The working of a blessing

M Ramesh | Updated on: Apr 24, 2022
Healing touch works, according to ‘biofield science’ (representational image)

Healing touch works, according to ‘biofield science’ (representational image) | Photo Credit: triloks

The nascent field of ‘biofield science’ postulates that the idea of a ‘healing touch’ is not just mumbo jumbo

A raised hand, hovering above the bowed head of a devotee. The benign resting of an elder’s palm on a child’s head. Could these traditional gestures of blessing have any material benefit beyond the psychological? Could a hand raised in blessing indeed “bestow” energy to the one being ‘blessed’?

Recent research in the liminal space between science and spirituality has given rise to a body of knowledge called ‘biofield science’, which seems to undergird the belief that a hovering hand or a healing touch is not some mumbo jumbo.

In an article titled ‘Grappling with the science of touch-based healing practices’, published in Discover magazine, Amy Paturel describes how her 14-day-old son, Jack, was miraculously cured by a nurse, Lisa Thompson, who did nothing more than “moving her hands a few inches” above the baby. Doctors at the Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, where Thompson worked, had given up all hopes of the infant’s survival.

Researchers, including Dr Shamini Jain, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of a book titled Healing Ourselves: Biofield Science and the Future of Health, are completely clueless about how ‘healing touch’ works; they only know it does. A theory floating around is that the human body lives in a ‘bio-field’, like a magnetic field around a magnet or an electric field around a live wire, and it appears that a hand’s incursion into this field can be beneficial.

Paturel rues that even after over 400 clinical studies, including 125 randomised control trials, the scientific and medical community remains sceptical about biofield therapies.

Jain holds similar views. “It’s shocking to me how little people know about peer-reviewed, published research in healing — or how to harness basic healing principles to foster our own flourishing.” Her book begins with an anecdote of how Meera, the two-year-old daughter of Devan and Medha Parlikar, had her malignant tumour disappear by distance healing therapist Sara of Tel Aviv.

The scientific community seems to have moved from complete scepticism to a “something in it, but needs more data” kind of viewpoint.

There could, after all, be some merit in seeking an elder’s blessing.

Published on April 24, 2022
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