Scientific Validity of Distance Healing and Perceived Efficacy of Acutonics Methodology through Anecdotal DiscussionJul 31, 2022
As the COVID-19 pandemic has made social distancing and healing methods all the more important, and in need of validation and promotion, this article attempts to bring some level of scientific validity to distance healing. A review of peer reviewed research that spanned the past 40-plus years studied the effects from varied forms of distance healing on living organisms, whether human, non-whole human (animals, plants, and blood and other cells according to Roe et al., 2014), or animal was presented. Studies (Astin et al., 2000; Radin et al., 2015; Roe et al., 2014; Schlitz 2017; Schmidt 2012; Schmidt et al., 2004) included the modalities of prayer, spiritual healing, aura healing, energy healing, energy psychology, shamanic healing, nonlocal healing, therapeutic touch, quantum-touch, qigong, reconnective healing, Johrei, and Reiki. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews totaled approximately 200 scientifically sound and qualitative studies.
The microcosm to the macrocosm…just as crises and turning points in our individual lives propel us toward change and new challenges that lead to growth outside our comfort zone, so too do crises and turning points in our world lead to change and challenges to overcome and incorporate into our “new normal”. We are experiencing a COVID-19 global pandemic. Coming out of it now, hopefully, we have had to embrace technology that allowed us to connect differently, manage distantly, and reach out in different ways. So, too, have medical teams and healers had to embrace the distant, virtual world and methods.
Every Reiki Master has learned the distant symbol, Han Sha Ze Sho Nen, and the concept of sending Reiki through time and space. Many healing modalities acknowledge the potential for distance healing. Rigorous empirical research (Astin et al., 2000; Radin et al., 2015; Roe et al., 2014; Schlitz 2017; Schmidt 2012; Schmidt et al., 2004) including meta-analyses and systematic reviews designed to determine whether an actual effect can be defined or detected was presented from various healing modalities.
Published Research Regarding whether Distance Healing (Human, Non-Whole Human, or Animal) has an Effect
The studies in this paper are reviewed with regard to attempts to scientifically determine efficacy of distance healing. Studies were examined that refer to Distant Healing Intention Therapy (DHI) which uses intention, attention, and compassion at a distance; Distant Mental Interaction with Living Systems (DMILS) which involves remote attention, remote staring, and remote helping. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews were examined that included prayer, Reiki, energy healing, Therapeutic Touch, Reconnective Healing, etc. The systematic reviews, including the meta-analyses, chose studies that used rigorous methods (e.g. study design, sample size, random assignment, placebo or other adequate control, etc.) and were published in peer reviewed journals. Both whole human and non-whole-human (animals, plants, and blood and other cells per Roe et al., 2014) subjects were used in these studies. Benor (2000), in his review of 61 studies of distant healing states, “Distant healing lends itself well to double-blind studies. Healers need not have direct contact with healees. Researchers can randomize patients into treatment and control groups leaving patients, medical staff, and those assessing possible effects of distant healing blinded to whom the distant healing is being sent.”(p. 250)
This review is not meant to determine the efficacy of these healing methods, but rather to determine a qualitative effect of distance healing as opposed to local, touch healing.
Radin, Schlitz, and Baur (2015) provided an overview of the scientific evidence regarding Distant Healing Intention Therapies. They define DHI as a “compassionate mental act directed toward the health and wellbeing of a distant person” (p. 2). Studies included the modalities of prayer, spiritual healing, aura healing, energy healing, energy psychology, shamanic healing, nonlocal healing, therapeutic touch, quantum-touch, qigong, reconnective healing, Johrei, and Reiki. For purposes here, only the first aspect of their research, proof of principle, will be addressed: “If person A and person B are strictly isolated by shielding, distance, or time, is there empirical evidence that A can affect B in any way” (p. 2)? They reviewed three classes of experiments: mind-to-mind connections, direct interactions between mind and matter, and laboratory analogs of DHI known as “distant mental interactions with living systems” or DMILS. They report that the cumulative answer to the question is “Yes, A can affect B at a distance” (p. 2). “The effect sizes observed in these experiments tend to be small in magnitude, and it is not entirely clear that the interaction is causal in the classic sense of that term, but the correlations observed in controlled experiments have been independently and successfully repeated in laboratories around the world” (p. 2). Schlitz (2017) stated,
"Beginning in the 1950’s, researchers started to study how to understand and report on the DHI healing hypothesis, testing and measuring by a system that ruled out suggestion and self-regulations as counter-explanations. Techniques were developed for measuring possible distant intentionality effects upon living systems. The best experiments have benefited from careful, controlled designs that were able to rule out conventional sources of apparent effect, including physical manipulations, suggestions, and expectancy." (p. 1)
This led to studies that examined distant mental interactions with living systems (DMILS). These experiments investigate how a person “may interact with a biological target system, which could be another person’s physiological responses, or the behavior of small animals or fish” (p.1). Schlitz (2017) breaks down three types of DMILS experimental protocol as:
• A’s intention of B’s physiological state (remote intention)
• A’s attention on B’s physiological state while A gazes at B over a one-way video link (remote staring)
• A’s intention on B’s attention or behavior (remote helping) (p.1)
Some of the physiological variables used in these studies included electrodermal activity, heart rate, blood volume pulse, electrocortical activity, and brain blood oxygenation. Simple life forms used in studies included enzymes, fungi, yeast, bacteria, cancer cells, red blood cells, fibroblasts, tendon cells, and bone cells.
Schmidt, Schneider, Utts, and Wallach (2004) completed a meta-analysis of remote intention studies. The 36 studies used involved 1015 test sessions and yielded an effect size that was homogenous and statistically significant (Cohen’s d=0.106). They also meta-analyzed 15 remote staring experiments consisting of 379 sessions yielding a homogenous effect size (Cohen’s d=0.128) which is considered large. They also analyzed 11 remote helping experiments which were comprised of 576 sessions which yielded a homogenous effect size (Cohen’s d=0.114) which is considered large. “As a result of his analysis, Schmidt concluded that the DMILS studies provided proof-of-principle that focused intention and attention do affect the human body and behavior from a distance.” (Radin, Schlitz, Baur 2015). Of note is that as these meta-analyses were developed, studies that did not meet adequate scientific methodological standards are not included. Radin, Schlitz, and Baur (2015) concluded:
"In contrast to the evidence for clinical efficacy of DHI, assessments of DMILS studies--- laboratory analogs of DHI---are clearer, probably because the latter are easier to operationalize and control and because DMILS effects manifest as shifts in physiological measures rather than robust healing outcomes. The DMILS studies indicate that DHI effects are on average small in magnitude, but they do exist, and thus in principle, some clinical applications of DHI may be efficacious. Whether future clinical trials can be devised that more clearly reveal that efficacy remains to be seen. In sum, the implications of DHI for basic science epistemology and ontology and for pragmatic efforts to improve health and healing are vast, deep, and perennially intriguing." (p. 7)
Astin, Harkness, and Ernst (2000) conducted a systematic review on the efficacy of distant healing. They chose studies that included use of random assignment, placebo or other adequate control, clinical rather than experimental, and use of human participants. 23 studies involving 2774 patients were analyzed. 57% of the studies yielded statistically significant treatment effects. They concluded that this warrants further study.
Roe, C., Charmaine S., and Roxburgh, E. (2014) conducted two meta-analyses of
“noncontact” healing studies. They acknowledge that empirical studies have found that various noncontact practices that incorporate intention to heal can have a positive effect upon a person. Study quality and the diversity of healing methods used can make findings more difficult to interpret. The difficulty with human participants is that there is no guarantee that control patients are not benefiting from the healing intentions of friends and family, as well as placebo and expectancy effects. That is why studies using biological systems are used rather than “whole” humans. Phase 1 used 49 non-whole human studies and yielded a highly significant effect size (r=.258). When 22 of those studies (that met threshold quality levels) were used, the effect size was lower but still significant (r=.115). In Phase 2, 57 whole human studies were analyzed and yielded a small, but significant, effect size (r=.203). Again, though, when 27 studies (that met threshold quality levels) were used, the effect size increased (r=.224). “Taken together these results suggest that subjects in the active condition exhibit a significant improvement in wellbeing relative to control subjects under circumstances that do not seem to be susceptible to placebo and expectancy effects” (p.1).
Benor (2000) discusses a study by Solfvin (1982a) in which two groups of mice were injected with malaria. The handlers understood that some received the malaria and some did not, and that a group of the mice were designated to receive distant healing. In the study design, there were, in fact, no distant healers, only the expectation by handlers that this would occur. This was an experiment worthy of mention here as it was designed to study healing expectancy. Results were stated as significant healing expectancy results. Sofvin’s remarks are noteworthy:
"This healing expectancy effect is definitely a parapsychological one in the sense that it cannot be entirely explained in terms of known sensory processes, since the target animals were not known by anyone until the end of the study. We have therefore produced a paranormal healing effect, or something that resembles a healing effect, in a well-controlled laboratory study which cannot be attributed to something else and that something else may be operating in other psychic healing situations as well.
In experimental studies of psychic healing treatments, the experimenters may have reason to expect positive results. The healer may have performed well in pilot or screening trials, may have brought an impressive anecdotal case history of successful healings, or may make a strong personal impression on one of the experimental staff members. The results of the current study, modeled after this situation, suggest that the expectation structure may be an important contributor to the results, regardless of what the healer does." (p. 194)
King (2015), in her thesis for Acutonic's Tuning Fork Therapy certification, studied how distance healing works, then also studied results of structured and unstructured sessions she provided under controlled conditions. The third question she proposed is relevant here: “Can Acutonics® be used effectively during a remote healing session to promote healing, balance, and transformation within the client?” Her conclusion, “… Acutonics is indeed an effective medium for using in a remote session to promote balance, healing, and transformation within a client in lieu of a hands-on session, regardless of geographic distance from the client or treatment structure” (p. 75).
This paper offers the same recommendation that all the reviewed studies offered: all results lend themselves to further inquiry and study. These systematic reviews and meta-analyses totaled approximately 200 scientifically sound and qualitative studies. Efforts have been made to rigorously study distance healing in both whole human, non-whole human, and animal subjects and results confirm, in the words of Radin, Schlitz, and Baur (2015), “Yes, A can affect B at a distance” (p. 2).
Muehsam and Ventura (2014), in their discussion of the parallel between the rhythm of our bodies and rhythm that is music, suggest “findings point to the existence of a subtle ‘biofield’ information processing system that is intimately involved in the regulation of basic biological processes, from the molecular to the organismic levels. We also note how these connections suggest an essential link between the heart and the mind, between emotions and cognition….Science may now be uncovering the basic principles of a more subtle informational biology in which specific signaling behaviors can carry the power for healing.” (p. 50) Physics, Traditional Chinese Medicine, astrology, and Vibration and Music all combine to offer avenues and perspectives to approach.
The research I’ve explored backs up the possibility of distance effectiveness using many methods and modalities. This discussion hopes to enhance that possibility to include Acutonics in future rigorous research on its distance effectiveness.
**Acutonics® is a methodology that applies sound vibration using precision-calibrated planetary tuning forks to acupressure points on the body. Western medicine joins Traditional Chinese Medicine, vibrational medicine, planetary wisdom, and energy healing to develop protocols individualized to the dis-ease presented by a client. With intention and educated plans, specific frequencies and intervals are impressed upon points, extraordinary vessels, localized pain areas, chakras, and the biofield. This paper presents the possibility that the effect that science has shown to be proven in other distance healing methods, applies also to Acutonics distance sessions.
For myself, I find value in the efforts of those scientists who have explored distant healing efficacy. I have been a Reiki Master for six years and have “sent” healing across the room, to the other side of town, held the Earth in my arms, sent Reiki forward in time to help with upcoming tough meetings at work, and lovingly to my pets who were not conducive to touch at that moment. I have tried to explain to a friend who has no experience in energy healing what Reiki is and how I can send it to someone not in my presence, and the best way I found to explain it was to simply say, “It’s like a prayer.” She nodded and understood.
Now, as my journey with Acutonics moves on, I find it easy to accept the idea of distant healing using this modality. At first, I wanted to treat myself with my new tools and understandings. However, it became difficult to reach certain points and twist myself into a pretzel in an effort to reach them on myself! I purchased a “proxy doll” and started “treating myself” on it. I would start by quieting myself and putting forth the intention that I would receive the healing energy the treatment was intending to provide. I loved it!
A few months later, a good friend was hospitalized with Hidradenitis Suppurativa. She is a good communicator of feedback, rendering it easy to complement her medical treatment with the Acutonics tuning forks distantly while she was hospitalized. She would explain what the doctors were working on, whether they were drying up the skin condition or draining it, whether she still had a fever, whether the issues affected other areas, or if the medical treatment created imbalances or side effects elsewhere, etc. With daily feedback, I noticed the distance Acutonics appeared to integrate well with the hospital and allopathic doctor treatments. It seemed as though the distance Acutonics worked in conjunction with the doctors’ efforts and not in opposition to them. My distance method was to use Acutonics tools intentionally working on a proxy doll that represented my friend.
The hospitalized friend has recovered now and is doing well. Notably, as she spoke about what was going on in her life that led up to this health crisis, I noticed there were emotional and spiritual issues that presented themselves in this dis-ease. Unlike the allopathic doctors, I also distantly addressed those issues with the Acutonics tuning forks. After she was home and recovering, she spoke about some changes she was going to make with regard to her relationship and job that were directly impacting the flow and balance of her life. Based on this experience, my opinion is that the distance Acutonics sessions I provided this friend helped her with this very holistic crisis and transition, addressing the whole person (body, mind, spirit, emotions).
The following is a discussion of the anecdotal experiences of several interviewees and their experiences with using Acutonics distantly.
I interviewed 15 people who use Acutonics Tuning Forks in healing sessions. Some were senior Acutonics’ faculty, some students, some practitioners that combine modalities in their sessions. The interviews centered on distance healing using Acutonics methods. Interviewees worked and resided from the west coast of the United States to the east coast of the United States, from Australia to Taiwan. I am grateful for all their input and for the honor to hear their stories and learn from their methods and understanding of what distance healing is.
We are living in an unprecedented time. The world has been wounded with COVID. Lives and countries have been upended. The world had shut down and distance had become what we were left with. Technology has risen to the occasion. I have found in these interviews, that distance healing had already risen to possibilities, before the shutdowns. I interviewed some practitioners who had already been comfortable with distance healing and have developed an understanding of why and how it is effective.
They spoke of intention, quantum physics, energy, “the field”, frequency and vibration, thought, heart holograms, and prayer. More than one stated that the distance session allows greater results as compared to when the body is before them, as it is almost a distraction in comparison.
Frans Stiene, a Reiki Master Teacher, discussed distance healing with Reiki (Stiene, 2021). Although he is not speaking of Acutonics methodology, he presents an interesting thought. He stated,
"If we teach our students to use a pillow, a leg, a bridge, or that they are ‘sending’ something, then we keep reinforcing the idea that there is a distance which we need to overcome. But if we really look deeply into the true nature of reality, we will see there is no distance at all. We are all interconnected….This is why it is so important to practice the deeper aspects of 'distance' healing, so that we can realize our true nature, our inner great bright light in which we realize that we are all interconnected already."
Ponton and Ponton (2011) state,
"It is through this field of oneness that we are all interconnected in the whole of the universe, or the Tao. In this way we are all expressions of the same Qi, individual expressions of a unifying force. This common force allows us to interact therapeutically to build and move energy both locally and nonlocally." (p.2)
Some Reported Feedback
Feedback reported was varied and yet similar.
Some clients reported feeling sleepy, dreaming, sensing vortices. Sessions were described as “effective” and “highly effective”, “it worked!”, and sometimes that those effects were felt more quickly than an in-person session. There are those that reported that in-person sessions were preferred and consider that more “sensitive people are more in tune to distant healing” One practitioner felt the most common feedback he’s received is that the client feels less stress, and feeling more at ease in the body. Others also reported to me that clients felt relaxed, sensed where the work was focused, felt warmth and felt a release, felt calm and grounded, and a definite shift made.
One practitioner reports feedback such as, “Wow!” and examples of back pain that went away, and other pains getting totally resolved. She discussed releasing karmic issues that interfere with present life during these sessions, also. She also reports, as did a few other interviewees, that the distance method allows less static and distractions in sensing the client.
Another reports feedback confirming that the distance sessions were as good as in-person. Energetic shifts were made. For those not tuned into energetic work, it may be more nuanced. She recommends that they give it 24 hours to give it time to process.
Another reported that when she treated someone in Taiwan, there was a definite effect. She spoke of what the receiver reported: “She could tell…she felt energy go through, the chakras opening. Toward the end she felt a warm feeling about the whole session. She was able to tell what EV, what chakra was used. When protection was intended, she felt like a castle around her. [When the heart chakra was treated] she felt it open up and the walls of the castle fell and love over-flowed.”
Another reported that each person will experience it differently. She said some clients believe distance is more powerful, more intense. She also stated that the client’s perception is an important variable and that if they are not open to this, effects may be blocked.
One reports feedback such as being more relaxed, lighter for a few days, feeling more connected, balanced, centered. She feels that distance effects seem more emotional than physical. Burdens or discomforts feel lifted. Reports of feeling like they were “cleared up” and “super relaxed” were given. Recipients spoke of “shifts” and feeling like “a completely different person”.
Another feels these sessions are a co-creation with the client. There has to be an offering by the practitioner as well as an allowing by the client. I think this speaks to the interconnection that Frans Steine stated that may be fragile to some and palpable to others.
Next, I will address how the practitioners I interviewed understand and explain what happens when distance sessions are offered.
The Understanding of Distance Acutonics
To quote one of my teachers, “Everything is connected and intention.” Another
explained, “It’s 50% intention and 50% is knowledge and trust and believing.” He goes on to explain that sacred sound waves travel, energy travels in and around the body. Sound lends itself to fortify the intention. The former explains that we live in the ethers, like fish in water. With intention, apply the forks, and send it out.
Brubaker (2021) discussed how Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance” was researched by Stewart Bell in 1964, stating, “…quantum mechanics really permits instantaneous connections between far apart locations.” (p.1) “Physicists continue to grapple with the implications of Bell’s theorem, but the standard takeaway is that locality—that long-held assumption about physical law—is not a feature of our world.” (p.6)
A senior faculty member speaks to the quantum field, also. She describes it as “powerful”. She speaks of using sound with intention. “You have to have a plan with intention on how to treat. You have a vision, feel it in your heart and hold space with whom you’re with and move to a place with the most elevated transformation or shifting that allows the client to work with their potentiality, wholeness, and health. We hold space where they are at their highest level. You set intention before the session, and prayer after.”
A common explanation among many practitioners is that vibrations are energy and energy is what we are all made up of. We are each sensitive to energy. Some speak of possible portals that connect us. One practitioner explained that, “Any kind of long distance actually works better over multiple sessions, because you’re not just working on the physical, but working on the stratum (aura, field of the person and world, etc.). And the further you are, the more ‘strata’ you’re reaching, sending vibrations through the entire electro-magnetic field.”
Another speaks again of the power of thought and intention and prayer. She speaks of calling in ascended masters, etc. And she speaks of Dr. Emoto (2005) and the power of thought, intention, and envisioning cells responding and becoming beautiful. She speaks of “allowing”, and seeing the client as already healed, and whole.
Another spoke of “communication with the greater field…no time, no distance, no space”. She spoke of “aligning, opening portals…alignment to source”. She espouses the quantum perspective and “becoming interpreters of the field”.
Another spoke of electromagnetic fields. She said the tools change particle reality to wave phenomenon through the field by quantum tunneling. Heart holograms put the practitioner in the same electromagnetic field as the recipient. She reports equal effects in person and distantly, “getting the shifts I’m looking for” and feels it works better when the practitioner and recipient are in heart resonance.
Lastly, I wanted to include this quote from Rubic (2015), a physicist,
"Over 400 years ago, science expelled consciousness from its quest, deeming it outside of the material realm and in the realm of religion. However, this split between mind and matter is distinctly a Western dilemma. The East maintained an integrated biophilosophy of mind inseparable from body. In Oriental medicine there is an ancient principle—that where the mind goes, qi flows, and the blood follows qi. So, at least in the East, the mind is the overarching commander of the vital force, which moves the energy, and then the flesh follows suit." (p. 91)
Rubic (2005) further discusses intention and distant healing and its effect on the biofield. “Consciousness—through conscious intent, will, visualization, affirmation, prayer, etc. may, in fact, govern the biofield because it denotes a higher level of being….So, changes in the biofield may be the first in the sequence of responses to thought and intention, followed by subsequent shifts in the physiology and biochemistry.” (p. 91)
Yes, we are spiritual beings in a human experience. We affect others. The vibrations of Acutonics tuning forks become a tangible method to express that energy with intention, with prayer, with love. Some I have spoken with feel that, yes, distant sessions are effective, but perhaps differently. When in-person sessions are held, our clients enjoy the feeling of the forks on the body---our human experience. And when sessions are held distantly, the experience is more spiritual, more ethereal, and perhaps more pervasive in its effects.
As healers, we understand the dynamics of dis-ease and how there are so many reasons or root causes for any illness, pain, or dis-ease. We have soul’s journeys, stress, trauma, toxins, etc. Our sessions are set up to treat the resulting dis-ease as well as the contributory factors and root causes. I see those factors as a spectrum from near to far, from etheric to body, emotional to physical to spiritual. So, too, would our protocols encompass these areas. The Universe and our guides, along with our training, assist us in developing the session protocols and, perhaps, when distance sessions are what have been planned, that is what the client needs.
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