BACH FLOWER THERAPY
GENTLE MEDICINE FOR CRISES, BROKEN HEARTS, BAD HABITS, AND MORE
As a natural skeptic, I did not have high expectations when I first learned about Bach Flower Therapy about 15 years ago. How could soaking or boiling flowers in water, then diluting that solution to the point that it no longer contains anything but the energetic imprint of the flowers create medicines that bring about profound spiritual, emotional, mental, and/or physical changes? To my surprise, however, I have seen Bach Therapy be amazingly effective for a wide variety of conditions. Some cases in which I have used Bach Flower Therapy with success include:
- A child adapting to the stress and change associated with his parents’ divorce.
- A man dealing with the frustration of being stuck in a job that he hates but cannot quit for financial reasons.
- A woman dealing with a crisis of faith following a devastating personal loss.
- A college student undergoing intensive counseling related to her history of sexual abuse as a small child.
- A woman with such severe nightmares that she developed an intense fear of falling asleep.
- Many individuals dealing with every day stress that causes anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, and relationship challenges.
Bach Flower Therapy is an ideal adjunct to acupuncture and in my experience often brings about an even deeper level of healing than acupuncture does alone. The philosophy underlying Bach Flower Therapy is very compatible with the underlying philosophy of Chinese Medicine, namely that health is a state of dynamic balance in which all forces are present in moderation. According to both Bach and Traditional Chinese Medicine, virtues, when present in the extreme, often flip and become their opposite (as described in the example below about the balanced and distorted Agrimony state). This results in mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical suffering of individuals and those around them. The human body and soul possesses an amazing capacity to heal itself when it is assisted in the process of returning to equilibrium and in many cases the Bach Flower remedies are a huge asset in the process of re-establishing physiological and emotional homeostasis. In this state of mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical balance, individuals are freed to live up to their highest potential.
Bach Flower Therapy was developed over 70 years ago by the English physician Dr. Edward Bach. According to Mechthild Scheffer, an international authority on Bach Flower Therapy:
“Bach Flower Therapy helps us deal more constructively with the negative behavior patterns of human nature such as jealousy, impatience, inability to say ‘no’, timidity, and inappropriate guilt — patterns that are seen, by Bach as well as many others, as a deeper cause of physical illness. By better understanding and correcting the ‘mental errors’ underlying our negative behavior patterns, we can reconnect with our own true nature. With the help of Bach Flowers we regain access to our spiritual healing forces, which strengthen our immune system and support our overall health.”
The Bach Flower system consists of 38 remedies. Each remedy is prepared from a single type of flower or tree and is associated with a virtue or human soul quality. This quality can be observed either as a positive behavior pattern or, in its distorted or unhealthy form, as a negative behavior pattern.
For instance, the remedy prepared from the Agrimony flower is associated with the virtue of honesty. In its harmonious state, Agrimony is associated with the ability to express oneself with forthrightness and diplomacy, the ability to deal with confrontation in a constructive way, and the ability to face the inevitable downturns in life with equanimity and authentic optimism. In its negative or distorted state, Agrimony is associated with an intense desire to maintain harmony with others, often at the cost of one’s own identity or emotional and physical wellbeing. A person in a distorted Agrimony state typically hides their anger, frustration, or sadness behind a cheerful facade in an effort to avoid confrontation or disharmony with others. The modus operandi of the distorted Agrimony state is “grin and bear it”. At its extreme or over a long period of time, this repression of negative feelings often results in destructive habits such as alcoholism or drug addiction, as well as depression, loneliness, and hidden emotional anguish. When a person takes the Agrimony remedy, these distorted behavior patterns are gently corrected and the person gradually finds themselves empowered to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs; to engage in conflict when necessary; and be strong enough to face unpleasant situations head-on and without the compulsive need to “put on a brave face”.
The remaining 37 remedies function to harmonize other virtues and soul qualities, such as tolerance, wisdom, love for others, orderliness, responsibility, hope, generosity, patience, self-confidence, courage, and many others.
Practitioners of Bach Flower Therapy start the process of treatment by conducting an in-depth interview with the patient to identify particular areas of emotional or spiritual disharmony. According to Bach (as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine), illness is characterized by a constellation of different disharmonies. The goal of the practitioner is to tease apart the various negative behavior patterns in the patient and then formulate a combination of up to eight remedies to address an individual patient’s particular issues. This formula is prepared as a liquid tincture preserved with either alcohol or vegetable glycerine. The tincture can be taken in the form of either drops or sprays under the tongue several times a day.
One major strength of Bach Flower Therapy is that it is very gentle and is therefore appropriate for almost everyone, including infants, small children, the elderly, and individuals taking medications. Bach Flower Remedies work on a different level than pharmaceutical drugs and bring about stabilization of the psycho-energetic systems, so it often makes necessary drugs or medical procedures more effective and helps facilitate more rapid healing.
By assisting an individual in the process of transforming distorted/negative behavior patterns into healthy ones, Bach Flower Therapy frees that individual to live up to his or her soul’s fullest potential. In the words of Edward Bach himself:
“Has it ever occurred to you that God gave you an individuality? Yet he certainly did. He gave you a personality of your very own, a treasure to be kept to your very own self. He gave you a life to lead that you and only you should lead. He gave you work to do that you and only you can do. He placed you in this world, a divine being, a child of himself — to learn how to become perfect, to gain all knowledge possible, to grow gentle and kind, and to help others.”