By Barbara Janelle M.A.
First Published Newsletter of the Nurse Healers Professional Associates, Inc., Vol. XVII, no. 3, Summer 1996
This article is based on personal experience, as well as on articles and lectures by Dora Kunz and Dolores Krieger, and private tutorials with Merlin Homer.
Centering, being in harmony with inner wholeness, is achieved through stillness and quiet. Dora Kunz says, “The healer must feel whole and centered within…the healer projects energy toward the patient to stimulate his or her own healing power…the healer channels the healing force which consists of compassion and order” (Krieger & Kunz, 1984).
Centering is an essential factor in Therapeutic Touch. In her 1982 doctoral dissertation, Janet Quinn examined the effects of TT and mock TT. In this study, cardiac patients receiving TT showed significantly greater decrease in anxiety (measured by the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Scale) than those receiving mimic TT in which the external movements were done without centering and intent.
We become more effective in using Therapeutic Touch as we develop the ability to stay centered for longer periods of time. Part of this process is learning to recognize and overcome thoughts and conditions that pull us off center.
Traps That Impede Centering
Some of the traps that can affect our ability to come to a quiet focus and to stay centered are:
1. Attachment to Outcome
5. Taking on Another’s Problems
7. Holding Back
- Spacing Out
- Attention Seeking
- Worrying About What Others Will Think
11. Personal Issues
12. Reacting to Outside Stimuli
All of the above reduce the inner quiet, compassion, focus on helping the receiver, awareness of wholeness and universal order, and ability to follow the essential inner knowing or guidance.
Attachment to Outcome The desire to produce visible results increases the practitioner’s anxiety, while reducing respect for and recognition of the receiver’s own path and timing (see “Detachment from Outcome”).
Doubting “Will I be able to feel anything?” “Am I doing it right?” “Is this really helping?” Doubt wastes energy so the practitioner may feel very tired after trying to do a TT treatment.
Transference “You remind me of someone else, so I’ll treat you like I did that person.” In judging this way, the practitioner ignores information from the field and does not treat the individual.
Projection The practitioner anticipates field response rather than working with the actual conditions. For example, allowing the thought that “there is little hope for improvement in this situation” to govern, limits the practitioner’s work. Inner stillness and awareness of wholeness have little chance of gaining strength. Projection of outcome, whether positive or not, takes the practitioner away from the moment of power: NOW.
Taking on Another’s Problems (Falling into the Field) Falling into the pain and/or emotions of the receiver, abandons the self. We do not help another by becoming sick ourselves.
Smothering The feeling of being totally responsible for another’s health does not recognize the being’s own path, nor the role of universal energy. This can involve taking on another’s problems, judging, and imposing advice. It stresses both practitioner and receiver.
Holding Back “Protecting the receiver from you” stems from self-doubt and inexperience. Fear inhibits the intent to help, and ignores a universal source of aid.
Spacing Out The practitioner becomes so enchanted by the feel of the energy that she/he forgets the receiver. This can result in the patient showing signs of energy overdose–anxiety, irritability, pain, shock.
Attention Getting The practitioner uses TT as a means of gaining attention, rather than of helping another being. The need for attention, approval, and even excitement from an audience actually directs energy to the practitioner and can drain others involved. Titillation is a game that holds little room for compassion and intent to help.
Worrying About What Others Will Think The fear of being judged harshly can pull us off center and even stop us from doing TT.
Personal Issues Memories, judgment, tiredness, fear, may bring the focus to self rather than to the patient’s needs.
Reacting to Outside Stimuli Allowing outside noise, wind, people talking, fluorescent lights, air temperature, or an unfamiliar setting to interfere with centering can be a serious distraction.
All of these traps seem to focus attention on self, so that compassion for the receiver diminishes. Krieger says adamantly, “If you are not coming from a place of compassion, you are doing something else (not TT).” (“Strategies for Teaching TT” course, Pumpkin Hollow, summer 1992)
Aids to Centering
So how do we achieve center and stay there for the period of our work? Among the most effective ways of doing this are:
Daily Meditation Developing the habit of inner quiet and harmony makes it easier to center in times of stress. Daily meditation is a most effective way of instilling this habit. Tai Chi, a moving meditation, is another approach that also develops the grace and balance which are so important in TT movements.
Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, Peace is Every Step (1991),offers simple but effective exercises for developing conscious awareness. Passages from books like Course in Miracles (1975), Emmanual’s books, Bartholomew’s books, Alan Cohen’s writings, can provide focus for meditations which increase trust and compassion.
Feeling Harmony In opening a meditation, Dora Kunz often starts with, “feel the harmony of this group.” In centering for a TT treatment, establishing a sense of harmony with the receiver leads to deeper quiet. One way of doing this is to place hands on the shoulders of the receiver and “listen” for the rhythms of breathing and diaphragm movement.
Visualization Dora Kunz recommends using the image of a tree, or some aspect of nature to trigger inner quiet. In busy situations, imaging a whirlpool spinning overhead while you work quietly centered deep under it, is helpful.
Bracketing Merlin Homer teaches “bracketing”: “This is not mine.” “I will deal with my feelings later.” “I will put my concerns aside for the period of time that I am doing TT” (Homer, in Greg Malzecki).
Asking for Cooperation Sometimes the patient or others present try to talk or joke with the practitioner. Explaining your need to concentrate and enlisting their help through silence can involve everyone in the treatment.
Seeing the Beauty of the Receiver When we are able to see the beauty of the receiver (delighting in the person, perceiving the inner child, or connecting with the higher self), then we can honor the situation and path that the individual has chosen. We can trust and accept whatever outcome occurs.
Remembering the Role of the Receiver The decision to move toward health is the individual’s and it is often made at a subconscious level. Only in the deepest quiet and through honoring the receiver, is there any chance of reaching this level. There, compassion offers the possibility of transcendence.
Developing the ability to center and then to maintain this deep quiet for long periods of time is a process built on experience and self-growth. Self-awareness and self-examination are important, but the fostering of compassion and harmony with all life is the essence of inner peace.
Krieger, Dolores & Dora Kunz. “Centering as a Key to Practice: Workshop given by Dolores Krieger and Dora Kunz,” The American Theosophist. February 25, 1984.
Thich Nhat Hanh. Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. New York: Bantam, 1991.
Course in Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975. P.O. Box 635, Tiburon, California, U.S.A. 94920
Greg Malzecki. “Emotional First Aid and TT – A Report on Merlin Homer’s Talk at the 1991 Ontario TT Retreat.” In Touch. December 1993.