Harnessing the power of healing

ALEXANDER the Great, it was said, possessed more power in his little finger than all the kings of Persia could muster in their entire armies. He ruled the known world to the foothills of the Himalayas.

Becks the Great has more power than that in his little toe. All the world, including the Manchester United strongholds of Malaysia and the Philippines, far beyond the mountain ranges, are agog for news of the state of the second metatarsal in his left foot. His broken metatarsal.

Since he was stretchered off in the closing minutes of a Champions’ League game against Deportivo La Coruna, David Beckham has been the object of international anxiety. Israel and Palestine are at war; George Bush is preparing to invade Iraq; Charles is preparing to marry Camilla; sex scandals are tearing apart the Catholic church in America.

But the topic that moves Tony Blair to naked displays of Cabinet nerves is Becks’ foot. At a Budget meeting, with the Labour Party preparing to carpet-bomb Middle England with tax increases, the Prime Minister announced that ”nothing was more important” than the condition of that second metatarsal.

The responsibility upon my shoulders was almost too grave to bear as I travelled to GMTV’s studios, hours before my flight to Tokyo was due to leave Heathrow.

The business that would take me halfway round the world was to do with the World Cup, but I reflected on how ironic it would be if I were on a plane to Japan and Becks was not.

My mission: to harness the combined psychic energy of early morning viewers and funnel it into a ray of healing power that would shine on that metatarsal like a surgical laser beam.

I was well aware of the silliness of it all. Not that healing through prayer power is silly -there is a wealth of evidence to show that the urgent, focussed energy of a single mind can produce remarkable healing effects on a loved one, or even a stranger.

In the Fifties, a congregational minister with a master’s degree in chemistry, the Rev Franklin Loehr, instructed 150 volunteers, most of them regular church-goers used to daily prayer, to focus their spiritual thoughts on 27,000 seeds.

Two major medical effects emerged – plant growth could be enhanced by prayer, and it could be retarded. Since then, hundreds of experiments have shown that patients heal more quickly when prayers are said.

Prayer appears to strengthen the heart, promoting more rapid recovery from coronaries, and also to attack cancers, cutting off their blood supply.

One of the leading investigators, Dr Herbert Benson, founder of the Harvard-affiliated Mind/Body Institute, says he knows many surgeons who pray for success before every operation.

”If belief can heal,” he says, ”is it possible that belief outside of you can also heal? It’s not that far-fetched.”

There is no doubt in my mind that as I urged viewers to touch a picture of Beckham’s foot on their screens and to send healing thoughts to the England hero, I felt a great surge of energy, like the rush all around you at a football game when your team suddenly scores.

Beckham has always impressed me as a good and essentially simple-hearted man.

I was moved to learn he dedicated his wonder-goal against Greece, which confirmed England’s passage to the World Cup, to a six-year-old girl called Kirsty Howard, who is gravely ill with a rare heart condition.

Kirsty walked out onto the pitch with the England captain. He said: ”So many people have mentioned Kirsty to me. They don’t just mention the goal. She definitely inspired me that day.I didn’t think anyone would mean as much to me as Kirsty would until I actually met her. She was such a courageous little girl. She really touched me that day.”

His wife Victoria added: ”There aren’t many young ladies who I’d let hold hands with my husband on the football pitch, but she loves him and he thinks she’s absolutely fantastic.”

Victoria Beckham’s earnest honesty has always impressed me too. There is a charisma about her that has nothing to do with her looks, and everything to do with the love that floods out for her husband.

”My heart went out to him when I saw him fall and hold his foot,” she said. ”That night all he kept saying was that nothing was going to stop him from going to the World Cup.

”David’s worked so hard and I know how much it means to him. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that he plays. I’m so proud of him.”

Her prayers were echoed worldwide. My TV appearance captured the imagination of reporters internationally, and in the days that followed I received more than 3,000 emails, all adding their energy to the healing operation.

If this level of goodwill keeps up, Beckham won’t need to board a plane to Japan – he’ll be able to fly there on his own angelic updraft, or walk across the water. And still I am nagged by the sense of triviality about it all.

As I say, Beckham’s a good guy, who truly helps people, blessed with real love and countless fans. And he’s a superb athlete.

But how much happier I would have been to stare into that GMTV camera and urge millions of viewers to place their hands on a map of Israel, and Palestine and beg them to send all their love and healing energy to stop the shooting and the bombing, to make the guns fall silent and to instill hope and trust in the hearts of everyone mauled by war.

That is a prayer truly worth saying, and it is in my heart every moment. Please say it with me.

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