Howard left school in 1974 and joined a workers’ collective running ‘Uhuru’, a wholefood shop and café in East Oxford. As well as working in the shop and cafe, Howard was also active in local community projects pioneered by Uhuru.
Exhausted after a couple of years trying to change the world, Howard realised the need to change himself. His only tool, a little book called ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’, inspired him to search for the experience of ‘being in the moment’, whilst working variously as an organic gardener, an oil rig steward and a labourer on a gas pipeline project that cut across Scotland.
In 1978, inspired by a work colleague, Howard set off overland to India. After some wonderful weeks hitch-hiking through Europe, he boarded the ‘Magic Bus’ in Istanbul, bound for Delhi. Unfortunately, he 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.
The days of the Magic Bus ended in a deadly ambush on the road from Herat to Kandahar. That close encounter with death fully woke Howard to the present and inspired a deep and lifelong search for meaning.
After eight months in India, Howard returned to England to study Traditional Chinese Medicine with J R Worsley in Leamington Spa. He also became shop manager of Neals Yard Wholefoods in London’s Covent Garden.
Howard’s acupuncture studies led him not into therapy practice but into twelve years of ‘fourth way’ studies under the guidance of some remarkable teachers. He retrained in Information Technology and, for the next six years, worked for British Telecom International as a Business Analyst. He also studied dance (Limon technique), voice (Roy Hart Theatre), acting (Actor’s Institute and Jack Waltzer), physical theatre and yoga. That inner journey culminated in his performance in Sam Shepard’s play ‘Tongues’ 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 followed Keleman’s advice and started training in Integrative Psychotherapy at The Minster Centre.
In 1992 Howard learned Traditional Thai Healing Massage and started a practice at The Life Centre in Notting Hill Gate, as a means to fund his psychotherapy training.
Howard continued his psychotherapy training at the Karuna Institute where he studied Core Process Psychotherapy. It was here that he came to truly appreciate his skills as a therapeutic bodyworker. In 1996 he completed a post-graduate training in Craniosacral Therapy with Franklyn Sills while 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 the late Leon Chaitow and Dr David Peters. Howard’s MA thesis discussed the significance of therapeutic listening both from a craniosacral and psychotherapeutic perspective. He suggested the possibility of a ‘memory of health’ to which the patient could reorient, given the right therapeutic relationship.
Howard has presented his work at:
- SITEM (Simposio Internacional de Técnicas de Masaje), Barcelona, 1998
- SITEM, Barcelona, 2000
- CONFER, ‘The Power of Touch’, London, 2007
- CONFER, ‘The Practitioner’s Body’, London, 2008
- Son Llatzer Hospital, Mallorca, October 2008
- Son Llatzer Hospital, Mallorca, June 2009
- IBILAB Clinic for assisted pregnancy, April 2014
Howard’s teaching career started in 1994 when he was asked to teach Thai Yoga Massage at Morley College in London. He also served as a course assessor for the London Open College Network, guiding other providers through the process of course design and accreditation.
In 1997 he was asked to teach Thai Yoga Massage at the University of Westminster. Although this course was originally designed for students studying within the School of Integrated Health, it attracted students from other faculties and provided a rare opportunity for knowledge exchange across departments. Howard continued to teach the course at the University until 2006.
Howard has taught 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).
Howard’s first book, ‘A Myofascial Approach to Thai Massage’, was published in 2009 by Churchill Livingstone. This groundbreaking book contributed to the emerging appreciation of the importance of connective tissue in health care. The book proposed that the ‘sen’ manipulated in Thai Massage and the ‘nadis’ stretched and opened in yoga practice can be better understood as myofascial pathways than as energy lines.
In 2011 the 3rd edition of ‘Modern Neuromuscular Techniques’ included a chapter written by Howard, in which he suggested that Neuromuscular Technique (which itself derived from ‘Pranatherapy’ practiced by Dr. Dewanchand Varma) and Thai Massage share a common origin and aim.
Howard was a regular reviewer of articles for the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies under its editor, the late Leon Chaitow. He also advises the publisher, Handspring Publishing and writes fiction. His books can be found on Amazon.