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A popular metaphysical
practitioner of the 1950/60's
Dr. Rebecca Beard practiced medicine for twenty years until she recognized the tremendous influence that thoughts and emotions have upon the physical body. Her medical experience and research led her to the conviction that thoughts and emotions are largely responsible for many illnesses, and that by understanding the thoughts and redirecting the emotions, with the ever present help of prayer, lives can be remoulded and bodies healed.
A long time member of the Society of Friends, Rebecca Beard, along with another successful spiritual healer, Agnes Sanford, worked closely, but by no means exclusively, with Glenn Clark's Camps Farthest Out organization.
How much the two women had been influenced by New Thought is not certain, though Rebecca Beard tells of having attended, in 1945, a conference held in Minneapolis for a group of persons practicing spiritual healing, with the hope that they "might be able to pool their experiences in healing through prayer." (Everyman's Search p.5) This group included several New Thought leaders, representing Religious Science, Divine Science, Unity, and others. But by that time Rebecca Beard had already committed herself to the belief in and practice of spiritual healing.
Long before, she had largely abandoned the use of drugs in her practice in favor of spiritual therapy. She recognized that medicines had their place, but when, she says, we learn that there is only one power behind all the agencies of healing and choose to go directly to that power, we lose our sense of dependence upon them and the need for them. This, though New Thought has no monopoly on it, is thoroughly good New Thought doctrine, and wherever it is taught something of New Thought has entered in, whether consciously recognized or not. The recommended use of prayer and affirmation in her writings, for example, is in good New Thought tradition, and very inline with the teachings of Unity.
"To pray the prayer of healing,: she writes, "we must visualize a change for which we can give thanks." Or, "Dwelling upon the negative will never change it to positive. We must reconstruct the situation and see all the factors in harmonious order the way we would like to see them. In that way we reverse the power and it will flow in the opposite direction." Either of these statements may have come out of any of a score of New Thought books.
Her terminology is much more orthodox Christian than many writers in the New Thought field, however, and as a result her trilogy of books published bewtween 1950-52, Everyman's Search, Everyman's Goal, and Everyman's Mission, were widely read and accepted by many in the mainstream Christian church.. Here, for instance, is what The Church of England Bishop Cuthbert of Croydon had to say in the Foreword of her first book, Everyman's Search in 1951:
"Here is a book which is not merely interesting, but of outstanding significance. I believe that it is one of the most important books that has ever been written on the subject of Spiritual Healing. The writer, an American doctor, shows in her thesis the striking influence of the mind over the body. She stresses the importance of positive thinking and expectant prayer. The author has herself been healed of serious heart trouble by a deep faith in God and by prayer -- she is now actively engaged in psycho-somatic healing . . . .This is a book which should be read by every priest and by any layman who is keen to help his fellow-men."
Rebecca Beard's writings were a very important influence to Norman Vincent Peal, author of the multi-million selling book The Power of Positive Thinking also. This is from his Foreword to her second book, Everyman's Goal:
"I gladly testify that Everyman's
Goal has done me great good. I am following its
teaching, and find that it works. This is one of the most valuable
I have ever read. It is not only a casual "reading book." It
is a workable manual of self-realization, self-expansion, self-freeing.
Each time you turn to its pages you will see new possibilities in
and the world, and you will receive wise guidance for achieving those
Her concern was always to lead those whose lives she touched to a state of wholeness which she believed to be the birthright of every man.
During the winter months Mrs.
Beard and her husband (known to their friends as Wally and Rebecca)
traveled from coast to coast, lecturing, counseling and engaging in the
ministry of healing, endeavoring to live at the same time a life of
meditation and prayer.
The summer months were spent
at Merrybrook in Wells, Vermont, where their healing ministry continued
and where Rebecca Beard sought through group therapy, psychosomatic
medicine and Christian psychology, with emphasis on intercessory
prayer, to touch the innermost needs of those who came under her
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