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January, 2004

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha’i Teachings

Volume 8, Issue No.1



— Greetings from Editor
— Healing Touch
— Putting the Heart Back Into Nursing
— Learn More About Healing Touch
— Healing Through the Holy Spirit
— Reflections (A column)
— Question of the Month
— Web site
— Purpose of the Newsletter




Here in rural Maine, United States, winter has well settled in. Outside the home my husband and I built ourselves years ago, vegetable and perennial flower gardens are sleeping under snow, confident of approaching spring. This fall, I planted at least 100 garlic bulbs in nicely turned, rich soil, which are now hidden beneath a beech-leaf and hay mulch.

Likewise, tulips, crocuses and other spring bulbs planted in autumn are also filled with secret life, waiting for their release into the spring sun. By now, they have put down little roots in preparation for a new season, which in this neck of the woods, might arrive in April, if we are lucky.

For all of you blessed with a fertile patch of ground or a sunny windowsill lined with clay pots, gardening is a source of physical and spiritual health. My garden gives me fresh greens, herbs, beans, onions, carrots, tomatoes and other wholesome foods, all of which are grown organically (without pesticides or chemicals).

Then, there is the marvelous physical exercise that comes from turning a pitch fork or pushing a garden cart filled with compost. What to some of you may sound like hard labor, to me, is a veritable oasis, a welcome complement to long hours spent sitting at a desk, writing features for the local newspaper. Above all, there is the incomparable natural beauty found in the seasonal progression of flowers and birds.

Gardens feed the soul. One small seed can feed multitudes.


One of my favorite prayers, penned by Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith begins: “I am O my God but a tiny seed that Thou hast sown in the soil of Thy love, and caused to spring forth by the hand of Thy bounty.” (“Baha’i Prayers,” pg. 150)

This newsletter is like a tiny but potent seed. Hopefully, you will continue to water this publication with your good thoughts, hard-won wisdom, experience and inspiration, and thereby, help bring encouragement and even better health to others.

In this issue, I am sharing an article about a therapy called Healing Touch and the Baha’i practitioner who uses this hands-on therapy as an adjunct to her nursing practice. I wrote about her work with healing touch about a year ago. At the time, she lived in Maine but has since moved to Hawaii.

The newsletter is still in need of one person to be the Production and Circulation Assistant to help with mailouts and updating of the mailing list. There is more information regarding this position at the end of the newsletter.

I am grateful for this opportunity to be your new editor. I am deeply indebted to the newsletter’s founder and former editor Frances Mezei for her guidance and inspiration. Please let me know what you think of this issue and what you would like to see in its future pages. — Lynn Ascrizzi




By Lynn Ascrizzi

Traditions more than 5,000 years old have described a universal energy that flows through centers in the human spine and activates the life force.

To the Chinese, this basic energy is “ch’i”; to the Christian, “spiritus”; to Jewish teachings, “astral light.”

It has been long believed that an imbalance in this energetic system caused illness. Even now, when feeling well, we speak in terms of being “charged,” “in tune” or “energized.” When out of sorts, we say we feel “low,” “unplugged” or “depleted.”

The idea that healing has an energetic connection is older than Hippocrates — the “father of medicine” — who acknowledged a force-flow from people’s hands.

“We can feel it with our hands. It has cool or no energy, or it emanates as warmth,” said certified Healing Touch practitioner Deanna Starinieri, formerly of Maine, who now lives in Hawaii, USA.

“Nothing is really new,” said Starinieri, a woman with a gentle voice, calm demeanor and vibrant, hazel eyes. “This is an old method. In ancient Egypt, they used hands-on healing — and in Christ’s time. It is a noninvasive, natural method.”

Starinieri, a registered nurse for 30 years and a member of the Baha’i faith, is also a certified holistic nurse. While living in Maine, she worked with Dr. Diane Gable in Waterville and assisted Gable with the holistic, bioenergetic healing work begun by Starinieri’s husband, the late Dr. H.D. Wong-Ken, D.O.


Today, healing touch is a recognized modality, Starinieri said, one intended to be a complementary practice to mainstream medicine.

“The current trend is toward integrating mainstream and nonconventional therapies,” she said.

Healing touch originated in the 1980s by Janet Mentgen, R.N., B.S.N. and has since been developed through the American Holistic Nurses’ Association. The therapy is used by more than 30,000 nurses and health-care practitioners, according to the healing touch Web site:

In healing touch, a practitioner seeks to balance what is termed the human energy field and open blocked energy centers (chakras) through various techniques that involve the application of the hands. The method is similar to therapeutic touch, said Starinieri, but it encompasses several different techniques, including therapeutic touch.

Other methods of balancing the energy field are reiki and polarity therapy, she said.

The practitioner uses a series of therapeutic maneuvers and seeks to balance any imbalance or dysfunction in four, interactive energy field layers — vital, emotional, mental and spiritual — believed to enfold in a hierarchic fashion about the human body, she said.

“Training for healing touch is a very rigorous program,” said Starinieri, who began taking courses in Hawaii in 1995. “It took me two-and-a-half years to become certified. It takes a year to do the classes. You have to master the techniques of each level, and there is a year’s mentorship between the last two levels.”


In recent years, however, touch therapy has come under stinging criticism. In part, it reflects the longstanding tension that has existed between alternative and mainstream medicine. Critics have labeled touch therapies as a “pseudoscience” and “the rough equivalent of the ‘laying on of hands’ by tent preachers and televangelists.”

Proponents of alternative therapies, however, point out that mega-drug companies with highly competitive agendas aggressively market drugs with dangerous side-effects, known and unknown. A Jan. 31, 2002 “60 Minutes” American television program reported that 100,000 people die in the U.S. every year from adverse prescription drug reactions.

Today, the most current research trend in universities and medical centers, like Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, is moving beyond terms like “alternative” and “mainstream” toward “integrative” medicine, attempting to incorporate the best from every modality that research proves to be effective.

In the transition, an array of alternative methods are being shaken out and scrutinized as never before. The complete results of this research are not known at this time.

Starinieri believes both systems — mainstream medicine and holistic methods of healing — are valid. “We need to integrate them more. It’s best for the patient. Why not use everything we have?”


Is there a “human energy field,” as healing touch proponents claim? Has it been proven scientifically? And can a person feel or alter this alleged energy with their hands?

Critics, citing a 1998 article in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) that debunked touch therapies, insist that no such field exists.

Proponents, like Dorothea Hover-Kramer, Ed.D., R.N., author of “Healing

Touch: A Resource for Health Care Professionals,” argue that breakthroughs into detecting human energy fields began in the 1950s with Kirlian photography that uses sensitive film, making it possible to photograph a direct image of etheric energy that appears like a corona around the body.

In the late 1970s, coronal discharge photography demonstrated that acupuncture points exist, Hover-Kramer reports in her book.

She also notes that in the 1980s, Japanese physicist Motoyama developed electrode devices that measure the human bioelectrical field at various distances from the surface of the body. He found “a strong correlation between meridians that are electrically out of balance and the presence of an underlying disease.”

“When we do healing touch, researchers have measured the vibrations that come from the hands of healers,” said Starinieri, referring to a study by nuclear physicist Dr. Robert Beck. “They measure at 7.8 to 8 Hertz, the same magnetic field resonance as the earth’s,” she said.


Starinieri begins a healing touch session with “centering,” similar to a brief period of meditation. “Healing intention is extremely important,” she said.

Then, she sweeps her hands about 2-to-4 inches over the patient’s body to assess if there are any energy imbalances or blocks, she explained. In the third phase, she uses her hands with the intent to open the patient’s energy blockages or repattern them.

“We put our hands on certain energy centers or chakras to unblock them,” she said. “Then we ‘unruffle’ the energy field by smoothing it with our hands. You do not have to touch the body; you can work above the energy center.”

She said her hands often become very heated during a session.

“It relieves anxiety and decreases stress,” she said, of the hands-on technique. “If a person is not anxious, they have a better chance of healing and of activating the healing mechanism within.”

According to Starinieri, Healing Touch techniques have relieved headaches and stress-related symptoms, comforted pre-and post-operative patients, reduced pain and assisted the dying in Hospice programs.

“You can see how much more relaxed and peaceful they are. That’s what healing is — helping people to be more at peace with themselves and their families. All healing is self-healing. We’re just facilitators.”

Starinieri did healing touch on a man diagnosed with cancer. Healing touch makes no claims to heal cancer, she noted.

“The treatment was to open his energy centers so he can receive universal energy to help with his healing. It also reduces anxiety and relieves pain,” she said.

“It’s a terrific system; it works real well,” said Paul Peters of Winslow, Maine, of his healing touch sessions, while he was recovering from cancer surgery at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

“She did three treatments at my home prior to my operation and one after. It was more than relaxing. I felt more energy — it was unsurpassable — from my toes to the top of head. She works on the energy of the individual, by energizing all the chakras. My family couldn’t believe the energy I had,” he said.

Starinieri was also asked to do healing touch for a young mother in a coma caused by head injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

“There had been no appreciable change in five weeks,” Starinieri said.

She explained her techniques to the family. “They stayed in during the session and observed what I did. I demonstrated the change in her energy centers before and after the treatment,” she said.

The next day, she received a phone call from a family member.

“She (the young mother) had moved her right leg and hand, opened her eyes for five-and-a-half hours and she smiled. She is now in a rehab program in Boston,” she said. Was it a coincidence?

Starinieri is convinced healing touch had a hand in the response,

“When energy centers (chakras) open, we can be nourished by universal energy. When blocked, we can’t receive energy, and so we get sick. Energy is the life force. Our thought forms affect our way of perception. We tend to live our lives the way we see the world.”





By Lynn Ascrizzi

After being a registered nurse for 30 years, Deanna Starinieri of Waterville trained to become a certified holistic nurse. That training opened the way for her to learn Healing Touch, she said, two practices that go hand in hand.

“Holistic nursing is putting the heart back into nursing,” she said. “In nursing schools, we’re told to consider the whole person and their spiritual side. But when you get out into the real nursing world, that’s not how it is. There are so many functions, and a lot of paperwork, medications, supervisory tasks and meetings.”

Holistic nursing puts the focus back on the spiritual, emotional, and mental aspects of the patient, not just their physical being, she said.

“If you center yourself to where you’re grounded, and focus on the person, they can feel that and will relate to you differently. Holistic nursing teaches you a different way to relate with people.

“You really try to make eye contact. See how they are feeling. If you keep yourself centered, they will feel comfortable with you. When the heart is grounded, you are not scattered but fully present with that person, in the moment.”

Starinieri takes time every morning to center herself using techniques she learned from her Healing Touch courses.

First, she visualizes a beam of light from a point two inches below the navel called the “tantien” that she believes goes to the center of the earth and comes back up to the tantien point, she said.

She also visualizes a beam of light going to the heart center and up to a point along the crown of the head, an energy center called the “crown chakra.”

A second centering technique is to visualize roots coming down from the bottom of her feet, grounding her to the earth.

“This grounding technique has been proven; people who are grounded stay firm on their feet when you push against them,” she said.





• “Healing Touch: A Resource for Health Care Professionals,” by Dorothea Hover-Kramer, Ed.D, R.N., with Janet Mentgen, B.S.N., R.N., and Sharon Scandrett-Hibdon (Delmar Publishers, 1996), Nurse-as-Healer series. Basic concepts, describes layers of human energy field and energy centers, Healing Touch applications used in clinical settings, case examples, self-help techniques and developing a practice.

• For the Healing Touch Web site:

• For a Web site that covers both sides of the Healing Touch controversy — favorable and skeptical:




‘Abdu'l-Baha says:

"He who is filled with love of Baha, and forgets all things, the Holy Spirit will be heard from his lips and the spirit of life will fill his heart....Words will issue from his lips in strands of pearls, and all sickness and disease will be healed by the laying on of the hands." ( Cited in "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", by J.E.Esselmont, pg. 112)




By Claire Cline

Our reality is that we are a soul. Our soul does not exist in the physical world that our bodies inhabit; therefore, we need to think about the terms “health” and “healing” in two different ways.

I think we are all aware that there are physical and spiritual illnesses and that they can often be interrelated. Sometimes the cause of a physical illness is due to a lack of a spiritual condition. Even the world as a whole is sick — environmentally and sociologically — i.e., the interactions and behaviors between individuals and nations.

So, sickness can be that of the body or of the body politic. In both cases, disease can come from both a physical and a spiritual imbalance. Unhealthy living conditions cause sickness, but allowing those conditions to exist is a spiritual (moral and ethical) illness.

The culture we see reflected in the media is compulsive on the subject of the physical body. It reflects little about our spiritual health. One ad I saw for body lotion had the audacity to relate the use of its cream to a spiritual experience!

Whether the body is ill from a purely physical cause or because the individual is living a spiritually deficient existence, the illness needs both a medical healing and a spiritual (prayerful) healing. To heal only the body is not sufficient.

It is inevitable, however, that despite our best efforts to keep healthy, and not withstanding the efforts of the most enlightened physicians and their medicines and potions, we will get sick. We may also be healed.

Some significant thoughts for me on healing and health center around the Baha’i healing prayer that says: “Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come.” (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, pg. 87)

A woman told ‘Abdu’l-Baha that she was afraid of death. (The ultimate illness, some might think!) He said to her, “Then do something that will keep you from dying; that will instead, day by day, make you more alive and bring you everlasting life. . . . ‘those who enter the Kingdom of God will never die.’ Then enter the Divine Kingdom, and fear death no more.” (“Vignettes From the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha,” collected and edited by Annamarie Honnold, pg. 59)

“Baha’u’llah is the real Physician. He has diagnosed human conditions and indicated the necessary treatment. The essential principles of His healing remedies are the knowledge and love of God, severance from all else save God, turning our faces in sincerity toward the kingdom of God, implicit faith, firmness and fidelity, loving-kindness toward all creatures and the acquisition of divine virtues. . . . These are the secret of everlasting health, the remedy and healing of man.” (’Abdu’l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg. 205)

One last thought: ‘Abdu'l’-Baha said that the above-mentioned conditions are “indicated for the human world and are fundamental principles of progress, civilization, international peace and the unity of mankind.”

Claire Cline lives in Augusta, Maine, USA





On Dr. Hulda Clark's Web site, there is a protocol she has used for diabetics that includes many testimonials. My husband has had diabetes for several years and has only treated it holistically, as that is the type of health care we use.

The name of Clark's book is “A Cure For All Disease.” Her Web site is If you have any questions, e-mail me, at: — Kim Polk




“Animal food is not forbidden, but ‘Abdu’l-Baha says: ‘The food of the future will be fruits and grains. The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural food is that which grows out of the ground.’ ”(“Ten Days in the Light of Akka” by Julia M. Grundy)

“It is therefore evident, that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments, and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits, and vegetables and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature.”— ‘Abdu’l-Baha (“Some Answered Questions”, 258-9)

QUESTION: I am convinced that simplifying my diet is necessary for my well-being and health. But how do you prepare simple foods well and make them appetizing? Does anyone have whole-foods recipes to share using grains, vegetables and fruits? I am looking for ways to make whole-grain breads (no refined white flour or yeast), hearty soups, casseroles, stews, salads and the like — recipes that use basic, easy-to-find, FRESH ingredients (nothing canned or frozen), are easy to prepare, have NO refined sugar, use only unsaturated fats like olive oil — yet, will taste delicious.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If we get enough whole-foods recipes, we could start an, ongoing, reader-recipe-swap column within this newsletter. Please make sure your recipes are kitchen-tested and double-check all ingredients before submitting.




All of us have had healing experiences — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Please share your stories and other ideas about staying healthy in a stressful world. Your articles do not have to be long — just a few paragraphs will suffice. Encouragement is a big part of a healthy lifestyle and sharing stories and ideas that work for you brings encouragement to others.




You can visit the web site, obtain back issues and the Healing Through Unity Course at:




"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. None of the material published in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for the advice of your physician. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Freedom, Maine, USA.


Many thanks to all of you who share helpful ideas for "Healing Through Unity" Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor.

Please e-mail your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to newsletter editor Lynn Ascrizzi, at:


Please e-mail all new subscriptions, subscription cancellations and e-mail address changes (please include old address along with new one) to --



The newsletter is still in need of one person to be the Production and Circulation Assistant to help with mailouts and updating of the mailing list. This person would be responsible for sending the newsletter to readers each month (10 issues per year; it is not published during July or August), updating e-mail addresses and adding/deleting subscribers. This person must have Microsoft Outlook 2000 or an upgraded version, should have good computer skills and be well-organized, orderly, and efficient. If you are interested to serve in this voluntary position for the newsletter, please contact -- Thank you!

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