The Case for Hope

By Cyndi Dale
[Energy Work]

Years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged his followers to accept disappointment, but to never lose hope.1 His reasoning, as I understand it, is that a life event has finite bounds. For the moment, we might be defeated. We might feel like we are losing our battle to anxiety, depression, pain, poverty, or another condition. The power of light, however, is such that if we hold true to hope, we open to the infinite. Within the infinite, anything is possible.
As healers, we often struggle to place ourselves between the finite and the infinite, between what is happening with a client and what they, or we, might wish would happen. Our heart yearns to assure them that everything is going to be OK, even when our professional integrity, common sense, or experience might anticipate otherwise. While we don’t want to tread where angels fear to fly, I believe part of the healer’s role is to encourage hope—especially if we’re also in the position to inspire what I call “hopeful activities,” or behaviors that could create beneficial change. Why ignore the potential of grace when we can make a difference or show the client how to do the same?
For many people, hope is the result of faith. I always suggest clients follow the doctrines of their religion, unless that faith system seems dangerous or irresponsible, such as what occurs within a cult or terrorist organization. For instance, I once worked with a client who could have taken care of a precancerous lump with a simple medical procedure. As a member of a religion that didn’t believe in surgery, she instead refused treatment and focused on positive thinking alone. Four years later, she was dead. She left behind a 6-year-old daughter. I had strongly advocated she listen to her medical professionals; she decided not to work with me anymore.

A Common Denominator
Setting aside the extreme situations, a ritual common to most spiritual collectives is prayer. In regard to healing, I consider prayer a two-sided coin. We can “collect” on either side. On one side, prayer involves seeking assistance or guidance from a Higher Power. On the other side, prayer is the focus of mental intention for the improvement of a problematic condition. In the first case, assistance comes from a greater force. In the second case, aid comes from a person or a group.
Dozens of scientific studies reveal the possibility that prayer can create positive outcomes for needy individuals. The most well-known study is the 1988 Byrd study, which exhibited that intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God beneficially affected patients admitted to a coronary care unit.2 Other studies, however, reveal everything from positive to zero results.3 And one particularly shocking study, led by cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD, and chaplain Dean Marek, showed that a significantly higher number of participants who knew they were being prayed for during heart surgery had higher complications than those who didn’t know if they were being prayed for.
What might be the reason for this unusual outcome? The researchers theorized there was a sort of performance anxiety that caused the prayed-for to feel pressured.4
The naysaying studies shouldn’t stop us from praying for our clients, in whatever form we are comfortable, or encouraging our clients to do the same for themselves. The kicker is that we don’t want our clients to feel pressured, as if prayer necessitates perfectionism. We can avoid this by honing in on one of the more helpful powers of prayer, as revealed through another prayer-related study.
Professors Matt Friese and Michaela Wanke, in an article in Scientific American, provided an explanation for effective prayer that wasn’t supernatural. Their study determined that the most effective prayers might actually be increasing self-control.
The professors’ theory is called the “strength model,” and it assumes that our cognitive and physical resources are limited. For instance, they point out that it would be hard to run a mile after completing a marathon. Prayer, or some form of contemplation, was shown to increase the cognitive strength of participants, religious or not, so they could better perform tasks.5 In other words, they were better able to be self-responsible concerning activities that would encourage health.
Think of the kind of conditions that frequently distress your clients—everything from chronic pain to an injury. How often might they be able to support their own recovery or well-being if they were not exhausted and overwhelmed? Encouraging your clients to receive support from their Higher Power can give them that smidgen of extra strength needed to eat healthy, exercise, attend a support group, or, yes, get to their bodyworker. Showing them that you care, that you are focused on their betterment, and that others are as well, can also make up that vital difference in energy.

What You Offer
It’s important to embrace the power you have as a healer, a power that slips over the horizon of the healing activities related to bodywork. From a subtle energy perspective, your attitude is crucial. You don’t even have to say a thing to support a client’s ability to be hopeful and therefore self-directive; to keep going where it makes a difference. Energy is information that moves, and everything is made of it: a disease, pain, thought, and antidote. Subtle energy is the high-speed quantum stuff that moves so fast, it can create a change before you even finish the request for that change. A number of experiments6 have shown that thoughts, images, intuitions, and physical sensations can pass between people who are emotionally close or empathic.7 Most important, the individual with the greatest or strongest presence influences the other member of the pair.8
What if you hold hope in your heart, eyes, and hands for your client? We know that sustained positive emotions, such as appreciation, compassion, or love, create coherent patterns in the heart, which in turn stimulates harmony and improved health in a person’s body.9
If you believe there is a potential for emotional steadiness, healing, pain relief, or positivity that lies outside of the finite limitations of the current situation, that same belief can transfer to your client and support them in focusing on the internal and external activities that just might make a difference.
This approach to hope, the desire for the infinite to affect the finite, allows us to be clearly in the moment with our clients. We can be empathetic toward their current state. We can honestly tell them we understand how hard it is to live in pain, physical or emotional, and that we relate to their distress. But we can also hold the aspiration for something greater—like grace—to move in and promote change.
Recently, I went to the movie Selma, which showcases Martin Luther King, Jr.’s triumph in gaining legal support for African-Americans’ right to vote. The movie was striking on every level. My respect for this individual and everyone who fought for a basic American right grew tenfold. I also noticed how many times King was depicted as battling with hopelessness, and how many times his own goals and dreams, and the support of others, lifted him to hopefulness, leading him to actions that resulted in victories both small and great. As a healer, you are part of the team of hope, and all the more important because of it.

1.    “Remarks by the President in Remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Office of the Press Secretary,” The White House, January 17, 2010, State of the Union address made by President Barack Obama, accessed March 2015,
2.    R. C. Byrd, “Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit Population,” Southern Medical Journal 81, no. 7 (July 1988): 826–9.
3.    John W. Ehman, “Studies of Remote Intercessory Prayer,” revised December 4, 2010, accessed March 2015,
4.    Benedict Carey, “Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer,” The New York Times, March 31, 2006, accessed March 2015,
5.    Piercarlo Valdesolo, “Scientists Find One Source of Prayer’s Power,” Scientific American online, December 13, 2014, accessed March 2015,
6.    L. C. Johnson et al., “Methodological Challenges Associated with the Measurement of Neural Energy Transfer,” Consciousness Research Abstracts, April 8–12, 2002: 139–40.
7.    J. Grinberg-Zylberbaum et al., “The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox in the Human Brain: Transferred Potential,” Physics Essays 7, no. 4 (1994): 422–8.
8.    J. Grinberg-Zylberbaum and J. Ramos, “Patterns of Interhemispheric Correlations During Human Communication,” International Journal of Neuroscience 36, no. 1–2 (September 1987): 41–53; J. Grinberg-Zylberbaum et al., “Human Communication and the Electrophysiological Activity of the Brain,” Subtle Energies 3, no. 3 (1992): 25–43.
9.    L. Song, G. Schwartz, and L. Russek, “Heart-Focused Attention and Heart-Brain Synchronization: Energetic and Physiological Mechanisms,” Alternative Therapies Health Medicine 4, no. 5 (September 1998): 44–62; R. McCraty et al., “The Effects of Emotions on Short Term Heart Rate Variability Using Power Spectrum Analysis,” American Journal of Cardiology 76, no. 14 (November 1995): 1089–94; R. McCraty, “The Energetic Heart,” Institute of HeartMath, 2003, accessed March 2015,

Cyndi Dale is an internationally renowned author, speaker, and intuitive consultant. Her books include the bestselling The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy (Sounds True, 2009), The Complete Book of Chakra Healing (Llewellyn Publications, 2009), and Advanced Chakra Healing (Crossing Press, 2005). To learn more about Dale and her products, services, and classes, please visit