Dr. Jaime Stover Schmitt has trained and worked in natural healing methods for over 40 years, though she never imagined she would call upon this experience to help heal her own daughter. In December of 2008, however, Jaime’s perfectly healthy daughter, Sarah, experienced her first grand-mal seizure and was later diagnosed with epilepsy. With a doctoral degree in Dance Movement Education from Temple University and decades of training in yoga and various holistic healing modalities including flower essence therapy, Jaime was determined to understand Sarah’s diagnosis from a natural perspective. With flower essence therapy as their roadmap, Jaime and Sarah set out on a journey of healing and deeper Self-understanding.
Just months before Sarah’s first seizure, Jaime and her husband had moved the family across the country from New Jersey to California so that their daughters could attend a Waldorf High School. This was a major transition for the family, though they all agreed it was the right decision. Upon their arrival, however, nothing was as they had expected. The house, rented through the internet, was in a relatively unsafe neighborhood with drug dealers living nearby. Their new home was also in a rural area, exposed to coyotes and other wildlife at night. Consequently, Sarah’s sleep became disturbed as the stress of such a huge transition weighed heavily on her delicate 12 year old body and spirit. Upon examination, Jaime came to believe that it was this move and the consequent series of traumatic and stressful circumstances which in fact triggered her daughter’s seizure disorder.
After the first grand-mal seizure, Sarah began to experience absence or petit-mal seizures. Sarah would appear to be “spacing out” while staring out the car window or at the blackboard, while actually experiencing incidents of unconsciousness where she was incapable of seeing or hearing anything. Sarah’s teachers began to notice her behavior and thought at first that she was just distracted. It was her math teacher who first suspected something more when he noticed that she would understand the first problem, ”disappear” during the second, and then, when asked a question on the third problem, would act confused about the lesson, unaware that she had missed a whole segment.
Sarah would appear to be “spacing out” while staring out the car window or at the blackboard, while actually experiencing incidents of unconsciousness where she was incapable of seeing or hearing anything.
Sarah once experienced an absence seizure in the middle of a volleyball match. It was her turn to serve and her teammates noticed that she was staggering or wandering around almost as if drunk. The seizure soon cleared and she returned to serve the ball as though nothing had happened. From Sarah’s perspective, no time had passed, though in reality she had missed a segment of time. Such is the nature of absence, or petit-mal seizures (see below for more information). After being diagnosed with epilepsy, Sarah learned to be careful around certain things such as stairs and campfires. Although she was a talented swimmer, Sarah was no longer able to swim competitively due to the danger posed by the possibility of an unexpected seizure.
Jaime was interested in what the medical establishment had to say about epilepsy, but wanted to look at things from a more holistic perspective. She had studied for many years with Dr. Rudolph Ballentine, author of Radical Healing, and a leader in the field of alternative medicine. Although Dr. Ballentine was no longer in public practice, he agreed to consult with Jaime and Sarah, and they began a program of treatment which included flower essences, cell salts, B vitamins, oil massage, dietary changes, and neurofeedback. Over the course of several years they used various flower essences, working with single essences until they were no longer effective.
Together Jaime and Dr. Ballentine, both of whom had significant experience with flower essences, formulated a treatment plan for Sarah. They began by discussing in detail the mother/daughter relationship, exploring soul issues, and pouring over the Flower Essence Repertory to find just the right essences for Sarah’s treatment. Dr. Ballentine noted that both Sarah and Jaime seemed to have difficulty incarnating into the physical world. At one point in their work together, Jaime told him, “I feel it took me 50 years to get here.” Sarah also struggled with feeling comfortable in her skin. She was born two months premature and spent 6 weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit where her family was unable to hold her. Jaime recalls that during this time Sarah seemed “very far away.”
Even while in junior high school, Sarah had retained many of these ‘absent’ qualities, so the treatment objective was initially to bring her back to “here.” It was a logical choice, then, to begin Sarah’s flower essence therapy with Rosemary. Jaime felt that Rosemary embodied the grounding qualities Sarah needed, the sense of coming down from the tower to be present in the now: whether in the kitchen chopping vegetables or getting her hands in the soil; Sarah needed to find her center in the day-to-day experience. After four months of working with Rosemary, Jaime noticed that Sarah was much more open, engaged socially, and connected.
Jaime’s next healing objective was to help create a protective membrane around Sarah. She had had a dream about Sarah wearing what looked like a bathing cap with giant antennae around her head, picking up everything; she was overwhelmed by too much sensory exposure. Sarah had always been highly sensitive, and Jaime and Dr. Ballentine decided that Yarrow would help to protect her from the high “noise” frequency, create a protective shield around her, and help her learn to develop healthy energetic boundaries. Jaime also had the sense that Yarrow, although it was protective, was not about shielding oneself from the world, but more about finding protection in connecting to one’s higher Self through faith and trust in God. The Yarrow was indeed very helpful; Jaime watched as her daughter’s soul began to re-inhabit her body.
The next flower essence that Jaime chose was Mountain Pennyroyal. Dr. Ballentine had noted that Sarah was very sensitive and open, and that both mother and daughter had a tendency toward an awareness of psychic phenomena, or clairvoyance. Oftentimes during family meditation sessions Sarah was drawn off into tangential meditations, or would continue in her practice much longer than the rest of the family. Sarah had an ability to feel and see in a far-reaching way, though she would consequently feel overwhelmed, and then the “storm” of seizures would roll in.
Jaime observed that the seizures were a way for Sarah to expunge or discharge negative or overwhelming energy and influences; “having the fits” was brought on by a need to “just get it out.” Mountain Pennyroyal helped Sarah to develop confidence in creating safe boundaries. She learned the importance of saying “I don’t need this,” and discovered that she could handle the inevitable stressors of life with ease without “having a fit.” The seizures calmed down after the course of treatment with Mountain Pennyroyal, and Sarah’s health continued to show signs of improvement.
As Sarah began high school, life became challenging again, especially socially, and she had another grand-mal seizure. At this point Jaime introduced Madia. Sarah had hung photos of all the flowers she had used in her room so she could connect with them. One day she looked at the Madia flower, pointed to it and said, “It’s so beautiful!” According to Jaime, Madia “hit the bull’s eye.” Beginning therapy with Madia was a turning point in their journey; Sarah really pulled together, beginning to feel safe and happy in her own skin. Madia helped Sarah to stay focused and centered, “like the petals all leading back to the center of the flower.” Madia has been the most significant flower essence in Sarah’s treatment course, and she is still taking it today.
Most recently, in addition to Madia, Sarah has also added Cosmos and Garlic flower essences to her regime. Cosmos essence is helpful for expression now that Sarah is in high school and there are many demands and opportunities for expression such as writing, dancing, school plays, etc. Garlic was added to help protect Sarah from any influences in the subtle and astral realms.Supporting the Healer with Gentian
In working with her daughter through this healing process, Jaime experienced a time of great personal growth as well. It was a difficult period in her life, with many additional challenges: two ill parents, a move across the country, and a job search for Jamie and her husband in a new hometown. Jaime realized that she needed to take the time to support herself during this transition. She felt drawn to using Gentian flower, as it reminded her of her own mother. She chose Gentian flower essence for encouragement, faith, endurance, and to help her to “not sweat the small stuff.”
“...Come out of the material world of western thinking and acknowledge and own the non-material world as something there to support us. We should avail ourselves of the resources beyond that wall of the physical world, there is powerful healing there.”
Over time Sarah has seen a significant reduction in the occurrence of seizures. At the time of this writing, Sarah has not had a grand-mal seizure in over a year, though she does experience brief episodes of absence. The flower remedies have helped Sarah to see herself more clearly. Sarah is learning that she can handle life; she is much more comfortable being in a body, and does not need to “run away.” Today Sarah has blossomed into a more developed person: while still maintaining her delicate, sensitive nature, she now has a clear understanding of what she will and will not tolerate. She has chosen an organic vegetarian diet for herself and understands that she needs adequate rest and minimal stimulation.
Jaime recalls that when Sarah was first diagnosed she asked the neurologist, “How long will I have this?” He told her, “Your whole life.” Jaime and Sarah are determined to prove him wrong. Jaime encourages others who are struggling with both chronic and acute health conditions to “come out of the material world of Western thinking and acknowledge and own the non-material world as something there to support us. We should avail ourselves of the resources beyond that wall of the physical world- there is powerful healing there.”
JAIME STOVER SCHMITT is the founding director of Spanda®:The Yoga of Movement, offering yoga, movement, and yoga-based therapy classes, private sessions, and teacher/practitioner trainings internationally. Dr. Schmitt publishes the Journal of Authentic Movement & Somatic Inquiry, and is the author of Every Woman’s Yoga (Prima/Random House), and the reprint Yoga for Pregnancy (Himalayan Institute.)
Dr. Schmitt was the Russell Conwell fellow at Temple University while earning her doctoral degree in education. She is certified in Laban Movement Analysis by the Laban Institute of Movement Studies, and is also certified as a Somatic Movement Educator, and an Infant Developmental Movement Educator, by the School for Body-Mind Centering®. Other hands-on training includes Swedish Massage, Shiatsu-Amma, Reiki, and Alexander Technique. Dr. Schmitt hosts Radical Healing groups, based on her close work with Rudolph Ballentine, M.D., Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Ph.D., and others, in which participants explore flower essences along with complementary natural healing and soul journeying methods.
RUDOLPH BALLENTINE M.D., is a pioneer of the holistic health movement. A graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine, with specialty training in psychiatry, Rudolph Ballentine, M.D., established the Center for Holistic Medicine in six cities. As its director for 25 years, he offered an integrative approach to treatment, using psychotherapy, homeopathy, Ayurveda, yoga, movement, and meditation. He also served as the president of the Himalayan Institute for 12 years and the director of its Combined Therapy Department for 18 years. Author of a number of books, including the classic Diet and Nutrition, he is now retired and lives in the Carolinas, where he practices and teaches permaculture and tantra. His integrative approach to holistic health and healing is presented in his book, Radical Healing.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition affecting nearly 3 million Americans. The condition is characterized by recurrent seizures and is also known as seizure disorder. Seizures are brief disturbances in the normal electrical functions of the brain that affect various mental and physical functions. They are caused by a surge of uncontrolled energy through the brain and may last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. A grand mal (or tonic-clonic) seizure is the most severe, lasting longer and characterized by a fall, rigidity, then jerks or convulsions, loss of consciousness, and shallow breathing. An absence or petit mal seizure produces a brief lapse in consciousness with a blank stare that may only last a few seconds. One in 10 people may experience a seizure in their lifetime, however, epilepsy is diagnosed only when a person has two or more unprovoked seizures. For more information, visit the Epilepsy Foundation.
P.O. Box 459, Nevada City, CA 95959
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