Bach to Basics
By Mark O’Sullivan
Nature’s guide to healing and happiness.
Self-empowerment is a key part of the natural medicine model. What can people do to empower themselves to ensure they can stay well and recover well? We know exercise, nutrition, adequate sleep/relaxation, good coping mechanisms and where necessary, the use of herbs, homeopathy or supplements, can all be invaluable tools for wellness. But what about flower essences such as the Bach Flower Remedies? These are not an evidence based tool but in the category of phenomenological. Mark O’Sullivan, homeopath and lecturer at the College of Naturopathic Medicine tells us why we should include them in our medicine bags.
Bach Flowers work by alleviating specific patterns of friction or stasis in the psyche. As such, their therapeutic action is twofold – in the first instance, flooding your field with the harmonious energetic pattern of an appropriately chosen flower brings relief and release from the corresponding negative inner dynamic. The flowers are entirely safe to take with no risk of aggravations or interactions with conventional medication. Stress can be reduced and states of mind alleviated while taking well-selected remedies.
For example, Larch is a remedy that deeply supports confidence – if stress is rooted in a person’s confidence flagging, perhaps in an examination setting or at work, then this may call for Larch to be added to the mix of Bach Flowers in their treatment bottle.
It is in the second action of the flowers, however, a deeper, more empowering, and longer lasting healing can take place via increased self-awareness. This only begins after you start working with the flowers and you receive some that hit the spot. The flowers that work for you are those that you need the most. Once you figure out what those flowers are, your knowledge of the remedy pattern as it overlaps with your own personal issues can bring great insight and in turn, leave you better equipped to deal consciously with that disharmonious pattern, even in the absence of remedies. You understand the pattern and your responses change in helpful, more conscious ways as a result.
Essence practitioners use phrases like “entrainment” or “scaffolding” to describe this process of outgrowing an issue with the assistance of an essence. Firstly the person experiences relief from the action of the appropriate flower essence. In the space left behind, after the lifting of the disharmonious pattern by the remedy, comes a new understanding of the issue itself. It is an opportunity to understand and choose new ways of responding rather than following entrenched patterns.
It is at this point that the action of the Bach Flowers can be reinforced by a self-reflective process, such as journaling, to integrate new insights and explore new approaches. An appropriate essence can serve as a catalyst to this process and support the building of new adaptive, positive responses to existing issues. The effects of the essences can be lasting when engaged with consciously.
For example, with the remedy Larch, mentioned earlier, imagine Karen who is in her mid-thirties and looks after her two kids at home. She had full-time employment a few years ago but took some time out to raise her sons. Now they’re at school and she’d like to do a course and develop her skills – she always had a knack for retailing and she has some ideas for a shop. But something stops her – “What if I can’t do that? What if I’m totally lost in the class and can’t keep up? Why would I want to open a shop in this economy?”
Her inner doubter holds her back but Larch can bolster a quiet confidence, which will dare Karen to give it a go. In doing so, Karen still notices the negative self-talk despite having taken positive action and gaining a new confidence in her abilities but Karen now regards these inner voices as vestiges of a pattern she’s now outgrown. One day, Karen forgets her Bach Flower treatment bottle going into the course but then finds that she’s doing just fine without it.
A good book on the Bach Flowers, such as Mechthild Scheffer’s ‘Bach Flower Therapy’, a few well-chosen flowers, plus a pen and journal, equips you to engage in an empowering and self-directed therapeutic process based on what your response to appropriate remedies reveals to you. The remedies offer a potential roadmap to your inner landscape.
Mark O’Sullivan BA(hons) ISHom
The College of Naturopathic Medicine trains natural medicine practitioners to international best practice standards. For a prospectus email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01-2353094. www.naturopathy.ie
The Bach flower essences are a wonderful help. I’ve used Oak when my inner strength was flagging and felt a gentle renewal of much needed stamina. During periods of stress Rescue Remedy does just that — it comes to the rescue gently and safely to relax me and restore balance.
I have been a patient and student of homeopathy for the past 25 years. I have heard about the Bach remedies, but have never tried them. After reading your very informative article, and the comment by Christine J, I will look into further.