The Healthy Living Space Expert Interview:
There are many ways to access, express, and
release buried emotions, but the one we will focus on in this
chapter is called flower essence therapy. It is a gentle
but deep practice originally developed in the 1930s by a British
bacteriologist, Edward Bach, M.D. He found a way to use the subtle
energies of plant blossoms to highlight, clarify, and resolve
In the late 1970s, Patricia Kaminski joined with Richard Katz to extend Dr. Bach's principles of emotional healing through flower essences to develop remedies based on plants grown in North America. Their assumption was that, it being fifty years later and another continent, the remedies might be more effectively produced from indigenous plants and encompass a broader range of emotional nuance. Humans are emotionally more complex today than in Dr. Bach's time, and the American psyche may need homegrown flower energies, botanical essences more in resonance with the landscape in which the end users live.
Today, their line of flower essences number more than 100 (based on the freshly harvested and infused blossoms of plants, bushes, and trees) and through their Flower Essence Society, based in Nevada City, California, they have an active network of colleagues, students, and practitioners throughout the world.10
Implicit in the model of flower essences, whether they come from Bach or Katz and Kaminski, is the startling idea that somehow the energy of plant blossoms has a relationship with the spectrum of human emotions. Flower essence practitioners suggest that the plant kingdom, through its blossoms, embodies in a pure, almost abstract form, the essence of human emotions. The purity of this expression enables the plant blossoms, when prepared in the right way, to have a clarifying effect on human emotionsclarifying in the sense of the impact an archetype (a pure emotion) can have on its manifestation (a pure emotion expressed, distorted, or blocked by a human psyche).
Flower essence practitioners also postulate
that the human energy field, or aura (discussed in more detail
in chapter 9), has a basic affinity with the plant kingdom. It
is even suggested that in some manner the human energy field
embodies the full spectrum of the plant kingdom and, analogically
speaking, the myriad blossoms occurring in the plant world are
like little stars, or points of pure consciousness, in the human
energy field. Whatever the theoretical explanation, flower essence
practitioners operate on the assumptionone backed by decades
of empirical results and clinical observation of clientsthat
a flower essence can help a person experience, clarify, and resolve
Flower essences "encourage rather than compel change, working by vibrational resonance rather than by biochemical intervention," explains Kaminski. They evoke and stimulate "an inner dialogue with hidden aspects of the Self, awakening profound psychological archetypes, and giving us access to their message." Through this kind of inner dialogue, Kaminski says, flower essences can catalyze "deep emotional and mental changes" powerful enough to in turn spark physiological alterations, reversals of symptoms, and often healings.11
As Kaminski sees it, flower essences "unite the human soul with the soul of nature" and "rekindle a vital connection" between these two expressions of soul. Flower essences "massage" the sensibilities of the soul, Kaminski explains. "They reinstill our capacity to receive living forces from nature, qualities that allow our souls to be permeable rather than hardened," as well as vital instead of mechanical.
In flower essence thinking, the term "soul" has
a vital, real role, and would still have this quality even if
matters of the soul were not now a nationally validated topic
in publishing and teaching, ever since Thomas More's best-selling
Care of the Soul was published in 1992. The soul is the substrate
of our emotions and sense of self, the deep, pure feeling state
within, the inner, permanent self. In her book Flowers That Heal,
Kaminski says using flower essences dredges unpleasant emotions
to the surface of our awareness. "As we witness these parts
of ourselves, we have the opportunity to understand, to redeem
and to cleanse these emotions."12 With flower essences,
we heal from the inside out.
In other words, says Kaminski, toxicity is a condition we are bound to encounter on the emotional level, so we need to develop ways to process it. Even better, we need to process it in such a way that in the end we have gained in consciousness. We are more aware of ourselves, of our emotional totality. This way, Kaminski says, emotional detoxification through flower remedies can lead to more consciousness. She adds that flower essence therapy is "a cutting edge, vanguard medicine' that is trying to build a bridge between psyche and soma, or the body."
Here's an example from Kaminski's case files that illustrates these points. She consulted with a fifty-eight-year-old business executive who had sustained a heart attack. He had tremendous stress in his life and it seemed his primary way of relating to the world was through hostility. He was in advertising, a highly competitive industry, and his job description was virtually to walk all over everybody else, to triumph, win the client, do the best, make the most amount of money, and the usual ultra-Type A personality behaviors. Naturally, he had high blood pressure as well as a weakened heart after the "attack."
When he came to Kaminski, he had already started a nutritional therapy regimen and meditation. She started him on four flower essences specific to his condition of stress, hostility, and a rigidified heart, using Impatiens, Zinnia, Borage, and Holly.
In terms of its effect on human emotions, the flower Impatiens is aptly named: it dissolves impatience. This man was always snapping his fingers, tapping his fingers, expressing his impatience, says Kaminski. "The impatience was everywhere in him: the need to drive fast, to be somewhere in a hurry, to get things done in a hurry."
Individuals who need Impatiens "find it difficult to be within the flow of time; their tendency is to rush ahead of experience," comments Kaminski in her masterwork on flower essence prescribing, Flower Essence Repertory (cowritten with husband Richard Katz).13 They have too much fiery force, and this flares up easily into irritation, impatience, intolerance, and anger. Impatiens as a flower essence actually imparts the opposite qualities: patience, acceptance, and the ability to flow with the pace of life and others, explains Kaminski.
Kaminski gave the man Zinnia flower essence because much of his joy of life was gone. He had lost his sense of humor and ability to easily laugh; he took himself too seriously. He had developed an overly somber sense of self, a dullness and over-seriousness, explains Kaminski. Zinnia would help reverse that by evoking "childlike humor and playfulness," a lightheartedness, an inner joyfulness, and a sense of detached perspective on oneself. It would help him appreciate the possibility that playfulness and laughter could have a role in a responsible life, says Kaminski.
The third flower essence prescribed was Borage. The emotional issues to do with Borage were to a large degree at the "heart" of the man's heart condition, says Kaminski. The patterns of imbalance that indicate the need for Borage are heavy-heartedness and a lack of confidence in facing difficult circumstances, Kaminski explains. Borage instills a sense of courage and buoyancy that helps one rise above difficulties. "Borage is often at the core of outer hostility because underneath this is grief and vulnerability that emotionally weigh down the heart and prevent the heart from expressing its own real emotion. Borage helps the heart to experience this ebullience and lightness, filling the soul with fresh forces of optimism and enthusiasm."
Finally, Holly was indicated to address this man's sense of feeling cut off from love, and of being filled with jealousy, suspicion, anger, and envy. On the positive side, Holly would help evoke the feeling of love and the ability to extend it to others, an open heart and a sense of compassion, says Kaminski. This remedy helps restore a person's "ability to feel unity and wholeness," she notes.
After a few weeks of taking the four remedieshe took them several times daily as dropsthe man began to see changes in his emotional nature. Previously, when his young daughter walked into a room, he would be impatient for her to leave, talking to her briefly, feeling increasingly irritated. But now he found himself "fascinated" by what she had to say; he felt inclined to play with her as opposed to having to order himself to do so out of fatherly duty. He started to see he didn't have to "jump all the time into reality," but that he could sit back and allow it to unfold before him, says Kaminski. He didn't have to control everything any more.
"Learning to trust the world is the antidote
for hostility," Kaminski notes. This man had not been trusting
of the world, and eventually his body mimicked his core emotional
stance and attacked him just as he was chronically attacking
the world through his hostility. A key element in easing hostility
is teaching a person to trust the world again, to let the heart
relax its vigilance, she adds.
"Through the flower essences, he gained enough of an edge on himself that he could start to witness life rather than react to it all of the time. He has had remarkable changes in his heart condition since then. All of the physiological indicators for heart health are now very favorable for him." Through the flower essences and the way they worked to clarify his emotional knots and give him a position of detached awareness about themwhat Kaminski calls the "witness" stancehe was able to dissolve much of his emotional toxicity and thereby relieve its steady, sickening pressure on his physical heart. He became able to have vulnerability and emotional space with himself in the context of his family, and this was intensely healing for him, says Kaminski. He no longer was "incredibly actively hostile" at work: he didn't need to exhibit that kind of behavior any more.
"For me, the question with emotional toxicity is not that we get the poison' out of the body, but that we learn how to handle the daily flow of it, that we learn how emotional toxicity originates. So the goal is not so much a cleansing of emotional toxicity but an active change in how we deal with it," Kaminski explains. Ideally, through flower essences, we can deal with it with more consciousness, more awareness of its true message.
End of Part 3
"Guidelines for Emotional Detoxification"
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