T. M. D'illon
MERCEDES REYGADAS was born and raised in Mexico City.
She came to the United States in 1943 when she joined
the Society of Helpers, an international religious community.
She has served in California, Alaska, France and Mexico.
She presently resides in San Francisco, CA. Sister became
aquainted with the flower essences of Dr. Bach and of
Nevada City in 1995 through a Mexican sister of her community
who was familiar with their use among the poor. In San
Francisco she contacted Lisa Di Placido who guided her
through the first months of study. She has worked collaboratively
with Bernadette Heslin, a Sister of Mercy and psychotherapist.
ministry has involved working with youth, couples, families,
the sick, and in particular persons suffering from AIDS,
since 1983. She serves in the AIDS Dementia Unit at Kaiser
Hospital in San Francisco. "I deal with so many people
who tell me their stories, and I usually see the underlying
cause. Why are they fearful? Why are they angry? After
I identify the cause, I apply the formula that in the past
helped others who suffered in the same way. It's that simple."
BERNADETTE HESLIN is a Sister of Mercy with Masters
Degrees in Education and Clinical Psychology. For many
years Bernadette worked with multi-cultural populations
as a teacher and school administrator. Since 1982 she
has worked as a psychotherapist at McAuley Institute
and in private practice in San Francisco where she
became acquainted with flower essences through Sister Mercedes
Reygadas. Bernadette has taken advantage of the current
strong interest in complementary healing methods to
those who consult her to consider flower essences in
lieu of, or in addition to traditional psychiatric medicines.
training in psychology is basically psychodynamics, but
because of my interest in spirituality I tend to be much
more eclectic. I pull from many different disciplines when
working with people depending upon who I am working with.
I try to be as holistic in my approach to people as possible."
your professional point of view, Sister, how do you see
the role of flower essences in healing?
think the flower essences address the deeper, more spiritual
needs of people. Essences go below the level of day-to-day
conflicts and touch deeper emotional and spiritual
conflicts, which I believe need to be healed if people
are ever going to get well. The role of psychotherapy is
largely geared towards the importance of insights, and
I am somebody who values insight a great deal. But all
the insight in the world won't heal if we don't address
the underlying issues which have been there beforehand.
would be an example of a deeper, spiritual need?
for instance. I see many people today, especially young
people, with no spirituality in their lives. Their attitudes
are geared toward materialism. I read of young people today
with deep spiritual leanings but my own experience in San
Francisco has been that most people who come to psychotherapy
are in a lot of pain and have had no spiritual tradition
of any kind. It is a great lack in their lives.
you cite a specific case which illuminates this, and how
flower essences affected it?
young woman I have been working with for several years
is in healthcare. She has a history of sexual abuse, and
has struggled profoundly with depression and anger — not
only at her abuser, but with her parents as well, who were
unaware of the abuse. There has been no spiritual tradition
in her life. The parents are good, hard-working people
and their values in life revolve around hard work and responsibility,
but nothing more.
tends to be psychosomatic. She has been quite depressed
at times, even suicidal. She and her husband never wanted
to have children, their attitude being to live for yourself,
now and today. Over the last two years we used a number
of flower essence combinations to help her get to a place
where she could even think about the concept of forgiveness.
worked on her depression first, as it was almost an emergency.
The last nine months we concentrated on the concept of
forgiveness. A great freeing up has occurred inside her
as she has forgiven this abuser. She has more energy,
she feels better, and she told me on the phone yesterday
is pregnant and is very happy. It's an amazing story.
were some of the combinations you used?
began addressing her depression with Gentian. Then
some cleansing with Crab Apple, Pretty Face, Hibiscus
and Alpine Lily. After a time she began to have this
allergy, which I thought was a manifestation of her inner
I gave her Self Heal Cream with Mountain Pennyroyal, Yarrow
Special Formula and Angelica. Later I made her
another with Sticky Monkeyflower and Pink Monkeyflower.
To address her horror for sex, her feeling unclean, we
gave her White Trumpet (Easter) Lily, Mariposa Lily, Angelica and Glassy
Hyacinth. In the cream I added some Rue afterward,
and it really seemed to help. I think Angelica had
a lot to do with her own disposition and readiness to forgive.
Angelica and Holly.
She discovered once you forgive and let go, you are free
to address other aspects of your own self.
of the things I've learned as a psychotherapist is that
forgiveness, the need to be forgiven and the need to
forgive others, has incredible healing effects.
you have parallel cases you could share?
been working with another young woman whose case is similar — she
was not sexually abused, but she is also a young, bright,
good-looking woman working in the healthcare field. She
also has no spiritual tradition. She's married to a well-to-do
man from a wealthy family from back East. She borrowed
a lot of her self-esteem from the prestige of being married
to such a man of background and wealth.
after marriage, she found his prestige was really just
symbolic with very little substance to it. He actually
was "faking" his attitudes and sensibilities
to get along in the world of wealth. He was acting wealthy
outwardly while carrying an inner life of lies and half-truths.
This discovery shocked and devastated her.
In her family,
once one made a mistake, you punished them, cut them
off, condemned them, and never hear from them again. Hers
very rigid, upper-middle-class professional parents with
absolutely no subtlety about anything. When she began
to learn of some of the incredible fabrications in her husband's
life, we started her very quickly with the flower essences.
Her first inclination was to tell everyone about it and
divorce him. But it was such a premature decision to
I wanted her to wait for the dust to clear and not just
act out of impulse in the way she had been trained by
is a very honest and judgmental woman and she wanted to
see me. At the beginning she was very panicky. Five
Flower Formula helped. Then she went through other
transitions such as depression, inner weakness. We gave
her a combination of Gentian, Larch, Elm and Walnut. Later
she said she was "putting on fronts" and we added
the combination. She is a very fearful person who often
feels her safety at risk but she never had a chance to
talk about her fears and confront them. We gave her a combination
of Mimulus, Gentian, Star of Bethlehem and Angelica,
which helped her greatly. Later, when she saw her marriage
on the rocks and other personal issues, she, herself, chose
Yerba Santa, Love Lies Bleeding, Borage and Walnut.
With people who are not too spiritual I have a tendency
of putting in a drop of the Angelica, and I do that
with a lot of faith and have had great success.
she is dealing with the issues of fear and anger. She
mentioned that her anger comes from a fear of death, because
sees a lot of death where she works. For these issues
she chose Aspen, Crysthanthemum, Beech, Angel's Trumpet
She has made great progress.
see both her and her husband. They are still married, and
are communicating much more honestly and on a much higher
level than ever before. The essences have definitely helped
them confront and deal with their major issues. Deep issues.
I think they will end up having a very strong marriage.
They aren't out of the woods yet. But they are spending
quality time together, making good use of the spiritual
outlets available to them such as meditation and prayer.
this what you mean by applying a more eclectic or holistic
approach to psychodynamics?
who does strict psychodynamic work would never suggest
meditation, or centering exercises or flower essences.
you feel the flower essences provide a positive influence
on these treatments?
see it as a collaborative process. I don't give anyone
flower essences without first giving them the opportunity
to talk about their issues. I see them as an important
support that helps keep people on that deeper level, when
the pain of dealing with conflicts can cause a client to
run away, to deflect the conflict. I believe flower essences
helps to keep the client in that difficult spot long enough
to face it, deal with it, and heal it.
important thing to remember here is the people Bernie and
I see and treat have faith in the flower essences, and
that has a lot to do with it. They request them, they want
them, they report their progress...it's an important dimension.
These people DO want to be healed.
of them, I think, are surprised when they find the value
of the essences and spirituality. So many have been raised
with a completely materialistic philosophy.
I think they are surprised at the power of the flowers,
that such a simple and gentle remedy can have such a profound
impact on them. We have so much positive feedback and progress
reports from so many regarding so many different issues.
share with you a striking case. A nurse who had taken care
of my father while he was in the hospital came to see Mercedes
and me. She had a number of psychosomatic problems, and
they were running tests for neurological disorders. She
was having headaches. There was weakness and tingling in
her arms. She saw some of the very best doctors in San
Francisco. They told her there was nothing wrong with her,
neurologically speaking, and suggested she look at other
factors that could be causing the symptoms.
is a person who has had a lifetime of insecurities. She
was raised by very demanding and strict parents who insisted
all their children get first class educations. They did--but
all of their children also have deep insecurities and
emotional issues as adults.
of this RN's job is to be involved in frequent family
and staff conferences. She felt she couldn't speak at these
conferences because she was too stupid. She suffered
attacks when these opportunities arose. She got into
a pattern of taking the day off whenever confronted with
having to speak at a conference. She is nearing retirement,
and cannot take any extended leave of absence.
change in this woman was quite dramatic. We advised her
to take a glass of water with the Five Flower Formula in
it whenever she had to go to a patient, family or staff
conference. Also we gave her a combination of Golden
Yarrow, Chamomile, Mimulus and Sunflower. I
find Chamomile addresses the issue of anxiety in
the chest area very well. The doctors cannot believe the
change in her composure and confidence. She keeps Five
Flower Formula with her, but sometimes doesn't even
says her colleagues, whom she has worked with for years,
say to her "Wow, look what counseling has done for
you! It's a miracle!" I used to see her weekly, but
now only once a month. She is like a different person.
area where Bernadette has seen the flower essences help
is with Attention Deficit Disorder. A formula we have found
to be very successful is Cosmos, Peppermint, Rosemary,
Rabbitbrush, and Shasta Daisy, because many
of these patients are taking Ritalin or some other medication.
of the most successful cases using this formula is a woman
who has two graduate degrees. She is in her late 50's.
She had a reputation of being a "dingbat." Her
co-workers said she couldn't remember to take the mail
and her car keys when going to the Post Office. She was
too anxious to do math problems. She also had a very strange,
staccato style of speech that I first believed was a sign
of a neurological disorder. She was tested, and saw a psychiatrist.
She was diagnosed with a mild case of ADD, and put on Ritalin.
The Ritalin helped her.
told her about a flower essence formula that could help
with concentration and focus. and she agreed to try it.
This story is actually incredible. She stopped taking
the Ritalin, yet continued to receive its benefits. She came
in one day and showed me her hands and arms, explaining
all her life she had suffered from eczema, and now it
gone. The patient said it was only after taking the flower
essences that the eczema had disappeared. I think the
essences addressed the underlying anxiety that is common
that the same formula you mentioned before?
same one, the Cosmos, Peppermint, Rosemary, Rabbitbrush
and Shasta Daisy. This woman stopped taking the formula,
if the eczema would come back, and after a few days,
it did come back. But she renewed the formula and the eczema
her work performance?
much better. No more Post Office and car key jokes. She
says she can actually remember five things at the same
time, and people at work are amazed. They don't have to
cover up for her anymore.
have used this formula for a number of people. It really
works wonders. I have people asking me for it.
more details and information on Sister Mercedes Reygadas
and her healing work, see the articles on pp 7-9
of the Spring, 2000 Flower Essence Society Newsletter
(available to Flower Essence Society members). Also,
be sure to check this site periodically, as we will
be adding new cases from the Sisters in the future!