Most of us are familiar with the idea of a healer — perhaps trained in shiatsu or reiki — soothing our troubles and aches away while we lie on a couch in a treatment room. But can it possibly work when the therapist who treats you isn’t actually in the same building, but is sitting at home a full 50 miles away instead?
I am a cynical so-and-so and worry that such a strange concept will do nothing for me.
Yet, this far into the pandemic, I’m also finding myself exhausted and full of anxiety. I’m constantly on edge and so easily overwhelmed, I rarely get an unbroken night’s sleep.
When I hear about remote healer Abigail Caller, 52, I quash my scepticism and book an appointment.
Claudia Connell (pictured), who lives in Brighton, revealed the outcome of a remote healing session with Abigail Caller, 52, from South-West London
Abigail can work off the body, so there is no physical contact with the people who seek her services. Instead, she operates by ‘tuning into her client’s energy’.
It means that while she treats many people in person, it’s also possible to work from a distance.
While a number of healers have always done remote healing — some say the practice (also known as distant healing intention therapy) is an ancient shamanic tradition — Abigail only started to work this way when the pandemic hit.
She explains: ‘We did remote healing as part of my training but I never used it. Then, when lockdown happened and clients could no longer come in person, I discovered that distant healing is just as powerful. Realising that the person didn’t need to be in the same room, somehow strengthened the spiritual connection. It’s in another realm.’
Even though they are able to return in person, some of her clients now prefer the distance method of healing.
Having trained in shiatsu, reiki and spiritual healing, she helps those suffering from physical and emotional issues. In general, her clients feel there’s an emotional ‘block’ linked to what they’re experiencing physically. So a sore knee isn’t just a sore knee — there’s an emotional story behind the physical pain.
It’s a whole other world to me. I ask her to explain her methods and my doubts mount.
‘I’m aware very clearly of what’s happening energetically,’ she says. ‘In my mind’s eye I am shown lots of patterns of energy that I work with to strengthen areas of weakness and release areas of blockage. Every session is different. I work intuitively with what I’m shown in the moment. The more I am able to channel and be an open channel for the healing energy, the more powerful the work.’
Abigail explained that she works 'by sensing the energy patterns within the body and working with the energy field' (file image)
Really? And yet, if Abigail’s healing hands can help fix this feeling of being trapped in some permanent midlife meltdown, no matter that I won’t actually feel them, I’m willing to give it a go. We start by having a chat via video. Abigail is wonderfully warm and friendly and doesn’t look how I’d imagined. Or feared. No tie-dye, no pink hair and no signs of any crystals or dream-catchers in the background.
I tell her about the emotional turmoil I’m in, plus ongoing issues I have with lower back pain and osteoarthritis in my hands.
As Abigail is based in South-West London and I’m in Brighton, it’s hard to picture how the healing will work.
‘I will work as if you are lying on the massage couch I have here in my home,’ she says. ‘The only difference is I normally start with a foot massage and, unfortunately, you won’t get the pleasure of that.’
I hate anyone touching my feet, so I’m rather relieved.
‘Next, I tune in and prepare myself. I work by sensing the energy patterns within the body and working with the energy field.’ When it comes to the person receiving the healing, their experiences vary. For some there is an intense, emotional response; others just feel deeply calm.
Abigail says: ‘Some people feel tons of stuff happening. They might feel pressure or waves of energy or coolness or heat or tingling. Some people see colours. Some people have unusual memories come to them. And sometimes people just feel relaxed.’
It does occur to me that during our session Abigail could, for all I know, be watching Countdown on TV and making a sandwich. For all she knows, I could be painting my nails and texting my friend. But after chatting for half an hour it feels as though we have built up a trust and I have no doubt that she is passionate about her work.
When we’re ready to start, Abigail tells me that the healing session will last around 40 minutes, and afterwards she will text to say she is ready for a second video chat to talk through what she encountered. She then recommends that I put my phone on silent.
Abigail told Claudia 'above the lumbar it feels like there’s an area of real stuckness that wasn’t allowing the energy to flow' (file image)
But, hang on, how will I know when she’s finished and is texting me for our post-healing chat?
‘It’s strange, but nearly everyone just intuitively knows when I’ve finished,’ Abigail assures me.
With that I turn my light off, lay on my bed and wait.
I never have radiators on in my bedroom but within a few minutes I get a warm tingly feeling in my toes. Am I feeling Abigail’s healing energy in London, or is it just pins and needles? I feel the same sensation in my hands. The colour I see behind my eyes is a vivid purple, and while my mid-area feels cool, I’m aware of an intense warmth at the back of my neck and on my shoulders.
I thought I’d lie there like a lump of meat and nothing would happen. It’s hard to know if it’s my mind playing tricks on me or something more spiritual is happening.
I quickly lose track of time. When I glance at my watch I see that I’ve been lying down for 45 minutes, and seconds later a message pops up from Abigail saying she is finished and ready to chat.
She tells me that she found our session to be a beautiful and peaceful experience that was also very liberating for her as she was able to make sounds to help with the healing — something she doesn’t tend to do in person. I ask her to describe the sounds, and she makes a noise I can only describe as like an old-fashioned coffee percolator bubbling on a stove. ‘Sounds mad, doesn’t it?’ she asks. It does a bit.
‘There’s something interesting happening in your back,’ she adds. ‘Above the lumbar it feels like there’s an area of real stuckness that wasn’t allowing the energy to flow, which I worked with a lot. That’s the solar plexus chakra and that has to do with identity.’
Abigail wonders if the anxiety I’ve been feeling about my work and moving away from London means that I am struggling with my identity.
She goes on to say she encountered powerful feelings when it comes to my arthritic hands.
Claudia (pictured) said there is something very grounding and reassuring about somebody thinking of you and trying to fix you from miles away
‘There are some acupuncture points in the hands that are very calming and all the points around there seemed very strong in you. It’s an area known as the “palace of calm”. A heart protector meridian goes through the centre and that felt really powerful, too. I pictured you with your palms up because I was so drawn to working with those meridians.’
For my part I do feel incredibly zoned out, like I’ve woken up from the best sleep ever.
Abigail says that, although one session can’t fix everything, she doesn’t like to recommend a set number of sessions. When pushed by me, she thought three more would be useful.
I go to bed at 10pm, unheard of for me, and sleep through until 8am, having had the best night’s rest in a long time. It’s too early to say whether the healing has helped with my anxiety, but the next day I do have an uncharacteristic sense of serenity.
Is distance healing hokum? At £70 a session (as Abigail charges), some will say it is, and that any benefit is likely to be a placebo effect. Yet there are around 30,000 healers working in the UK (women aged 50-plus are the biggest users) and some studies have shown extremely positive results.
The University of Birmingham conducted a two-year study of 200 outpatients suffering bowel disorders for which there is no medical cure. The patients received healing therapy over the course of five weeks with the majority reporting an improved sense of well-being — something they continued to feel for the next five months.
While I’d still consider myself a sceptic, there is something very grounding and reassuring about somebody thinking of you and trying to fix you from miles away.
To my surprise, remote healing didn’t feel as remotely potty as it sounds.