An Overview of Spiritual and Energetic Healing
There are countless methods for spiritual and energetic healing and the following offers some explanation of the different broad categories most healing approaches fall into. Some modalities require many sessions, some take just seconds. Many use different hand positions and specific manipulations, some involve no touch at all, and others are practiced over long distances. Some are designed to treat specific symptoms and some are aimed at changing our very DNA. Some are steeped in religious dogma, ritual and ancient traditions while others are founded in science. Here are a few basic styles of healing and what characterizes each of them.
Energy healing works with an energetic field that permeates and extends beyond the physical body. Signs of illness show up in this field before manifesting as physical symptoms and with a little practice this “aura” can be experienced, even by a novice. While the awareness of an energy field has been an integral part of mainstream medicine in the Eastern hemisphere for thousands of years (with medical systems such as acupuncture being every bit as precise, specialized and effective as Western medical techniques), it’s a relatively new addition to Western ways of thinking.
Energy healing generally operates in much the same way as conventional medicine, by addressing symptoms, identifying energy blocks and areas of dysfunction, and moving energy around in specific, mechanical ways. The healer often visualizes transferring or channeling healing energy to the recipient, using energy in much the same way an MD uses medication, surgery and other treatment. Therapeutic Touch, a technique developed by nurse, Delores Krieger, Ph.D., R.N., is a well-known example of this approach that has become increasingly integrated into mainstream medicine since she introduced it into New York University’s nursing curriculum in the 1970’s. Her book, The Therapeutic Touch is an excellent introduction to the practice of energy healing.
With spiritual healing, instead of moving energy around to address specific problem areas, the healer goes into a powerful state of unconditional love and has an experience of becoming one with the healing recipient. Rather than focusing on illness, the healer joins with the person’s spiritual self, where there is no illness. This powerful attention to the recipient’s intrinsic wellness helps call it forth. I think of this style of healing as “repatterning” rather than repairing.
Faith healing doesn’t require that the healer “diagnose” energetically, direct energy, or be versed in a particular methodology. There may still be a focus on symptoms and on disappearing signs of illness but healing is performed by invoking the power of a higher spiritual source, as in Christian faith healing. Faith healers often describe their work as “prayer.”
Attitudinal healing is simply a shift in perspective that assumes illness to be illusionary and the spiritual essence of our being to be eternally whole and complete. Thus, by identifying with our spiritual wholeness rather than our physical dis-ease, we can feel at peace regardless of outer circumstances and often release physical symptoms of illness as well. The term “attitudinal healing” was coined by psychiatrist, Gerald Jampolsky to describe a philosophy he drew from A Course in Miracles and applied in his work with children and adults experiencing illness (there are now many Centers for Attitudinal Healing around the world based on Jampolsky’s modelÑGoogle “Center for Attitudinal Healing” to find out more) but there are numerous approaches to healing that give attention to attitude rather than illness. Some metaphysical paths even discourage healing practices altogether on the premise that the act of “healing” affirms the reality of illness and is counterproductive to achieving the greater reality that we are already perfectly whole.
The Common Denominator: Healing Follows Intention
All of these methods are very good at facilitating a peaceful state and all have been known to facilitate the spontaneous healing of physical illness, sometimes quite miraculously. Is one method better than another? I tend to think they’re like apples and oranges, different and useful in different ways. The key principle that makes them all work, even ones that seem to contradict one another, is that healing follows the intention of the healer. While healers may be using hands or voice in very specific ways to direct energy, invoking higher powers, using elaborate ritual or working within a framework of specific religious dogma, it’s their expectations, beliefs and envisioning of the healing process, along with their heart-felt caring, that are bringing about a healing response.