Bringing flower essences and Seasons of the Soul oils to people residing in temporary housing communities
Some time after an August visit to the Volunteer Center, I received a request to teach massage at temporary housing units in two locations. The purpose was to encourage the residents to help each other and live as independently as possible, through community activities at temporary houses. The residents would gather at the meeting place, and we were to teach them hand massage techniques so that the victims could give massages to each other. We were told that we would be visiting two of the Kesennuma City’s thirty-five temporary housing units. One unit had 20 to 25 households, so up to fifty people might attend, if one or two members from each household were to come. We agreed to the request and immediately began making preparations.
I sprayed Magenta Mantle over the premises and inside the rooms. I took it orally, applied it to my skin, and pasted a patch on acupuncture points.
Four people accompanied me as my staff. They were graduates and students of my school who had studied phytotherapy and natural therapies such as aromatherapy, and flower essences, and who were able to adjust their schedules at the last minute. In my flower essence classes, all the students and I personally had taken flower essences as well as Grounding Green since immediately after the earthquake. I also sprayed Magenta Mantle over the premises and inside the rooms. I took it orally, applied it to my skin, and pasted a patch on acupuncture points. We also used Leading Light essence.
We all wanted to do volunteer work. As part of our pre-departure preparations, I first went to the ward office of Meguro, Tokyo where I live, and applied for insurance, highway passes and other procedures necessary to do volunteer disaster relief work. Meguro Ward has a sister-city arrangement with Kesennnuma City, so the staff members at the Meguro Ward Office and the residents of Kesennnuma were extremely delighted with our offer. We created materials for the seminar, and made preparations for providing treatments. In addition, since we had the permission to allow the participants to try using flower essences, we created bottles of flower essence formulas to allow as many people as possible to sample the essences on the day of the event and for several days thereafter. For the treatment, we told the Volunteer Center people that we would use a mixture of essential oils and herbs, as well as flower essences. We asked Ms. Komura of AFEEJ to provide us with several types of Seasons of the Soul™ oils, as well as a number of flower essences that would be used that day, including the Flourish line of formulas and Magenta Mantle.
When we all arrived at Kesennuma City, we drove toward the temporary housing where we were to carry out our morning activities. The city has erected temporary housing units in 35 locations, with each site having houses for about twenty households. Although the disaster victims’ requests and preferences were taken into account somewhat, the fact was, the environment did not totally satisfy the residents. Because they were “temporary” houses, the residents must eventually move out and live in conventional houses. Although they now had their personal space and thus more privacy compared to when they were living in evacuation shelters, things were understandably far from satisfactory as compared with before, or in comparison to conventional homes.
The city of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture has several hilly areas. Many houses remained relatively intact without being totally destroyed. Compared to the city of Rikuzentakata in adjacent Iwate Prefecture and the town of Minamisanriku in the same Miyagi Prefecture, the streets and towns still remained. So restoration and reconstruction were already underway in Kesennuma. At the temporary housing that we visited in the morning, the meeting place was set up and the doors were scheduled to open at 10 a.m. People at the Kesennuma City Volunteer Center did the organizing for us, including posting a leaflet at the meeting place door, “A meeting of flower remedies over a cup of tea,” to announce the event, and handing out leaflets to publicize the event to the residents. Since the event was held in the morning, and since it was a Sunday, many people went out to do various other things, but the volunteers went to get the residents who had not yet come, and the local residents also welcomed us warmly with a smile.
The request we had received for this event was aimed at strengthening the relationships amongst residents of the temporary housing communities. The goal was to teach the residents how to do massage, and enable them to care for each other. When we previously met with members of the Volunteer Center, we talked about flower essences, and the members agreed to hold an event, using both aromatherapy and flower essences, and combine them with a meeting over tea. A variety of manufacturers had already donated essential oils and other items to the Kesennuma City Volunteer Center. However, the residents who had been affected by the earthquake and tsunami had never used flower essences before, so they seemed to be eagerly looking forward to the event. I began my talk with “flowers.” I chose them because they are known for healing and are part of everyday life. I began by explaining a variety of characteristics that each flower has, as well as the wonderful qualities of flowers.
They seemed to eagerly look forward to receiving our massage and taking flower essences.
Since there were many elderly people, I felt that they could understand information about Chinese plants more easily than herbs, and since I was introduced to the participants as a physician of Chinese medicine also, I explained the actions and effects of a flowers used in Chinese medicines. Perhaps because they understood me, they seemed to understand flower essences more than I had expected; they also listened to my talk about herbs and aromatherapy with keen interest. They seemed to eagerly look forward to receiving our massage and taking flower essences.
For the lecture on aromatherapy, I used a hand massage manual to explain the Seasons of the Soul™ herbal oils that are comprised of Benediction, Dandelion Dynamo, Arnica Allay, and Saint John’s Shield. I explained that Seasons of the Soul uses organic plant oil as a basis, and contains herbs, essential oils, and flower essences, and I explained the action of each ingredient. To teach them how to use flower essences, I handed out a brochure with text and photos that explained the actions of the Flourish line of Flower Essence Formulas (Post-Trauma Stabilizer, Grief Relief, Illumine, Kinder Garden, and Magenta Mantle).
In the brochure, I included the explanation, “Each formula has a different aroma; the actions also differ depending on a plant’s effective ingredients and a flower’s energy of healing. By selecting the oil and essence that suit your current condition, you can feel your body and mind heal slowly and gently.” I then asked the participants to fill out a simple questionnaire. The questions were all multiple-choice types that people could fill in with ease. I also set up a separate column for writing in more detailed comments if needed. However, the questions were solely for the purpose of having the participants select the oils and essences that suited their current condition, so they were made nice and simple for them to choose.
Most people wrote their names and filled out the questionnaire sheets. I believe this was thanks to the cooperation of the volunteers who had gathered here to help with the proceedings and made the event exciting and fun, so all the residents were able to take part, feeling relaxed and secure. The volunteers reminded us not to use the term “trauma” or touch on deep subjects too much. So, other than the explanations featured in the brochure that was handed out, I tried to make the content something that the people could enjoy as much as possible.
...the participants began crying one after another and talked while remembering their life at the evacuation center, and their feelings about their current situations.
Mid-way through massage, one woman began crying while talking, and apologized for having cried like that. I told her that some flowers that are used as essences include those that heal people by making them shed a tear, and that, if people kept their agonies inside their hearts, there was a danger that they might impair their physical health. I also explained that releasing one’s emotions was not at all a bad thing, but rather, was important for one’s health. Hearing this and perhaps feeling secure, the participants began crying one after another and talked while remembering their life at the evacuation center, and their feelings about their current situations.
Some told me that their house was burned down by fire after the tsunami, while the owner of another house was pressed to endlessly clean up the mess made by the dirt that the tsunami had brought in; others explained that there was absolutely no privacy inside the evacuation center that, even though they were terribly sad and wanted to cry, there was no place where they could go and cry, and that the only thing they could do was to cry in a hushed voice under the futon mattress at night. There is an element of aesthetic beauty such as this—of valuing patience, stoicism and not showing emotions—in the minds of the Japanese people, so we listened while thinking about how they must have felt.
This happened at a certain evacuation center, but there was a woman who had all the members of her family killed in the earthquake and tsunami. However, for some unknown reason, she was acting bravely and cheerfully. But then, she became unable to eat any food, and lost considerable weight. She reportedly was unable to show grief, let alone cry. But one day, she shed tears and cried her heart out. After this incident, she felt a little better and began eating again. From hearing this woman’s story, the residents appeared to acknowledge that it was necessary to heal the mind before the body became sick. All the people living in evacuation centers felt that they were not the only ones having a difficult time, and seemed to spend their days with feelings of warmth, forgetting about themselves and instead caring for others.
One thing that the women were especially concerned about was that they felt themselves to be “dirty.” Day after day, they had to work to remove dirt and rubble that had entered the house, and yet were unable to take a bath freely. They lamented that dirt may have penetrated their bodies, and that they could never get rid of the dirt. The temporary housing had bathing and other equipment available to ensure a clean and hygienic environment. But other than this, the women had no clothing or accessories needed to feel pretty and happy as women. They only had the minimum clothing necessary. Even if they wanted to fix their hair nicely and wear makeup to look more beautiful, they could not do so for a long time.
Because other people have also been victimized by the earthquake and tsunami, the women made it a rule to spend their days modestly and quietly, trying not to stand out too much. Families of the deceased who lost their lives in the disaster were still in mourning, so everyone was carrying out mourning work together. Psychologically, this meant that “dirt and contamination” could not be shed; it also indicated that dirt and contamination did not escape energetically. Since people whose family members have died were in a period of mourning, they wanted to do something together in recognition of this period. We hoped that flower essences would help people get rid of the “dirt and contamination” from their hearts as well as energetically.
We hoped that flower essences would help people get rid of the “dirt and contamination” from their hearts as well as energetically.
The women told us, “I’ve not done anything for my face, hands or feet, so the skin got really dry and rough. They look so awful now,” and “It’s wonderful to receive a massage, but I’m really embarrassed to show my hands.” I therefore decided to have them apply Seasons of the Soul oils to their face, hands and feet, a little bit at a time, every day. We had the women choose their oils, and put the contents in small bottles which we had brought along.
I prioritized those oils with which the women felt good when they used them; I also felt that the oil that people truly needed was the one they were strongly attracted to. The oil that I wanted to recommend to all the women, before any other one, was Benediction. This was because, when I was talking with Ms. Komura of AFEEJ earlier, she told me that Benediction allowed the user to become able to understand things from a place “an octave higher.” I therefore wanted the women to use this oil during these difficult times. At the session, however, I chose not to tell people about this: I felt it better to have them naturally evolve as they continued to use the essences on a daily basis. It was not yet time for us to prompt psychological changes, and a placebo was not especially necessary.
In the course of having the people smell the aromas and select the oils, I explained to them that the fragrance of rose contained energy to help restore confidence in women, that a rose was a precious and costly oil, and that, if they liked the fragrance, rose was also good to use as a skincare item. As a result, all the women chose Benediction. We therefore handed out 3 to 5 ml of this oil per person, and asked them to apply one to two drops to their skin each time.
An elderly man was sitting near the entrance, all by himself, refusing to get inside. Staff members at the Volunteer Center called on him several times, inviting him to come in and sit with other people. I remembered seeing his face several times on TV news. He was sitting all alone, close to the wall, and listened to our talks. It was not that he hesitated to join, he simply refused to do so. A female volunteer who lived in the local area suggested that he receive a hand massage. However, he said, “No, I’d rather not,” and stubbornly refused the offer for a while. Then, Ms. Hirota, a member of our staff who had come with me on this tour, approached him and tried to listen to what he had to say.
After having shed tears, he let his guard down. He allowed us to do a massage which he had adamantly refused up to that time... we even saw him smile occasionally.
The old man began telling his story: that he came to the housing unit with his elderly wife; that he used to enjoy drinking every night and was living his days happily without a care in the world, but that he lost everything because of the earthquake and tsunami; that, although he used to be plump, he drastically lost weight since then; and that, after he came to the temporary housing, he became able to enjoy an evening drink again. As the old man continued talking, tears began falling down from his eyes. It seemed that he didn’t want to show his feelings to other people. Some men do refuse to be treated kindly since they worry that that may lose their cool. After having shed tears, he let his guard down. He allowed us to do a massage which he had adamantly refused up to that time. He received a hand massage from Ms. Hirota while chatting about this and that; we even saw him smile occasionally.
Activities carried out by the Volunteer Center vary considerably, depending on the region. Although removal of rubble and other operations have moved substantially forward, very little has been done by most municipalities in terms of caring for the disaster victims. I believe that a majority of the victims have not received any psychological care. Their mental wounds are still not healed, and their life in temporary housing is far from satisfactory. The building structure is such that steel poles are exposed, and the inside offers very little protection against heat or cold. How could the residents survive the bitterly cold winter of the Tohoku region? There are also a plentitude of other problems, such as work, daily living, compensations, etc. The only thing we could do was to just listen to the residents since they were not problems that we ourselves could solve. I wished that the residents used flower essences to discover, inside their hearts, the light of hope that might provide a clue to solving those problems.
During tea time, we had the participants select a Flourish formula that they liked. We then sprayed it into mineral water in a paper cup, and had the people drink it. Everybody’s eyes were glued to the woman to whom the formula mixture had been handed out first. She said, “Oh, it smells so good. And it’s delicious!” With this, the other women drank their mixture, enjoying the taste and fragrance.
There were elementary school children also, so we served them sweets, together with the water. To each household, we gave Rescue Remedy and the oil that they had selected and, for those who requested it, a bottle of flower essence formula to take home with them. We put mineral water and fruit vinegar in a paper cup, sprayed the Flourish formulas into it, activated the energy in it, then placed it in a dropper bottle. We prepared enough bottles for the women to take home and use with their family members. Time flew by quickly, and we headed to the second temporary housing where the afternoon session was scheduled to be held.
For the afternoon session, we began setting up the room; as our way of welcoming the participants, we sprayed inside the room with a blend of mostly citrus essential oils mixed with Magenta Mantle. Because the session took place in the afternoon, a large number of people—about 30—came, and the small meeting place was packed with people. Many of the residents did not know each other before coming to this temporary housing. They seemed to have moved here from many different places. Because the area near the back of the room was regarded as being more “honorable and important” to them, many people modestly huddled together close to the entrance. This time, about half of the participants were men, because many husband and wife couples came to the afternoon session. Members of the volunteer staff escorted them, and the men started sitting near the front. Most residents of this temporary housing were middle-aged and older, and because they did not know each other very well, they rarely chatted with other people who were sitting close to them.
...they were not very worried about the people who attended the session that day, but were concerned about everyone who had not come...
After the demonstration ended, the staff and I went to the participants to provide hand massage. While we were doing this, volunteers who had encountered the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995 talked about their experiences, and gave advice on how to spend their days living in temporary housing. There were many deaths in the wake of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, after the victims moved into temporary housing units. Some died totally alone, while others took their own lives. Therefore, the volunteers urged the participants to help each other and talk to other people. They said that they were not very worried about the people who attended the session that day, but were concerned about everyone who had not come, and asked the participants to look after them from time to time, and talk with them. I personally felt that flower essences could also be of help in addressing problems such as these, with the assistance of Volunteer Center staff members.
While most participants were having a good time doing hand massage and chatting, there were two or three people who stubbornly remained stiff and emotionless. We had found a number of such people in the morning session also. They all seemed to suppress showing their emotions on their faces. Perhaps their emotions had become so frozen and dark that they could not even change them. They tried to hide this, but could not, nor could they act cheerfully and mingle with others. I decided not to touch the deep areas of their feelings as much as possible, and satisfied myself by merely having them receive hand massage and have a pleasant experience. While members of the volunteer staff worked hard to liven up the atmosphere, a number of male participants told one joke after another as if to pump up the event even further. As everyone was being surrounded by laughter and smiles, it was time for tea and sweets. The event on this occasion was entitled, “A meeting of flower remedies over a cup of tea,” so a plastic bottle containing a beverage was handed out.
On the second page, they were asked, in a multiple-choice question format, about the emotions they wanted to heal psychologically. They were encouraged to write in free comments with as much detail as possible. Based on these answers, we selected their favorite Seasons of the Soul skin oil and Flourish formulas, and gave them to take home as well. We handed out paper cups containing mineral water, and sprayed Flourish formulas. Most people drank it while savoring the taste, with comments such as “It has a lovely fragrance,” and “It’s delicious.” I remembered many participants in the morning session responding similarly to the taste and fragrance.
Up to that point, I have had many people drink flower essences at seminars and other events. However, this was the first time that everyone readily responded to the taste and aroma of the fragrances without an ounce of doubt. I’m sure there were those who could not feel any taste or aroma. However, since they all tasted flower essences with delicate sensibilities, I felt that they might have perceived the changes that had occurred.
On the questionnaires, most people answered “Normal” to the question about their physical conditions. None of them answered that it was good. Parts of the body in which they felt pain and other discomforts included those caused by injury or chronic illness, as well as stiffness, chills and itchiness. Most people said that they had stiffness somewhere in their bodies. As for sleep, about half of them said that they occasionally could not sleep soundly, and the remaining half said that they could sleep well. For those whose answers caused us concern, we advised them to go see a doctor.
As for emotions that the people felt that they wanted to heal psychologically, of the ten items, half of the people cited “physical anxieties”; several people each cited “irritability, depressive feelings and psychological anxieties”; and some people did not answer any questions and others circled all the items. Since many people were anxious about their health, we gave out Magenta Mantle to each household. This was very popular also. Because the essence helps restore vitality among other things, it may have stimulated vigor internally, just from the image alone. I also told them that it could be sprayed inside the room, placed inside a bathtub, taken orally, or applied to the skin. As a result, some people asked us for additional bottles to hand out to families who did not take part in the session.
One person said that she was looking after a bedridden patient, and she complained that she had no time to heal her own fatigue every day. She explained that various parts of her body were tired because of caring for the sick and cleaning up the place, that she was undergoing outpatient treatment because of pain in her knee, that she was concerned about her own health, and that she was most worried about becoming senile, especially about her failing memory recently.
Other people sitting close by who were listening to her also said that they wanted something to prevent becoming senile. I therefore used Lemon and Lilac, which I had brought along, and prepared a formula bottle. I added apple and blueberry vinegar to mineral water placed in a paper cup, created a formula, placed it inside a plastic eye drop bottle, and handed it out. Perhaps because this was Tohoku area, almost everyone chose blueberry to add to the vinegar. I suggested using drops under the tongue for several days, then drink the mixture. For those who selected several different types, we handed out several bottles. Since I made slightly more than what the paper cups could contain, I diluted the remainder just a little, and made the participants drink it right then.
I felt that vitality began to emerge, both in everyone’s facial expressions and the atmosphere inside the room. People started showing an interest in flower essences even more.
The elderly man whom Ms. Hirota had talked with had stiff shoulders. He said that although hand massage was nice, he actually wanted to have the oil applied to the shoulders. When Ms. Hirota applied Dandelion Dynamo to the area from his shoulders to the back, he immediately reacted to the effects of Dandelion Dynamo, and said, “Oh, my shoulders really feel lighter now,” and began talking with people around him. Ms. Hirota then applied Dandelion Dynamo to the backs of a number of male participants. It appeared that the men have also perceived the effects of this oil and took an active part in the session, adding that they wanted to bring home a bottle of Flourish formulas. Although we could not apply the oils to the women’s backs, we had them apply the oils to their necks by themselves. Benediction was popular among the women. We suggested that besides applying the oil on the face and hands, they could spread it in the center of the chest before going to sleep. They said that they looked forward to returning home and applying the oils.
Since we had more time in the afternoon, we were able to listen to the participants’ stories and give a hand massage to each of them. Therefore everyone was satisfied to a certain extent. The participants chose the essences they liked to take home with them. We also gave a bottle of Rescue Remedy to each household.
After the session ended, we handed out bottles of flower essences to the volunteers as well. We gave Leading Light and brochures to the leader, then were seen off by people from the Hanshin area as well as the Volunteer Center, and left the site. We arrived at the Volunteer Center a little earlier than all the other people. There we tried to visit the woman who initially helped with the registration. Since she had not returned from her activities, I asked other staff members to give her Leading Light flower essence, the Flower Essence Relief Aid Handbook, brochures and other materials, and then we left.
It was thanks to the generous cooperation of the members of Kesennuma City Volunteer Center that we were warmly welcomed by all the residents of the temporary housing units on this occasion. If we had visited the disaster-stricken sites on a personal basis as individuals, we could never have had this many people understand flower essences, or receive treatment and care like this. In the car on our way back, we talked about the things that had happened during the events, as well as the precious experiences we had that were totally different from what we had imagined beforehand. The first thing we talked about was that, after ending this event, we were not tired at all—far from it, we were healed, both physically and mentally, and felt tremendously good. We also discussed having been moved deeply which was something we had never experienced before. Read more here.
Kaori Nagata is physician of Chinese medicine, an aromatherapist, flower essence practitioner, chiropractor and psychotherapist affiliated with the organizations below. At present, Ms. Nagata actively works providing instruction and therapies to many people.
Representative, Naturopathy Laboratory Lecturer, INPA Naturopathy Academy, World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS), International Natural Therapy Association (INPA), NARD JAPAN, East Japan Ryojutsu Practitioner Association Tel: 03-6673-8769
P.O. Box 459, Nevada City, CA 95959
800-736-9222 (US & Canada)
tel: 530-265-9163 fax: 530-265-0584
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