When I decided to take the first two levels of training in healing touch, I had no idea what I was going to learn. I knew it was endorsed by The Holistic Nurses Association. I also knew there was research being done in top hospitals across the country to back it up. The research evidence was showing that healing touch reduces pain and anxiety, as well as speeds up healing and recovery.
Healing touch is a form of energy medicine used to restore harmony and balance in the human energy system. Once balanced, the body’s own innate healing mechanism can work more efficiently.
When I sat down to write this blog post, I had a complete mental block. I took a moment to do a technique I learned at the healing touch workshop called Chakra Balance. The chakras are the main energy centers of the body, and they can become blocked or out of balance. Emotion, as well as trauma, can influence the energy system. E-motion is basically energy in motion.
I had a wise teacher once say that each and every one of us is unique. Even if we study the same knowledge, we are not studying through the same experience or the same point of view. There are so many people who can share the research and scientific data, and I can direct you to those web sites. I realize that is not what I am supposed to share with you. My experience of healing touch was not one of the mind, but one of the heart. I realized I was not supposed to give you an intellectual discourse on healing touch, but my heartfelt experience.
It was amazing to have two people completely present in the moment working together to open, connect, and balancing my energy system. It was more relaxing than any massage; it felt as if I was floating in clouds.
What made this amazing experience possible? Susan, my instructor, gave an example of touching a young man on the shoulder and saying, “Right now the only reason I exist in this universe is to serve you.” And you could feel she meant it. How many people even take the time to slow down to even be fully present with the person they are talking to? Just imagine for a second someone saying that to you and really meaning it. Amazing, right?
Part of what makes healing touch work is what is called therapeutic presence. Dr Shari Geller defines therapeutic presence as being completely in the moment on all levels—mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Jean Watson, nurse theorist, developed a Caritas Theory. Caritas is Latin and means love for all. An example of caritas would be the attitude that Mother Teresa had for mankind. She defined this level of presence as most closely aligned with caring consciousness, mindfulness, intentionality, and transpersonal caring. Watson states, "Transpersonal caring seeks to connect with and embrace the spirit or soul of the other through the processes of caring and healing, and being in authentic relationship, in the moment."1
The next important aspect of this healing relationship is compassionate detachment. Compassionate detachment is the ability to be present with a person while remaining separate from the outcomes of their situation.
The practitioner centers, grounds, and then attunes with the client or patient.
Centering can be defined as the concentration of attention or energy on something. In healing it is often referred to as a state of physical emotional and mental balance where you are present and aware, yet detached and being the observer.
Spiritually, grounding means grounding ourselves to the earth. You can ground by walking barefoot on the earth or you can use visualization to see your energy connect deep into the earth. Often this can be done by visualizing energy coming out of your feet deep into the earth.
Ungroundedness makes you feel as if you are getting out of touch with reality. You feel as if you are not your normal self. You could describe it as “being spaced out.” Taken to the extreme, ungroundedness can cause you to exaggerate your problems; your mind and emotions are in overdrive and are particularly hyper-sensitive. Because you expend a lot of energy unnecessarily and inappropriately, you experience extreme exhaustion.
Think of a child out of control. They have not learned to manage their emotions and energy system. My mind reflected on all the parents I seen practically abuse these poor kids because they did not know how to calm themselves. In fact, many adults do not know how to manage their own energy, so how could they teach it? Bottom line, what a different world it would be if, instead of punishing the little ones, we could ground them and teach them how to manage their energy. We could empower our children with tools rather than causing them to close down parts of their energy system out of fear.
You can quickly ground a person by holding their feet between the palms of your hands, or just holding their feet to the ground. Having the person breathe diaphragmatically can help.
After the practitioner centers and grounds themselves, they then attune to the client's energy by touching the client. Attunement is defined as being or bringing into harmony; a feeling of being "at one" with another being.
Now the practitioner can do an assessment, set the goals, and do the healing touch interventions. After the interventions are complete, the practitioner re-grounds and releases from the client's or patient's energy field.
My mind exploded with excitement. What if you just took the therapeutic sequence and taught it to nurses, along with how to balance their nervous system and deal effectively with stress? You would have happier, healthier nurses and patients that were truly “cared” for. You wouldn’t need scripts and countless interventions to get the patient satisfaction scores up. It would be a win-win for everyone.
A healing touch practitioner has so many wonderful things they can do to help a person besides just balancing the energy field. Just in Levels 1 and 2, students are trained to relieve pain, clear the negative effects of chemotherapy and anesthesia, aid healing, and facilitate peaceful passing of a dying person.
More information can be found, including research, on the Healing Touch web site.
Author: Debra Kahnen, RN, ND, is the CEO of Life Mastery LLC. With over three decades of healthcare experience—as both a nursing leader in the largest not-for-profit health system in Texas and as a naturopath focusing on wellness—her view is radically different. Debra is a renowned expert in stress management and wellness. She helps people improve their health and emotional well-being to allow for more peace, joy, and personal satisfaction. Get a free special short video eCourse, "Take back control of your life NOW!”, so you can experience more balance and ease in your life.
Article Resource: 1Watson, J. (2007). Transpersonal caring relationships and the caring moment defined. Retrieved June 2, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://www.nursing.ucdenver.edu/faculty/jw_transpersonal.htm
Article Photo: courtesy of stockimages / Free Digital Photos