy form.
2) It utilizes the body’s own regulatory mechanisms whenever possible.
3) It does not claim to heal, but rather to support the body in its ability to compensate.

Simply stated, DMI teaches how to find out from the body what is working and what isn’t and what systems are involved in the pattern of dysfunction. Treatment involves supporting these systems and their corrective rhythms, while helping to provide an optimal environment for these changes to occur. So, the basic idea and concepts are quite simple. The art and science is in the learning the language of the body and how to utilize our hands to interact precisely at the optimum interface so the intervention is accepted by the body and not interpreted as an invasion.

Exquisite hand usage is an art that is developed and nurtured in all of our classes. Practitioners learn how to connect with tissues deep in the body solidly, but with no pressure. This enables us to read what is happening in that area very specifically and to facilitate the desired response without eliciting protective activity. DMI also teaches how distinct parts of our hand react specifically to different systems and tissues. This can be used both for assessment and to amplify the effects of treatment. For example, just by knowing how to read the hand, one can determine if an injured area has more of a challenge with lymph drainage or with peripheral neural tension at that moment.

Regulatory mechanisms in the body are numerous and complex. They range from simple reflexes that protect tissues from overstretching to reactions affecting all body systems to regulate tensions and pressures. Lowen has isolated numerous of such reflex mechanisms has learned of ways to utilize them for therapeutic benefit. These range from reflexive zones to change tissue tensions in connective tissue, to points that affect the tone of the vessels to main rhythms which can make corrections to not only to specific joints, but all those affected within an entire chain of movement. The possibilities are endless and this work is continuing to develop.

There are classes from beginner to advanced level. Some students feel compelled to do the entire series of classes, and others may choose to focus on classes which most directly support the work that they already do. Each class has the potential to make profound changes in the way that a practitioner assesses and treats their clients. More importantly, this work helps us to keep and expand the reverence for the human body.