In her debut memoir, Bowman, the founder of the Center for Sacred Movement, details her journey from debilitating depression to healing through therapy, yoga, and spiritual retreats.
The Californian author was born with a cleft palate and raised as a Jehovah’s Witness with her four siblings. She counts as her best childhood memories the times that she spent with her grandparents, particularly her nurturing grandmother. The intellectually gifted Bowman chose home schooling and later enrolled in junior college. In her late adolescence, she began experiencing crippling mental health problems, including suicidal tendencies that led to numerous attempts on her own life. She details her failed suicides in painful detail and how her family, therapist, and friends grew frustrated with her inability to make progress. She writes that by using her own academic study of psychology, she gradually traced her problems to sexual molestation at a young age, although she’d largely suppressed her memories of it. As she remembered more and turned her back on her religion, she says that her family members chose to adhere to the code of Jehovah’s Witnesses rather than care for her. Eventually, with the support of her friends, lovers, and therapist, she found her way out of her darkness, helped immeasurably by a spiritual retreat to Teotihuacán, Mexico. She later felt pulled toward a second retreat shortly after the death of her beloved grandmother. After experiencing strong visions, she finally experienced the healing she needed. Bowman’s forthright descriptions of her mental state in the first part of the book, “Exhale,” aren’t always easy to read, nor are her recollections of sexual abuse, but they do effectively reveal the depth of her pain. Later, Bowman’s sister tells her that her niece was also a victim of abuse. Despite the grim story she tells, though, Bowman manages to convey a message of hope as she recovers her mental health and helps others with their own self-discoveries. However, the second part of her story, “Inhale,” could have been further developed to balance the grimmer first part and to help readers better understand her journey.
An often powerful, insightful memoir for those seeking healing.