The Four Stages of Flower Essence Response: A Powerful Tool for Practitioners


By Jane Ellen as told to and edited by Jann Garitty

Editor’s note: In the book Flowers That Heal, Patricia Kaminski introduced the Four Levels of Flower Essence Response (4 R’s) by writing: “In analyzing thousands of cases submitted to the Flower Essence Society in the past two decades, four major stages of transformation have been identified. Not all of these stages are operative in every case, particularly the latter two stages are more likely to occur when several cycles of essences have been used, and when inner work accompanies the application of the essences. These stages of transformation demonstrate the inherent potential of flower essences when used with skill, intention and consideration...Although they generally occur chronologically, they can sometimes operate contemporaneously, or in a slightly altered sequence.”

Following is Jane Ellen’s unique approach to working with her clients utilizing the 4 R’s. It is a potent process-oriented method of healing in which she guides her clients in a course of flower essence therapy that effectively tracks the progress and results.

Stages of Flower Essence Response (Four R’s)
as presented by Patricia Kaminski

The 4 R’s: a key process when working with clients
to develop personalized blends

Working more in-depth with the 4 R’s

Educating and empowering the client

Eveline – Learning to celebrate life and nurture herself

Stage 3: the discomfort in the process for true alchemical change

The value of using photo affirmation cards

The fertility of Stage 3: removing blocks preventing accomplishment of goals

Bearing witness to one’s own process

Stage 4: Integrating potent changes


About Jane Ellen

Stages of Flower Essence Response (Four R’s)
(excerpts from written material by Patricia Kaminski)


Stage One: Release, Relaxation or Rejuvenation

Characterized by many sensations, which are often registered in the body. These changes may be experienced as a release of excess or dysfunctional energy, a general feeling of calm, or a sense of renewed stamina. Many diverse, but short-lived symptoms may accompany Stage One; these shifting symptoms occur as the energetic relationship between body/soul comes into a new alignment.

Stage Two: Realization and Recognition

Benefits of the flower essences can now be more distinctly felt in the mental field, producing a variety of cognitive responses. Thoughts and feelings that operated just below the radar of consciousness can now be identified; there is increased objectivity and clarity. The flower essences help us to compare and contrast old behaviors or feelings with new alternative choices and solutions.

Stage Three: Reaction, Resistance and Reconciliation

It may appear that the condition has worsened or has regressed to an earlier stage of dysfunction. True change involves conscious choice and this often means that the soul must revisit its original wounding or trauma in order to bring renewed understanding that may not have previously been possible. Stage Three addresses underlying or unhealed aspects stored within the memory of the soul.

Stage Four: Renewal and Reconstellation

In this stage we often see the emergence of entirely new aspects of the self.  The active transformation of character defects results in new strengths and creative choices which would not have been possible without such inner work.

The 4 R’s: a key process when working with clients to develop personalized blends

The 4 R’s is the key process by which Jane works one-on-one with clients providing personalized blends.  “I can’t imagine another way of working with flower essences if one wants deep, cellular-level, alchemical transformation. For those wanting more than symptom relief, the 4 R’s offers a perfect format for understanding, tracking and integrating the transformative process, and for creating new choices and responses to life. For me, the 4 R’s process is what ‘flower essence therapy’ is all about; without it, I don’t understand what it is.”

Utilizing the 4 R’s is not so much a process of getting rid of an imbalance and living forever in a positive quality, but rather, provides a method for witnessing how patterns of imbalance and positive qualities “show up” or manifest for an individual on physical, spiritual and emotional levels. Through the experience and conscious understanding of these two opposite states, a third new perspective is created. This alchemical transformation has one standing in new relationship with the original themes being addressed.

Jane says, “Most of us were raised with the concept of looking for a cure, or a fix for what ails us, seeking to just ‘be happy or feel good.’ When entering into the transformational process, it’s important to remind ourselves and those we are serving, that the goal is to bring our conscious awareness to the themes and challenges presenting, and shifting our relationship and our responses to them, rather than seeking a fix or a cure; flower essences offer tremendous support for the process. For example, someone who tends to face life with fear may always have the propensity for fear, yet as they continue to address the issue with flower essences, they will find themselves responding to fear in new and different ways, allowing them to feel much more empowered in the way they move through life.”

Working more in-depth with the 4 R’s

“The way I came to understand the power of the four stages and their value was through case study work.  I learned about them because they are included in the requirements for the FES certification process. I have interpreted differently Patricia Kaminski’s intention for the process as outlined in the book, Flowers That Heal.  For five years, I have witnessed consistently, and with profound and amazing accuracy, that allowing each of the four stages a complete 28-day cycle creates the opportunity for extraordinary transformation. Frequently, clients will decide to continue receiving their blend for a fifth month, wanting to be sure to allow themselves ample time for full integration and anchoring of the changes taking place. With a rich and thorough understanding of the 4 R’s, it is deeply moving to track and bear witness to the meaningful shifts occurring within each stage.”

Jane says that in general, her experience thus far with children, animals, the elderly and people who are dying, shows that the adherence to a full 28-day cycle for each phase is not necessary. The phases naturally occur in shorter lengths of time, and they move through the four stages much more quickly. “This perception warrants more of my ongoing observation to track their processes more fully, but it seems these individuals effortlessly drop into what they experience and are right there with it; they don’t go into the intellect to assess and dissect their experience.”

Jane finds that very often Stage 1 involves vivid physical experiences. Sometimes they are unpleasant, while other times they occur on a more positive level; though they’re unique for each person, and for each blend. Sometimes a blend can stimulate physical symptoms that provide “relief,” while at other times with another blend, one can experience imbalance. 

For example, Jane was experiencing old sorrow and grief which she held in her lungs. With a long and consistent history of getting bronchitis twice a year, she chose to receive the support of Yerba Santa flower essence in combination with several other resonant essences. Within the first month, she had protracted bronchitis which lasted all the way through the third stage, through the end of the third month. However, she hasn’t had bronchitis again since that time. “I considered this an extreme case because it lasted all the way through Stage 3, but it resulted in a profound healing for me. I believe the degree of my physical experience matched the degree of old sorrow and grief being stored in my lungs. Often, during Stage 1, there is movement happening on the physical level with both the ‘patterns of imbalance’ as well as the ‘positive qualities’ for one or more essences in the blend as we establish a new center of balance.”

Educating and empowering the client

Also important to the process utilizing the 4 R’s Jane believes, is that the client is educated about the four stages: “It is part of my role as a flower essence practitioner, to give them printed information so that they can reread about the stage they’re currently in throughout the four month process. It’s a resource that assists them in tracking what they’re experiencing. People are able to witness for themselves how amazingly accurate and consistent the process truly is. For example, it’s important they know that there may be movement on a physical level during the first month, reflecting both the patterns of imbalance and the positive qualities, and that that movement will be informative. I like to use the analogy of a pendulum that’s been stuck or held in one position for a while, and that as we introduce deeply resonant flower essences, the pendulum’s holding pattern releases or relaxes. There is tremendous wisdom in the way in which the essences choose to touch each individual. Sometimes, prior to the arrival of the release or relaxation commonly experienced in Stage one, one must first become aware of how the physical symptoms or patterning is being expressed in the body, in which case one may have experiences with the patterns of imbalance.” Jane finds that it is common for people in the first stage to need more rest and often they eventually feel very, very uplifted—the reward of the release. In addition, dream activity can be very active for almost everyone, especially in the first two weeks of Stage 1.

“Most of the time, when someone comes for flower essence support, no matter with what they present, there’s enough depth in the theme for the four stages to apply. If the issue is of a lighter nature, I call upon pre-made formulas and then do not track the four stages. Say for example, if someone is beginning a new job, is somewhat nervous, and that’s all they present with, I talk more about what the nervousness is in regard to, how it manifests for them, and maybe a particular pre-made formula is appropriate. In those cases, I have not tracked the four stages. The majority of clients I serve wish to address deep themes, and we utilize the 4 R’s, which they fully embrace and value.”

Eveline – learning to celebrate life and nurture herself

Eveline, aged 59, is currently in week 10 of the 3rd stage of her process working deeply with themes in regard to her relationship with her mother during childhood, and how that has influenced her life. She has chosen to focus on her feelings of vulnerability being “seen in the world,” in understanding her life’s work, in giving and receiving nurturing, with her relationship to money, and with ongoing feelings of depression. All of these facets are interwoven and related.

In the first month with her blend, Eveline experienced incredible joy, and was hopeful and engaged in life, reflecting her immediate movement into the positive qualities of relaxation and rejuvenation. During weeks five through eight, Stage 2 experiences of “realization” and “recognition” were reflected through her “witnessing” several patterns of imbalance relating to the themes she was addressing with essences in her blend.

Stage 3: the discomfort in the process for true alchemical change

Now, in Stage 3, Eveline had called Jane in the middle of the tenth week. When Jane heard the pain and frustration in Eveline’s voice, she knew that Eveline was in Stage 3. “Eveline shared that she was having a difficult time, and that everything was back to her old patterns. She was not yet aware that she was in her third month when she said, ‘I’m back in all my old patterns, and I feel terrible.’” Eveline asked for a refill bottle of her blend. When she stopped by to pick it up, and Jane explained she was in the third stage, she said, “Oh, that’s what it is!” It was some relief to her to realize that and attribute her feelings of “setback” to Stage 3 of the process. “That’s a perfect example of the value of the client knowing about the stages; I could then say to her; ‘You’re half-way through the third stage.’ I encourage them to really acknowledge the depth of the work that they are doing with themselves, the depth of soul work. If they had not stayed with Stages 1 and 2, then they wouldn’t have reached Stage 3. The discomfort felt often speaks of the potential for healing…much like the expression, breakdown leads to breakthrough. It is a testament to how deeply they are going through the transformational process for true alchemical change.”

Eveline expressed a level of relief, but still felt she would experience anxiety or fear for yet a couple more weeks, and wondered out loud, “Can I make it?” At this crucial point, Jane suggested a session to offer support and encouragement to stay with what is present in this rich, fertile stage. “This is the most fertile of all stages, when the patterns of imbalance and the positive qualities are both at their peak.”

Current essence selection for Eveline

(Note: The essences of Mariposa Lily, Pink Monkeyflower and Sunflower were in Eveline’s prior blend, and were carried forward into this new blend for further healing.)

California Peony – to help tap into joy and celebration for life (California Wild Rose was in a previous blend received for four months to address Eveline’s feelings of not wanting to “be on the planet;” it gave her immediate support to anchor her back in the world.)  Now, California Peony worked deeper on the same themes but at another level or angle; it was the base of the new remedy to help Eveline connect with her own power, to want to be in life and celebrate rather than just being here.

Mariposa Lily – to help with all facets of healing with her biological mother, for her own role as a mother, and for themes around giving and receiving nurturance.

Rock Water – Eveline had used the word “ascetic” to describe herself, and shared that she often denies herself what she describes as some of the basics pleasures of life, i.e. celebrating her birthday, and looks at such things as “excess.”

Star Thistle – to support healing from the profound lack of nourishment from her mother in childhood and to address financial difficulties. Eveline describes abundance as excess. In regard to having money or possessions, she explained, “I don’t need that” and tries to make do with very little.
All of the above essences were included to bring “softening” toward herself, to welcome life, and to support Eveline’s receptive and nurturing aspects.

Pink Monkeyflower – to address feelings of shame about even existing, profound shyness, deep fear of rejection, and not being wanted.

Sunflower – works very harmoniously with Pink Monkeyflower to assist her in stepping into a healthy sense of self; to be out in the world, to feel warm and connected, and to develop her inner masculine as a form of additional support for being out in the world. Sunflower and Pink Monkeyflower are two possible “archetypal” flower essences for Eveline.

Blackberry and Wild Oat – to assist her in recognizing her gifts, and to bring them out into the world; clarity was just beginning to come forward with regard to her writing being one gift she’d like to value and present in the world.

The value of using photo affirmation cards

In the subsequent session, Jane suggested it might be helpful for Eveline to lay out her affirmation cards once again as she had done before. (Read Jane’s method for working with clients and affirmation cards, Flower Essence Selection Process with Clients.) Eveline struggled with the lay out, trying to relate to it and deepen into what had been happening for her. All of a sudden, Jane received an intuitive impression of another possible layout of her cards, what was “core” for Eveline. Jane asked, “Can we try an experiment and shift the cards into another layout?” When Eveline agreed, Jane completely rearranged the cards and Eveline said, “That’s it – that’s what I’m working on!”

California Peony was positioned at the base of her card layout to help engage Eveline in her lower centers and to empower herself by allowing her life force as a foundation.

When Jane had heard Eveline describe herself as “ascetic,” that she was not able to nurture herself, was often strict with herself, and deprived herself of things, Jane introduced Rock Water to Eveline, and they added it to her essence mixture immediately. Eveline, in fact, expressed her longtime love for rivers as “alive, moving water.” “Eveline was right up against all her own blocks and Rock Water felt like the perfect essence to facilitate softening the rigidity she was imposing upon herself as well as supporting her in experiencing receptivity.” 

It seemed appropriate for the Rock Water card to be placed directly above California Peony to nurture her further into the flow of life, providing an upward movement to the layout; Star Thistle was placed to one side of Rock Water in the layout to assist Eveline in nurturing others, including her own daughter.  It is helpful when starving in life or for life; Mariposa Lily was placed on the other side of Rock Water in the layout.  This horizontal line within the vertical layout represented healing her relationship to her mother and money as well as themes of giving and receiving nurturance.

Pink Monkeyflower was centered at the heart, with Wild Oat and Blackberry on either side, supporting Eveline in recognizing and valuing her gifts, as well as choosing to be seen in the world despite her feelings of vulnerability.

Sunflower – at the top encouraging Eveline to shine in the world with her own individual identity. Cupping one hand over the Sunflower card, and one hand over the California Peony card while viewing the core layout, Eveline felt that the California Peony was sending energy up through her, and Sunflower on top was beaming down on her. She joyfully explained, “I love that I’m receiving from above and below.”

The fertility of Stage 3: removing blocks preventing accomplishment of goals

Eveline loves to write and expresses beautifully. She has a clear, deep understanding of flower essences and tracks them. Jane suggested it might be healing for her to write her story about using flower essences, what she was facing in herself and share it with her daughter. Eveline decided that she would write to her daughter in a journal her daughter had gifted to her.

Jane commented to Eveline that perhaps what Eveline had to offer the world would have to do with her writing. Eveline said, “It’s a dream of mine, it has been for my whole life, to write and be published.” But, as they discussed, what has prevented her from doing so are all the personal issues with which she is now working. “Eveline actually was giggling, reflecting the wonder-full reconciliation of opposites that occurs in Stage 3. We talked about how this was an example of feeling both the positive qualities and patterns of imbalance that show up in Stage 3 so powerfully, simultaneously sometimes, with equal value and strength, both teaching us at the same time. If we are able to recognize that one is not more important than the other, we are in the empowering position of creating a third place that is born out of understanding the two opposites.”

Working further with the cards, Jane pulled the side cards away from the central vertical line so that they resembled wings—

Once Eveline moves through the work with these essences, her core remains, her “essence”:

Celebrate life
Nurture self
Be seen and loved
Celebrate self

Bearing witness to one’s own process

Jane comments that it’s sometimes frightening to do this depth of work because it is so difficult; though by feeling the depths, one eventually touches the heights as well. Jane observed Eveline as she put her hands over her face and said “Oh, this is so scary!” The statement was an indication of Pink Monkeyflower and Eveline’s fear of being seen. However at the same time, Eveline also left with a feeling of excitement about the thought of writing for her daughter. She said to Jane, “I would like to ask you, would you read something I’ve written and tell me what you think?” Jane suggested that as Eveline moved into Stage 4, she could bring in the writing and read it aloud to Jane so that Eveline could have the experience of reading and hearing her work while Jane held space as a witness to it. At that point, Eveline put her head down and covered her face again. Jane says, “Pink Monkeyflower (and Sunflower) is probably one of her archetypal essences—reflected in her frequent gesture of covering her face, often right after she’s been seen. She’s in the ‘teeter-tottering’ energy of Stage 3, and I just want to applaud her for staying present with that very movement, while continuing to stay focused on her intentions for herself!

“Once we arrive in potent Stage 3, the next step is to immerse ourselves in the ‘witness role,’ to stay awake, with our eyes wide open all the way through. This is a perfect time to re-read the descriptions of the patterns of imbalance and positive qualities for each essence in the blend, as well as to refine the intentions that were set at the beginning of one’s relationship with their personal blend. When we find ourselves experiencing the imbalances, we must say ‘hello’ to them and observe how they show up in our body, how they affect our life, our relationships, and our ability to live the life we want to live. The very same is true with positive qualities; this process of conscious observation can be quite enlightening, and is certainly empowering. Often in Stage 3, any remaining physical patterns relating to the themes being addressed, and the essences being received, may show up for further attention and reconciliation.”

Stage 4: Integrating potent changes

“If one moves to and through Stage 3, then the opportunity to do deep choice work begins in Stage 4. It feels like the ‘icing on the cake.’ If we’ve genuinely been with Stage 3, then in Stage 4, we can savor the shifts that are integrating while learning to feel at home with this new posture and with ourselves. We become aware of new resources within ourselves that just weren’t there before. Sometimes, depending upon the depth of the themes being addressed, when a person reaches Stage 4, the themes are completely dissolved or resolved. Often when someone rereads descriptions of the essences they’ve been receiving, they wonder how they chose them in the first place, which is a reflection of the complete transformation through which they’ve gone.”

“Other times in the midst of Stage 4, people will feel that they’ve suddenly regressed back to Stage 3 because they are experiencing difficulties or agitation. In fact what often occurs, is the emergence of the next layer with new themes presenting. If challenge or agitation appears in the midst of Stage 4, I listen closely to how they are describing their experiences. I listen to hear if what they are describing resonates with their current blend, or if new themes and new flowers are appearing. Most often, I encourage people to stay with the current bottle and finish it because the new themes will only become clearer to them as they complete their journey with the essences they’ve been receiving.”

In the 4th month, it’s not uncommon for someone to say that they are not done, and they want to continue with the same essence formula for another month. “They like what’s happening and are people who deeply value and honor the timing and wisdom of their internal process; they are people who cherish and seek out this type of transformational journey with Self.”

About Jane Ellen


[ About FES | Online Repertory |Class Offerings | Research & Case Studies | Interviews and Articles]
[ What's New | Publications | Membership | Find a Practitioner | Members' Pages | Home ]


P.O. Box 459, Nevada City, CA  95959
800-736-9222 (US & Canada)
tel: 530-265-9163

Copyright © by the Flower Essence Society.
All rights reserved.