‘Spiritual’ healing or ‘energy’ healing?
In the 1990s I trained as a ‘spiritual healer’ in England with the National Federation of Spiritual Healers, now called The Healing Trust. Some of the earliest members of the NFSH (founded in 1954) had been what you might call ‘old school healers’. They believed the invisible power of God could be brought to their clients by a simple technique – the ‘laying on of hands’.
By the time I was following the NFSH accreditation courses, many so-called New Age ideas had crept into their teaching: chakras, auras and crystals had never been in the vocabulary of the founding healers, who would say things like ‘you just get out of the way and let God sort the problem’. The more complex, New Age version of spiritual healing is what people nowadays describe as ‘energy healing’.
Reiki and Seichem healing
Most people reading this blog will know something about the more recent healing modalities that blossomed late last century. You may have trained in the most popular therapy, Reiki, which is now an acceptable complementary therapy. It is welcomed by some conventional organisations, such as medical practices and hospices. I personally haven’t trained in these areas, so I can’t offer any testimony, or considered commentary, but many people report satisfactory, sometimes remarkable, results.
The fact that Reiki has become so popular suggests that this methodology has the power to help people through difficult times. Although, correctly, practitioners do not claim to cure illnesses. When dealing with physically or emotionally challenging problems, clients are always recommended to include Reiki along side conventional allopathic (drug- and surgery-based) medical practices. However, there are stories circulating that, when the regular medics run out of options, people diagnosed with terminal illnesses may turn, as a last resort, to energy healing. They often find their terminal issue goes ‘into remission’ and they continue living, against the odds predicted by the medical profession.
Reiki involves placing hands on the client’s body, Seichem (pronounced say-keem) is a variant of Reiki and involves manipulation of the client’s aura as well. More information about both these modalities can be found on the Reiki and Seichem Association’s website.
How does spiritual healing work?
Experiments have demonstrated that these healing modalities are not simply based on the ‘placebo effect’ – in other words, because people believe they will work. The International Reiki Organisation has some very useful articles on how Reiki works, including an account of controlled trials and improvement in blood health.
Basically, what we learn is that a ‘life force’ flows through us and creates a harmonious energy field around us. This can be vulnerable to disruption due to trauma or life-situation – external influences – or from negative thoughts and feelings – internal influences. When either of these happens, the successful flow of energy to our cells and vital organs is inhibited.
For healing to take place, a Reiki healer promotes changes in the energy field by introducing various energetic symbols they learned when they were ‘attuned’ by a ‘Master’, who claims lineage from the original Japanese Reiki Master and ascetic shaman, Mikai Usui, who died in 1926. Gautama Sakyamuni, the Buddha, ‘gave’ it to him, according to Usui. The Healing Trust doesn’t claim to ‘attune’ people, they just teach a series of general hands-on healing techniques. Other healers feel they have a natural gift.
Is there more than one kind of life force?
Early in the last century, the French expression elan vital, meaning ‘life force’, was coined by the French philosopher, Henri Bergson, in his book, Creative Evolution. Bergson was an immensely popular speaker, a philosopher rock star who drew large audiences to his talks, especially in America. This was how the term elan vital filtered into Western culture. People who didn’t want to use the word ‘God’ felt comfortable with the idea of ‘life force’. What is a bit puzzling in modern spiritual healing descriptions is the idea that various healing therapies are accessing different kinds of life forces, as though there is more than one!
The Chinese word qi, sometimes spelled chi or ki, means ‘life energy’. In Hindu philosophy, the Sanskrit word prana is translated as breath, life force or vital principle. In this system there are several ‘types’ of prana and an elaborate model describing the flow of energy in the human body. There are three major nadis, or channels, through which energy flows up and down the spine. Here, seven spinning wheels of energy called chakras process the energy flow. I always think these are rather like the lock-gates we build when we channel water through canal systems. According to yogic practice, the chakras are always spinning at different speeds. Hindu scriptures suggest this powerful energy emanates from the Sun.
By the way, the original yogic systems do not identify colours for chakras. That’s a Western overlay, developed by modern New Age teachers.
Many words, one life force
Other words for the life force, the ever-flowing power that sustains and animates Creation are:
They’re all different words, but they describe the same energy, the same life force. My conviction is there is only one life force – we just experience the energy in a variety of ways. This means we can establish a variety of reliable options for working with this power. Some of these may stimulate very positive results. The effects may be livelier with some systems than with others. Like a pianist, the energy field of the healer will also have an impact. Yes, anyone can learn to play if they persevere, but only a limited number will become concert performers who move their audiences.
So… what is spiritual healing then?
Any system designed to encourage the harmonious flow of the life force is a spiritual healing modality. When the life force is flowing easily, all levels of our being will naturally tend towards well-being. Any of these modalities can offer such an opportunity.
You probably already know that I teach a creative meditation technique, The Shefa Method, which rebalances your shefa while also taking advantage of the unique creative possibilities that open up to you when in a deep place of meditation. This technique also offers powerful healing possibilities. People who learn the Shefa Method for personal use find a variety of health issues gradually lifting. I also train students to use the Shefa Method as a healing modality. Click here to read a case study by a qualified Shefa Healer.