In Touch, Vol. XIII, No. 3, Autumn 2001

Unruffling, one of the primary procedures in Therapeutic Touch, supports energy flow, disperses congestion, energizes the field and helps prepare the field for treatment (1). Unruffling is a way of conversing with the field, and the practitioner’s hands act as a metaphor for visualizations that guide the interaction. Hand movements vary in speed, rhythm, direction and position, and distance from the skin; all of which are linked to accompanying visualizations.


Speed and rhythm are critical to the comfort of the receiver. The speed of unruffling may vary with the amount of congestion and quality of flow within the field. Fast hand movements can make the receiver edgy, while movements that are too slow can build congestion (as energy from the practitioner’s hand contributes to that of the field) and make the receiver uncomfortable. Moderate speeds combined with the intention of being light and soft in unruffling are usually very easy for the field to accept.

The field accepts flowing movements easily while jerky motions are unpleasant for the receiver. Imagining the hands as feathers or as moving through water brings fluidity and comfortable rhythm to unruffling.

Rather than making passes for the sake of making passes, it is important to make each stroke count, and that is done by visualizing energy movement with each stroke. Each pass affects the entire field whether it is done locally or not. Pauses allow the field to process the unruffling.


The direction of unruffling may vary with the practitioner’s intention and visualization, and with the state of the field.

Downward. Therapeutic Touch focuses on supporting a general flow of energy downward through the field. The most frequently used form of unruffling is a downward sweep through the field with an open-palm hand movement. Downward sweeping is often accompanied by visualizations of

    1. energy flowing through the field: in through the crown chakra or upper portion of the field, down through the field, and out through the feet (grounding)
    2. energy flowing from the hands and contributing to the energetic flow within the receiver’s field
    3. dissipation of congestion and movement of lower vibrational energy out of the field (2)

Repeated downward unruffling movements are done with open hands, but it is important to close the hands (cover the palm energy centres) as they are brought up to start another unruffling pass. Downward unruffling relaxes the recipient and that can lead to pain reduction and faster healing.

Relaxed hands, softly curved with slightly spread fingers, are the most effective in unruffling. Tension in the hands reduces the amount of energy flowing out of them and diminishes sensitivity so that assessment is adversely affected.. Tension in the practitioner affects breathing and ability to center and stay centered.

Horizontal. Unruffling from the centerline of the body out to the sides is useful for breaking up congestion, and also for supporting energy flow along nerve pathways from the spine outward to the rest of the physical body. Corresponding visualizations accompany these movements.

Outward. Congestion may be pulled from the field with hands moving perpendicularly outward from the body, and may be preceded by a brief stirring movement to encourage energetic response. Outward unruffling is usually applied to localized congestion. Some hand movements for outward unruffling are:

    1. lifting congestion away from the field
    2. combing out (3)
    3. “sticky finger” grasping, pulling out and shaking off of congestion(4)
    4. teasing sluggish energy to come out of the field
    5. spiraling off (5)
    6. contact unruffling where a hand is place in contact with the body and then moved away drawing congestion off (6)

It is very useful to visualize congested energy grounding through roots or being siphoned off through straws into the ground. It is best to decongest an area before directing more energy into it.

Upward. This is used infrequently and only in localized situations, where unruffling through an area would increase discomfort. Outward movements usually follow upward unruffling. For example, congestion in a toe caused by gout can be moved up to the ankle and drawn out from there and grounded. Upward and outward unruffling is the preferred way of dealing with founder in horses: congestion is drawn upward from the foot to the fetlock and then pulled away and grounded.




While most unruffling is done within eight inches of the body, the distance from the skin for unruffling varies with the state of the field and the condition being addressed. Working at the edge of localized congestion is much more effective than unruffling within the congestion (7) and I have often found my hands working 12 inches or more away from the skin. When dealing with burns, headaches, and painful areas, unruffling is best done at a distance of six or more inches. There have been times when working with aggressive dogs, upset horses and cattle in pain, that for my own safety, I have unruffled the field from several feet away and found it to be very effective.


Unruffling is most effective when it is done gently, and guided by subtle and clear imagery. Hand movements that are careful, rhythmic and flowing support energy movement. In all instances, awareness and support of energy flow through the field is important (8). As we continue to grow in our use and understanding of Therapeutic Touch, I am sure that we will develop even more ways of unruffling.


(1) See “The Effects of Unruffling,” In Touch, Vol. XII, No. 2,May, 2000 “Preparing the Field for Assessment,” In Touch, The Therapeutic Touch Network (Ontario), Vol. VIII, No. 3., September 1996

  1. My sense of congested energy is that it is of a lower vibration that is essentially unusable by the field. Unruffling to decongest the field moves this unusable energy out of the system and makes way for higher vibrational energy to enter and support overall health.
  2. TTNO Teacher Evelyn MacKay uses a combing out movement along the upper part of the spine for treating carpal tunnel syndrome. Combing may restore order to what Choa Kok Sui calls “Health Rays” that in a state of health, extend perpendicularly from the physical body. See his book, Pranic Healing, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine: 1990.
  3. Kelly Travail of London, ON developed the idea of sticky fingers that could reach deep within the field, gather and pull out congested energy and shake it off.
  4. TTNO Teacher Carolyn Buchanan found that using a spiraling off form of unruffling, done at a distance, was very effective in dealing with cluster headaches.
  5. I use contact unruffling to reduce congestion at sites of warm swelling (unbroken skin). As an example, it was useful recently in reducing heat in the hoof of a horse recovering from a cracked bone in his foot.
  6. See “Working With the Edge: Scanning and Unruffling, ” In Touch, The Therapeutic Touch Network (Ontario), Vol. VIII, No. 2, June, 1996
  7. See “The Role of Visualisation in Therapeutic Touch” “The Role of Visualization in Therapeutic Touch,” In Touch, Vol. X, No. 2, May, 1998 and “On Grounding Visualizations,” In Touch, Vol. IX, No. 4, November 1997