Spiritual Healing In Hospitals And Clinics
I was determined to become a healer despite having no sign of natural ability. So, what made me leap into something for which I had no apparent talent?
Healing is a natural phenomenon. After all these years, it continues to amaze me that moving my hands around someone could possibly make a difference to their health and well-being. But there it is. It has been proven to me time and again.
There is nothing out of the ordinary about me. If I can learn to give healing then anyone can, if they are sincere and determined. Being more at home with logic and order, I found the world of healing strange but exciting; it opened up a new vista of learning and experiences, leading me to a fresh and wholesome perspective. Discovering healing and developing the skill has been a voyage of awe and wonder that is available to anyone who is prepared to embark.
Every healer I have known talks about sensing energies and seeing colors. They are often surprised to learn that I hardly ever experienced anything extrasensory until after many years of giving healing.
Healing has nothing to do with being psychic or being a medium. Though I am not interested in developing either of these skills, I do believe they are valuable gifts when used wisely. But, even if I were a psychic or a medium, the training I received directed against utilizing these senses while giving healing. Our remit is purely and simply to deliver healing. Consequently, when patients eagerly ask if I have picked up any information about them, I invariably have to disappoint. Even if a healer were psychic in any way, it would be against the rules of a reputable healing organization for a healer to glean information about a person without their knowledge. It would be like going through someone’s handbag without their permission.
People tend to assume that healers must be particularly kindly and goody-two-shoes types, but this is not necessarily so. However, thanks to the principles that underpin healer training, students become aware of the importance of continually working on themselves, dissolving fears and limitations, forgiving others and transforming the negative thoughts and emotions that lead to stress and worry. Anyone who has taken this challenge to heart will know that it is truly testing and soul-searching stuff.
I had a tremendous amount of work to do on myself and I have achieved a great deal, but it remains a lifelong work in progress. Even now, I can be enraged by the diabolical things that people do, and irritated by irksome things that people say. I often quip that I would be a perfect person if nobody upset me! But even that would not be true, of course. Ask anyone I know and they will confirm that I irk as much as anybody else. But rather than dwell upon where people have room for improvement, the point is that character flaws must be no barrier to us becoming effective healers. If we waited until we were perfect or “good enough,” nobody would ever learn to give healing.
If there were anything unusual to mention about me, it would be that I was determined to become a healer despite having no sign of natural ability. So, what made me leap into something for which I had no apparent talent?
It was the outcome of my quest to combat psoriasis, a flaky skin condition that was affecting my scalp, causing itching and embarrassment. This had been a constant and tiresome companion since my teens. There is no cure for psoriasis, and steroid cream is the only medical method of gaining temporary relief. Not willing to use steroids, I looked to complementary remedies but achieved no success. Psychology books pointed to deep emotional issues, and I attempted various methods of digging up the offending roots. I felt certain that I was on the right track and made some progress, but it was not enough.
To digress for a moment, hypnosis brought only a small improvement for the psoriasis, but a major breakthrough for smoking. Exactly as the hypnotist said, I have not wanted a puff of a cigarette since that one session.
During those explorations, I was surprised to be advised by a spiritual healer that I should take up healer training. The act of giving healing, she said, would balance the energies within me that were causing the psoriasis. She recommended the UK-based organization National Federation of Spiritual Healers (NFSH), later to become known as the Healing Trust. I had not heard of the organization before but I felt inspired to follow it up.
For me to resolve to be a healer was like someone who had never seen a cooker decide to be a chef; plus, I expected healing to be in my spare time and entirely unpaid. Also, cooking is within everyone’s experience and easily justifiable, whereas healing would be awkward to explain to curious family and friends. Despite the negatives, I felt a thrill at the prospect of training to heal, and I immediately signed up.
Blindly Learning To Heal
I had no sensitivity to the energies that were being talked about on the course, so I found that training to be a healer was like being led down a pitch-black alley without being able to touch the sides. Everyone else seemed to revel in the various sensations that confirmed the validity of what we were being taught. Conversely, I was impervious to such phenomena and just blindly followed instructions. I simply placed my hands in this place or that, precisely as shown, and trusted the process.
My lack of sensitivity seemed to make no difference to the actual effects. Patients gave me as much positive feedback as they did the others. It became evident to me that one could become an effective healer with no natural talent and without needing to sense the energies involved. I supposed that the key to effectiveness must be the amount of passion behind the intent to heal, as I certainly had an abundance of that.
My lack of sensitivity to energies could be due to my being what is termed predominantly “left-brained.” When the left hemisphere of the brain is dominant, the person is said to be analytical, objective and logical, which I can identify with. “Right-brained” people, on the other hand, are said to be intuitive, thoughtful and subjective. Neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor graphically describes her personal experience of being dominated alternately by the right or the left hemisphere of the brain. As a brain scientist, she was fascinated to witness this while suffering a devastating stroke. Her captivating TED Talk is available to view online.
The softer qualities of right-brained people certainly seem abundant among the countless healers I know. But, again, my being out of step with most other healers made no difference to the positive outcomes for patients.
Training with the Healing Trust means learning to heal without touching the patient, except for the shoulders and feet. However, we can elect to work with touch, in which case the only additional contact points are the joints of the arms and legs. The patient either sits on a chair or lies on a couch, fully clothed, while the healer encourages them to relax. The session begins with a light touch on the shoulders and then, with hands away from the body, we work downwards, starting around the head and along the trunk of the body. We then work in line with the skeleton, firstly along the spine, then down the arms and legs, finishing with a light touch on the shoulders. The whole process takes about 20 minutes.
For new patients, we explain that they may feel heat, cold, tingling or involuntary muscle jumps, or they might see colors. If they did not know of these possibilities in advance, they might feel alarmed at experiencing something out of the ordinary. Or they might see or feel nothing at all. Everything is normal.
During my training years, a consistent flow of positive feedback from patients compelled me to believe that the training was effective and that healing works. It was astonishing and exciting to find that, simply by my following the method taught, patients reported feeling better. Occasionally, people told me that they had felt physical movements happening deep within the afflicted part of the body, and that it now felt better. More often, people said that their pain had simply disappeared. Others reported that they had experienced a discomfort or an emotion rise up during the session that had then quickly melted away. Tense patients would leave relaxed and those who came in downcast would be uplifted.
I practiced my fledgling skills on willing friends and relatives. A colleague at work had been plagued with gout for weeks, and it was getting steadily worse. Walking was excruciatingly painful, but he continued to work full-time. His miserable expression showed that he was unable to find any relief for the agony and that it was getting him down. Although a total sceptic about healing, he was now desperate and prepared to try anything. One Friday lunchtime I gave him a healing session in the office — not the ideal setting in which to unwind, but we had no choice. He was impressed to find that, despite having so much on his mind, he was able to relax deeply. The experience lifted his mood, but the gout remained as painful as ever. I suggested that we try weekly sessions and he agreed.
But on the Monday morning he strode into work all smiles. With amazement all over his face, he described getting out of bed on the Saturday morning and reaching the bedroom door before realizing that his foot was back to normal. And it remained so.
Another surprising healing success concerned my young son. When flying, he invariably had difficulty getting his ears to pop to counteract the changing air pressure. To minimize the pain, we would travel with menthol crystals so that he could sniff the vapor to open his ear canals. Landing was the worst part of the flight, and the prospect of what was to come would spoil any journey for him. During one especially painful descent, I suddenly thought to try healing. There was no time to do the usual whole body circuit, so I simply cupped his ears. The pain disappeared within a minute and, for the first time, he was able to happily watch what was happening outside. He has never had the problem again.
It pleases me to think of ways in which physical improvements may not be as difficult to achieve as we might imagine. For instance, as easily as cells have moved out of their perfect place for health, why should they not return just as easily?
In my very early training days of discovery and wonder, I would eagerly ask each patient what they had felt or experienced during the session and then listen with incredulity to their account. However, I was soon gently corrected and advised that, as a healer, our only remit is to deliver healing. The extent of enquiry afterwards should be limited to “How did that feel?”, giving the patient the opportunity to share their experience without feeling pressured.
The range of regular and positive feedback convinced me beyond doubt that healing was making a wonderful difference to people’s lives. Further, if I could become an effective healer without the slightest prior ability, and without being able to sense energies, then surely anyone could. Some healing organizations teach that the ability to heal is a natural part of being human — that everyone is a healer, whether they believe it or not. I must have had the capacity all along; it just needed sparking.
Healer training with a reputable organization is spread over a couple of years to ensure that enough supervision and experience is gained before qualifying. At the end of my two years, on the way home from qualifying, the idea struck me to apply for a National Lottery grant to set up a voluntary healing center near my home. Voluntary healing centers are dotted all around the UK, but need to be local enough for people to access them easily. The more the better, I thought, and set about the paperwork. There had never before been a healing center start-up funded by a grant, so it was a wonderful surprise to open the award letter.
The first healer who agreed to team up knew of an ideal venue for us to use. Our team of eight dedicated healers welcomed patients month after month. Volunteers do not grow on trees, and they have a host of other things that they could be doing with their precious time, but these people made our Monday-morning sessions their priority, some travelling quite a distance. Together, we created a friendly and fun atmosphere that our visitors enjoyed being a part of.
Although our work with various self-help groups was enthusiastically received by their members and organizers, one of my main goals was to let the medical world know that healing exists and to have healing made available at NHS (National Health Service) venues such as doctors’ clinics and hospitals. My initiatives to bring healing into hospitals and to self-help groups were often welcomed, but we needed a senior person within a hospital or a general practice who was willing to champion our cause. It seemed a tall order, but I kept the thought alive in my mind.
Healing At The Hospital Begins
One day in 2006, I gave healing to a woman at our voluntary group who had been to us a few times but whom I had not yet met. I was amazed and thrilled when she told me that her hospital consultant had recommended that she come to us. Apparently, he had picked up some of our leaflets from a display stand and had also heard good reports from other doctors about spiritual healing. She said that he had referred a number of his patients to our group and was pleased with the results that he had seen. This was very exciting news. Perhaps he might be open to the idea of making healing available within the hospital.
I wrote to her consultant, Dr Sukhdev Singh, at the Gastroenterology Department of Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham and offered to deliver healing to his patients free of charge. To assure him of the professionalism of the Healing Trust, I detailed the minimum two-year training period, the national standards of training and of accredited tutors, the assessment panels, the professional code of conduct and disciplinary procedures. I also mentioned Healing Trust members who were already well established at other UK hospitals, so he would see that healing was accepted elsewhere.
Dr Singh replied to my letter in welcoming terms. He invited me to meet him on the ward where most of his gastroenterology inpatients are cared for. When he stepped forward to shake my hand, my first impression was of his down-to-earth kindliness, and I felt that we liked each other from the first moment. I was surprised to discover that Dr Singh himself led meditation and mindfulness1 classes for his patients, free of charge and in his own time. It was refreshing and uplifting to meet a medical expert who was proactively including complementary therapies within his provision of care.
I began work with Dr Singh’s patients in August 2007. After their consultation with him, he would suggest that they might benefit from a healing session with me. If they took up the offer, I would lead the person to my room next door.
It is often said that a complementary therapy session helps patients to feel better because they are in nurturing surroundings. However, the room I use at the hospital is a standard, sterile consultation room with no soft music or potted palms. The examination couch in the center is surrounded by the usual array of medical equipment, and the view through the first-floor window is of the local cemetery.
Another common assertion is that patients feel better only because a complementary therapist takes an interest in them as a person and provides a kindly listening ear. But I exchange just a couple of sentences with a new patient, simply to put them at their ease.
Knowing that the people I see at the hospital have gastric problems, I sometimes lay my hands on their abdomen. When people attend a hospital appointment they anticipate unpleasant invasive treatment so, by comparison, being asked if it is okay to lightly touch inoffensive areas is probably a welcome departure. They invariably agree, and many comment on how comforting it feels.
Working with patients who have been suffering for a very long time, despite the best medical care, may seem daunting for a healer. I attempt to maintain a highly positive mindset by means of a variety of methods.
If just one person can make a physical, mental or emotional recovery, then anyone can. The Institute of Noetic Sciences has compiled a database of thousands of medically reported cases where clinical remission has mysteriously occurred.
It did not feature in my training, but I believe that the greater a sense of elation and bliss the healer can generate and clinical maintain during the session, the better the outcome for the patient. Whether true or not, it feels brilliant for the healer. Occasionally, I feel intense waves of euphoria and at other times a sudden upwelling of deep emotion that passes through me and goes. When this happens to me, the patient often remarks afterwards that they felt something similar happening to them, and how light and bright they now feel. Others have described having the most amazing experiences, while I was aware of nothing at all. To me, these experiences confirm that powerful healing is occurring.
How can a healer remain optimistic in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds? Physical problems often appear impossible to change. It pleases me to think of ways in which physical improvements may not be as difficult to achieve as we might imagine.
For instance, as easily as cells have moved out of their perfect place for health, why should they not return just as easily? After all, each cell is made up of millions of atoms, and each atom is mostly empty space. The nucleus of an atom is equivalent to the size of a football in the middle of a football field, with the nearest electron orbiting way outside of the stadium. With such a vast amount of space inside atoms, and with atoms being the building blocks of everything in our world, even the most “solid” piece of rock is, in fact, mostly empty space. So perhaps there really is more room for the cells of our body to maneuver than seems possible.
Added to this, astrophysicists know that mysterious elements — dark energy and dark matter — exist that affect the world we can perceive. About 68 percent of the universe is dark energy and about 27 percent is dark matter. This means that less than 5 percent of all that exists is observable. The remaining 95 percent is only known about because it has an effect on the physical world around us.2 It does not seem such a great stretch, then, for healers to say that there must be an unknown force called healing energy because it has an observable effect on living things.
Scientist James Oschman Ph.D. explains in his book Energy Medicine how our cells and tissues respond to energies and vibrations all around us, and discusses the role of natural energy forces within us that work to maintain normal health and well-being.
Scientist Gregg Braden offers a wealth of evidence in his award-winning books to support his contention that there is a field of energy connecting all of creation. He says we communicate with this field through the language of our emotions, and the quality of those emotions reflects in our physical health.
All in all, it seems possible that the physical positioning of atoms, and therefore cells, may be more fluid than we think. Even if it were not actually true, the concept gives me a more limitless mindset when giving healing. But in many cases, there seems to be no other explanation.
If just one person can make a physical, mental or emotional recovery, then anyone can. The Institute of Noetic Sciences has compiled a database of thousands of medically reported cases where clinical remission has mysteriously occurred.3 These recoveries clearly cannot happen outside of the natural laws of physics, chemistry and biology; it must be that we simply do not yet know all of the laws.
- Institute of Noetic Science, Spontaneous Remission Bibliography Project http://www.noetic.org/research/projects/spontaneous-remission
Sandy Edwards is a fellow of the Healing Trust, UK. She set up a voluntary healing clinic and volunteered in hospitals before instigating the largest medical research trial of spiritual healing, the results of which she presented at the Houses of Parliament in London. Sandy has served as a trustee of the Healing Trust charity and lives in Dorset, UK. https://healinginahospital.uk/