Energy healing is an ancient practice found in cultures and creeds throughout history. There are a few basic assumptions that lay the groundwork for energy-based healing modalities:
- Practitioners believe that in addition to our physical body, we have an energetic body (or even multiple energetic bodies);
- Physical symptoms arise when the subtle energy that flows through and around the body is disrupted; and
- By manipulating the subtle energy of a patient, the patient’s self-healing abilities are activated.
There are many, many forms of energy healing — in fact, the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health identifies more than 200 approaches — but today, we’ll briefly explore just 20 of these.
Common techniques that involve physical touch include:
BodyTalk™. Based on the idea that the body is innately wise and can heal itself, BodyTalk™ fuses ancient Chinese medicine, yoga, acupuncture, and meditation with neuroscience, epigenetics, and neurolinguistic programming. Therapy sessions involve a gentle form of neuromuscular biofeedback (muscle checking) and gentle tapping on specific energy points that redirect your body’s healing energy.
Healing Touch. Healing Touch was created by Janet Mentgen, an energetically sensitive nurse. Throughout her 40+ year career in nursing, she noticed the power of compassionate presence on critically ill patients. To perform a session, practitioners first ground themselves and intend to stimulate the patient’s self-healing capabilities. The practitioner then places their hands above or on the body, in a sequence, for up to 60 minutes.
Polarity Therapy. Developed in 1947 by Dr. Randolph Stone, an Austrian-American osteopath, chiropractor and naturopath, Polarity therapy (PT) represents an integration of Eastern and Western theories and healing techniques. It is a holistic approach to healing that involves lifestyle choices, Ayurvedic-inspired diet, and bodywork techniques. PT holds that an omnipresent energy flows through the universe and flows through the human body. When disease is present, the energy is unstable or hindered. A practitioner applies manual pressure to “opposite” points in the body (e.g., left side of the head, right side of the abdomen).
Magnet Therapy. The effects of energy forces and magnetism have been studied by many cultures dating back as early as the Roman and Greek Empires. Magnet therapy is based on the idea that the human body has its own magnetic field and that all living organisms, in fact, exist in a magnetic field. Therapeutic magnets are placed on certain regions of the body, close to meridian points, allowing energy to flow and balance to be restored to the body.
Quantum Touch. Quantum Touch originates from the healing work of Bob Rasmussen, a man described as a gifted intuitive and healer, in the late 1970s. Practitioners claim that through the use of light touching, breathing techniques, and body awareness meditations they are able to influence the “life-force” (sometimes called qi) of the body, which facilitates self-healing in patients. Using light touch, breathing techniques, and mindful meditation, practitioners claim to influence the life force of a patient.
Reflexology. The known history of reflexology dates as far back as ancient Egypt, around 2,500 B.C, from which hieroglyphic scenes depicting such treatment have been discovered. In addition to purportedly balancing qi, reflexology leans into the extensive network of nerve pathways in the foot. It involves applying pressure to different parts of the body to relieve pain anywhere in the body and sometimes overlaps with massage.
Reiki. Reiki was developed in the 1920s in Japan and is one of the oldest and most widely practiced forms of energy healing. While it has many schools, the fundamentals are the same: a practitioner transfers universal energy to another sentient being. The practitioner holds their hands over specific points in the recipient’s body and channels that universal energy to facilitate a self-recovery response. Reiki is also sometimes practiced from a distance.
Therapeutic Touch. Developed by Dolores Krieger, a nursing professor, and Dora Kunz, a psychic and alternative healer, Therapeutic Touch (TT) is a modern twist of “Laying-on-of-hands,” where a religious figure would place their palms on a recipient’s head while saying a blessing or prayer (not specific to a religion). TT sessions vary depending on practitioners and patients. Fundamentally, they all involve scanning a patient’s body with hands held 2-6 inches from the body and “clearing” areas where energy feels congested.
Common techniques that do not involve physical touch include:
Intercessory Prayer. Agents of intercessory prayer are often practitioners of Christianity. According to the Bible, this was the modality that Jesus used to perform healing miracles. It is believed that to pray for others is to intercede in whatever is happening in order to change the circumstances with God’s intervention, whether it is an illness, injury, or hardship.
Johrei. Originating from a religious group founded in Japan in the early to mid 20th century, Johrei translates to “purification of the spirit.” Their leader, Mokichi Okada, believed that the role of the church was to accelerate the realization of paradise on earth and that Johrei was part of that process. A typical session involves the practitioner visualizing a healing white light from the universe and using a hand to channel the light to the recipient.
Pranic Healing. Pranic Healing originated thousands of years ago in China, was revived in the 6th century AD, and again later in the 20th century by people who claimed to be able to perceive energy as color. Prana is a Sanskrit word that refers to the life-energy flowing through all things. A session involves the practitioner visually scanning the patient’s aura and chakras for blockages. Once a blockage has been identified, the practitioner accumulates prana and envisions sending it in specific colors to the recipient.
Reconnective Healing. Reconnective Healing (RH) was established in 1993 by Dr. Eric Pearl, a chiropractor, who believed he had the ability to connect with energy and work with it to heal people. The technique uses higher frequencies (reconnective frequencies) which can be accessed and directed to a person’s electromagnetic field to affect change at a molecular level. The procedure involves an attunement process that is performed only once in a lifetime by a facilitator who never physically touches the patient throughout the session.
Sound Healing. Sound Healing was developed in Australia 40,000 years ago and has been practiced all over the globe in cultures throughout history for therapeutic purposes. Today, it can use any number of instruments, like crystal bowls, tuning forks, and the human voice. By subjecting patients to various frequencies, healers harmonize cells, organs, and biological systems which may have been disrupted, blocked, or out of sync with the remainder of the body and its environment. In a typical session, a recipient lies down and relaxes. At the same time, a practitioner applies sound over various points in their body, including the chakras.
Spiritual/Psychic/Shamanic Healing. Spiritual/Psychic/Shamanic Healing involves the purposeful intervention by one or more people in order to help another being or system improve its condition in some way. Traditional shamanic healers will often use rituals and invoke spirits or animal totems to assist them. They (and the practitioner) may ingest psychoactive plants. And while shamanic practices vary widely, they all involve utilizing compassionate techniques and vivid mental imagery.
Qigong. A form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the history of qigong can be traced back thousands of years. qigong is a system of techniques to influence or cultivate the flow of qi (subtle energy) within the body in order to attain and/or maintain mental and physical health. Qi flows through channels in the body called meridians and qigong practice uses a combination of physical postures, exercises, breathing techniques, and conscious focus of the mind to improve the flow of qi. In external qigong, a practitioner projects their qi to the patient to treat them.
Vortex Healing (VH). Vortex Healing has its roots in an ancient Avatar called Mehindra around 753 BC. VH is the intention to heal, transform, and open individuals to the inner freedom of true being that is beyond egoic consciousness. VH takes place through a channeling process located in the heart, which involves pulling energy into the person, affecting their physical and emotional vibrational energetic system through light-energy that flows into the healee’s vital web. During VH there is direct consciousness transmission from the healer to the healee. Meditations are used for connecting the healee more deeply within the divine presence and
opening of the spiritual heart.
Bengston Energy Healing Method®. The Bengston Energy Healing Method is a subtle energy-based healing modality that uses a mental technique developed by researcher William Bengston, PhD. The mental technique is referred to as “cycling,” which represents rapid mental imaging that, in effect, gets the mind of the practitioners “out of the way” so that healing energy can be channeled to the recipient. Toxins tend to be released in such a way that symptoms of healing may result in adverse reactions at first, which can take place emotionally, mentally and physically.
Common, self-administered techniques include:
Thought Field Therapy. Dr. Roger Callahan, a psychologist with training in applied kinesiology and an interest in acupuncture theory, began developing Thought Field Therapy (TFT) in the early 1980s. TFT operates under the belief that a one-to-one relationship exists between the body’s energy meridian points and thought field perturbations. In short, it is a form of psychotherapy that uses physical stimulation, such as tapping movements, while directing one’s attention to specific psychological symptoms (such as traumatic memories).
Emotional Freedom Techniques. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a derivative of Thought Field Therapy that specifies 12 acupressure points throughout the body as areas for stimulation. EFT theory is based on the perceived connection between an individual’s thoughts, emotions, subtle energies, neurological activity and cellular function. EFT begins with making a statement about the negative problem and then repeating self-affirming statements while tapping these points.
Tapas Acupressure Technique. Created by an acupuncturist named Tapas Fleming, this self-administered modality involves applying pressure to various points in the body while directing one’s consciousness toward physical, emotional, or ancestral trauma in need of healing.
In summary, there are hundreds of energy-healing techniques out there. And while energy healing has been around for thousands of years, science is just beginning to catch up! If you’re interested in learning more about the science behind energy healing, be sure to check out the Institute of Noetic Sciences’ Exceptional Healers Pilot Study.