FLOWER ESSENCE THERAPY
Flower essences are highly dilute, energetically potentized natural remedies which are prepared in the "laboratory of Nature." Fresh blossoms are carefully gathered from abundant stands of indigenous or naturalized plants, in pristine habitats where the expression of that plant population is distinctive and radiant. These blossoms are placed in crystal bowls filled with fresh spring water from the nearest source where the plant grows. The bowl is then set in the open air and bright morning sun, right on the very earth where the plant flourishes. Special attention is paid to insure the correct confluence of environment and celestial influences, and to the balance of the four elemental forces. The final, "quintessential" element is the purity of heart and clarity of perception of the essence-maker, which forms the link between the soul of Nature and the human soul. If these necessary conditions are present, the flowers will create an energetic "imprint" in the water, which becomes the "mother essence," usually preserved with brandy, and energized by various techniques of potentization. The mother essence is then further diluted to make stock and dosages. Essences can be taken orally from a dropper body, added to bath water, or applied topically directly to the body, or in massage oils and skin creams.
Unlike standard allopathic medicine, flower essences work by a principle of vibrational resonance, stimulating a response within human energy fields, which then affects our vital forces and physical symptoms. Drugs work in the opposite direction, first manipulating our biochemical and physiological functioning, which then impacts our emotions..
Flower essences also differ from typical herbal remedies, which are generally selected according to physical symptoms. With flower essences we are looking for the emotional and mental patterns which are at the root of the symptoms. Also, despite some similarity in the name, flower essences are not aromatic essential oils. As vibrational substances, flower essences have only trace amounts of the substance of the flower, and have no aroma other than the brandy preservative.
Flower essences are most akin to homeopathic remedies, in that they both are highly dilute, potentized remedies. However, flower essences are not prepared on the basis of the homeopathic "Law of Similars," the principle that "Like cures like," which is the very definition of homeopathy. And because of their special preparation methods, flower essences can affect the mind and emotions without having to be raised to high potencies as do homeopathic remedies. So, while both flower essences and homeopathic remedies can be grouped together as "vibrational remedies," it is misleading to classify flower essences as homeopathic remedies. The essences deserve recognition as a unique contribution to holistic therapy.
A case of psychosomatic pain
A girl we will call Sarah was eight years old when she suddenly developed intense stomach aches and diarrhea. Although she had no prior history of such problems, her symptoms persisted for over a month, and she began to lose weight. Her parents consulted a gastrointestinal expert, who conducted a full battery of medical tests, and yet could find nothing wrong with the girl.
Finally her parents took Sarah to a family counselor who also used flower essences. The counselor questioned the parents about the Sarah's emotional state, but they knew of nothing which could be troubling her.
In the opening diagnostic session, Sarah drew a large picture of a heart which was split down the middle. The picture was so dramatically graphic, that it was clear to the counselor that there was a deep well of grief within Sarah.
The counselor questioned the family if there had been any incidents recently in Sarah's life that might have caused her sadness or grief. They recalled that one of Sarah's girl-friends had been accidentally electrocuted several months prior to the onset of her symptoms. Her family had no idea that she had been so profoundly affected by the death of her friend. However, it was clear to the therapist that the Sarah's physical symptoms were the manifestation of her unexpressed, but profoundly intense grief.
The therapist chose the Bleeding Heart flower essence for Sarah, which has been used in many cases where there are feelings of grief and loss. Within several days of taking the Bleeding Heart, the child was able to talk with the therapist about her sadness over the loss of her friend, and her symptoms were drastically reduced. After several weeks her stomach aches and diarrhea had completely disappeared and never returned again.
Flower essences: therapy of the soul
Had Sarah's parents chosen a conventional medical treatment, she may have been given a series of drugs to suppress her stomach pain and harden her stools, and she may also have been treated with anti-depressant drugs to deal with her sadness. Instead, her therapist encouraged Sarah to express what was troubling her through art. She then used the flower essence to allow Sarah's budding self-awareness to recognize and release her pain, thus freeing the blocked vital forces, and clearing the physical symptoms. No doubt there were biochemical changes, but the source of these was the awakening and freeing of her soul life.
This case illustrates how flower essences address the emotional and mental aspects of health. Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) developed the first flower essences in England in the 1930's. He was a visionary thinker, who anticipated the insights of psychosomatic medicine and holistic health by several decades. Bach questioned conventional materialistic medicine for its over-reliance on drugs and surgery to treat only physical symptoms, and thus ignoring the emotional and spiritual dimensions of health.
Today, more than 60 years since Bach's death, there is a growing recognition that our thoughts, feelings and ways of managing stress are major contributory factors in disease. The biochemical pathways by which emotions affect our physiology have been charted by the science of psychoneuroimmunology. Progressive doctors such as Bernie Siegel, Rachel Naomi Remen and Dean Ornish has demonstrated the healing potential of the emotions and a soulful approach to life..
Yet the mainstream of modern medicine still views the human being as a very complex machine or computer, in which emotions are merely chemical imbalances, and healing is accomplished by biochemical or genetic engineering. The whole realm of our consciousness, that which we experience as joy, sadness, fear or excitement, is explained as merely an effect of those physiological factors which can be measured and quantified by physical instruments. It is as if we looked at a map or photograph and decided that the world was flat because its representation had only two dimensions.
Flower essence therapy is based on a multi-dimensional view of the human being. It includes the physical basis of life, recognizing that metabolic and biochemical balance are fundamental to our health. Yet this is not the whole story; there are three further dimensions of the human being. The physical body is supported by a body of life forces - our vital or etheric body, permeated with our inner experiences or soul forces, and directed by our self-awareness, or ego consciousness.
Our thoughts, feelings and deepest aspirations are at least as real and important as our chemistry and genetics. Just as the body needs good food and a clean environment to flourish, so do we need soul nourishment. Flower essences are indeed food for the soul, invoking the gentle healing power of nature's life forces. Throughout human culture flowers have expressed the deepest feelings of the soul: the joy of lovers at a wedding, the grief of loss at a funeral. Flower essence therapy has elevated this soul-evocative power into a precise instrument of inner transformation, bringing greater wholeness to both body and soul, and a fuller experience of the many dimensions of our humanity.
Flower essence case studies
The follow cases are from the Flower Essence Society, an international educational and research organization. The names have been changed and the cases have been condensed for this article.ADD in a middle-aged woman:
Sheila was a woman in her late fifties with two graduate degrees, yet she was having trouble coping with the most basic tasks at work, often forgetting what she was doing, or losing things. She was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with a mild case of ADD, who put her on Ritalin. The medication did gave her some relief from her condition.
She began to see a psychologist who suggested a combination of flower essences - Cosmos, Peppermint, Rosemary, Rabbitbrush, and Shasta Daisy - which all helped with concentration, focus and bodily awareness. Sheila stopped taking the Ritalin, without any return of her symptoms, and found that a long-standing case of eczema had unexpectedly disappeared. In fact, her work performance improved greatly to the point where she could remember five things at the same time. Sheila's therapist observed that the flower essences had addressed the underlying anxiety that is common to ADD and eczema.
An injured Vietnam veteran
A massage therapist was working with Bill, a Vietnam veteran who was involved in an explosion that occurred very close to him, 20 years previously. As a result of this incident a large area of the side of his torso had been almost literally blown away, creating an enormous scar. The massage therapist used Star of Bethlehem flower essence to address the psychic trauma that was still stored in the body. By topically applying the drops to the area, the scar tissue went from being tight, white and painful, with restrictive of motion, into having a full range of motion with no pain, and the scar shrinking to about half of its previous size.
A holistic health practitioner reported the successful use of flower essences for agoraphobia, which she defined as "the fear of leaving the house because one is afraid one will be killed by unseen forces." According to this therapist, agoraphobics prefer to stay indoors in what she describes as a "dream state, where everything is unreal and pleasant and therefore no facing realities and/or deep issues. "Her client Claudia came to the United States as a child from Germany and didn't speak a word of English upon arrival. For this she was severely ridiculed and was even more severely taunted and verbally abused when she attempted to learn. As a result she became overly shy and withdrawn and as she grew, had a very difficult time going to school, parties, movies, and all the other things normal young adults do.
Claudia had been in and out of therapy and had tried many different drugs to alleviate her problem, but without success. She would stay at home and keep an impeccable house, and make sure her boys were well taken care of, but even something as simple as going to the store to buy groceries was a trauma for her.
Five Flower Formula - the emergency combination developed by Dr. Bach - was selected for the initial trauma and stress. Then she administered different combinations as the issues surfaced, always keeping Five Flower Formula as the foundation of the combination. Some other key essences in her combinations included Fairy Lantern, to help Claudia come out of her dreaminess, Black-Eyed Susan to help her confront the real sources of her pain, and Wild Rose, to develop a love for life, even with all of its stubble and challenge. The essences were an integral part of an over-all lifestyle change, which also included diet and exercise as well as the journal keeping, prayer and meditation.Claudia experienced impressive changes. After three months of the therapy she was going out to dinner regularly with her husband and sons, and had gone out for window-shopping and long walks in the park. Like anyone else, she had good weeks and she has bad weeks, but there were no signs of her regressing.
Written by: Richard Katz,
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