Making a difference from a distance

October 10th is World Mental Health Day.

The goal is to help raise mental health awareness and show how each of us can contribute to ensuring that people living with mental health problems can live better lives. We know that living with cancer, in particular, can be really tough. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, but common emotions can be worry, fear and anxiety, and sometimes depression. Cancer can also leave us feeling isolated, vulnerable and lacking in self-confidence.

2020 has turned out to be a challenging year for most of us, but when covid-19 hit, we knew that you would need us more than ever. We acted quickly to reassure you that you could still access support via telephone and online services while our centres are closed. Our distance therapies have proved hugely popular, and we recently spoke to Laura Evans, a therapist at our Bournemouth Cancer Support Centre, who describes how Reiki has been making a difference from a distance.

How did you first become involved in Reiki?

I signed up to learn Level 1 Reiki, which is predominantly learning how to use Reiki for yourself first and for simple use with friends and family, at the beginning of 2014. Soon after, I knew that I wanted to learn how to use it to help others, too. I appreciate the focus on self-healing before using Reiki on others, and this remains my core belief today. You can’t give to others if you won’t give to yourself first.

I started working with Wessex Cancer Trust when they were planning to open the Bournemouth support centre in 2016.

What is Reiki?

Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a gentle energy therapy which helps to trigger the body’s relaxation response, which in turn allows the body and mind to unwind and re-balance. It’s a Japanese form of natural healing and translates into English as ‘Universal Life-force Energy.’ It is believed that this life-force energy flows through and around all living things, even the inanimate.

What are the benefits of Reiki?

A trained Reiki practitioner acts as a channel for the Reiki. As you absorb the energy, your natural relaxation response is triggered, allowing your body and mind to relax deeply, which in turns allows you to repair on both a physical and emotional level. Physically, it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, stimulate digestion and renal function, and conserve energy in the body.

Because Reiki encourages relaxation and time for self-care and may encourage you to look more closely at your thoughts and feelings and how these thoughts and feelings might correlate to tension in your body and mind, the emergence of a higher level of self-awareness can often lead to improvements in your mental health and wellbeing.

How might you find it helpful if you have cancer?

Because of Reiki’s physical and emotional benefits, it can be incredibly helpful if you have cancer. Specific benefits include:

  • Decreasing anxiety.
  • A moment of calm and relaxation for yourself amongst the chaos.
  • A feeling of grounding and coming back to self.
  • Improved mood and feeling more positive.
  • Less pain – this can be for a moment during Reiki, or it can last a matter of days. occasionally pain disappears completely.
  • Improvement of some of the side-effects of chemotherapy, including pain, fatigue, peripheral Neurotherapy, muscle soreness and bone ache. It can also improve appetite.
  • Aiding self-discovery which can be very powerful when choosing things or making decisions which will benefit you and help you to heal or feel better.
What typically happens during a Reiki treatment, and how can it work remotely?

Typically, you will lie on a massage table. You remain fully clothed and can choose to be covered by a blanket. I place my hands at various points just above your body and also directly onto your body – quite often working from the head down. The hand positions are static and do not involve any massage techniques. The amount of pressure is gentle and non-invasive. You will find that you fall into a deeply relaxed state. You may be aware of me moving around and placing my hands, or you may fall asleep throughout the treatment.

During the lockdown, I’ve continued to support clients virtually the same way as I could at the centre, just virtually. It’s entirely possible to give Reiki from a distance – whether you’re in the same room and not using direct touch, or whether you’re completely apart, such as in different homes or in different countries. This is because Reiki is energy and doesn’t require physical touch. Although during a distance Reiki treatment, your perception of the energy will feel different, the Reiki will still be working for your highest good, as it would during a face-to-face session. There are some very simple relaxation and visualisation meditation for grounding exercises which are simple, effective and easy to try at home.

If you choose to try a distance Reiki session, all you need to do at the arranged time is find a quiet and comfortable space to sit or lay. Allow yourself at least 30 minutes to relax. You might like to play relaxing music or subdue the lighting. This might aid your relaxation. I would contact you by phone or text just before your treatment time to let you know that I will start shortly and then again after your treatment to let you know I’ve finished. You may wish to stay in your relaxed state for longer.

What’s feedback been like?

It’s been really positive! It’s been widely accepted, and clients have been interested in giving it a try – after all, what have you got to lose? We’ve had really positive results, and I’ve continued to provide emotional support either by phone or by text.

For me personally, I feel humbled and grateful to be part of this fantastic charity. Every person I meet teaches me something new about life, and for that, I am always grateful. Working with Wessex Cancer Trust has been a life-changing experience for me, and I’m so happy to be able to use Reiki and have it accepted as part of Holistic Therapy services so that those who seek it out as part of their self-care can really embrace and benefit from it.

If you feel that you might benefit from distance Reiki, please contact our Bournemouth Cancer Support Centre in the first instance – telephone 01202 315824 or email

Distance Reiki with Laura has been a real lifeline for me during lockdown. It amazes me how it works and brings me the same feeling of deep relaxation as it does in person. Thank you, Laura, for helping me find peace and calm at a very difficult time. I would highly recommend distance reiki to anyone!

Lyndsey Burbidge