Healing: a Perspective

“It is believed by experienced doctors that the heat that oozes out of the hand, on being applied to the sick, is highly salutary. It has often appeared, while I have been soothing my patients, as if there was a singular property in my hands to pull and draw away from the affected parts, aches and pains and diverse impurities, by laying my hand upon the place, and by extending my fingers towards it. Thus it is known to some of the learned that health may be implanted in the sick by certain gestures, and by contact, as some diseases may be communicated from one to another.”

This is Hippocrates talking in the 5th century BC. But healing goes back much further than this. Around the year 2100 BC a scribe was writing in cuneiform on a stone tablet, the earliest known writing concerning medicine, found at Nippur in Mesopotamia. He describes two forms of treatment for illness: one by what we would now call a physician and the other by a healer/priest. Ancient Egyptian reliefs show the act of healing; Native American cave paintings, and cave paintings in the Pyrenees depict the laying on of hands, and most of the major religions have a healing ministry. The most famous example in the Christian culture is of course Jesus, and there is evidence that the Essene community which thrived at the time of Jesus had a healing ministry. Part of the original Christian ministry is to heal but the Synod of Ancyra in 314 issued a decree forbidding healing. I am pleased that most of the churches are making space for this.

Healing was again to the fore in medieval Britain when the King's Touch was thought to be of great benefit. It fell into disrepute in late Victorian times when it became associated with some of the more dramatic forms of Spiritualism and paranormal activities, and even now some people associate it with witches and broomsticks.

I think that those of us with the healing gift have a duty to heal, and we are all healers in that we make others feel better with little acts of kindness - a smile, a caring touch, a hug, an offer to help, a telephone call to say hello. This article is about spiritual healing, also known as the laying-on-of-hands, though I do not care for the latter expression because for me it has implications of a dramatic act; healing is not like that. It is a process - it is not an event.

Healing is defined by the dictionary in its broadest sense as ‘restoring to health’. This implies that we are body only. I prefer the definition of ‘restoring to wholeness’ because we are body, mind and spirit. Each of these three is as important as the other; they have to be in balance for us to be whole. If one of those three things is pressurised then one or both of the others is affected in a knock-on effect, as in stress causing a physical problem. We tend to dwell on the malfunctioning of the body because that is where most of our problems manifest.

Hippocrates again:

“Disease is not an entity but a fluctuating condition of the patient's body, a battle between the substance of a disease and the natural self-healing tendency of the body.”

Healing helps and supports that natural self-healing.

Spiritual healing is the direct channelling of unconditional loving healing energy. So the healer is not the source of the energy but the facilitator. Deborah Cowens, an American healer, says, Healing is the act of consciously directing life energy from the infinite source through the healer to the person in need of assistance. Jim Pym, a well-known Quaker healer says, Spiritual healing consists of providing a space through which and in which the spirit of wholeness may manifest. When asked what is healing, I say that the healing energy is an aspect of the divine. The natural ability of the body to heal itself is often blocked by tension caused by stress, or lack of care for the body. Healing is very relaxing so healing helps in that respect by releasing tension and allowing repair to proceed. Penny Brohn Cancer Care (formerly The Bristol Cancer Support Centre) rates healing as the number one complementary therapy in the fight against cancer.

It is usually done in a one-to-one situation but it can also be done by a group of people giving healing to one or more people or sending healing to people who are physically absent from the room, called distant healing. Spiritual healing does not depend on adherence to any specific religious belief. Also it is not necessary to have any faith in it for it to be effective, so it is not faith healing, although, as in most cases, believing in something does help it to work more effectively.

The healer often gets asked, “Can you cure this?”, “Can you cure that?” The healer does not cure anything. It is the healing energy that does the work. It is not possible to foresee the outcome of healing and, when giving healing, the healer does not usually have an outcome in intention. The person being healed unconsciously uses the healing energy and it goes to where it is most needed. It is important to ensure that a healer has been properly trained and is a member of a recognised body that has a strict code of conduct. This code of conduct ensures, among other things, that all the client says is treated in strict confidence and that the client will be treated with respect and in a non-judgemental way. Having found a healer you need to be aware that if you feel uncomfortable with the person you may need to find another healer. It is sometimes as important to have the right therapist, as it is to have the right therapy.

Some healers make a charge because it is their livelihood or because they need the income to pay for continuing professional development and updating. Others make no charge or ask for a donation either for themselves or for a favourite charity. It is advisable to discuss charges on first contacting the healer.

When you go to a healer you will be invited to share the reasons for going. Although this is not strictly necessary it may help the healer to give more suitable healing and perhaps suggest other ways in which you could be helped. You will not be asked to remove your clothing apart, perhaps, from your shoes and outdoor wear. You may be asked to lie on a couch or to sit on a chair. The healer will spend a little time attuning and then usually slowly moves the hands all over the body holding them a few inches away. Some healers use touch and if you feel uncomfortable with that then you should say. You may feel heat coming from the hands of the healer. This is normal. After receiving healing you may feel a little lightheaded due to the deep relaxation that is induced. This is also normal and goes away after a few minutes. It is a good idea to take it easy for the 24 hours after the healing so the energy can do its work.

Why not try it? You have nothing to lose but your illness.