Tami Simon: You're listening to Insights at the Edge. Today I speak with Dorothea Hover-Kramer. Dorothea has been a psychotherapist in private practice for over 30 years and combines her career as a psychologist with a background as a clinical nurse specialist. She cofounded the International Association for Comprehensive Psychology and is also the author of five books about energy therapies, including Second Chance at Your Dream: Engaging Your Body's Energy Resources for Optimal Aging, Creativity and Health. With Sounds True, Dorothea is the author of a new book on Healing Touch: Essential Energy Medicine for Yourself and Others.
In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Dorothea and I spoke about the biofield, how the Healing Touch practitioner interacts with the patient's biofield for healing, and also how this field changes in someone who is transitioning into death. We also spoke about the scientific evidence for energy medicine and how Healing Touch is a practice that absolutely anyone can learn. Here's my conversation with Dorothea Hover-Kramer.
There are so many things that are interesting to me about Healing Touch, but one of them is that here's an energy medicine modality that is considered credible. It's not considered flaky or woo-woo. I mean, in fact, more than a hundred thousand people have attended at least one class in Healing Touch. So I'm curious, Dorothea, how is it that Healing Touch is considered such a credible form of a practice that many people think is pretty far out, the practice of energy medicine?
Dorothea Hover-Kramer: Well, I'm thinking of the roots of energy medicine in the early days of Therapeutic Touch. And, of course, the followers of Dolores Kreiger were called "Kreiger's Crazies" back in the '70s. Since then, there have been many discoveries, such as the reality of the electromagnetic fields—the idea that fields interconnect and communicate is certainly well-known in the 21st century. An idea that we can communicate beyond visible means is also very real. Most of us have cell phones or some form electronic communication that does not require a specific wire or cord or something visible, yet we can have instant communication. So the idea that we can connect energetically from our own electromagnetic field to another person's field seems much more acceptable.
Over time, of course, practices like Therapeutic Touch and Healing Touch have proven themselves because people do experience remarkable relief. Some of the experiences people have—relief of pain, relief of anxiety, increased relaxation, increase sense of personal efficacy, of personal insight, and for some people, actual measurable effects in their immune system in coping physiologically, as well as psychological coping mechanisms. So there are many effects, and over time it just seems that these effects have led a wave people to accept energy therapies and energy medicine modalities in [their] various forms much more than in the past. And it's not everyone, but certainly an increasing portion of the American population is oriented toward what we call "complimentary" or "integrative health care," where we are bringing in new concepts such as the use of non-physical, non-medical interventions.
So Healing Touch is just one of many of these complimentary modalities, but it has a very fine training program. It has wonderful practitioners, and I think that over time [that] the word has just gotten out that this approach works.
TS: You know, it's interesting. Maybe it's the training program, because really part of what my question is driving at is that it seems that out of all of the energy healing modalities, Healing Touch is the one that has been the most accepted in the world of Nurse Practitioners and traditional medicine as a whole.
DHK: Yes, and with that also increasing numbers of laypeople from all disciplines of life. Interestingly, we get many people who have been involved with computer sciences who shift to Healing Touch because they feel the high-tech world doesn't give them much in the way of warm fuzzies or insightful rewards, and being able to help someone in need or being able to balance one's own energy field, as we teach in Healing Touch, just seemed to be very powerful tools needed in this high-tech world of ours.
TS: OK, so let's get into how Healing Touch actually works. I'm interested in two parts of this: first, what the Healing Touch Practitioner actually does. So if you were videotaping from the outside how a Healing Touch Practitioner worked on somebody, what are they actually doing? And secondly, I'm interested in what the mechanism is—how you understand how Healing Touch creates its positive effects.
DHK: Right. So what you would see in watching a Healing Touch Practitioner is first of all a very careful attention to applied comfort. In other words, making sure the person in need is comfortable. [Next you would see an] exclusive attention to practitioner readiness. And that would be in the form of a centering practice. In Healing Touch, we teach centering, which is usually done with some sort of mental imagery, a deep breath, a sense of setting one's intention on behalf of the client for the highest good. And with practice, initially that make take five minutes for an early practitioner. Over time, it's more like 30 to 60 seconds. But there's definitely a shift from conscious "hello" to the client to the inward greeting and acknowledging of the Practitioner.
You will see the Practitioner centering himself or herself for a visible period of time. You'll then notice that there's an attention to the client's energy field. Not [the] physical body, but rather the field around the physical body, beginning with an assessment of the field with the hands to notice where there is a shift, where there is something cooler or denser, or where something is a little bit hotter or intense. Or where there is a big bump in the field. Sometimes there's a big dip in the field. Ideally, a healthy energy field is pretty much oval and full, like an egg would be.
So picture the client's body sort of in the middle of this big egg-shaped field. The practitioner begins to assess the field, noticing where the differences are, and then begins to look specifically with the hands over the area that is a little bit out of sync with the rest of the field. If it's the whole field, the practitioner's hands might move in the whole field slowly, as if to clear out, with the fingers like little magnets, just pulling out whatever needs to be released from that area or from that specific part of the body. So there is a pulling out or gentle movement toward the feet to release any tension or congestion. And then [there is] a gentle repatterning or refocusing where the hands might just be still over the specific area, just holding the hands still. Again, the intention of the practitioner is simply for the client's field, the client's body, mind, and spirit to move to whatever is needed for its maximum functioning. We don't really have a set intention for an outcome on the part of the practitioner, but rather we have a relationship of the healthy, centered field of the practitioner to the congested or impeded field of the client.
Often initially, in the Healing Touch practice, we work with patients in hospital settings or hospice settings or nursing home settings or at places where people are receiving some sort of physical care. More recently, the care of the practitioner is in an out-patient setting. It might be a private clinic. It might be an integrative healthcare center or it might be a practitioner's private practice. So that's what you'll see.
Now, an answer to your question about how it works...
DHK: If you could give me a million dollars for that one, I'd be grateful! Nobody really knows the full answer, as of this time. However, we have some hints, and some of the hints we're getting, interestingly enough, are coming from really hard-core science.Thirty-five years ago, Herbert Benson quantified and qualified the practice of meditation. It showed that meditation significantly influenced people to have shifts toward more self-control, [an] increased sense of well-being, more relaxation, less anxiety, and sometimes, less pain. And that was well-documented, except nobody knew quite how.
A year or so ago, some studies with the actual interaction of the genetic sheath—the sheath around the genetic strands of DNA—actually showed that the sheath around the strand of genetic materials releases when the person is more relaxed. Hence, you have shifts in actual body functioning at the cellular level, so you begin to see the strands of DNA opening up to release chemicals such as endorphins, to release healing patterns that then cascade to other cells in a specific part of the body. So that has actually been shown now with scientific evaluation, that there is a significant shift whenever a person is relaxed as they would be when they are receiving an energy intervention, such as I was describing. They begin to open up to their own self-healing process.
Herbert Benson coined the term "remembered wellness." And I think that might be an effective description of what happens. The more energized or more integrated [the] field of the practitioner, the presence of this centered practitioner [around a client with a more depleted field] actually begins to cause an energetic shift, or jump-starts a energetic shift so the client himself remembers wellness. The client's system, which is innately wired for well-being, begins to become activated. So that is one of the most current theories that we have.There are others, of course, such as a placebo effect, and there's nothing to be denied about the effect of a caring person's presence at the time of an accident or an emergency or when one is in physical distress. So certainly there seems to be elements of just that caring presence communicating something of value.
So those are some of the concepts that I would put out: the idea of "remembered wellness," the idea of an opening of the genetic expression, or what we call the "gene expression," caused by the presence of the practitioner or just plain placebo effect. You take your pick! [Laughs]
TS: It's interesting, because I was going to ask you about the placebo effect, and I thought I was asking as a skeptic, but you don't seem at all defensive of that.
TS: I know from my own experience, if I'm upset or freaked out or even not feeling well, if I sit with someone, they don't have to pass their hands through my energetic field. Just sitting with them and being in their presence, often I feel a lot better afterwards.
DHK: That's an excellent observation, Tami. And that is exactly what I experience. I'm both a nurse and psychotherapist, and very often people will tell me, "Well, [it's] your presence. It isn't anything you said or did." In fact, most of my clients can't remember what I said, [laughs] but they remember who I am and my presence. I always work to be as focused as possible when I am present with a client or somebody who is ill. And so that's a huge area—one that medical science really needs to study, [and] what I call "the opposite of the placebo effect" and that would be the "no-cebo" effect, the impact of a negative statement or negative diagnosis or a negative prejudgment on people around us. I think that those are very, very much an issue and I'd like to see more studies on that.
But the placebo effect has been pretty well established. There is something very positive and calming when one is the presence of a caring other person. There have been other studies, by the way, about the presence of a practitioner and the use of the hands around a client's field and that was done by a man named Dr. John Zimmerman who actually measured the electromagnetic emanations from the hands of Therapeutic Touch Practitioners. And those electromagnetic emanations from the hands, at a distance, were exactly the same hertz frequency as the emanations that are currently being used in the closed electromagnetic frequency instruments that are used to facilitate non-union bone healing. So that's a fascinating reality—that the emissions from a trained practitioner's hands can be as powerful [as,] or on a similar frequency as, the emissions from the actual instrument that is currently being used in medicine.
TS: OK, let's talk a little bit more about this energetic field that the Healing Touch Practitioner is working with in a client. How big is it? How far does it extend? Does the Healing Touch Practitioner feel layers of it? Colors? What's their experience?
DHK: Well, again, it varies a great deal. Most practitioners, in my experience—and I've been teaching Healing Touch for 20 years—experience a kinesthetic sense of a client's field. And that sense would be a sense of a pulsation, a tingle, a warmth. You know it's subtle, but it's about what you would feel when you very lightly touch, say, the fur of an animal. That very light pulsation or tingle in the hands. That's what most practitioners report. Some people do see colors, and that would be called clairvoyance. Some people hear and that's called clairaudience. But none of that is required of the Healing Touch Practitioner.
What we require of a Healing Touch Practitioner is the centered state and a willingness to attend fully to whatever the client's experience is. And I think that attention, that willingness to just offer presence is the healing communication. It's what I call "compassion in action."
TS: What's your understanding of the relationship of this field? I know in Healing Touch you call it the biofield. What's the relationship of the biofield to the physical body?
DHK: Again, this is hard to describe, because we're talking about a non-material form. We know that the physical body is largely water. Although most people tend to think of their bodies as more solid, your body is [actually] over 80 percent water. Most people don't readily grasp that, let alone the fact that there are electromagnetic energy flows in and through the body. So the biofield, as we understand it, is generated by the energy centers within the body, the meridian pathways, and the whole interaction of the electromagnetic flows, which are present in the body in addition to the lymphatic and blood flows, neuropathways, and so-forth.
Western medicine is based so much on what can be dissected from cadavers that it is hard for us to grasp the more Eastern concept of how it all flows and interacts. So the idea [is] that we have an energy field that surrounds the physical [and] extends out approximately two to three feet, in some people more and some people less. But it also interpenetrates and actually is an instant messaging system, electromagnetic in nature. That's a little hard for us to grasp, because we have been so tied to the anatomical textbook that says, "This is what a neuron looks like. This is what a blood cell is. This is what a bone is," and so forth. And to realize that how it works, how it interacts, is vibrantly different from just what you get out of dissecting a dead body. That vibrant interaction that we call the chi or the life force or the prana in the eastern Indian traditions, that vital life force, the breath of life, is something that is totally different from how a person looks when they are deceased. That's about the most dynamic difference that I can point out.
Somebody who is alive has an electromagnetic field and has energy centers, has energy pathways, meridian flows, and so forth. [When] someone is deceased, what is missing is that vital life force and those flow pathways. And everyone who has seen a dead body will know what I'm talking about. There is a vibrant difference. And it's not just color either. It's the vitality, it's the reality of flows that are way beyond just the material body.
TS: It's interesting that you are bringing up a cadaver, because I know one of the ways that Healing Touch has proven very helpful is helping people make the transition through death. And I'm curious, what's it like working with the biofield of somebody who is in the process of dying?
DHK: That's a wonderful question, and very rich one, Tami, because we have, in this nation, so neglected awareness of how we can actively help in this time of transition. It is a huge transition. Most of us are more comfortable with the transition known as birth, and of course as a nurse, I have attended many births. But attending the field of someone who is passing on is even more exciting, in my opinion, because it is such a merging into the great all, that which is beyond our understanding.
I think of the human dynamic as an energetic flow from preconception into a physical conception into physical birth. Then we have our physical lifetimes, and then there is a move into that transcendent return to where we came from—the great beyond or the great eternal. We are energetic beings, above all, having a temporary experience. So when someone leaves their physical body, that is a reunion as I see it, a graduation from the physical body and its constraints into the wider aspect of soul.
Attending someone with [the] consciousness that we teach in Healing Touch—attending the last days or last weeks of someone's life, is wonderfully enriching. And what we notice is that gradually the field begins to diminish around the lower body—the legs, the feet, the hips. Often there will be no more bowel sounds that we can identify with a stethoscope. The field begins to empty, as it will, and I call it—it's the emptying of the physical body, so that the energetic body can move up and out of the crown of the head to extend into its eternal form. And that transition—many hospice nurses will know what I'm talking about, and many people who have attended people in the transition of dying will know how that is a glorious time of watching and seeing a rebirth into another form that we can't see. It's beyond our physical understanding. And what's left then is a physical body. It's like a used car—it's just there. And we honor it, but it's not the person anymore. The person is transcendent soul being that really exists beyond this space and time.
TS: So if it's OK, I'm going to push a little harder on this Dorothea, because it's so important to me, really. What I'm curious about is from your own experiences of being present as such transitions, what has given you this clarity, this confidence that there is some continuity beyond the point where the energy field has fully left the body?
DHK: Yes, thank you for that question, too. You know, we do have a lot of traditions, a lot of spiritual traditions in all world religions, and I'm emphasizing the mystical side of the world religions, not necessarily their social forms or their patterns. But those patterns, those forms come from people having watched this time of transition. Something else that we have in modern times that was not, perhaps, as well-known in previous cultures is actual accounts of people who have had near-death experiences. So it's estimated now that perhaps 10 million people have had an experience where they died briefly either due to an accident or anaphylactic shock or heart impairment or stoppage. And then [they] were resuscitated with modern medical means. They talk with confidence about that time on the other side, that time beyond the physical leaving.
I personally also experienced a near-death time when I was stung by numerous yellowjackets, and was clinically quite—well, certainly out of my body for some time, and then returned. There was such a sense of wholeness and oneness about leaving the body that didn't bother me at all. The hard part was coming back in. That was the part that was actually difficult, because it was painful and also I realized that it meant commitment to really living more fully. But the near-death experiences that have been recorded by people like Raymond Moody, and many other authors suggest that moving beyond our physical body is not a time of fear or of terrible sadness. Rather, [it is] a time of peacefulness and of sensing something that is greater than what our limited minds can understand and just fully experiencing more of who are as human beings.
So I'd say that all of those experiences combined—the mystical traditions in all the major religions, and then the current actual factual accounts of people who have had near-death experiences—certainly contribute to the fact that there is some ongoing nature of the soul. And that connection, soul-to-soul, is what I think Healing Touch teaches in a very easy-to-learn way. You know, that we move from just being oriented to ourselves to a place of wanting to be present to another person in need, with the fullness of our own heart's energies and our willingness and compassion to be present. So I'd say that all those come together. And my sense is that the soul is much bigger than our physical lives at this time.
TS: When did that near-death experience happen for you?
DHK: I was 27 at the time. I had three small children who were all stung, in fact, at the same time. So I was trying to rescue them and ended up not-so-well myself. I did ask to come back. I remember, as I lost consciousness, saying, "If possible, let me come back."
TS: Do you feel that that experience was some kind of defining moment, even in the way that you have approached the Healing Touch work?
DHK: It certainly could be. I wasn't really aware of Healing Touch until much later in my life. And I certainly began putting things together a little bit when I realized that part of my life is one of learning more about these subtle energies, about what I perhaps sensed as a child. But then [I] really came to realize as I learned about Therapeutic Touch and Healing Touch, that here's something that we can do here, on the Earth plane, to help each other.
TS: Well, because I'm interested in you, Dorothea, as well as Healing Touch as a modality, can you tell me what those early experiences were in your life that you're referring to?
DHK: Early childhood experiences?
DHK: Well, yes, I grew up in the middle of the war in Berlin, and we had saturation bombing toward the end of the war, and my mother died. I was certainly very much oriented toward seeing—looking for people who could help me and seeing lights around people. People coming down the street. I could either notice that they didn't have much light around them or they were very vibrant. I would head for the people who looked more vibrant, and asked one of them to come to my house and assist me. I was the youngest of several children, but I was the one who recruited our helper by seeing her light. So I would say that that was an early childhood experience that helped me greatly.
And then more recently, is just to be able to move toward the things that really have meaning for me and to share those insights with the students that we have in practice, such as Healing Touch.
TS: So when you work on somebody and you're working with their biofield, what feels to you—you mention some Healing Touch Practitioners see color, some hear messages, you know, depending on who they are. I'm curious what it's like for you, and then what it feels like when somebody feels really healthy? Or what kind of experiences will you have when somebody is not doing so great?
DHK: Well, as I mentioned, the field of a healthy person will generally be quite full. And it feels full and sort of bouncy or spongey. The hands may sense a sort of vibration or pulsing. It will feel balanced. In other words, it will be equally around or full at all parts—at the head, the shoulders, above the abdomen toward the feet. The field of someone who is ill will feel remarkably different. There will be either areas where there is expanded heat or more volume. Or there will be bumps. It's almost like when you're on an airplane and you hit a cloud—you know, the plane will drop down about 10 feet and you feel that. That's how the hands feel. They are just moving along and all of a sudden there's a dip and hands just drop in.
I always remember learning to trust the hands. You know, my mind is sort of on hold when I do an assessment of someone's field. And I just sense where the fullness is, where the dips are, where it's a little bit different, and then ask the person, "Does that have any meaning for you?" Very often, it's an old injury or it's something current in their life that has impacted the field in some way. So that's what I sense with the hands, and then I might work with that.
Then I pay attention to what clients tell me. Very often they will say, "I can feel your hands." My hands might be 12 inches away from the body, and they tell me that they can feel something. They can feel a tingling or they can feel kind of something is letting go. Those are pretty—you know, I don't prompt these, I just ask clients to tell me what they notice. So they are apparently sensing the field as well and noticing shifts as we work together.
TS: Now let's say somebody is listening to this and they think, "Gosh, you know, I'd love to be trained as a Healing Touch Practitioner. I'd love to be able to help people in this way, but I've never seen lights around anybody and I've never done any healing work and I don't know if I'm going to have what it takes—I don't know if I'll be gifted at doing this." Can anybody learn Healing Touch?
DHK: Yes! Anyone who is willing. Yes. And that—again, I'm speaking from the experience of teaching about 10,000 students. Everybody is potentially good at this. [Laughs] It's not an exam in a left-brain sense. It's a matter of willingness, and often, it's a matter of not trying very hard. It's just being present. That's the best way I can explain it. In other words, it's an integrative practice. It integrates [the] right and left hemispheres of the brain. It calls on the resources that probably our ancestors were very good at using—their intuitive sensing. As people discover that they can do this, of course it's a great—it's very exciting. It's a great moment to say, "Well, you know, I really can feel some difference here." It's pretty exciting.
I've found that people who are skeptics—in other words, people who ask a lot of good questions are actually a little better at it than people who don't ask questions.
TS: Oh, I feel better already!
DHK: [Laughs] So that takes care of all of us with questions, because I think having questions is great. Someone who questions also has the mind that is capable of really observing. So when you really pay attention to what is going on here, they begin to get that, yes, there really is some pulsing. The hands do indeed sense something where things are different. It's always so fascinating when people discover that.
So most people at the entry point will be more kinesthetic rather than visual or auditory. It will be a felt sense. It might be a felt sense briefly in their own body. But certainly it will be a sense with the hands as antennae. And then there will be that sense of, "Oh yes, I get it. There really is a difference between the right and left side of this person's head." And then I might ask them if something is going on and the person says, "Yes, I have a migraine on the left side of the head." Which is where I felt a big fullness, like a big bulge. And that tells me that means something is a bit out, a bit off, and I can work with that area before the person comes down with a full-blown migraine and all of its awful symptoms.
TS: Now, since anybody can potentially learn Healing Touch if they are curious, willing, and interested, I'm wondering if you could take us through—is there a way to get a little taste of what it might be like working, perhaps, on some part of ourselves that might not be feeling well? Like, if we just picked something, like let's say a meal that's hard to digest or something like that. Like I ate too much or I ate the wrong thing or something like that. How would I go about starting to explore this with myself? I mean, you could take me through it.
DHK: Great question—yes! Well, let's start with just a simple centering. Again, centering always sounds simple, but it's actually something that has to be practiced quite a bit.
Take a nice deep breath—I would recommend that. And let go fully of the breath. And then ask for an inflow of energy that's available all around us. Like, think of the sun and sunlight—even on a gray day, there is some light out there—the energy of nature, the energy of our beautiful planet. Let some of that come into the heart center and begin to feel that in the body. Keep that sense of inflow of warming, healing energy into the heart energy—the mid-chest—with the gentle inflow of the breath and gentle outflow of the breath. Keeping that sense of "I'm connected to something beyond just this current distress, or this current dilemma."
And with that, gently bring the hands that flow from the heart center to the abdomen, where the distress might be noted, and gently allow the hands to move in a clockwise fashion (in other words, to the left) over the body area that feels distressed. So that would be just the gentle clockwise motion over the upper stomach area, just below the sternum, the breastbone. Just a gentle rubbing and keeping the breath flowing, keeping that inflow—in other words, you're doing your own centering as well as sending out through the hands.
So you're doing two things: inner centering, and the outflow from the hands to the affected area. This might be the lower abdomen as well if there are cramps or distress in the lower abdomen. It might be over a painful knee or joint. They may want to move from above to below with the hands. But in any case, you are allowing your own centered process, your own focused intention on behalf of yourself to go to the body part that is in distress.
After a while, you might notice that it feels just a little bit calmer, a little less pressured, and then gently let your hands rest there on that part of the body. Still keep that flow—that centered self-connecting flow through the breath and hands over the area.
There are, of course, limits to self-healing, because when we're really in pain, it's hard to center. So that would be where a practitioner's help would be ideal.
TS: Yes, I'm glad that you brought that up. I was imagining stubbing my toe or something that's really really painful and not being centered.
DHK: Yes. [With] acute pain, you might just gently bring the hands to the area that's injured and just gently soothe the area. In fact, I've found that that can even stop blood flow or stop a hematoma from forming by just bringing your hands and centered attention to that area, allowing that sense of peace and calm to go to that area. However, if there is serious injury, of course, it would be good to get medical help and then [in] addition to medical help, to have the rebalancing of the energy over the injured area. That would also be needed.
TS: Now, Dorothea, even though anyone can learn Healing Touch, I'm curious, what do you think makes someone a spectacular Healing Touch Practitioner? What are the qualities of such a person?
DHK: Well, we have a number of them because our practice is now 21 years old, and we have practitioners who have been at it as long as I have—wonderful, wonderful people, men and women, teaching and practicing and enjoying relative good health [worldwide]. Relatively better health than people who don't do their own centering practices or healing work. So it's very exciting to see these advanced practitioners.
I think what makes them especially successful is that they have continued their willingness to learn from every situation—[they have] a curiosity, an ability to observe and the ability to have effective self-care. That makes someone an outstanding practitioner. It builds sort of a resilience to the bumps of the world, all the pressures and tensions that most people have in their lives. And it builds in a sense that there is a connectedness, there is a rootedness to something greater than our personal selves. There is a sense that we are all interconnected and that sense of harmony really brings us to a place of vibrant inner peacefulness. So what I see in advanced, long-term practitioners is that sense of inner peace and sense of inner confidence and a great beauty.
I think I mentioned in the book about getting on the elevator with a group of Healing Touch Practitioners and I just had this instant hit that I was so surrounded by goodness. This is a wonderful experience. And just as I said that to myself, the elevator got stuck between floors, and unlike what usually happens when an elevator gets stuck, these wonderful practitioners all started centering themselves and started helping each other through elevator fears. You know, it was just like, "Oh, we can do this! Let's help each other here." We had one person who was especially anxious so we did a little release for her anxiety. We had such a good time that when the elevator got unstuck and we had to get off, we were actually disappointed. [Laughs] So that's what makes someone a good healer: being able to be present to the moment in a difficult time.
TS: That's a great story. You know, I was going to ask you if you had seen any "miracles" or things that really surprised you. But getting stuck in an elevator and having everybody be positive and helpful, that might be the greatest miracle you could cite right there!
DHK: That's pretty good!
TS: Yes, it really is!
DHK: And the people that released us from the elevator were so surprised that we didn't rush to get off. [Laughs] They expected us to just bounce out of there, like taking flight, and instead we were acknowledging each other and said, "Oh, what a good time we had!" It was quite a different experience.
TS: But joking aside, I am curious if you have seen anything happen in terms of physical healing that has really surprised you. Like, "Wow, I knew Healing Touch helped, but this is surprising even me"?
DHK: Yes, well, I'm always surprised, to tell you the truth, Tami. That's partly because I am a good skeptic. I ask a lot of questions. And I do observe and I learn from what I observe. So I don't have any great faith that something is going to happen and I don't have any attachment to outcome. I am sort of just always amazed. Always. And that's been going on since I've been practicing Therapeutic Touch back in 1980.
I would say one of the more recent little miracles I saw was when a friend of mine was out doing a charity call to chop wood for a very poor person in my neighborhood, and he had a new machine that he didn't quite know how to work. And the machine landed full-force on his forth finger and totally mashed it and laid it open with the bone exposed. So the whole finger was mashed and the bone was exposed. And of course, it was bleeding and really painful. And he went to the Emergency Room and they sewed it up, but he still continued to have a great deal of pain and called me.
So I had an opportunity to gently move my hands over his area of injury—after centering, of course—and could really feel the heat of intense pain coming off that finger. I would move my hands approximately from his elbow and off the finger that had been injured, and released that tension or that congestion to the earth. I did that repeatedly, about 10 times, and [on] the 10th time, at the same time that he said, "I feel a tingle," I felt like a little electric charge. It was just a very intense little electric charge. He said that the reason that was so important to him was that the doctor had told him that he would not have any feeling in that finger for probably six months, nerve-wise. And in fact, he had it that instant. It healed very quickly, and the bandage was off in two weeks.
DHK: I've worked with him before, he was hit by—this man gets into trouble, I guess retirement is hard on some people! He was hit by a tractor on the head and had a lot of pain. Nothing could be diagnosed from a medical point of view, but [he had] a lot of head pain and some emotional confusion. I did two treatments with Healing Touch with his head and he has not had any difficulty since. So he and his wife are not—they don't even understand Healing Touch, but they recommend me highly to everybody they know. So it's an interesting thing to notice what happens and surprises.
TS: Thank you for describing those two instances.
I just have two final questions for you, Dorothea. Here's the first one: Your new book that you're publishing with Sounds True, Healing Touch: Essential Energy Medicine for Yourself and Others, is really a type of handbook, if you will, that introduces Healing Touch to anyone and everyone who might be interested. And I'm curious what your vision is—the vision of possibility—for how Healing Touch might be adopted in the world?
DHK: Well, as I suggested, Healing Touch is available to everyone who wants to learn it and it certainly is needed by everyone who is suffering in some way—emotional or physical distress. There's a huge need on our planet right now in both arenas. We seem to be having more disasters—nature-caused disasters, as well as human-caused disasters. It doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon. And I think the presence of a caring neighbor who could offer a healing touch, the presence of a caring parent who could offer healing touch to a child, the presence of a caring teacher who can help in the school system—the applications are as many as we can possibly imagine. All of us have situations where we can offer to help someone in need, so I think the applications are very wide.
The vision of early participants in Healing Touch, including our founder Janet Mentgen, was always that Healing Touch was for everyone, and it needs to be available worldwide. And that is gradually happening. We have worldwide groups learning these methods. We have excellent practitioners. Over 3,000 are now certified. We have, I think, several hundred instructors. And the people who have heard of this work are all impressed that it really is relevant for our time, to have a non-invasive, a non-medical resource or an additional resource—something that complements conventional medical care or that can be present when medical care is either not needed or not available. Those would be my visions for the future, and to really see that happening more and more.
I don't really restrict it to just the practice of Healing Touch. [There] may be an energy medicine practitioner who is able to work in psychotherapy or who can relieve distress and anxiety in other ways. But Healing Touch is a good base, a good fundamental conceptual program to start with energy medicine.
TS: And then just one final question for you, which is, our program is called Insights at the Edge, and I'm always curious—and in your case, especially so, someone who is clearly an elder who has accomplished so much, given so much and in many ways, seems very at peace with yourself and your life path, what is your "edge?" And what I mean by "edge" is that edge of growth or challenge or something maybe that seems difficult for you—where you feel you're really growing right now.
DHK: Well, that's a really good question, Tami! You're really good at these questions.
I'd say that the growing edge is to successfully manage what's left of my long and precious life. And for most of us, every year has its own challenges. It may be physical. It may be emotional. It may be relational, events in our families, or needs that come up. But that's—I see that as an edge. Every day is an adventure and every day has its challenges—that there is something that we need to face in new ways. I work a lot with people in the aging process, trying to move them from the idea of retirement to "refirement." You know, getting fired up about life, living as fully as possible to that last breath. So that's what I would say [is the] edge that all of us have, whatever chronological edge that we're in: to live as fully as possible, to give as much as possible, because in giving, we receive. There's no question about that.
There have actually been studies done to show that altruism is one of the great healing potentials that we often underuse. You know, giving to other people, whether it's time or effort or even from the financial realm, is such a heart-warming, heart-expanding action that it helps us to live longer and more insightfully and more fully, and we always receive more than we could possibly give.
TS: Well, I so appreciate your generosity here in this conversation. Thank you so much.
DHK: Well, thank you for [the] wonderful questions.
TS: Dorothea Hover-Kramer is the author of a new book from Sounds True. It's called, Healing Touch: Essential Energy Medicine for Yourself and Others. And it's a truly comprehensive introduction to Healing Touch, a practice you can use for self-care or in your home, working with your family. It's very beautiful.
SoundsTrue.com: Many Voices, one Journey. Thanks for listening.