Howard left school in 1974 and joined ‘Uhuru’, a worker’s collective in Oxford. As well as serving the local community through a wholefood shop and café, Uhuru was also a centre for local and third world development projects.
After some years of trying to change the world Howard realised the need to change himself. His only tool at the time was a little book called ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’ which inspired him to search for the experience of being in the present whilst working variously as an organic gardener, an oil rig steward and a labourer on a gas pipeline project that was to cut its way across Scotland.
In 1979 Howard set off overland to India. After some wonderful weeks hitch-hiking through Europe he boarded the ‘Magic Bus’ in Istanbul and soon found himself in Tehran in the midst of the revolution and then in Afghanistan, violently invaded by Russia and ignored by the rest of the world.
That last Magic Bus trip from Istanbul to Delhi ended in a deadly ambush on the road from Herat to Kandahar. This close encounter with death fully woke him to the present and deepened his search for meaning and purpose.
After eight months in India Howard returned to England to study Traditional Chinese Medicine with J R Worsley in Leamington Spa while managing Neals Yard Wholefoods store in London’s Covent Garden. His acupuncture studies led him not into therapy practice but into twelve years of meditation practice under the guidance of some remarkable teachers.
During this time he worked as a business analyst for British Telecom International. He also studied dance (Limon technique), voice (Roy Hart Theatre), acting (Actor’s Institute and Jack Waltzer), physical theatre and yoga. This period of inner work culminated in his performance in Sam Shepard’s plays ‘Tongues’ and ‘Savage Love’ at London’s ICA Theatre in 1991.
The following year Howard was given a copy of Stanley Keleman’s book ‘Emotional Anatomy’. Inspired by Keleman’s ideas on formative psychology, he travelled to Belgium to join a five-day retreat that Keleman was leading. When he returned to England Howard started training in Integrative Psychotherapy at The Minster Centre with luminaries of the body oriented psychotherapy world including Helen Davies and John Rowan.
During this time he worked as a Massage Therapist at The Life Centre in Notting Hill Gate.
Howard continued his psychotherapy training at the Karuna Institute where he studied Core Process Psychotherapy. It was here that he learned to truly appreciate his skills as a therapeutic bodyworker. In 1996 he completed a post-graduate training in Craniosacral Therapy with Franklyn Sills of the Karuna Institute whilst working as a Body Oriented Psychotherapist under the supervision of Dr Brenda Davies, a Consultant Psychiatrist and healer.
In 1997 Howard completed a Masters Degree in Therapeutic Bodywork at the University of Westminster under the tutelage of Leon Chaitow and Dr David Peters. Howard’s MA thesis discussed the significance of therapeutic listening both from a psychotherapeutic and a craniosacral perspective and suggested the possibility of a ‘memory of health’ to which the patient could reorient, given the right therapeutic relationship.
Since then he has undertaken advanced courses in Craniosacral Biodynamics with, amongst others, Franklyn Sills and Michael Shea.
Howard has presented his work at conferences in London and Barcelona and in Mallorca at Son Llatzer Hospital and IBILAB Clinic for assisted pregnancy. He is the author of ‘A Myofascial Approach to Thai Massage’ and contributory author in the 3rd edition of Modern Neuromuscular Techniques edited by Leon Chaitow.
Howard started teaching in 1994 when he was invited to set up and teach a Thai Yoga Massage course at Morley College, a centre of adult education in London. He also served as a course assessor for the London Open College Network guiding other teachers through the process of course design and accreditation.
In 1997 he was invited to design and teach a course in Thai Yoga Massage at the University of Westminster. This 65 hour course was specifically aimed at students studying at graduate level within the School of Integrated Health at the University but, over the years, attracted students from many other faculties. Howard continued to teach the course at the University until 2006 and during this time trained four assistants who have all gone on to teach independently.
Howard has taught courses at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, University of Westminster, Morley College, CONFER and Diamond Light Tantra in London; Centro Maxime d’Harroche, Centro de Terapias Manuales and SITEM in Barcelona; AFEDECO and Centro Bettina Papenkort in Mallorca; Haber Bodywork and European Gathering – Free Style Thai Massage in Croatia.
Howard has written articles on Craniosacral Therapy for The Fulcrum (2006) and The Journal of Holistic Healthcare (November 2007).
In 2009 his book ‘A Myofascial Approach to Thai Massage’ was published by Churchill Livingstone with a foreword provided by Leon Chaitow. This groundbreaking book contributed to the emerging appreciation of the importance of connective tissue in health by proposing that the sen lines manipulated in Thai Massage and the nadis stretched and opened in yoga practice are actually myofascial pathways.
In 2011 the 3rd edition of ‘Modern Neuromuscular Techniques’ edited by Leon Chaitow included a chapter written by Howard suggesting that Neuromuscular Technique (which itself derived from ‘Pranatherapy’ practiced by Dr. Dewanchand Varma) and Thai Massage shared a common origin and aim.
Howard was a regular reviewer of articles for the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies at the request of its editor, Leon Chaitow. He also advises the publisher, Handspring Publishing and writes fiction.