It’s noon on a Thursday, and the lights in the room are dim. Soothing music plays, encouraging relaxation. Comfy chairs insist sitters leave behind all thoughts of disquiet, discomfort or unease. Sock-footed and engulfed in the healing energy of the room, visitors wait their turn for treatment.
“Your job is to relax and receive,” whispers one of the providers at St. Mary’s Medical Center’s Healing Hands Group.
Ten short minutes later, the treatment is complete and the patient leaves, changed by the experience.
There are many healing touch techniques thought to balance energy, supporting the body’s wellbeing and natural ability to heal. Each focuses on unblocking healing energy through love, compassion and trust in a higher source. Although it’s known as healing touch, practitioners do not actually touch patients, placing their hands a few inches from the patient’s body to feel energy imbalances.
St. Mary’s Medical Center’s Healing Hands Group offers therapeutic touch. Its five volunteer practitioners, led by founder Linnie Krauland, are certified in therapeutic touch or Reiki.
Ten years ago, Krauland’s 17-year-old daughter had a near death experience. Chaplains at the hospital’s Spiritual Care Center helped Krauland and her daughter heal from the horrifying event. A Reiki master teacher, Krauland expressed her gratitude by providing private treatments to cancer patients.
As a chaplain intern, she was asked to start the Healing Hands Group. Krauland recruited and trained volunteers to offer Reiki to cancer patients, caregivers and St. Mary’s staff. A decade later, the program is going strong.
“I am happy and grateful that Healing Hands is still offering healing relief to patients,” she said.
Krauland’s first patient, Helen Gallegos, heard about the new program in 2007 during a massage offered through St. Mary’s Cancer Survivorship Program. Intrigued by the change of energy she felt during the treatment, she went on to receive Level I certification training from Krauland. She has since completed Level III Mastery Certification and started volunteering with Healing Hands shortly after.
A musician, Gallegos sometimes plays the reverie harp during Healing Hands sessions while the other practitioners offer treatment.
“My intention is to jumpstart the patient into more peace, joy and harmony in their heart,” she said.
Julie Grubich was trained in healing touch several years after finishing nursing school and began volunteering at Healing Hands nearly six years ago. Her first patient wore a turban to cover her head, balding from chemotherapy. She was fearful, yet open to the gift of quiet, mindful presence.
When the session was complete, the patient opened her eyes and declared, “The darkness is gone.”
At that moment, Grubich understood the beauty of sharing in the healing of another.
Sister Anne Brost is a member of the Benedictine Whitewater Community, a mission of Colorado Springs’ Benet Hill Monastery. She became certified in Reiki in 2007 and began volunteering for Healing Hands a year later. Brost guides patients to relax and recognize that they are in the arms of “unconditional love.”
“That unconditional love is there all the time,” said Brost. “We just need to pay attention to it.”
Debra Hesse, cancer services resource manager at St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center, understands the benefits of alternative healing methods that support traditional medicine.
“Medicine doesn’t fix everything,” said Hesse, a cancer survivor herself.
Brost stressed that during a treatment, the focus is on the healed body, not the sick body. Healing touch is not about fighting anything, but rather encouraging it to leave the body so its gift—growth in life’s difficult times—can be revealed.
Volunteer practitioner Denice Roberts began as a Healing Hands patient while recovering from breast cancer. While grieving the loss of her sister several years later, she felt that giving to others would help in her grief process.
“We are all healers,” said Roberts.
She means everyone, including the patients. Everyone who enters the room for treatment brings healing energy and love to others present.
“It’s an exchange of energy,” Brost said. “The caring is mutual.”
Sharon Gray, the newest provider at Healing Hands, was introduced to Reiki when a friend offered her a treatment after she was involved in an auto accident 28 years ago.Because the Healing Hands volunteers have survived or witnessed seemingly hopeless experiences, they now lovingly help others to access their own healing energies.
“Sharing the blessing of healing touch with others is also a blessing to me,” said Gray. “Being of service through Healing Hands is the highlight of my week. I have the greatest spiritual experience knowing that God is working through me to help others heal.”
St. Mary’s Cancer Survivorship Program also offers art therapy, support groups, yoga, massage and acupuncture. Any community member may experience a Healing Hands session, which takes place from noon to 1 p.m. every Thursday in the hospital’s Reflection Room.
More healing occurs at the Veteran’s Art Center, 307 S. 12th St., where Valerie Pineo provides Reiki to veterans every other Saturday.
The center offers therapeutic yoga, massage, acupuncture and art lessons, and Reiki was a natural fit.
“Veterans have gone through so much. The arts, whether healing or creative, help them to live a more productive, creative and meaningful life,” said Pineo.
For more information, call the Veterans Art Center at 462-3126.
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