Healing and Science – is there a debate?

Healing and Science – is there a debate?

The answer to this question is, as often is the case, both “yes” and “no.”

Yes, there is still a debate

On one side, there are Healers who make outlandish claims about healing cancer or diabetes, in some miraculous manner, through a mysterious power. Some people have had negative experiences with doctors or hospitals and have demonised both of them. There are also charlatans who trick people for financial gain, or fame.

On the other side, there are doctors and other health professionals who discount anything they don’t understand as false. Some don’t look at the facts, but only at the people on the other side of the debate, and throw it all out together.

For both of these parties, the debate is usually very high in emotion, and low in substance and fact.

No, for many, the debate is over

For a while now though, a growing group of people on both sides have been able to follow the data, and identify some positive results. These people see that there are two things that have been established:

·     We know that Healing works.

·     We don’t know why or how.

We know it works

People who combine Healing with standard medical care recover more quickly form injury and illness, and report lower pain levels during the period of recovery. Terminal patients report a greater degree of physical and emotional comfort during palliative care.

The NHS has responded to this by approving placements and funding from SBSHT for Healers to play supplementary roles in NHS institutions and care facilities. Healers are now part of the team in many NHS facilities. Coverage and availability are still better in some areas than others, but it is a step in the right direction.

Just as with medical treatment, sometimes the results are stunning and quick, sometimes they are slower, and seem less effective. The statistics are clear though, the cooperation of standard medical care and Healing, helps patients to be healthier, more comfortable, and have quicker recovery periods.

We don’t know Why

Still, there are people who will struggle with the fact that we don’t know why Healing works. This struggle in unnecessary though, if one considers a few of the other things that we don’t understand, but still use on a regular basis. For example, even scientists who specialise in such areas do not know how gravity works. We can see what it does, but we don’t know why… yet! Likewise, Newtonian physics and Einstein’s relativity theory are mutually exclusive, and yet the one gets us into space and the other makes GPS work.

So what do we do?

There are lots of things we don’t yet understand, but it makes no more sense to throw out Healing, than it does to throw out your GPS or mobile phone. Scientists continue to study all of these areas, and maybe one day we’ll have answers – but in the meantime, we know that this practice makes the healthy less susceptible to illness, the ill more comfortable, aids in recovery where possible, and reduces anxiety in the dying.

So what should we do? Try it. Receive the benefits. We’ll figure out how it happens later on.

Sources and Further Reading






To Risk the Unexplained

To Risk the Unexplained

If I were to explain why I love my wife, and give specific attributes that attract me to her, something very interesting can occur. Those same attributes appear in others, and yet without the same reaction of love and affection that they elicit in me in the case of my wife. On paper, there are others like her, but in my experience, she is unique. I can’t explain it.

This is not rare to the human condition. There may well be some complex set of factors at work that make it this way, but that doesn’t matter; what matters is our experience.

If you are struggling with something in your life – a health problem, stress, an injury – I bet it doesn’t matter so much to you why you are struggling, as how you can get some relief from it. If you are searching for the cause, it is mainly because you hope to find relief through identifying the source of the pain. The source itself is less important. Likewise, if something gives you relief, and isn’t harmful, you might not care much how it works, so long as it does.

Healing can be like that.

If you read through the bios on this site, you’ll hear about people whose experiences as receivers of healing were so impactful to their lives that they eventually became healers themselves, devoting years of practice and commitment to sharing the benefits they themselves experienced.

Those Healers are not alone. This is a testimonial from one young person who spent some time at the Sylvan Centre during a difficult time of life.

I’m sixteen now and free of all of the problems to be mentioned, but throughout my childhood I struggled in the process of making friends, and argued constantly with my parents, perhaps as a result of the troubles I was having at school. This led to me feeling constantly anxious.

I found the centre to be a haven, secluded from the outside world and truly calming, alleviating the struggles – temporarily or permanently.

Without sounding clichéd, it is a different experience for each person who comes with different issues and reasons, but the constant is the undeniable benefit that a visit has. The healing is like a massage (a free massage), allowing one to disconnect, relax, and feel better about their problems. While I may not have seen the advantages as a stubborn child, I can see them clearly now, so I would recommend the centre to anyone, again regardless of their reasons or problems.

Finally, please also do not feel ashamed to ask for help, as I was – the ‘healers’ are non-judgemental and keep any conversations confidential, as well as the fact that there is never a reason to feel ashamed; each and every one of us experiences difficult times during our lives which are nothing to feel embarrassment about. To summarise – this is a truly beneficial service, which I would recommend to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or reason.            

Anonymous Patient

Regardless of your age, and regardless of your problem, healing can help you to deal with it, in many cases can help to heal it, and can do so in an accepting, non-threatening way. There is no fee for the services (a donation is requested if you are able), and the whole purpose of the centre is to improve the lives of those who come for healing. Risk a little of your time and effort in coming to us, and you may find a source of healing and comfort that you would never have thought existed.

That Which We Call a Rose

That Which We Call a Rose

One of the struggles Healing practitioners have, is what to call what they do. It has been traditional to call it ‘Spiritual Healing’ or ‘Faith Healing,’ but each of these terms has been appropriated by fraudsters and used for selfish gain. Likewise, each of them brings along a great deal of meaning that might not be intended by the practitioner.We define words by using webs of other words, so a word like ‘Spiritual’ or ‘Faith,’ for example, can bring with it images and meanings from a life experience of churches, or mosques, or temples, or synagogues that add to it a great deal of meaning beyond the control of the Healer. Some of these implications may be accurate, but many won’t be, and it is nearly impossible to tell which ones are being applied, because none of us knows the experiences of the other. One person may take ‘Spiritual’ to mean from the god in which they believe; another might take it to mean occult or other practices that they see in a very negative light.

So why give it a name at all? Why not simply call it ‘healing’ and leave it at that? Well, there are two strong arguments against doing this.

The first is that ‘healing’ brings with it a lack of precise meaning that also creates problems. Doctors are healers, and provide healing. Nurses are healers and provide healing. One could even make the argument that the chemist, the researcher, and the people who hold a number of other health-related jobs could be called healers. It winds up being ambiguous.

So, we sometimes capitalise the first letter, and write of ‘Healer.’ It may be a little less ambiguous than its lower-case sibling, but it also sounds a bit grandiose; it is too self-important sounding to convey the position of the healer in what we do. After all, we claim no special gift or divine appointment; we are simply people who have been touched by this kind of healing, and have taken the time to learn the techniques ourselves in order to pass on the benefits to others.

The second is that, in order to continue reaching people in more formal situations, like NHS-funded institutions, we need to be identified in some way.

The practice of Reiki, for example, can be easily identified and can bring with it a clear story of origin, development, and organisation. Likewise, Yoga and (more recently) Mindfulness training are growing in acceptance as ways and means to give effective support as part of a healing team. Without a proper name, the battle is ongoing and must be repeated in each new context.

The Complications

This is further complicated by the fact that, for some people in pain, the very lack of definition and structure is what enables them to engage with it. Part of the process, for many people, is letting go of constructed boundaries, letting go of the structure of beliefs they’ve had regarding their health and level of well-being. For some of these people, once a name is applied to it, some of the efficacy fades; it becomes less potent.

The development of a structure and identity also brings with it the risk of hijacking by those with selfish intentions. We’ve seen this before, with people claiming special powers and authority, taking the title of Yogi, Pastor, Rabbi, or Priest, when their true goal is to exploit the vulnerable for money or other things, and ultimately leave the person in a worse state than they started. In naming and adding structure, we help some, but we risk giving charlatans the tools to harm others in our name.

What to do

As part of our community of healers and patients, we each may have something to give to the search for a solution to this problem. It’s an ongoing issue, and is becoming more important as the NHS opens up to more, and more-varied, types of alternative and support healing.

Do we invent a name without baggage? Throw some letters together and attach it to our community and build credibility from today forward?

Do we adopt the name of a similar practice? Try to become known as an offshoot of a more well-known system such as Reiki, Hands-On Healing, or something similar?

Do we adapt a name from a similar practice? Take on some of the credibility of another practice while noting a type of separation, like calling ourselves ‘cooperative mindfulness,’ or something similar?

Do we use a descriptive, the way Hands-On Healing did? If so, what descriptors do we use?

Juliet lamented that her Romeo bore the name of her enemy, and reasoned that he would be just as sweet to her if he had a different name, just as a rose doesn’t cease being a rose just because someone calls it something else. But is she correct? Does the name (or lack of one) change the nature of the thing? Does it alter the potency, or endanger the reputation of it?

These are questions that must be considered at this time in our growth and development as a community and as a healing service. Each of these has its pros and cons, and more discussion is needed.