Energy Healing Modalities... What They Are, How They Work
by Brian Dean

(Published in the August 2005 issue of Natural Awakenings)

Over the past several years, the growth of energy healing and the modalities available have come to the forefront of alternative healing. We are now seeing where people that have been trained in various styles of energy healing can make changes in a person’s health with a simple touch. Now, this is not massage or any other type of touch pressure therapy. It is the laying on of hands to conduct energies to problem areas so they can work to make a person feel better.

Over time, many methods of energy healing have been developed from the lesser known Crystal Healing (where energies from crystals are used to interact with the energies in the body) to Color Healing (where energies form colors are used to change a person’s energies) to Magnetic Healing (where negative energy is pulled out like metal being drawn to a magnet) to the three most popular methods, Therapeutic Touch, Polarity Therapy, and Reiki. Of these three wider known methods, each works energy in different ways, yet they all have the same goal, to make someone feel better.

Therapeutic Touch, which is the simpler of the three wider known modalities, was developed in the 1970’s by Dolores Krieger, a nurse and faculty member at New York University. She showed that by changing a person’s energy field, one could actually make changes in the person’s health.

Everyone has energy in and around them. The energy field around a person is called the aura (although TT stays away from that term because it is not scientific), and has multiple layers. This field can become unbalanced, blocked, or misaligned. When that happens, the health of the physical body is affected. (The relationship of the physical body and its energy field are now starting to be understood. The body has an innate ability to heal itself, but when the energy fields around it and through it get ‘off kilter’, that ability lessens, and the person becomes ill.)

By moving their hands through someone’s energy field, a TT practitioner can direct life force energy called Chi to make changes in the auric field. (Chi is defined as the vital force believed inherent in all things and is used as part of many martial arts such as Tai Chi which centers around the use of energy to achieve its movements. It is synonymous with Ki which finds itself in many martial arts such as Aikido or Hapkido. It is also synonymous with Prana which is the Indian equivalent.)

The manipulations of directed energy restore the auric (energy) field to a state of balance or harmony, to proper alignment, or to unblock a clog in the field. It can also transfer life energy from healer to patient. This restoration of the integrity of the field makes it possible for the body to heal itself.

There is no scientific basis for Therapeutic Touch (in fact there is no scientific basis for any of these healing modalities), but that is because technology has not advanced enough to measure individual energy fields. Yet, even though TT is lacking ‘scientific proof’, it is a healing modality that is practiced by nurses and is recognized by modern medicine. Although nurses seem to be the key users of TT, they are not the only ones doing it as practitioners outside the medical field are trained all the time. One does not need to have a medical background to do Therapeutic Touch.

Polarity Therapy, which is the most complicated of the three wider known modalities, was developed by Dr. Randolph Stone (1890 – 1981). The basis of this modality is that true healing can take place only when the energy within the body is freely moving. This movement is done between polar opposites. Ill health is the result when this movement is interrupted or becomes stagnant.

The purpose of a Polarity treatment is to bring the energies of the body back into balance thus allowing healing to take place. This is not done by bringing energy into the body as TT and Reiki do, but by getting the body’s own energies to start moving as they should, and balance themselves out.

In a way, polarity is very much like electrical circuitry, and can be compared to it in simplistic terms. In electronics, one connects two wires to a battery at one end, and a light bulb at the other (as in a flashlight). At that point, a circuit has been created. To change the way the energy flows (in this case the energy is electricity), one has to change the circuit. If one wanted to make the light bulb blink on and off, one would add a component (in this case a capacitor) that would control the flow of the energy causing the light to blink, thus changing the circuit.

In the human body, energy is flowing in many ways very similar to electronic circuits. To bring the energies back into balance, one needs to change the “circuitry” by adding a component. In this case, the ‘component’ is a Polarity practitioner.

By placing their hands and fingers in specific places on the body, a practitioner will change the flow of energy. Once the flow of energy is changed to where it should be, the body will heal. Now, sometimes this can be a simple process or a very complicated process.

In Polarity, the human body is divided into regions and poles (just as in electronics where a battery has a positive and negative pole). The fingers on the hands are also defined by the elements. Starting from the pinky, they are earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Depending on what problems someone has, treatment can be so complicated as to place certain fingers on certain hands in specific places on the subject. It can also be as simple as placing one hand ‘here’ and the other ‘over there’.

Once the energy in the body is moving along the proper pathways, the body does its own healing.

Reiki, which was developed by Mikao Usui (1865 - 1926), has a little more structure than Therapeutic Touch, yet is infinitely easier to learn than Polarity Therapy (and just as powerful). Rei (God consciousness) and Ki (universal life energy) is taken from the universe by a practitioner that has been trained to do so, channeled through them, and into someone in need. Reiki energy is very powerful, positive energy that overcomes negative energies in a subject’s body. (Every problem in the body has negative energy associated with it, a negative energy signature if you will. Reiki practitioners can locate these problems simply by running their hands above a subject’s body.) The positive Reiki energy overpowers the negative energy causing the problem to go away. That is not to say that a person will be completely better in one treatment, but it has happened that way. In some cases, the Reiki can make an illness come on real strong, and then go away very fast. Think of someone who is starting to get a cold. Instead of having it for seven to ten days, one could have it come on and be gone in one day or two. Reiki is the only energy healing modality that one can use on one’s self. (One has to be a trained practitioner to do this, but one can use Reiki energies to deal with problems in their own body.) Therapeutic Touch and Polarity need someone outside of the person being worked on to direct the energies.

In a typical session, a practitioner will send the Reiki energy in to the seven chakras (pronounced shock-rahs, the major energy centers in the body). These energy centers are located at the top of the head, center of the forehead, throat, heart, sternum, spleen or center (about two inches below the naval), and the pubic bone. The energy is also sent into the knees and the feet. This is done by placing the hands on or over each area and holding them there for a period of time. A practitioner will send energy into each of these locations moving down the front of the body, then back up, then repeating the procedure on the back of the body. They may also place their hands in other areas to address problems directly.

During a session, the practitioner’s hands can become very warm. The more energy that comes through, the warmer the hands get. Normally, the practitioner will touch their subject in the areas mentioned, but if a subject is not comfortable with being touched in any area, the practitioner can raise their hands and continue to send Reiki energy.

The time at each location where energy is sent is dependent on the person receiving the energy. There is a general guideline that each location is to receive one to five minutes of Reiki energy. But every person is different, and the amount of energy they require is different. A Reiki practitioner will sense when it is time to move from one location to another. Something tells them when the place they are at has had enough. It is also true that they will know when their subject has had enough. Reiki sessions will vary in length because each person’s need is different. Typically sessions can be as short as 20 minutes, or run an hour or more.

Reiki can reduce and alleviate pain, discomfort, or disease of any kind. It is guided by Spirit Consciousness (the deity that one follows whether that be God or Goddess), therefore it can never do harm. It always knows what a person needs and adjusts itself to create the effect that is appropriate. It is an intelligent energy that goes where it is needed most within a subject’s body no matter where it was put in. It also works on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Since Reiki can go through clothing, a Reiki subject does not need to undress (unless other work, like massage, is also being done). Since it is a channeled energy (unlike Therapeutic Touch where the practitioner’s energies are used), the Reiki practitioner’s energies are never depleted, and they benefit from the energy as it passes through them. A Reiki session is a pleasant, relaxing time.

There you have it, the three most popular methods of energy healing. Each works by directing energies through a person’s body and/or their energy field. They all work through similar, yet different means. You have the basic information here on how they work. Now if you are interested in receiving an energy session, you need to look up practitioners in your area, and ask them questions to decide what is right for you, and the practitioner that is right for you. If you are interested in learning any of these methods, look for instructors in your area, and find the one that you feel comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to ask big questions. If you feel they are avoiding answering, then talk to someone else.

Go forth, and open yourself to the possibility of energy healing.