Science Of The Lost Symbol


Human Healing Studies

Below we highlight an anecdotal story by a scientist turned healer and a few of the well-controlled and compelling experiments on human healing.

We begin, with the story of a scientist who never imagined herself a healer. Biophysicist Joyce Whiteley Hawkins was your average PhD researcher in cell biology until she was hit on the head by a falling leaded-glass window. She had a near-death experience, although at the time she had never heard of near-death experiences. However, her numinous experience profoundly changed her, and she discovered that her state of consciousness seemed changed. After a long journey exploring the anomalous experiences she was having, she learned she had a healing ability. By placing her hands over a person’s body, she could sense blocked energy and even diagnose problems, and by using her hands and sending out a healing intention, she could heal. Needless to say, her life completely changed. She gave up her research profession to be a healer and to teach people how they can heal themselves. In her book Cell-Level Healing: The Bridge from Soul to Cell, she tells her personal story, shares the healing stories of some of her patients, and provides meditation, imagery and visualization techniques for self-healing generally and for specific conditions.

In one account from her book, Hawkes tells of Jeremy, a twenty-something soccer player who suffered a broken ankle during a game. Everything medically possible was done to set and heal the bone, including surgery and cast immobilization, but eight months later Jeremy was still in pain and not fully functional. An orthopedic surgeon identified bone spurs as the problem but could only offer pain medication as a solution. It was unlikely Jeremy would ever play soccer again.

As a last resort, Jeremy went to see Hawkes. She worked energetically on his ankle, at the cell level, intending to activate his osteoclasts (cells that rebuild bone) and return the ankle to normal, with no bone spurs. After several sessions, Jeremy was fully healed, beyond any expectations of healing that his doctor thought possible. He resumed his normal life, including playing soccer, pain free and with full function.

Hawkes believes we can affect the way our bodies work, right down to the cell level, which is where she works and the level at which she teaches others to work. Although she is a trained scientist, she says her experience of energy healing has led her to believe that there is a component of spirituality in all healing. She sees spirituality not as a religion belief but simply as a deep connection with the “flow” of the universe. While she advocates immediate medical attention and treatment for disease and illness, she also believes we all have the capacity to heal ourselves or to, at the very least, enhance our well-being when we are healthy (even to slow aging!) and speed our recovery when we are ill. She says “how a person understands reality and illusion influences how they use healing energy. Translating spiritual blessing to the body—the Flow from Soul to Cell—is the interface between the etheric and material world. Like the interface of ocean and land, although the medium is different, liquid interfaces with solid, and both are real” (141).

We turn now to several studies of the influence of healers using energy and intention to heal or affect another human being. We will begin with one of the most cited energy healing studies on record.

In a study of distant healing on advanced stage AIDS patients, Fred Sicher, psychologist and hospital administrator, and Elizabeth Targ, psychiatrist and researcher, constructed a tightly controlled, double-blind protocol that asked a group of dozens of experienced energy healers to attempt to improve the health of a group of AIDS patients. (See McTaggart, The Intention Experiment, 47-48). The healers were told to use their normal techniques, as one aspect of the study was to see which techniques were most effective, so they wanted a range of healers using varied techniques. The healers ranged from a Christian healer using prayer to a Native American medicine man conducting drumming and pipe ceremonies to energy healers using a wide variety of approaches from toning to energetically correcting chakras to sending generalized healing intentions. For their part, the AIDS patients in the study group were matched closely for degree of disease (T-Cell counts, number of AIDS-related illnesses, psychological factors, and such). A control group of closely matched AIDS patients would not be sent any healing intentions or energy.

The healers worked over a ten-week period, with every other week off, and sent their assigned patients one hour of healing a week. The healers worked from wherever they lived, across the United States, so they had no contact with the patients and this was a distance healing experiment. The healers were mailed a packet with the photo of the patient they would be working, his name and his T-cell count. Every few weeks, the healers were sent a new packet and so worked on a different patient, so that each patient in the study group was eventually treated by ten different healers. During the experiment, patients were monitored by doctors who were blind to the study, and they received their routine medical care, as did the control group of patients.

At the end of the study, results were tabulated by a disinterested medical doctor. They showed that distant healing worked. Every patient in the study group was alive and had improved; in the control group there was no improvement and, in fact, forty percent of those AIDS patients had died. By the end of the experiment, the study participants had increased T-cell counts and were healthier in every category that the study accounted for. Overall, they had four times fewer hospitalizations than the control group and six times fewer AIDS-related complications or illnesses.

One interesting observation from the study was that when the researchers studied which healers were the most effective, they discovered it was the ones who used a general intention, asking only for better health for the patients, getting out of their own way and allowing a “greater force” to work through them to heal the patients. We will talk more about the most effective strategies for healing and intention in the Belief section.

In an interesting study of healing at a distance (also called nonlocal healing), Jeanne Achterberg, PhD, and a team studied whether distant healing could affect another person’s brain activity, as measured and imaged via functional magnetic resonance imagine (fMRI). Eleven healers from the Big Island of Hawaii were recruited, and they selected the person they would attempt to influence, as it had been shown from previous studies that healing effects may be more robust between people who share an emotional connection. The healers used a variety of methods: one was a qigong master, another was trained in Peruvian shamanism, others used generalized healing intention or the sending of “energy” healing intentions, another used a Hawaiian healing technique called pule, one used prayer, another Kahuna chants and songs, and so on. The experiment was not testing the efficacy of any particular healing intention method, but simply if the methods used would affect the recipient’s brain activity.

During the session, the healer sat in an electrically shielded room and had no contact with the person receiving the healing, who was in an adjacent part of the building in the fMRI machine, attended by medical personnel. The healer was instructed to send two-minute healing intentions at randomly selected times over a 34-minute testing period.

The results were statistically significant (p = 0.000127). All of the recipients’ brains showed increased activity, above baseline measures (10 minutes of baseline readings were taken before the experimental period started). Activity was most pronounced in the anterior cingulated cortex (associated with control and decision-making, especially correlating with verbal and motor responses; the rostral anterior cingulated cortex is known to become activated during opioid and placebo analgesic responses), frontal superior areas (correlated to information processing, judgment, decision-making) and precuneus (thought to correlate to resting consciousness and self-reflection).  These areas of the recipient’s brains showed more activity during the precise times that the paired healer was instructed to send a healing intention, and showed reduced activity during the non-sending time periods, even though they were randomly selected periods. The healers did not know in advance when a sending or non-sending period would occur, and the recipient had no knowledge of the timing of the effort. The authors conclude that no known biological effect can account for the correlations. They say the study is “consistent with the idea of entanglement in quantum mechanics theory.” (See their article “Evidence for Correlations between Distant Intentionality and Brain Function in Recipients.”)

Among those healers and energy workers who are most often studied are meditation masters, practitioners of the martial arts, and other practitioners of Eastern techniques. These are all energy-based techniques and practices, and so in studies the researchers can be relatively sure that the participants are experienced enough to be able to marshal their energy and intention.

In one study of qigong, which is an Eastern energy exercise not unlike tai chi that seeks to move, direct, and magnify the natural energies of the body, researchers sought to determine if a qigong master could heal at a distance and, in addition, could teach a person with no experience in energy exercises to use qigong to heal himself of serious illness. Kevin Chen, PhD, and Floyd Turner, PhD, in “A Case Study of Simultaneous Recovery from Multiple Physical Symptoms with Medical Qigong Therapy,” report on the experiences of the study subject, a 58-year-old man who suffered from elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA), atrial septal defect, asthma, allergies, pain from injuries sustained in an auto accident, high blood pressure, and edema in both legs. He was trained in quigong and undertook a daily practice while being monitored by the researchers. The qigong master who trained him also sent qi healings to the man for his pain.

Within two weeks of starting the qigong practice, the man’s blood pressure had dropped from 220/110 to 120/75. By the end of study period, 36 days later, the man had been able to stop taking all eight medications he had been on, has lost 35 pounds, has a resting pulse that dropped from 88 beats per minute to 68 in the morning and 55 in the evenings, had no more edema in his legs, no longer suffered from allergies or asthma, and had a normal PSA level. He also had no pain or vertigo, symptoms he experienced after the auto accident. The man’s four primary physicians were amazed at his improvements.

Interestingly, when the man experienced a personal loss and disrupted his qigong practice, his PSA level rose again to 12. After a session with the qigong master and a six-day resumption of intensive qigong practice, it dropped to 9.9. Two months later, as he continued his qigong practice, it was back to normal, at 4. His urologist had no explanation from conventional medicine for the changes. And while no doubt the exercise itself produced physical benefits, the study researchers, and the man’s team of primary care physicians, all agreed that there is no known conventional biological or medical explanation for the man’s recovery from every one of his symptoms in so short a time.

The authors of this study also report on other cases where the intensive practice of qigong has been reported to have healed illness. One form of qigong, called Five-Element qigong therapy, has been correlated to the remission of recurrent breast cancer with post-surgery metastasis, and another form to the qigong healing was correlated to the remission of a case of advanced liver cancer (which had been treated three times with surgery, to no avail). The reseachers caution, however, that not all forms of qigong are associated with such healing results, and those that are used “medically” should only be undertaken under the supervision of a trained qigong healer.

We are all healers. Our bodies are expert at healing. We are healing ourselves all the time. The mechanisms at play in healing a simple cut are stunningly complex and even miraculous, and biologists don’t understand them. If they cannot explain this simplest aspect of healing, which is biochemical in nature, it is no surprise that they don’t yet understand energy healing, spontaneous remission for cancer, and a host of other apparently “quantum healing” effects in the body. It is a challenge to study a living system, especially one as complex as the human body. That’s why conventional biologists are reductionists, taking things apart to study them, one cell or one tissue sample at a time. But we will never understand the body by studying it this way. We need a holistic approach, one that probes the body in its splendid wholeness and with all its systems working together. It is enormously difficult to quantify these processes and mechanisms, and yet noetic scientists know that if we are ever to understand what we humans are truly like, we have to find ways to study the dynamics of the body, not just its physical matter. The dynamics of the body include our consciousness, beliefs, expectations—aspects of ourselves that can’t be cultured in a petri dish for study under a microscope. It also includes forms of energy as yet undefined by conventional science. So, in truth, although we know intentional and energy healing occurs with regularity, we still don’t know how to harness it.

Energy healing remains a hit or miss affair, with no clear guidelines as to what works best. While it is clear that healing intention has some effect some of the time, and often quite dramatically, and that our intentions can affect matter, the question remains as to why it works sometimes and not others. As physicist Amit Goswami so eloquently reminds us in his book The Quantum Doctor: A Physciists Guide to Health and Healing: “You cannot choose health just by wishing it, which is cleverness. When you choose health from certainty, after a quantum leap, only then may you be able to master the energy to make lifestyle changes. And even so, you may not; it is that complicated” (266). Keeping his caution in mind, we now turn to a review of some of the explanations for how healing intentions may work.

Back to Healing Intentions II - Human Influencing Human Health

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