How Does Distant Healing Work?

By Bernadette Doran, RMT


Invisible things tend to confound us until we get used to them. For example, when your cell phone rings, and it’s your sister, you don’t question the fact that you can hear her voice and hold a live conversation – even though you’re in Chicago and she’s in San Diego. Or, when you get home at night and turn on the TV, Jimmy Fallon suddenly appears to make you laugh, even though he’s 800 miles away in New York. We take these invisible processes that connect people over long distances for granted, but because it’s still a relatively new concept to Western culture, distant healing remains a puzzle to many.

The good news is that quantum physics and new research are helping us understand more about both the results and the mechanics of instantaneous connectedness. First, the results It may surprise you to learn that you have been probably been doing some distant healing yourself – if you ever send good thoughts or prayers to others.

Prayer as a form of distant healing indeed works and gets physical results, according to research. One of the first studies, conducted in 1998 at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, was done with AIDS patients and showed those who received prayer survived in greater numbers, became ill less often, and recovered faster than those who were not prayed for. More recently, a study at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, looked at patients who underwent cardiac procedures, such as angioplasty and catheterization. Patients who received prayers had up to 100% fewer complications than those who did not.

When it comes to distant healing with energy therapies like Reiki, there’s abundant proof of its effectiveness as well. Daniel J.Benor, M.D., is a pioneer in this research field and published a collection of 61 studies, all of which showed measurable results.

“Distance, even thousands of miles, does not appear to limit the effects of healing. Significant effects of distant healing are demonstrated by randomized controlled trials in humans, animals, plants, bacteria, yeasts, cells in the laboratory, and DNA. Fascinating new insights about energy medicine and integrative care are suggested by these studies,” Dr. Benor concludes.

In fact, one study has shown distant healing to have even greater effectiveness than hands-on therapies. Adna Goldman Shore, Ph.D. did a study on patients suffering from depression and stress. They were randomized into three groups and received a hands-on Reiki treatment, a distant Reiki treatment, or a mock treatment done by someone with no Reiki training. As expected, the Reiki-treated group responded much better than the mock Reiki group, but distant Reiki won the prize. It resulted in the greatest reduction of depressive and stress symptoms, and patients continued to see improvement the following year.

So, we are very sure that that distant healing works, but how? We could say that distant healing is – literally – one of the most natural things in the universe, and here’s why. Renowned physicist Albert Einstein got the first clue when he observed that one quantum particle can affect another simultaneously, even though they are separated by great distances in space. He called this “spooky action at a distance,” and not much later a new generation of quantum physicists sprung up to explain what was going on.

Their greatest discovery: Everything is connected, the basic principle underlying quantum physics. We now understand that there is an essential interconnectedness and interrelationship between all things. Consciousness, time and space, every drop of water, every human being and every animal, every plant and every planet are all part of a dynamic universal web of interrelatedness. Action at a distance is not so “spooky” when we understand that everything is connected. So when one of Einstein’s particles scoots in a certain direction, it is logical for another particle to follow the dance step, attached to each other by invisible threads of interconnection.

How does distant healing get to the right person? We are all automatically interconnected, but it is the GPS system of human consciousness that determines the specific connection between sender and receiver. Hawaiian shaman Serge Kahili King offers a wonderfully poetic description of this. “Aka is a Hawaiian word that refer to the idea of a nonphysical web of threads connecting everything in the universe… We can say that the connections of the web always exist, but specific threads are only activated by conscious attention.”

This is where science finally meets spirituality, because many spiritual traditions have long recognized what quantum physics started discovering and acknowledging in the 1930s. For example, he Buddhist scholar Thich Nhat Hanh says an underlying Buddhist premise is “One Is All, All Is One.” In the Native American Sioux tradition, interdependence is at the center of all things, and Abraham in the Christian Bible defines God as the Unity underlying the entire natural world.

Perhaps since humans appeared on earth, we’ve had an intuitive understanding of our interconnection, and tried to express it spiritual terms. We have quantum physics now to help us explain the cosmic connection scientifically. But for a very long time, we have inherently known that sending good thoughts, prayers or Reiki to someone we care about will help them – and abundant research now proves we have been right all along.


Bernadette Doran, RMT, is the owner of Equilibrium Energy + Education, a Chicago wellness center dedicated to energy therapies, classes, workshops and certification training. Visit




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