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by Savannah Bearden | photos courtesy of Healing Panther

“Hey Savannah, what would your interest level be in covering a story on energy healers?”

This email from Focus popped into my inbox on a recent Monday morning, one I would politely describe as “the Monday-iest of f#@ing Mondays.” Work emails and texts were already going berserk, I had the rumblings of a migraine, and there was someone hammering very, very, very loudly on the wooden siding outside my window, as we were getting our house ready for a tremendously exciting, but tremendously sudden and stressful house move. I could best be described that morning as “manic AF” and “comically unshowered.”

So I kind of surprised myself when I immediately responded back to this story request with an enthusiastic “yes!” knowing that I did not have the time nor the energy to take on yet another proverbial plate to spin. But I found myself intrigued to find out what exactly energy healing was and, quite frankly, see if it could help chill my ass out a little bit.

I was soon contacted by Catherine Evans, a Reiki Master & Spiritual Intuitive and the founder of Healing Panther, a Reiki practice which recently opened on Summer Ave. Pronounced “ray-key,” Reiki is a Japanese energy-healing technique based on the principle that the practitioner can channel energy into the patient, to activate the natural healing processes of the body and restore mental and physical well-being.

Fast forward to Friday and I’m walking into a building on Summer Avenue, one that I’ve driven by thousands of times, but never really noticed because it’s a 100% Generic Office BuildingTM. This building is the home of Healing Panther, where I was to receive a complimentary “soul coaching” session by Catherine herself. I’ll admit that the location initially threw me a bit—like, how can you get all “zen” in a fluorescently lit reception area that’s next door to a law firm? But the second I stepped into Healing Panther’s space, I felt truly transported.

Stepping into Healing Panther almost feels like stepping into a small planetarium. The light is soothingly dim and there is astral music softly playing in the background—it’s almost womb-like. Catherine greeted me with such warmth and calmness that I was instantly aware of how sweaty and frazzled I was in comparison. But she instantly put me at ease, inviting me to take off my shoes and get comfortable so we could chat before the session began. Of course, my first question for her was: why the name Healing Panther?

“Well, my first name is Catherine, but people call me Cat,” she explained. “And growing up, I didn’t have a huge backbone—I let people walk all over me. So I kinda thought of myself as like a kitten. But as I was growing my backbone, the image of a panther really came into my mind. My mentor had a statue of a panther on her altar, which represents strength. And just looking into its eyes just made me feel powerful. It made me feel like it helped grow my backbone because I saw myself in it.”

Evans explains that she didn’t grow up spiritual or religious—quite the opposite, she said.

“I actually was agnostic, almost atheist, at one point in time, like, I just thought that we were born and then we became worm food,” she laughed. “I didn’t believe in anything.“

That was until she met her mentor, Tara, and learned about energy for the first time.

“She taught me to put my hands together and just rub them and be able to feel energy in between my hands. So when I did it, it just blew my mind because it was like—oh, wow, there’s, there’s something more to life than what I previously thought,” says Catherine.

That’s when she began researching energy and ways to use it in her life. With a simple Google search, Catherine discovered Reiki and hungered to learn more. She then happened to meet a Reiki Master at a local metaphysical shop and begged the woman to teach her the technique. By 2011, Catherine was a Reiki Master herself. When I asked Catherine what all is involved with a Reiki session, she suggested that we jump in and start the session.

Catherine Evans, founder of Healing Panther

“I could tell you all day what I do. But when you feel it, that right there is gonna explain it all,” she said.

She invited me to lay on the BioMat, a specialized amethyst heating pad that was draped across a massage table. As my body began to warm up on the BioMat, she shifted the lighting from “planetarium” to “I feel like I’m in actual space right now,” which honestly felt pretty magical. As she coached me through clearing my mind and becoming aware of my breathing, I realized just how much I hadn’t relaxed or been present with myself in god knows how long. I needed this.

Catherine then asked me if I was comfortable with proceeding with our Reiki session. According to Healing Panther’s website, the purported benefits of Reiki include stress reduction, deep relaxation, and improved focus and since I was seeking all of those things, I gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to starting the session. She explained that Reiki can be done with touch or no-touch depending on my comfort level. I opted for touch.

The physical and mental experience of the Reiki session is unique and one that I found surprisingly—but pleasantly— intense. Catherine began by talking to me about chakras, which are the seven main energy points in our bodies. She then placed her hands on my solar plexus chakra—the chakra that represents personal power, such as self-esteem and confidence— which was where she sensed the most energy blockage in me. While she kept her hands gently on my abdomen, she walked me through a guided meditation to help get to the root of this blockage.

At first, I was anxious to let myself be this vulnerable, but I just leaned into it. The next thing I knew, tears of release and relief were streaming down the sides of my face. (A quick look at Healing Panther’s website will show you that this sort of reaction is not uncommon on Catherine’s table—there are many video testimonials that avow the exact same experience.)

She then let me meditate on my own for a while, which allowed me to process what I was feeling and then very nearly fall asleep. By the end of the Reiki session, my body and brain were Jello. It felt AMAZING.

When I finally managed to roll myself off the BioMat, we sat down and Catherine gave me a full assessment of what energy she had picked up during the Reiki session. I gotta say, it was pretty unbelievable how dead-on she was about the personal traits and events that may have led to this energy blockage she sensed. (Like, seriously, the woman could tell that I am a pathological perfectionist with family estrangement issues just by touching my stomach for a few minutes. WTF.) She then talked me through specific practices and meditations I could incorporate into my everyday life to continue to clear out these blockages. I’ve been doing these exercises for a few weeks now and I can definitely say that it’s made a noticeable difference in my ability to work through personal discomfort, frustration, or anxiety.

If anything about my Healing Panther experience piques your interest, you’re in luck— Catherine offers a free BioMat session for first-timers.

“Even for the non-believers, they don’t lose anything by coming to see me for the first time,” she says. “If you need a little bit of healing, a little bit of relaxation, any type of anxiety release.—and everybody does right now in this pandemic. All I need you to do is just step in this room. Because you don’t just feel my space. You feel me.”

I like to think of myself as an “optimistic agnostic,” meaning that I have zero idea if there is cool stuff that exists outside of what I can see, but I sure as hell hope there is. That pretty much sums up how I feel about my experience at Healing Panther. I have no idea if it was the energy from Catherine’s hands that made my mind and heart open up more that day… but I really hope it was.

Healing Panther
3540 Summer Avenue.
Visit healingpanther.com to make an appointment for a free consultation with Catherine.