To continue our series on wellness, this time in honour of World Mental Health Day, we’ve shared our learning from Reiki healer Rebecca Pankhurst to better understand the process of energy healing

As we begin to make our way through an unfamiliar and far-from-normal winter, we are all looking to normalize alongside it. It’s no secret that recent months have taken a toll on our collective mental health and that speaking up about struggles and learning new ways of coping is invaluable. This is easier said than done with the uncertainty we still face, but there are incredible alternative practitioners offering their wisdom and guidance to help us along the way.

Rebecca Pankhurst, a Reiki healer we connected with during the national lockdown, has generously shared her personal story of overcoming trauma and utilising alternative treatments with meaningful results. We hope you feel inspired to explore your own energetic balance and investigate the ancient art of Reiki after reading about her remarkable journey.

First things first, can you describe what Reiki is for those who are unfamiliar - How would you define reiki and what are the benefits?

Reiki is an ancient Japanese practice which works with pure love and universal energy to help balance your emotions; bringing harmony and peace back into your life. This healing technique allows you to connect with your inner wisdom and knowledge helping you find answers spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

Benefits of Reiki:
Helps to identify and dissolve energy blockages which helps balance the mind, body and spirit.
Helps to balance temperament bringing a more positive outlook on life.
Assists the body in cleansing itself from toxins and supports the immune system.
Helps to relieve pain and supports physical body healing.
Helps spiritual growth and emotional cleansing. - Improves focus, concentration and aids better sleep.
It allows you to deeply relax and let go, reducing stress and anxiety connecting you with your inner warrior.


What motivated you to become a practitioner?

Throughout my childhood and teenage life, I had experienced a lot of emotional trauma which caused me to close up as a person. I bottled all my emotions up and when I did release or react to situations it was always through a defensive and angry manner. Unfortunately, these built up emotions, which have been building since I was a little girl, erupted into developing a chronic anxiety and panic disorder. I was experiencing multiple panic attacks a day which meant I was unable to go to work or even leave the house without being triggered. I realised that I needed to seek alternative ways of healing. I discovered CBT therapy which opened my eyes up to a whole new way of thinking and being. The therapist I had was quite spiritual and taught me meditation techniques to help calm be down. This was my first experience with connecting to myself. I then went on to experiencing lots of deeper types of energy healings which completely changed my life. 

After spending nearly eight years in the advertising industry, I wanted to seek a new path in life with a deeper purpose. I knew that I was looking for a role where I could help people/ children and essentially give back. After a few months of volunteering, caring and searching, I discovered Reiki.

Tell us a little bit about your personal and professional experiences with Reiki?

I remember my first experience with Reiki was from an old friend and work colleague who invited me over to his house for dinner. I had never heard of Reiki before but was very intrigued when he began to speak about it. He offered me a healing then and there and I leaped at the chance. I remember feeling an incredibly powerful warm energy pulsating through my body. His hands where so hot yet soothing. I drifted in and out of a dream like state, feeling completely and utterly peaceful and relaxed. I was blown away and speechless by what I had experienced. Five years later I went on to do my Reiki course. 
The interesting thing about Reiki is that in order to heal others you have to heal yourself. The Reiki 1 course is all about self-healing and learning to understand your body and your chakra system. On the course you experience a blessing ceremony where you awaken the universes energy within you which allows you to heal yourself. It is an incredible feeling which you can not explain unless you have experienced it yourself. You then go through a 21-day cleanse where you practice Reiki on yourself twice a day to help rebalance your chakras and release and cleanse your body from toxins and negativity. The cleanse for me was very intense, I went through every emotion under the sun and generally looked unhealthy where all of the negativity was leaving my body. After the 21 days it was like an internal switch clicked and I woke up and felt reborn! The blue had finally come back into my eyes, my skin has cleared up and I felt stronger, positive and happy! Anyone can do a Reiki 1 course and I would highly recommend it to everyone who has experienced trauma in their lives. After about four months I realised that perhaps my calling in life was through the beautiful art of Reiki. I signed up to do my Reiki 2 course which is all about learning to heal others. The course is much harder as you need to learn to connect into each person and understand their energy blockages and how to clear them. Your intuition needs to be strong, as you receive intuitive guidance from the universe to enable to you to heal.

Some people might think Reiki sounds a bit far-fetched. Do you have to ‘believe in it’ to do reiki?

The beauty of Reiki is that you do not need to “be spiritual” nor do you need to have any previous experience with energy healing, it is open to everyone. All you need to do is be present and open to receive the beautiful energy that Reiki has to offer. 
I have had a few sceptical clients in the past which is completely understandable as the idea of “energy healing” can sometimes be hard for people to get their heads around, however after their treatment its always wonderful to see their minds wide open and blow away by this alternative method of healing. I had one client who had never heard of Reiki or energy healing before. His wife contacted me and booked me in for a home visit and explained that he was experiencing serve pain in his knees and hands. The doctors had done lots of different tests on him and couldn’t explain why he was experiencing the pain and therefore had prescribed painkillers. They booked me in as a last resort as they didn’t have any other options. I gave the client a full body healing but focused on the joints which were causing him pain; I received a phone call from his wife the next day explaining that his pain had disappeared. After that, her husband chose to book me back in for a further two treatments as he enjoyed the relaxation aspect of the treatment too. I find it so interesting that a lot of the pain or illness our bodies present to us, is a physical manifestation of built up trauma or emotional pain which has been supressed and held within our subconscious for long periods of time.

Do you have more examples of how Reiki has helped your clients?

I feel so lucky to have worked with such a wide range of people from all different backgrounds and ages, helping them on their healing journeys. I have worked a little bit with children suffering with anxiety, guiding them to release any worry they may hold, allowing them to become truly happy and comfortable in their bodies. One little girl that I worked closely with was only seven years old and was really struggling to fit in at school and felt like she couldn’t connect with the children around her. After five treatments her mum rang me to tell me she had joined the school choir and felt so much more confident within herself and around others. Alongside this, I have also worked with many people trying to combat stress and emotional traumas. Reiki helps to draw our inner strength to the surface allowing people to move forward with their lives. Its been incredible working with some women who have experienced extensive trauma either in the childhoods or adult lives and assisting them through the darkness of depression and anxiety into feeling strong and positive about themselves and their lives ahead. I have also worked closely worked with menopausal women, using Reiki energy to help ease the symptoms associated with going through the change.  
Another group of people I have connected with is expecting mothers, working with them from the beginning of their pregnancies until the end. Reiki for expecting mothers is an incredible therapy as it not only helps to heal the physical body, it also creates and awakens the spiritual bond between mother and child. It guides the unborn baby to feel safe and loved and in turn, calms the baby’s temperament when born. Reiki can also help expecting mothers feel truly relaxed and connected with their bodies during childbirth, reducing the stress on the body and therefore the baby.

Can you explain the feelings and experience that someone might feel during Reiki?

During the healing I use a combination of hands-on and hands-off Reiki techniques using the three Reiki symbols which connect people to the ancient energies of the universe. Once connected, I work with the seven energy points in the human body called chakras. Reiki guides new energy into your body removing any old energy or blockages that no longer serve us.
During the healing, clients may experience gentle and relaxing energy floating through their bodies. The sensation may be different for each person however people sometimes describe the feeling as a warm tingling feeling or pulsing through different areas. Reiki is a wonderfully relaxing practice and I always invite my clients to truly let go and immerse themselves in these gentle healing vibes that Reiki has to offer.

"There are so many beautiful ways to aid mental wellbeing and happiness such as exercise, yoga, going for long walks in nature, energy healing and meditation. However, I believe the biggest and most important way is to find happiness is through discovering your ikigai - your purpose."

How impactful can reiki be in order to help with our mental health and are there other practices  you would recommend to look after your wellbeing and happiness?

I think everyone is always looking and searching for true happiness, as if it’s a physical thing that we need to find within our lives in order to feel complete, but the truth is, happiness comes from within. There are so many beautiful ways to aid mental wellbeing and happiness such as exercise, yoga, going for long walks in nature, energy healing and meditation. However, I believe the biggest and most important way is to find happiness is through discovering your ikigai - your purpose. 

How have you been connecting with your clients during covid-19, and has there been more need than before for people to take more time to work on their practice?

Unfortunately, because of these troubling times, one-to-one healings have not been possible, however as an alternative I have been offering distant healings instead. Reiki is an incredibly intelligent life force energy which allows us to connect deeply into ourselves through the healing powers of the universe. We are all energetic beings, who are connected to the universe and each other. With that in mind, we can tap into each other’s energy field no matter where we are in the world and offer healing. 
Distant healing works in a similar way to one-to-one, however I am not present in the room with my client and I connect to them from my home. Imagine the connection to be like a spiritual radio connection. Radio waves are invisible and require no physical connection to the receiver, but you know the connection is there because you can hear the music coming through the radio. Distant healing works in a very similar way. I send the healing to my client and they lay and receive it from the comfort of their own home. The sensations that people may feel are exactly the same as a one-to-one healing however lots of people have described the feel of “being held”, as if you are receiving one big cuddle from the universe. 
I think the idea of distant healing has been hard for some of my clients to get their heads around however once they try it, they understand that they receive the exact same benefits as a one to one treatment. During this trying time I have tired to do lots of things to give back and to help people through this big shift. I am currently offering free healings to NHS workers to say thank you for all the wonderful work they are doing for this country. I have also collaborated with an incredible sound healer who works with crystal sound bowls to create a donation-based workshop via Zoom. Our workshop consists of a guided meditation, distant reiki healing and crystal sound bowl therapy.

If you would like to find out more about the practice of Reiki with Becca, you can find her here or follow Becca on Instagram here

It's vital to remember that mental health is an invisible struggle for many. Check-in with yourselves, loved ones, even a stranger – the smallest acts of kindness and love can make the greatest impact. While we highlight Rebecca’s story and expertise in honour of Mental Health Day, we understand and need to stress that this issue is so much more than just one day. Our internal worlds are complex, wonderful and sometimes dark places that require our care all year round. Be kind to yourself and make use of, or donate to, the resources listed below.


Love, from Sahara x 

Resources:
Time to Change
Mind
Mental Health Foundation