Flower Essences

As a GP interested in complementary approaches to health as well as the orthodox, as one who a small knowledge of homeopathy, as a user and sharer of flower essences, it is a great privilege to be invited to speak to this Conference organised by the Royal College of Nursing. Forgive me if I start by sharing some elementary thoughts about what makes people tick at an emotional level, before moving on to what flower essences are, how they work, what effects they have, and how they may be used.

Life's stories - life is full of episodes of stories. We have millions in a week, billions in a life-time.

Ask a people how they are, and the answer is "I'm fine". Is it true? Yes, on the surface. How about what's underneath? You see, if every episode of life is an experience, in order to give it meaning, we have to experience, reflect and learn (life's learning cycle). Each episode of our story has a beginning, a middle and an end, just like a piece of music. And each episode consists of both the experience and the feelings that accompany it.

Life's Learning Cycle - Experience, Reflect, Learn, Experience, Reflect, Learn.

Some issues get stuck, unresolved.

Usually each story starts at the beginning, transits the middle and reaches the end. But sometimes the story gets stuck in the middle - or at least the feelings do. This happens when the feelings are too hot or painful to handle - we feel unsupported - so we are unable to deal with them. The music gets stuck and repeats like a stuck record.

Stuck in the reflection state (unfinished), in a particular frame of mind and feeling, we can either choose to resolve it (get the music started again), externalise it (throw our feelings at someone else) or internalise it (bury the issue unresolved).

Reflection needs support - and includes time, effort and vibrational support. Many people find music, walking in nature, gazing at the sea, talking to another person, prayer, or other things can help them feel supported and reflect.

We all have a baggage pile, or shadow, of accumulated unresolved issues.

The unresolved feelings about each issue get put into our baggage pile, or shadow. And the shadow builds up! It's a bit like a desk with an in-tray, a working surface, and an out-tray. Issues should transit smoothly form the in-tray through the desk top to the out-tray - but sometimes get stuck in 'pending' - and the pending pile can grow quite large for some of us! Please don't peak at the piles of paper in my study! And the shadow of unresolved issues causes us discomfort or even pain. The easiest way to cope with the pain of unresolved issues is to bury it and deny it (denial). (As stated, the only other two possible ways are to resolve it, or to throw it at someone else). This accumulated shadow of bruised and hurt feelings depletes our vitality.

Our shadow contains various other things as well as unresolved issues and incomplete experiences. There are:

  • Bytes - negative statements and beliefs
  • Blots - point incidents of trauma 
  • Stains - emotionally tainted memories 
  • Tangles - unfinished business between two people 
  • Cobwebs - psychic junk

We could talk more about these, but they are explained in I'm Fine, Learning to Unblock Your Emotions (Andrew Tresidder, Newleaf, 2002). We must return to talking about stuck feelings.

Well, if we feel supported, we can process stuck feelings in order to resolve them. Talking to someone, writing a letter (to the departed one), thinking whilst walking, and so on.

More specifically, there are tuning forks that will help the music get started again, when it's stuck in the middle. These tuning forks are transformative tools such as flower essences, healing, homeopathy, and others.

The healing power of nature has been known almost since time began. Flowers and plants uplift us. Scents give pleasure, colours and forms entrance us, and the whole splendour of nature nurtures us. On a more physical level, plants give us food and medicines.

But it is the invisible level, the level of vibrations or vibes, that is really fascinating. Science is just starting to get interested in what we all know is true - the healing power of flowers. In the 17th Century Paracelsus described the healing power of dew from flowers. Everything in the world is composed of vibrations, or vibes. Nature (and music) provides these vibes in harmonious patterns. Masuru Emoto, in Japan, has done some fascinating work on the snowflakes like Patterns In Water, that can be left by the purity of the water (not surprising), the effect of music on water (really curious), and the patterns that words and flowers can leave in water (mind blowing). His website is www.hado.net, and his current book is The Hidden Messages in Water (ISBN 24868 01148, Beyond Words Publishing).

We all know instinctively which flowers and plants we like to look at. We are now discovering that just seeing them and touching them can help us feel differently. Even more interesting, making a flower essence, and taking it, can help support our feelings. At this level of vibes, nature can help support us reflect on our experiences, moving us on from stuck frames of mind and uplift us. Nature helps us feel better!

Many people have heard of Rescue Remedy and the Bach Flower Remedies, produced by several makers including Healing Herbs, Ainsworths, Nelsons and others. But few people realise there are thousands of other essences produced by makers in Britain and around the world. Even fewer are in on the secret that we can all make our own essences to help us feel better.

There's a whole secret world of the Healing Power of Flowers, just waiting to be discovered!

Making a flower essence is really quite simple. All you need is sunshine, a glass bowl of water, and some (non-poisonous) flowers carefully picked and placed in - or just bent into - the water. Over three or four hours - sometimes less - a vibrational imprint is captured in the water. After removing the flowers, this water is then preserved 50/50 with spirit, commonly brandy or vodka - this is mother tincture. To make a stock bottle, just a few drops of mother are placed into a 10ml bottle of spirit. Treatment then involves either a few drops of this onto the tongue, or into a drink, or into a further bottle of water and spirit as a treatment bottle.

You can use up to six or so essences at once, and all are compatible with each other and with all other treatments, allopathic, homeopathic or other.

What might you use them for? Well, Dr Bach, a medical doctor and skilled homeopath in the 1920's and 30's, was also the originator of the Bach set. He created 38 covering as he felt, every aspect of our emotions. He chose them intuitively, feeling himself a negative state of mind acutely for up to three days, before finding, or being led to, the flower or tree that gave him relief from that particular emotional imbalance.

Flower Essences, he felt, were a gentle form of therapy to flood us with positive vibrations and dissolve patterns of imbalance. He chose Impatiens for impatience, Larch to build confidence, Holly to flood us with divine love, and so on. Holly was the one that proved for me they were not working at a placebo level. My two year old daughter was suffering from toddler jealousy, and nothing seemed to help. Finally, after three weeks, we gave her Holly, into her little red beaker. After two days she was a changed child, full of love and happiness again.

Dr Bach felt that flower essences were there to teach us soul lessons, such as restraint (Chicory), courage (Rock Rose) and so on. He was a sensitive, as are many people. I have met a number of people myself who are able to tune in to a flower essence, or even directly to a plant, and determine, or rather 'feel', what that flower is able to help us with. This may be a growth industry for the future - think how many gardeners there are in the country! - and how many people are attracted to or respond to flowers!

Flower essences gently, sometimes quite firmly, rebalance aspects of ourselves, dissolving negative aspects and allowing the positive to shine through.

Choosing flower essences can be done from studying the written descriptions or using questionnaires, but it is also possible to choose by dowsing, kinesiology, by looking at photographs (which ones attract you, and which repel?), or by direct sensing. Looking at photos works for some people, and seems to resonate directly with the mind - or perhaps the soul. It is said that the flowers that attract you represent issues that you feel comfortable about facing, whilst ones that you dislike represent issues you'd rather not face. Sensing is different again - you just run your fingers slowly half an inch above a set of Bach or other essences, and notice which feel cool, warm, or give a draught or tingling. Checking on what these represent often astonishes people with the accuracy of how direct apprehension showed them the correct answer. In my experience, even on the very first time of doing this, about half the people who try this find some success - which begs the question, what talents do we have as humans that still lie hidden, undeveloped by ourselves?

Making a treatment bottle involves a few drops of each chosen essence into a 30ml (or 10ml) bottle of 20% spirit and 80% water (exact proportions not crucial). The spirit helps act as a preservative. If the bottle is for someone who wishes to avoid alcohol, merely dropping some drops into very hot water will evaporate off the alcohol. An alternative preservative is vegetable glycerin, or vinegar.

Dosage is then 3-4 drops on tongue 4-6 times daily for as long as needed. The following is my favourite description of essences working:

"The suggestion of using Bach Flower Remedies help me seemed novel and different. Although I agreed to give them a try I was very sceptical. They had been around since the 1930s and were developed by a physician with a Harley Street practice so why wasn't every doctor prescribing them.

"To begin with the Remedies (Mustard and Walnut) did not seem to be having a noticeable. Then I began to notice that various events or occasions In my life would come to mind. Often I would rethink these occasions, see what was really good in them for me and feel much more at ease with the thoughts.

"This happened not only to the good memories but to the bad ones as well. It was as if someone had opened the emotional filing cabinet and no way could I close it. Gradually I have found incident after incident coming to mind for reassessment, memories which at one time I could never have faced again, memories which I could not under any circumstances have shared with anyone could be dealt with and put away. Pandora's box of personal memories was revealing the bad things and gradually each was being cleaned away.

"In this process I learned to really cry again and not to withhold my feelings and batten them down. As a child my mother had insisted that my father never saw me in tears, but now the tears could flow freely. There was no guilt feeling about crying now.

"As the gentle cleansing and healing process has gone on over the weeks I have begun to realise that I am still an attractive woman with a lot to contribute to the world I live in.

"'The whole effect seems to me to be rather like an old Dutch master's portrait which has become grimy and soiled with time and smoke from the fire. When it is gently cleaned and restored with modern techniques the beauty of the picture is almost better than in its original state; the lights and tones shine through much more clearly, the subtle hues and highlights become more apparent." - Lady, age 53, Dec 1997, having taken Mustard and Walnut for six weeks.

Many people will have one constitutional remedy that will give them a considerable lift whatever other problems are around. However, tackling each issue appropriately is also important.

Essences available include Bach (several makers), Bailey, Australian Bush, Australian Living, Masters, Sun, Silvercord, Living Earth Animal, Green Man Trees, Roadside, Crystal Herbs, Living Tree Orchid etc. However, many people are now starting to make their own essences - for instance, in the small area around Chard in Somerset, there are half a dozen who sell their essences, and many more who make for use by themselves and by friends.

Combinations - Combinations make it easier for us to choose essences for appropriate situations, and also are a way for skilled makers to put together several, sometimes many, essences which complement each other and provide a balanced combination effect. They include Australian Bush Emergency, Meditation, Confid, Relationship etc, Jan de Vries Emergency, Relaxing, Craving, Mood, Child and other Essences, Balancing Blooms (stocked by Boots), Calm Down, Peace, Rainy Day, Monday Morning, Get Up and Go etc, Findhorn Flower Essences, Green Man Essences and Bailey Flower Essences amongst others. There are also a number of others made by smaller enterprises - some very sophisticated in their approach such as the Roadside Essences, Grief, Abuse, Life Path and other sets of Combinations.

Sprays are increasingly available, for cleansing, balancing, protection, and so on. This is likely to be another growth area.

Of the Bach Remedies, Walnut and Chestnut Bud are particularly valuable for all health practitioners for protection whilst Crab Apple is useful for cleansing, (as are also Australian Bush Emergency and Meditation essences). Walnut has the ability to act as a barrier to other peoples' projected emotions, so is particularly valuable to all therapists, mothers, fathers, teachers, and others! However, a good working knowledge of the (widely available) Bach range would be a good starting point for all who wish to study the benefits of Flower Essence usage.

Finally, may I mention Emotional Stress Release and Emotional Freedom Technique, powerful self-healing techniques that we can all use easily. EmSR was developed by Brian Butler, the kinesiologist, and is detailed in I'm Fine. Emotional Freedom Technique is arguably even more valuable, and is described in Emotional Healing in Minutes (the Emotional Freedom Technique), by Valerie and Craig Lynch.

Resources

Bach and other flower essences widely available in shops and on the web:

www.edwardbach.org

www.drandrew.co.uk (Andrew Tresidder's website, includes links to suppliers)

www.bfvea.com (Practitioners Association)

www.bafep.com (Makers' Association)

If Do It Yourself was the surprise growth area after the war, and Information Technology has been and continues to be the growth area at present, then the use of simple tools like Flower Essences, Emotional Stress Release and Emotional Freedom Technique are likely to be the growth area for the next twenty years. They represent the low-tech but effective tools of Emotional Technology, surely a growth industry to help achieve the pinnacle of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-actualisation - effortlessly and easily, complementing others of societies skills such as counselling.

In summary, flower essences are powerful yet gentle tools that act as tuning forks for the soul, and can help us rebalance in many ways. They complement other vibrational and also allopathic treatments, and have become a growth area for both general personal use and practitioners alike.