The Suffolk Healers constitution defines 'spiritual healing' as the beneficial effect a healer has on a patient when, motivated by their own beliefs and following their normal practice, they administer healing 'in contact' through the hands or at a distance by thought transference or prayer.
When used in the context of Complementary Medicine, the term "Spiritual Healing" has more than one meaning. It refers to a specific complementary therapy where a healer channels energy to a recipient to bring about a beneficial effect; the healer may be in contact with the recipient (laying-on-of-hands) or the healing may be carried out at a distance (absent or distant healing). Spiritual Healing is also a global name for all energy therapies where healers channel energy to recipients either in contact or at a distance. Therapies such as Reiki, LeShan Healing and Therapeutic Touch all come under the 'Spiritual Healing' banner.
The Suffolk Healers definition of 'Spiritual Healing', see above, is a global definition thus it encompasses all healing therapies where energy is channelled to a recipient either in contact or at a distance. In practice, however, Suffolk Healers limits membership to those who practice, or wish to train in, Spiritual Healing and/or Reiki Healing. Neither of these therapies are related to Faith Healing; neither depend on the beliefs of the Healer or the Patient in order to work, they work equally well on plants and animals, neither of which are known for their faith or suggestibility.
Spiritual Healing is an ancient therapy that is still very much in use today, and whose use is becoming much more widespread. There are now more than 8,000 registered healers in the UK, and more than 50,000 healers provide 18 million sessions annually in the USA. A formal version of Spiritual Healing known as 'Therapeutic Touch' was developed by an American nurse, Dolores Kreiger, and is now often used by American and British nurses on their patients; some hospitals now offer training in this therapy to their nursing staff. Many doctors are registered healers, and Spiritual Healing is now often available in hospices, clinics and, if you live in the UK, in some doctors' surgeries.
Visually, Reiki is very similar to Spiritual Healing; they are both energy therapies using an energy-model of the human body rather than the orthodox mechanical model of western medicine; and the outcome is the same (i.e. a healer channels energy into a patient to bring about a beneficial effect). The main differences lie in how that outcome is reached: Reiki is passed on from Master to Student via an Attunement process that looks similar to Shamanic Healing rituals; the Attunement process allows a permanent connection with the Energy without the need for further self-attunement. This differs from Spiritual Healing where the student is taught to self-attune to the Energy by more experienced healers.
There is also a difference in attitude between the two therapies: people train as 'Spiritual Healers' in order to help others; With Reiki, there is much more of a focus on self-healing; it is actually a complete self-healing system that can also be used to heal others. Reiki is extremely popular, especially 'Reiki Level 1' which can easily be learned in a couple of days but can then be used immediately to self-heal and to heal family and friends. In 2001, it was estimated that there were at least half a million people in the UK attuned to 'Reiki Level 1' and numbers were increasing rapidly; nobody knows how many there are now.
Reiki has three levels of attainment: those who have attained 'Level 1' can self-heal and heal family and friends; those who have attained 'Level 2' are classed as Reiki Practitioners and are qualified to heal members of the general public; those who have attained 'Level 3' or Master Level are qualified to attune and teach others. This differs from Spiritual Healing which only has two levels (i.e. Trainee Healer and Full Healer).
The historical background of the two therapies is also very different. Spiritual Healing is from the west and has developed over thousands of years from both Christian and Pagan healing rituals. Reiki on the other hand is Oriental; it was developed in Japan by Mikao Usui in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century; it has a lot of similarities with the healing and cleansing rituals of Shintoism, Shamanism and esoteric Buddhism which has led many to conclude that it is a re-discovered ancient healing system.
The therapies that come under the 'Spiritual Healing' banner have been widely researched. Both controlled medical research and anecdotal evidence have shown Spiritual Healing and Reiki to be useful for a wide range of problems including stress, eczema, depression, chronic pain, wound healing, medication side-effects, arthritis, MS, ME, injuries, and recovery from illness or surgery. Reiki, especially, has been shown to promote wound healing, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and also reduce the side-effects of medical treatments such as chemotherapy; it has been used successfully at a Cancer Clinic in Canada to manage pain in patients with terminal cancer thus giving them a better quality of life in their last days and reducing the need for opiates. The other main advantage of these therapies is that there are no known side-effects. There have also been a number of research studies of these therapies on plants, cell cultures and animals; all of them have produced significant beneficial results thus discounting any placebo theory and also showing that faith is not required.
Whilst there have been plenty of research studies showing the benefits of these therapies, nobody really knows how they work. There is a general consensus amongst healers that some kind of beneficial energy transfer takes place between healer and patient, and this energy stimulates the self-healing capabilities of the patient. Remember that all healing is self-healing: even when a doctor sets the broken fragments of a bone, it is the self-healing capabilities of the body that cause the fragments to fuse back together as one. An American doctor, Daniel Benor MD, has defined the Spiritual Healing process as: a systematic, purposeful intervention by one or more persons aiming to help another living being (person, animal, plant or other living system) by means of focused intention, hand contact, or passes to improve their condition. Spiritual healing is brought about without the use of conventional energetic, mechanical, or chemical interventions. This definition covers all the energy therapies (e.g. LeShan, Reiki, TT, etc.) and most healers would agree with this definition. Dr Benor became involved with Spiritual Healing when he witnessed a Reiki Healer, Ethel Lombardi, produce effects in a patient that he could not explain medically.
The vast majority of healers (whether Reiki or Spiritual) believe the energy to come from an outside source; the source can be cosmic, universal or divine depending on the core beliefs of the individual healer. This belief is supported by the fact that Healers do not get tired or drained during healing sessions. Some research studies have also found that the electromagnetic field surrounding the hands of healers, during healing, is far in excess of anything that could be generated by biological processes alone — it has an electrical equivalent of 220 volts compared to the norm for non-healers of 4 volts. All of these suggest an external energy source. Some Healers believe the healing energy to be intelligent since it finds its way to problem points in the body; others believe the energy-source to be intelligent and to be guiding the energy to where it is needed; and some believe that the body knows what is best for it and uses the available energy in an intelligent way.
There are four grades of membership within Suffolk Healers: Associate, Probationer, Registered Healer and Reiki Practitioner. Associate membership is open to those who have achieved 'Reiki-1' or have completed a Foundation Course; to those who are interested in healing and wish to further its cause without becoming practising healers; to registered healers and reiki practitioners who have allowed their insurance to lapse. Probationer membership is open to those who have completed a Foundation Course and wish to train as spiritual healers. Registered healer membership is open to those who have satisfactorily completed a Training programme within Suffolk Healers and to those from other healing associations who meet the Suffolk Healers requirements. Reiki Practitioner membership is open to those who have achieved 'Reiki-2' and satisfy the conditions of Suffolk Healers.
The Suffolk Healers Association membership is concentrated in East Anglia but we do have members all over the UK and a few in other parts of the EU. Most of our members are willing to undertake distant (absent) healing and Suffolk Healers does operate a distant-healing network (Circles of Light). Most of our members are also willing to travel reasonable distances to administer contact healing (contact us for information on healers in your area). Suffolk Healers also provides training courses (Reiki and Spiritual Healing) and holds workshops on other healing-related therapies. Suffolk Healers is run by a voluntary Trustee Committee who meet several times a year to discuss healing topics, maintain the Association and implement change as required. Suffolk Healers Association has training centres in Norfolk, Cambridge and Suffolk. Suffolk Healers also runs drop-in healing groups in Thetford, Bury St Edmunds and Colchester. From time to time, we organise various workshops on various topics to appeal and interest our members as well as a wider cross-section of the public.
Most people, when they think of Spiritual Healing or Reiki, have an impression of a Healer standing over a patient doing a laying-on-of-hands. This is not wrong; however, Healers also carry out healing using distant, or absent, healing. Basically, Healing Energy is sent to a distant client; this client could be on the other side of town or on the other side of the world. Many healers consider distant healing to be at least as effective as contact healing - some focus better when the client isn't present - and we have numerous testimonials from people who have been helped by distant healing. Our Distant Healing Network (Circles of Light) was formed to help people diagnosed with life-threatening problems. The basic idea is that a network, or circle, of healers sends healing to those in need. Information, about a person needing healing, is given to the Circles co-ordinator and he/she ensures that the information is passed to a circle of healers. Each healer in the circle then sends healing to the person who is thus the recipient of a powerful wave of healing love initiated by several healers. Many have benefitted from the healing love generated by these circles and many healers consider distant, or absent, healing to be just as effective as actual contact-healing. Certainly we have received numerous testimonials from people who have been helped in this way.