Bach Flowers: my personal journey

This was an essay I submitted to the Bach Foundation as part of my Bach practitioner training.

The first time I encountered the Bach Flower Essences I was in the midst of a full blown hormonal depression.  It was a typically cold, dark and rainy Wednesday in the middle of the winter of 2003 here in the Pacific Northwest.   I was perusing the aisles of our local Puget Sound Consumer Cooperative (PCC,)  an organic health food store which carries  homeopathic remedies, herbal essences, and so forth.  I sought relief for my low feelings and didn’t want to take the pharmaceuticals offered to me by a psychiatrist.  I came upon the yellow Bach display and found the booklet The 38 Bach Flower Essences. A helpful guide to the use of 38 flower essences to balance emotions and enhance well being.  I perused through the booklet and felt compelled to put it in my cart.

Later that day I sat down and read through the booklet and started to recognize myself in some of the descriptions of the flower essences.  I suffered for many years with “hormonal” mood swings, feelings of inadequacy, mild depression, mild intermittent anxieties, distraction, lack of focus, painful feelings of envy and a host of other not so pleasant feelings from time to time, and without warning.  This booklet seemed to address most of those feelings, which gave me a sense of connection to the flowers immediately.  At the time the flower I resonated most with was White Chestnut, for my chronic mind-spinning thoughts about how my teenage son was treating me.  I was also chronically stewing about my husband and how he interacted with my son and with me.  I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head.  Once I was through ruminating about one thing, another idea came along to plague my mind.   There were many times I experienced this mind spin and I liked that there was a “remedy” for it.

I am a journaler and was writing in my journal before, during, and after my regimen of White Chestnut.  I would record the mind spinning thoughts and take my drops four times a day, sometimes more often.  It got so that I would notice the instant my mind went off into rumination and I would record it.  After several days I noticed that I was thinking a lot more about my clients and began stewing a bit over the type of clients I was serving.  Was I really in the right niche for me?    What I didn’t catch on to immediately, but realized much later, was that my ruminating over my son’s behavior was healing and underneath it was another layer of troubling thoughts that had to do with my lack of clarity about my life’s work.  I was uncertain about my direction and found myself stewing more and more about it.  At that point I chose Wild Oat for my lack of clarity about my work as a life coach, while continuing with the White Chestnut.  I soon found myself going to PCC each week and buying one or new two bottles.  Within several months I went to the Bach Foundation website and learned there was a course of study and I filed that information for a couple of years, while taking drops periodically, until I finally signed up for the distance learning foundational course in 2006. It was during this period my son moved out of the house in a traumatic manner and broke my heart.   During the six months I took to complete that course, my life was in constant turmoil around him and the situation.  My journaling, combined with the Bach studies, is what saved my sanity during those months.

During this time that I was studying, my daughter was entering high school and experiencing her own personal challenges.  I began to discuss the Bach Flowers with her, and together we found essences that resonated for her. By this time I had purchased the entire Bach remedy box and all 38 remedies.  My daughter was often drawn to Larch for confidence, White Chestnut for those whirling thoughts, and Mimulus for anxieties about going to high school.  Schleranthus came in handy because she was forever challenged with indecision among her outfits.  Over the years, Bach Flowers has become a bit of a shorthand language for us.  All she has to say to me is “I need some larch”, and I understand she’s feeling insecure about something.  It helps me provide useful support to her rather than assuming things.  She often asks me for a session where we sit down; she’ll talk and I’ll listen, jotting down possible remedies and discussing these with her.  We’ll put together her bottle, which she’ll carry in her purse.  She generally reports positive feelings almost immediately.

I find myself using the remedies in my work as a life coach for those times when a client is stuck and regular goal setting, coaching, planning and list-making doesn’t provide relief.  I might offer to end the coaching session for the day and move into a Bach Flower consultation. This often helps because my client is relieved from having to “work on” his challenge and simply describe how he feels.  The flowers give us a language.  “I’m terribly worried about my son and can’t stay focused on my writing” (Red Chestnut?)… “I guess I don’t want to room with Mary at the conference because I like to be alone”… (Water Violet?).  These sessions help  us get to the core of the matter.  When a client “gets it” that she’s a Water Violet type of person, it helps her forgive herself for not wanting to participate with all the festivities and so forth.  This is a great tool.

Several years before I discovered Bach Flowers at the PCC, I had been seeing a naturopath. I remember she gave me a bottle of Bach Flower Remedies and explained to me that I might become a little weepy and not to worry.  At the time I had no idea what was in that bottle.  I found some notes recently from that time and saw she had prescribed Star of Bethlehem, Olive, and Willow.  Indeed during the time I was taking those remedies I was weepy, sensitive, reflective.  I remember that this was part of the treatment for the old scar tissue built up around cervical cysts I suffered from.  What I appreciate now is how effective those Bach remedies were and I didn’t know anything about them.

The Practitioner Course has kept me intensely focused on the remedies, learning about them, reading, writing, having numerous sessions with clients.  The course has cemented the remedies into my life and they are now part of how I see myself and sort out many of life’s dilemmas.  The remedies give me a simple language and a beautiful lens from which to understand my own feelings and to balance my emotions.  I find it easier to be compassionate toward others when I feel frustration with them.  It has become a tool I use often when I feel out of balance.  I’ll take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle.  I’ll pour my heart out on the left side and suggest remedies for myself on the right.  This is the same simple method I use for my friends, family, and clients.  We talk, I write, I jot down essences.  Once we’ve gotten it all down, I’ll review the list of remedies I considered and choose the most appropriate to discuss with my client.  This almost always ends up helping right away – even before essences are taken!  The essences do their  deeper work.  I trust that.  The Bach Flower Remedies have changed my life and helped me find a wholeness I never before knew.  They have become a part of my daily life, and a way to find relief when I feel out of balance.  When I feel anxious, worried, or upset I probe deeper for meaning.  When I feel angry, jealous, or vengeful I seek understanding of its source and what action I must take.  I don’t accept confusion as an appropriate mind set, but rather as a symptom of underlying need.  What is this indecision?  Can I not make up my mind to stay or go?  (Sclerahnthus?); Am I deeply worried about my loved one’s safety and that’s why I can’t decide? (Red Chestnut?)  Maybe I’m not so indecisive, but keep asking others for their take on the situation (Cerato?) instead of going forth as I know in my heart I should….

I like to see myself as a practical, grounded, rational person who believes that all of life is interconnected, even in death.  Out of death comes new life, and an endless life process connects all that was, is, and will be to each other.  The life-force from the flowers contains the very same life-force that exists within each one of us.  It follows, therefore, that when my life force is out of balance, there exists a corresponding force to bring it back.  From what I’ve learned about nature in general, there could be many other methods to create balance- unique flowers, aromas, colors, light therapy and so on.  The Bach Flower therapy is a contained system that holds within it the healing potential for all emotional imbalances.  I find great comfort in this, as I choose to keep my focus on this one therapy exclusively and not confuse my wandering mind with all the endless possibilities outside the system!  The Bach Flowers have extended my life coaching practice as a way to help people become unstuck when conventional thinking and planning isn’t working for them.  This brings a much-appreciated balance to what can often times seem like mental work.  Introducing the Bach Flowers offers the possibility for relaxing into what simply is, instead of trying so hard to change oneself or one’s circumstances.  Answers come one step at a time, as one’s own truth unfolds.

In closing I want to say that since that first day 6 years ago when I met up with the Bach Flower booklet, through my years of living gently with the flowers, and proceeding with my training as a practitioner, my life has taken on new meaning.  Then I was 50 years old and now I am 56.  Much of my life prior to Bach was consumed by tormented thoughts and confusion.  My work with the flowers has been gentle, calm, non-frenetic. It grounds me. I have supported a dozen others with the flowers and without exception they have reported a similar grounded sense of clearness and calm.  The flowers have become friends. The idea of them makes me smile.  I feel a sense of connection to the shimmering, rustle of the Aspen tree and a sense of security with the lovely rock rose now growing in my garden.  I see the brave and powerful oak in some of my closest friends, including my dear husband.  Dr Bach said to “accept the Remedies as part of life.”  It is my joy to report, that I do indeed accept the remedies as part of life.  I appreciate that I found my way to them and look forward to supporting others with the remedies for the rest of my days.     Namaste.

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