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December 8, 2006
Tending to Spirituality's Physical Side: 2 Approaches

December 1, 2006
Rx for Heart Health

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Posted: January 12, 2007

Spiritual Caregiving

Gaining Release: Healing Hands and Labyrinths

The sun is shining, birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and my heart is filled with gratitude. I (Rauni) walk into my "sacred garden" and stop to read the sign I placed at the entrance: "A kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one's nearer God's heart in the garden, than anywhere else on earth." I have spent many blissful hours with my hands in this earth.

Hands are so important. Yesterday, I taught healing touch at our Center for Integrative Medicine. I love these classes. I get to watch people discover something about themselves -- perhaps that we all are closer to God than we may have imagined. And when we discover our power to heal -- power transferred with pure intent through our hands to a patient -- it is always amazing.

This healing power of touch dates back at least to Hippocrates, the Greek physician and father of modern medicine, who noted that "a force flows from many people's hands." This energy has different names in different cultures: chi in China, prana in India, mana in Polynesia. Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians have other names for ancestral healing practices similar to healing touch.

Until fairly recently, the tradition of "hands-on healing" was ignored by conventional Western medicine. Scripps Health, a five-hospital campus in San Diego has been providing healing touch since 1993, and has offered training to more than 1,200 people, mostly nurses, over the last dozen years. Today it is common practice for cardiac surgery patients to receive healing touch before and after surgery in the intensive care unit and every day until discharge. Healing touch is also provided in the center for outpatients. "It's the glue that kept me together" while undergoing conventional therapy, say many of the cancer patients who receive it.

A therapeutic intervention, an educational program, and an international organization that provides certification and formulates standards of practice, healing touch is now taught all over the country and in many parts of the world, with the commitment to "spreading the healing light worldwide."

What is this light? Traditional healers believe that the human energy system is full of vibrational frequencies. These frequencies flow in the body's seven chakras (energy vortices), each vibrating at a different frequency and therefore manifesting as a different color to those who can perceive them. When we combine our chakras' colors -- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet -- we get pure white light. We are this light. This light is love. Recognizing this light in another is the foundation for greetings in many spiritual traditions -- such as Namaste, which means "the light in me greets the light in you," or "the Christ in me greets the Christ in you" . . . .

So I say to you, Namaste.

Mimi Guarneri, M.D., and Rauni King, R.N., are codirectors of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, California. Guarneri is the author of The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing (Touchstone, February 2006).


For Spiritual Exercise, Use This Labyrinth Locator

By Lauren Artress

Looking for a spiritual exercise? Walk a labyrinth! Better still, make a date with a friend and do it together. Many labyrinths at churches are open only at certain times, so call ahead. But labyrinths are also found in parks and playgrounds. Any time of the month is fine, but walks during the full moon or the summer solstice can be extra special.

Labyrinths aren't mazes; they are not designed to trick you. Just follow the path to center at your own natural pace. This frees the mind and releases intuition. You may pass others or let them pass you. It's a two-way street, so you may meet people going in the opposite direction. Greet them if you wish; there is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth.

The effectiveness of a labyrinth walk is determined by your experience. Pay attention to what it stirs in you. Does it create a peaceful state within? Renew your sense of connection to the invisible web of creation? Or swirl images in your imagination like autumn leaves in a wind? If you're already familiar with labyrinths, take along a question not a "head" question, but one from your heart. Once you find your pace, allow your mind to quiet and then gently bring the question into your awareness. Ask it, and then let it rest within you. Answers come in all forms.

To locate a labyrinth near you, go on and click on Labyrinth Locator. Type in your ZIP code or your location and see what pops up!


Lauren Artress is the author of Walking a Sacred Path and The Sacred Path Companion: A Guide to Using the Labyrinth to Heal and Transform. She can be reached at

This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at Contact staff directly via email at

© 2007 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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