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Energy Fields Nursing: An Exploration of New and Re-Discovered

Boundaries for Practice.


Francis C Biley RN PhD

Lecturer in Nursing,
University of Wales College of Nursing


Catherine Jones RGN BN(Hons)

Post-graduate Student,
University of Wales College of Nursing

Addresses for correspondence:


UWCM 20, Easterly Close

Heath Park Brackla
Cardiff Bridgend
Wales, UK Wales, UK
CF4 4XN CF31 2NA

Tel: 00 44 1222 743734

Fax: as above

May 1998

Despite being developed over 30 years ago and there being perhaps more research to

support it that any other conceptual framework for nursing, the Science of Unitary Human

Beings (Rogers 1970, 1986) is rarely explicitly used in nursing practice outside of North

America (Fraser 1996), although paradoxically, if the Science of Unitary Human Beings is

an adequate and accurate theoretical framework, it could be argued that it is being used

every day, albeit implicitly, by nurses throughout the world. As you might expect then,

the framework is gaining in popularity throughout the world and in such places as the

United Kingdom, Germany and Brazil. However, the abstract nature of its concepts and

its references to phenomena such as human and environmental energy fields, the

paranormal, near death experiences and telepathy may detract many nurses from pursuing

an understanding of the conceptual framework and stop them from using it explicitly in

their everyday practice.

This aim of this chapter is to introduce some of the basic components of Martha Rogers’

Science of Unitary Human Beings (Rogers 1970, 1986), explore the foundations of the

conceptual framework from an Eastern philosophical perspective, what constitutes ideas

about health gained from taking an Eastern perspective and to also add relevant insights

on the nature of reality gained from post-Newtonian physics and in particular quantum

theory. From this, insights into the nature of energy and its manifestations, including

intuitions (which form an important part of the framework) will emerge. Empirical

evidence for such manifestations of energy and in support, or otherwise, of the conceptual

framework itself will be highlighted, along with a discussion of the congruence of testing

the model and its assumptions using traditional Western scientific empirical methods.

Finally, aspects of the practice of energy fields nursing will be explored.

Origins and definition of energy

For thousands of years people have wondered about nature and their place within it.

Richardson (1995) stated that there has been an historical assumption that all matter is

surrounded by a universal life energy. The cosmic source of this life energy is often

known as the One, meaning God, Allah or Jehovah etc. The One emanates life energy or

Divine intelligence which is thought to be pure wisdom and love (Kryder 1994). This life

energy is given different names in different cultures.

In India, energy is regarded as an intangible substance that pervades the whole universe

and is the ‘breath’ from which all things are formed and is known as prana. The Japanese

label for such universal energy is reiki or ki and is similar to the Chinese vital energy,

known as chi, which emanates from the cosmos. Chi is likened to dragons veins, running

as invisible lines from the sky to earth. This chi energy travels between two poles or

extremes known as the yin and yang. The cosmic source of chi is Tao, meaning ‘the way’

and Taoism asserts that although man’s experience of the world is characterized by

continual movement or change, there is within this change a pattern which is non-random

and has a kind of structural unity and constancy. Irrespective of the country of origin of

such conceptualisations, commonality of understanding and belief can be found in the

ideas about the illusionary and Divine nature of energy, and in holism and the belief in the

interconnectedness of all things. There is also an awareness of subtle, often opposing

energies within the universe and that human beings are subjected to these energies or

‘forces’. Human beings are also thought to be able to control or influence these energies

in order to create harmony or disharmony, balance or imbalance.

In Egypt, man was viewed as the microcosm of the macrocosm and was expected to

reflect the order and harmony of the macrocosm. This was achieved through the

balancing of subtle energies known as cosmic ‘uranian’ forces and subterranean ‘telluric’

forces. Similarly, the Chinese thought, and still do think, that the yin and yang are the

activating forces of all phenomena. The human being is said to be the mediator of yin and

yang and needs to maintain a balance between its forces, physically, mentally or

emotionally. It seems then that human beings had to be attuned to and in harmony with

both spiritual and physical realities to be healthy or whole.

In the Western world there has been scientific exploration into the nature of the universe

over the last two centuries. Sir Isaac Newton defined force as a common component of

the universe, but in the form of gravity; solid material bodies were thought to move in

empty space and have forces act on them. These forces were mechanical and objective in

nature. Together with Descartes’ mind-body dualism, man and his environment were seen

as mechanistic and reductionist, in that they could be broken down into parts and found to

interact in a predictable way (Dossey 1982).

In this century, the development of Einsteinian and post-Einsteinian quantum physics

provided a paradigm shift away from this earlier view. Einstein had demonstrated that all

things were made of energy, but quantum theory describes the basic stuff of energy in

minute detail. One important aspect of quantum theory is the conceptualisation of

wave/particle duality. This subscribes to the idea that matter at a sub-atomic level can be

described as solid matter (particles) or as undulations (waves) or as both at the same time.

This is known as the ‘principle of complementarity’. The ‘principle of uncertainty’,

developed by Heisenberg, postulated that matter is neither made up fully of particles or

waves but a mixture of both, therefore attempts at describing the exactness of nature is

impossible as all attempts to observe it alter it (Graham 1990).

Another important principle for consideration is that of quantum non-locality, as described

by Zohar (1991). This states that all matter appears to be linked. For example, there

appears to be a strong link, manifest in the behaviour patterns between any two given

photons (quanta of light). So strong is this spatial link that there does not appear to be

any space in between these photons, regardless of distance. It also appears that such

influences transcend time, so, for example, a billiard ball in Malaysia in 1976 can be linked

and therefore influence a billiard ball in Iceland in 1996.

Similar to the Eastern view of an ultimate structural unity and constancy within the

universe, Bohm’s (1980) theory of a holographic universe highlights the concept of order,

in that everything forms a basic oneness. Separate parts are actually connected in an

immediate and intimate way. Bohm suggests that our perception of movement is actually

order conveyed in a complex movement of electromagnetic fields in the form of light

waves which is termed holomovement, or life energy.

Professor Harold Burr proposed that all living organisms possess electrical fields which

determine their form, growth and organisation. Abnormal life fields can be a manifestation

of disease. Kirlian photography illuminates this idea by showing what happens when a

living organism or indeed any object is placed in a high frequency electrical field. A

Kirlian ‘photograph’ will show a fluctuating aura of differently coloured flashes and flares

that appear to surrounding the living organism or object. With organic objects, each

displays field patterning that is unique. These patterns have been seen to change before

and during disease and react to emotional, physical, environmental and cosmic changes

(Chesterman et al 1974).

Views from Eastern philosophy, quantum and relativist theories describes humans as

dynamic wave patterns, vibrating molecules and atoms interacting with one another

interrelated with the environment in a multi-dimensional, or as Martha Rogers would have

said, pandimensional, field. Separateness of the individual from all other individuals and

the environment is an illusion. The new physics dictates that it is human consciousness

that creates this illusion and is therefore a participant in the nature of reality rather than as

an observer of it. Reality and observer are still seen as distinct but interrelated (Capra

1991). Eastern philosophy believes that there is movement and change by the divine

intelligence at this ultimate reality and no separation of subject and object. Both believe in

an underlying (ultimate) reality, characterised by movement and change.

Drawing on these views, Rogers’ (1970, 1986) abstract conceptual framework or system

of the Science of Unitary Human Beings uses the assumptions of wholeness, openness,

pattern and organisation, sentience and thought to describe four postulates of humans and

their life process. These postulates are:

Energy fields - where the human being is described as a unified phenomenon subject to

natural laws and characterized by a complex energy field (Rogers 1970). There are two

energy fields, the human field and the environmental field. Both are integral and infinite

with the human field extending beyond the manifestation of our discernible mass.

Openness - which states that there are no real boundaries between man and the

environment, only conceptual ones (Rogers 1970). Pattern and organisation cannot be

bound or seen as static, but the living system is an open system in constant mutual process

with the environment (Rogers 1990).

Pattern - which can be described as characteristics or manifestations of the human field

perceived as a single wave and individual to each person, it is also the observable feature

of the field.

Pandimensionality - encompasses all fields and is a non-linear domain of spacial and

temporal linearity where human fields and environmental fields exist within multi-

dimension, later known as pandimensions and can account for such occurrences as deja

vu, telepathy and various other psychic experiences including paranormal manifestations.

Although consciousness has been referred to by Rogers as a universal experience, she

considered the term to be confusing and preferred instead to use the term awareness

(Sarter 1988). Carboni (1995) describes unitary knowing as an awareness reflecting

knowledge of the unified whole of the implicate order. Wholeness is oneness, in which all

that is merges in one totality. It is thought that since higher frequency energy field

patterns are of increasing diversity and complexity this may be what causes change

towards health (Carboni 1995).

From these postulates Rogers’ three Principles of Homeodynamics can be formed; these

being labeled the Principles of Resonancy, Helicy and Integrality. These principles

“postulate a way of perceiving unitary man” (Rogers 1970) and give “fundamental guides

to the practice of nursing” (Rogers 1990).

Through resonancy there is a continuous change from lower to higher frequency wave

patterns in human and environmental fields. These changes are helical in nature in that

they develop rhythmically and are continuously new, unpredictable and moving towards

greater complexity and negentropy (differentiation). These changes occur within the

principle of integrality, characterised by a continuously open mutual field and

environmental process, bound within the space-time continuum (Rogers 1986).

It can be seen therefore that, at least in the West and with the exception of basic Rogerian

thought, health as wholeness and harmony with nature has been exchanged for a Western

view of control and dominance of nature and the body.

History of Western Science.

“ The views of nature held by any people determine all their institutions”

(Emerson 1857; in McLuhan 1996; page 223)

This quote reflects the nature of today’s Western medical institutions and nursing.

Initially, the first medical school was established in Greece by Hippocrates in the 5th

century BC. As in Eastern philosophy, the health of man was considered to be

synonymous with a balance with nature. This holistic view was captured in the

Hippocratic doctrine that “there is one common flow, one common breathing, all things

are in sympathy” (Graham 1990; page 23). the focus of care was to aim at using natural

forces to create the most favourable conditions to enable the healing process to take place.

Graham (1990) suggested that such an approach was inspired by the belief that health and

illness was a natural, biological phenomena, affected by the environment and lifestyle,

rather than the work of spirits and gods, who were then assigned a personal status

separate from man. With further analysis of nature, in particular its natural shapes and

patterns, Pythagorus attempted to understand the natural world through mathematics and

formulas. Objects were thought of as more real than those of sense perception, raising the

status of intellect and reducing that of the senses, intuition and feelings. From such a

former standpoint, things could be measured from an arbitrary, external standard, imposed

by rules, laws, equations and theorems.

In Western culture scientists sought to dominate and control nature by finding out how it

worked and reducing it to parts. Similarly, medicine turned away from creating harmony

with nature and sought to dominate and control the body through probing, dissecting,

analysing and replacing defective parts. An emphasis on measurement, standardisation,

rationality and reason emerged (Barrow 1998).

Grof (1985) maintains that whilst this image of the universe has been pragmatically useful

in improving our standard of living and the creation of technology, it has generally been

mistaken for an accurate and comprehensive description of reality. Subjective accounts of

other phenomena outside of materialistic science have subsequently been dismissed as

superstition, folk-lore or quasi-psychotic states.

Manifestations of Energy

All things are made from the particles and waves within light and manifest as modalities of

colour, sound, movement and form (Kryder 1994). In Egyptian medicine, light was a

symbol of God and radiated from the sun. Each ray of the colour spectrum manifested a

different facet of the divine and influenced different qualities of life. The Greeks too

recognised the therapeutic effect of colour and employed variously coloured sanctuaries in

treatment and also, for example, dranking water that had been exposed to the sun

(Graham 1990). Music, movement and rhythm were also used by the Egyptians and

Greeks in healing as they were thought to shift the focus of time and consciousness into

the ultimate reality (Dossey 1982). Certain shapes and forms are said to store and

circulate subtle energy. Crystals and precious stones receive, focus and store light

through their colour and shape. The shape of the triangle, pyramid and column is thought

to focus light between heaven and earth and to have a preserving effect, whilst circular or

domed structures are thought to be protective as they retain and circulate subtle energy

(Kryder 1994). Structures and symbols of nature such as statues and musical instruments

were used to imitate or remind people of nature and the ultimate reality


Other, slightly more illusive manifestations of energy are those of intuitions. This has been

described by King and Appleton (1997) as ‘gut feelings’, sixth sense, insight, common

sense, inner feelings, hunches, premonitions and foreboding. In the Eastern tradition the

Chinese Taoists believed in trusting one’s intuitive intelligence, as change comes

spontaneously from knowledge within, not from some external force. To this end,

anything that silences the mind against the physical world and rational, linear thought is

encouraged, such as, meditation, the focusing on art, images music, mantra, rhythm and

certain body movements and exercises (Capra 1991).

In this way the vital energy is circulated through the body. The Chinese call these

pathways meridians and the Hindus refer to chakras as vibrating wheels along the spine

that provide energy to the body. A blockage or disruption in flow is thought to cause ill

health in the area obstructed in the sense that part of the physical body is cut off and

therfore divided from the true self and therefore not whole. Treatment uses needles

(acupuncture), pressure (acupressure), massage, exercises such as t’ai chi, qi gong and

Yoga as well as colour, sound and crystal therapy in the appropriate areas, which provide,

promote and direct the flow of vital energy.

In extreme cases, when the consciousness is freed from dependence on the physical body,

outer body and near death experiences are manifested. In the case of outer body

experiences it is usually spontaneous and occurs most often during sleep, meditation,

anaesthesia, illness and in instances of extreme pain (Talbot 1991). Near death

experiences appear to be a universal phenomena, described through history in the Tibetan

Book of the Dead, the Egyptian Book of the Dead and throughout medieval literature.

Constant themes from subjective accounts, described by Talbot (1991), are of seeing a

bright light, being at peace in beautiful surroundings, characterised by clouds of colours,

musical tones, energy patterns and a lack of awareness of linear time and space. Ring

(1980) believes that ‘dying’, involves a shift of consciousness from the ordinary world of

appearances into a holographic or frequency domain, akin to the ultimate reality.

Awareness and the environment

Intuitions can also be felt as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ feelings by those who are sensitive to

intuitions or by dowsers who manifest this energy through rods, pendulums or forked

sticks. Positive energy can be felt in sacred places such as Stone Henge, the Grand

Canyon, Lourdes, Machu Picchu, ancient religious sites or anywhere where the natural

beauty can be felt as being at one with the environment, a sense of history, feeling lighter,

with colours being more vivid and by having a sense of being closer to the surroundings

(Redfield 1997). Stones or sites built on specific ley lines and near water can potentiate

energy as can the use of colour, sound, ritual and symbols on certain sites. Similarly,

other powerful or negative perceptions or ‘feelings’ can be intuited. People who visit

places such as Culloden Moor, the site of Scottish battles, may be able to ‘feel’ the history

of the place (Prebble 1961). History documents linear progression of space and time but

in a multi-dimensional reality events and objects are mutually connected regardless of

space and time, and an event from another space or time may manifest in present

experiences (Cowling 1990).

Exposure to negative energy may give feelings of nausea, lethargy and heaviness as vital

energy is drained. Geopathic stress is the more modern term for energies emanating from

the earth that may cause ill health. This field is still relatively unexplored but is believed to

be as a result of disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field and have some relationship to

ley lines, sacred stones, electrical charges, or underground transport systems (Freshwater

1997), and from quarries and large building foundations (Davey 1998). It is thought that

exposure to geopathic stress can undermine the body’s immune system and deplete the

body of vital energy, leading to disharmony and illness (Davey 1998).

Spacepuncture or feng shui is one way of circulating or changing negative energy to

positive energy. It is an ancient oriental art of arranging living, working and

environmental space to bring spiritual and physical benefits, where:

“Chi inflates the earth, moves wind and water (feng and shui) and breathes life into

plants and animals. It pulses through the planet motivating each thing that moves

and irrigating every landscape” (Graham 1990; page 61).

Energy seems to flow most readily through curvilinear forms, rather than linear or angular

forms (Kryder 1994). By altering the layout of the home, garden or surroundings it is

thought to encourage blocked or depleted energy to move freely (Hicks 1998).

Transcending the physical towards health

McGlone (1990) asserted that healing is a process of getting in touch with that which is

impeding a realisation of wholeness and is a gradual awakening to a deeper sense of self,

body, mind and spirit. Rancour (1991) went further by stating that everyone is a potential

self healer and facilitator of another person’s healing. Larson (1992) says that this

transcends healing of the ‘physical’.

The body is an energy construct and is only one level of density in the human energy field.

‘Mind over matter’ is a common phrase and receives credibility when believing energy

may be a blueprint, where the structure of the body gets its cues. It is thought that

imaging an illness, even unconsciously, and repeatedly reinforcing its presence in the field

can manifest that illness (Talbot 1991). An example of this would be the constant saying

of ‘I’m sick and tired of doing this’, which may manifest as actual physical sickness and

lethargy. Therefore it is important to access what you really think about yourself and any

negative unconscious cues you are giving the energy field and replace these with

affirmations. Boguslawski (1990) asserts the importance of relaxation to receiving inner

messages, the expression of these messages manifested in poetry, dreams, art, dance,

singing and any other spontaneous creativity. Guided imagery can direct energy in a

healing way and aid relaxation.

Touch has been thought of as a method of healing in most non-Western countries for

thousands of years (Sayre-Adams and Wright 1995). LeShan acknowledges (in Graham

1990) that the universal features common to all healing is the healers shift of

consciousness to become united with the one being healed, through harmony created by

centreing, abandonment or relaxation. Within nursing, Therapeutic Touch, as developed

by Kriegar (1979), is a way of assessing disharmony of the energy field, clearing and

repatterning the person’s energy field without physically touching the person. Using

Therapeutic Touch within a Rogerian perspective, the nurse knowingly participates in the

mutual/environmental field process by shifting consciousness into a state that might be

thought of as a ‘healing meditation’ or centering which the patient can use for repatterning

Empirical research

Empirical knowledge is achieved through seeing or observing. Within Eastern traditions

this is performed through meditations and insights which come from personal knowledge

and perhaps external forces. However, from a typically Western scientific perspective, the

way to achieve empirical knowing is through the performance of experiments, teamwork

and the use of technology; all this must be achieved using a process that can be replicated

at anytime and by anybody (Capra 1991). Despite extensive subjective accounts,

phenomena such as out-of-body and near-death experiences are often dismissed as

hallucinations, dreams or attributable to physiological responses. Rather than energy as

movement and change, traditional science looks for energy as a ‘something’ that can be

measured, and if it cannot be measured then it’s existence is denied. Pressure to conform

to such ideals are strong and have resulted in, for example, an instrument being developed

in Tokyo to diagnose chi energy (Graham 1990), but there is criticism that no instrument

can be that sensitive.

Acupuncture, although well respected as a mode of treatment in the West, has generally

been studied from a physiological point of view. Acupuncture has been associated with

increased production of endorphins (Graham 1990) and serotonin (Hodgkinson 1989)

which produce an analgesic effect and an alteration in the perception of pain. Similarly, it

is known to reduce nausea (Hicks 1998) pain, blood loss and the post-operative recovery

rate in women having Ceasarian sections (Hodgkinson 1989).

The energy felt by dowsers and the causes of geopathic stress is also thought to be

measurable as some sort of electromagnetic energy. Even so, the intuitive awareness of

dowsers was used in an Austrian study (Davey 1998) to locate areas of negative and

neutral energies in several hospitals. Tests on the patients sitting for 15 minutes in the

negative energy area showed a significant reduction in the neurotransmitter serotonin

which could lead to sleep disturbance or depression.

Altered states of consciousness are also difficult to define and measure. Burch (1994)

notes that most of the prevailing North American psychological and medical theories have

excluded the concept of consciousness either because they felt it didn’t exist, it existed but

didn’t have anything to do with health, or was too difficult to measure. Therefore human

experience investigations have generally narrowed consciousness phenomenon down to

psychological responses. The initial denial by the medical profession of the concept of

psycho-neuro-immunology is a typical example of this.

Physiological and psychological studies have been carried out into the effects of music and

colour. Observing the use of coloured light on parts of the body, Dinshashah (in Kryder

1994) found that red, orange, yellow and lemon colours were stimulating or building and

that, green, turquoise and blue colours were balancing or repairing, whilst indigo, purple

or violet were emotionally calming and depressed the activity of physical organs. Magenta

was found to be spiritual and emotional as well as physically balancing, whilst scarlet was

the most emotionally and physically stimulating. Music too has been found to have

positive physical and psychological results although there have been conflicting results on

what type of music to use in any given or particular situation. It seems that the patients

choice of music is the important factor (Schorr 1993).

As well as being explored from physiological or psychological points of view, colour and

music have been studied from a unitary or Science of Unitary Human Beings perspective

and, using congruent terminology, assesses the impact of environmental resonance on

human field patterning through the principle of resonancy or integrality. In relation to

colour, red light is at the lowest end of the frequency scale moving through to blue which

is the highest frequency. It is postulated that blue light is conducive with the more

conscious or higher awareness aspects and change. Using pain and sleep as human field

manifestations of consciousness, MacDonald (1986) and Girardin (1992) tested the effect

of blue and red lightwaves. MacDonald (1986) found that pain was reduced in the hands

of women with arthritis and Girardin (1992) found that sleep-wake patterns in neonates in

hospital were increased by blue lightwaves. For music, using restfulness (Smith 1986) and

pain (Schorr 1993) as manifestations of consciousness, Smith (1986) found that varied

patterns of environmental sound were more restful than quiet ambiance and Schorr (1993)

found music produced an increased pain threshold.

Guided imagery has been said by Achterberg (in Graham 1990) to have been validated in

the use of stress-related disorders and chronic pain by inducing states of relaxation and,

for example, is regularly used in a well known alternative and complementary health centre

in the UK (the Bristol Cancer Help Centre). A unitary understanding of guided imagery

has also been explored. Given that images are finer manifestations of energy field

patterning and hence change, they are thought to transcend time and space. Butcher and

Parker (1988) tested the principle of resonancy to determine the subjective experience of

time and human field motion (relative perception of space) whilst undergoing pleasant

guided imagery. Results were positive for the experience of imagery transcending time as

subjects reported more of the non-linear timeless metaphors on the time metaphor test.

Graham (1990) comments that Western medicine often devalues images, dreams and

intuitions and there is some criticism that imagery wastes ‘energy’ on fantasies which

could be better used coming to terms with reality.

There are criticisms too of Therapeutic Touch research that appear, perhaps, to emerge

from the inability of Western patterns of research to congruently and appropriately address

the very particular concepts in question (such as energy repatterning and improved self

perception of health or wellness). Although it has been found to facilitate comfort (Quinn

1984), reduce anxiety (Heidt 1981), reduce headache pain (Keller and Bzdek 1986) and

increase surgical wound healing (Wirth 1990), Richardson (1995) critically analysed 12

experimental studies and found that only seven presented any type of positive results.

Clarke and Clarke (1984) also found weak empirical support for the practice. In both

analyses controlling for the placebo effect was thought to be the problem. Richardson

commented that the placebo effect may actually be repatterning of the energy field, but

other factors have to be taken into consideration for the results. Two considerations

congruent with Rogerian science might account for the results. One is that of intent,

which Sayre-Adams and Wright (1995) describe as very important, but cannot guarantee

an outcome in a universe of acausality. Similarly, repatterning occurs through what

Barrett (1988) calls ‘knowing participation in change’ which asserts that for change to

occur the patient must take part with the will to want change. Sayre-Adams and Wright

(1995) state that some people do not want to be different, in perhaps an improved health

or wellness-state way, and have an unwillingness to change even if they agree to go

through with the therapy. This is true for almost all the modalities for repatterning, which

may account for the weak empirical evidence and indifferent replication of results.

Most of the research within the Rogerian perspective has taken an experimental approach

and as with Therapeutic Touch, support for energy field work is inconclusive. Clarke

(1986) has pointed out that problems do occur when trying to empirically validate energy

fields work and these include defining adequate and valid empirical indicators which may

require the development of new tools. However, a range of tools have been developed,

for example, the Human Field Motion Tool (in Barrett 1990), which has, typically, been

criticised by Butcher and Parker (1988) who questioned it’s validity when they found that

many subjects do not appear to understand the meaning of words or phrases that were

used in the tool. Additionally, in a universe of open systems, where everything effects

everything else, it may be difficult to know what exactly has attributed to repatterning.

The Limits of Science

Even to the present day, the Hippocratic oath stipulates that there is the responsibility that

the medical caring professions should do no harm. In this way, all actions, treatments and

interventions have to be proved to work. Despite almost unquestionable faith in medical

research however, Holden (1988) has identified that medical research is fallible, by, for

example, pointing out that the perceived causes of coronary heart disease have been

disproved several times and that in general, many drugs can either make health worse or

reduce quality of life. Sheldrake (1994) notes that fundamental laws and constants used as

the basis of scientific research have changed over the years. The metre has been re-

defined 3 times since its origin and the theory of the universe running down is changing to

that of a universe expanding and evolving, as too, may its laws. All this leads to the

assumption that there is no absolute certainty, only what Chew (in Capra 1991) calls

approximate knowledge. A belief too in the non-locality of consciousness and of psychic

phenomena would seriously endanger the illusion of objectivity, raising the possibility that

many studies reveal the expectations of the experimenters.

The illusive nature of energy as movement and change would seem to take it outside the

realms of traditional scientific exploration which is characterized by rationality and reason

rather than intuition and personal knowledge. The former specialises in deeper and deeper

realms of matter whilst the latter specialises in the intuitive. Capra (1991) suggests that

neither is comprehended by the other and neither can be reduced to the other, but people

need both, suggesting a dynamic interplay and realisation that there is more than one way

to view nature and knowledge.

Energy Fields Nursing

If it is possible to accept many of these propositions that have been presented, for

example, that medical research is fallible, and that there is more to living in the world than

can be measured or observed, and that there might just exist that illusive thing called

energy, then a whole new world of nursing practice begins to emerge. Such is the view of

Rogerian science, stimulated by the Science of Unitary Human Beings. New possibilities

for realising the potential of new, energy fields, nursing become apparent.

Recently, Oldnall (1996) commented that spiritual care is lacking in nursing, citing a small

study by Narayanasamy (1993) who found that the nurses questioned had little

understanding of spiritual care, relying mainly on hospital chaplains to care for the spiritual

needs of the patient.

Spirituality does not have to mean a belief in religion, it can have a humanist perspective

as well. Although Rogers does not specifically discuss spirituality, Smith (1994) identifies

themes within the conceptual framework that are congruent with the humanist perspective.

These include, “the perception that human beings are continually evolving and seeking

meaning, and are engaged in continual, mutual process with other living things, including a

transcendent dimension or Being” (page 144).

Attending to a persons spirituality may include accepting the responsibility and the ability

to engage in a therapeutic relationship that might include giving and receiving touch,

listening and being listened to, appreciating music, literature, engaging in humorous

activity, recognising and responding to happiness, crying, laughing, dancing, using colours

and acknowledging relationships with other people. Anything that simulates meaning in

people, moves toward fulfilling their potential. Within energy fields nursing, this is

achieved through repatterning and assessment of the mutual human and environmental


The Environmental field

The nurse can have an effect on well-being through patterning of the environmental field

with the patient using colour, light, sound, imagery, visualization and relaxation (Barrett

1990). In two papers that outline aspects of providing a healing environment, Biley

(1993a, 1996) comments that hospitals have often been functional in design and almost

sterile in nature. Repatterning the environment could involve altering the hospital building

itself, using the intuitions of dowsers to select the right site that is characterised by neutral

or positive energy. Additionally, the building could be low level so that negative energy is

not ‘created’ by the need for large foundations, and a domed roof may help retain and

circulate energy. Furniture, interior decor and decorations should be arranged according

to feng shui design principles so that positive energy is able to circulate while negative

energy is diffused.

Crystals can be used in the environment. Quartz, for example, is said to absorb negative

energy currents, eliminating them from the room as well as the body (Visions). This

would be particularly desirable in an environment such as an intensive care unit where

there is electrical equipment. Chromotherapy could increase freshness of the usually stale

jug of water at the bedside. Each crystal has specific energy, not only from its shape, but

colour, and one suitable to each patient can be placed in a transparent water jug, exposed

to light. Rock crystal is said to maximize both physical and mental capacities, as it

balances and harmonizes through encouraging the free circulation of the life force


Similarly, colour can be used to heal through art, wall paint and even bedlinen. Biley

(1993a) reports from research by Jacobs et al (1974) that the red hues are the most

arousing whilst the blue are least arousing. An interesting study within a hospital

environment would be to test the effects of red bedlinen, or lighting at night to aid sleep.

Music too could be used for relaxation, although this may be dependent on personal

preference so there should be optional access to this through the provision of a dedicated

music room or by supplying headphones.

Pictures and artwork are important not only cosmetically, but in helping relax the mind to

think of other things. In this way it is important to use certain kinds of pictures. Natural

landscapes, seascapes and still life have been found more beneficial than portraits, animals

and abstract pictures (Biley 1996). Pleasant views from windows are also important.

Research has suggested that this may reduce hospital stay and therefore in some states of

America it is compulsory to have either natural views or computer -controlled false

window views (Biley 1996).

The nurse can use multiple modalities for repatterning of the human energy field, including

guided imagery, body and breathing exercises. Opportunities should be given for self-

expression, such as artwork, poetry, dancing relaxation and any other such creative

activity are pattern manifestations within Rogers’ conceptual system and are a way of

recognising underlying thoughts and feelings. The nurse and patient, together, can

appraise pattern manifestations and work to form new patterns of health. An example of

this is given by Biley (1993b), who became aware during a ward round that a woman had

recently had a bilateral mastectomy looked cheerful and purposive whilst doing a tapestry.

However, an intuition or feeling about the scene made him return to her bedside. Through

talking with and listening to the woman, Biley found that she had serious concerns about

her appearance and he felt that by doing the tapestry she might have been covering up or

denying these concerns in order to maintain her human environment field integrity.

Through this pattern manifestion appraisal, the woman talked through some of her own

strategies for dealing with these concerns and moved in the stage of deliberative mutual

repatterning, changing her health pattern, and taking part in “knowing participation in

change” (Barrett 1988). By doing the tapestry the woman may have been able to silence

her mind to rational thought and so avoid making health decisions. Through deliberative

mutual patterning, fears could be confronted and new strategies for health behavior were

achieved by the patient in conjunction with the nurse.

Quinn (1992) also says that we should think of the nurse as part of the client’s

environment. In this way “the nurse turns toward her or his understanding of the “nurse-

self” as an energetic, vibrational field, integral with the client’s environment” (page 27).

Therefore how can the nurse be a healing environment? With the belief in the

interconnectedness of everything and the non-locality of consciousness, Quinn (1992)

stated that we can knowingly use our own consciousness toward repatterning of ourselves

and others. Therapeutic Touch may be one way of repatterning the patients

consciousness, applying a strong harmonizing rhythm to the human energy field of the

patient. Similarly our thoughts may have an effect on the patient. An experiment by Byrd

(1988) found that one group of patients being prayed for in a coronary care unit had

significantly less severe physical complications and needed less drugs than the group not

being prayed for. As this was a double blind study, the only influencing factor was

thought to be the prayer, or the non-local consciousness of those praying for the patients.

In this way it is important that nurses assume a non-judgmental attitude toward patients

especially in their thoughts as a negative attitude toward a patient may be intuited and

hence the ‘unpopular patient’ concept may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely,

it is conceivable that the patients consciousness may effect the nurses. A typical example

of this would be a nurse on night duty, who for no rational or practical reason ‘feels’ the

need to ‘check on’ a patient who has come into his or her mind. On reaching the patient’s

bedside, the nurse may find that the patient has just arrested, bled post-operatively, or be

in need of analgesia, comfort or someone to talk to, but has not been able to ask. There

are many incidences such as these and they occur all the time. Ignoring such intuitions

may have serious physical or spiritual consequences.

In essence, energy field nursing provides a framework for the nurse and patient to work

together at creating wholeness and harmony. In order to repattern the human energy field

towards maximum health potential, through non-invasive methods.


Quantum and relative theory provides an alternative (ultimate) view of nature and health.

This is not new however, as it was established nearly 2000 years ago by Hippocrates and

originated in traditional Eastern knowledge. Western medicine still emphasises the

physical aspects of disease and is mainly concerned with controlling the body. As such,

treatments and interventions are derived from empirical research which takes a rational

and objective stance. Phenomena which cannot be explained via this method are often

devalued or ignored.

Rogerian science provides nursing with a framework within which to view people and

their environments as part of the ultimate reality. Health is viewed as wholeness and

harmony with nature and transcends the ‘physical’ body. Postulates provide a framework

for understanding phenomena such as near death experiences and distance healing, as well

as the use of colour and music is health and well-being. Attempts have been made to

empirically validate this framework and the practice modalities with often conflicting or

weak results. As such, use of energy fields work has been slow to gain acceptance in

practice, where the prevailing medical model exists.

Limits of this scientific, experimental approach have been grounded in shifting

fundamental laws and constants, Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty and the illusion of

objectivity. Together with continuing accounts of ‘proof’ of causes of diseases being

disproved several times, there has been a call for approximate knowledge and a realisation

of alternative, subjective views of nature and health. In this way energy fields work would

not have to validate itself in a method that is incongruent with its knowledge base and may

be used in conjunction with orthodox medicine, to provide patients with more choice in

their search for health and well-being.


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