Monday, November 20, 2017

Flower Essence Remedy Basics


One of my favorite ways to support well-being is with a different kind of herbal preparation, called Flower essence remedies or therapy.

Have you heard of or used Rescue Remedy? Then you've used flower essences!




My first experiences with flower remedies came in my early 20's. I was working in a stressful job at a nonprofit and taking all-around terrible care of myself. While visiting with one of the families that I worked with, the mother and I had a personal chat about how I was doing. She said, "Oh here, I have something that will be helpful for you!" She put a few drops of something in my tea and mentioned how she was being trained in flower remedies. I gratefully sipped the tea and promptly forgot about the experience.


Fast forward a little while later and I felt like Ruthie was struggling with attachment. She was raced away from me at birth to the NICU and I did not get to hold her at all...and there's a gut feeling that she's got some trauma to work out from this. I was in an herbal supply shop in Portland for something different but inquired about essences for children, and discovered that they custom blend flower essence remedies for a really great price. I sit down with the BIG book of remedies (Flower Essence Reperatory) and with the on-duty Naturopath's help, we craft a blend just for my little girl. I used the whole bottle, and I can't scientifically prove the results, but I do believe it helped deeply support Ruthie as she was struggling to process her birth. I wrote about about my experience creating her essence at Natural Parents Network.  Later, I discovered a wonderful little formulation by Flower Essence Services (FES) called KinderGarden and I usually keep a spray bottle on hand to mist on my kids or in their mouths.


Personally, I've been working through some hard things over the past few years and was given Star of Bethlehem essence by a friend. I recently decided to practice some further self-care and create my own flower remedy for myself. I did my research, headed to the herb shop, and gave them the list.



Flower Power! 


"All know that the same disease may have different effects on different people; it is the effects that need treatment, because they guide to the real cause." - Dr. Bach, the Twelve Healers (free download).

The concept behind flower essences is that every single living organism has an energy. Flower essences capture the imprint, or energetic pattern, of each flower through sun infusion or boiling, dilution, and preservation. These preparations are then used to treat emotional imbalances that manifest themselves into physical ailments and act as obstacles to our personal growth and our equilibrium as a whole being. 


Flower remedies don’t heal you, they allow your body to heal itself.
As mammals, we are easily affected by our life experiences. But because babies and children haven’t yet had the life experiences that shape their personalities or “soul patterns,” they respond incredibly well to flower essences.
Dr. Edward Bach discovered these distinct flower energies and their effects in the 1930’s and abandoned his practice and all other endeavors to seek out the answers to his questions about the power of flowers. Dr. Bach wrote extensively on the subject, focusing on 38 specific flowers. He understood the connection between our emotional state and our physical health, and developed 38 flower remedies to correspond to all types of emotional issues that manifested into physical afflictions and dis-ease.
Flower remedies are accessible to everyone and are not as complicated as systems like homeopathy, which I've had hit-or-miss experience with in choosing correct remedies and potencies. Essences also do not interact or interfere with other medications or treatments, and cause no side effects.

And, you don't need to invest in highly priced books or courses to get started with flower essences, either! You can get a free download of Dr. Bach's original publication the Twelve Healers and Other Remedies from the Bach Centre HERE and learn about what Dr. Bach taught. To purchase flower essences, you can visit your local natural foods or herb shop, or get them at several places online, including some Bach remedies listed on Amazon. 


Flower Essences are simple. 


Dr. Bach originally found 12 remedies, then added a number more until he reached 38 and declared his work complete. Those 38 remedies are divided into seven categories addressing different emotional states.

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Insufficient interest in current circumstances
  • Loneliness
  • For those over-sensitive to influences and ideas
  • Despondency or despair
  • For the over-care for welfare of others

Any of these states sound familiar? 

The most well-known flower essence formula is Rescue Remedy, Bach's original creation to promote calm and balance in states of high stress or emergencies. Definitely worth keeping in your medicine cabinet, and great for kids. 


Other flower essence pioneers have added to the repertory, particularly from Flower Essence Services (FES), but you can easily support yourself with just the original 12. You can read the full description of all 38 remedies in the free  Twelve Healers PDF, and to get a taste, here are some descriptions of the original twelve, directly from the Twelve Healers text: 



The Original Twelve

  1. Rock Rose
"In accident or sudden illness, or when the patient is frightened or terrified, or if the condition is serious enough to cause great fear to those around." 
  1. Mimulus
The fears of everyday life. These people quietly and secretly bear their dread, they do not freely speak of it to others. 
  1. Cerato
Those who have not sufficient confidence in themselves to make their own decisions. They constantly seek advice from others, and are often misguided. 
  1. Scleranthus
Those who suffer much from being unable to decide between two things, first one seeming right then the other.
They are usually quiet people, and bear their difficulty alone, as they are not inclined to discuss it with others. 
  1. Gentian
Those who are easily discouraged. They may be progressing well in illness or in the affairs of their daily life, but any small delay or hindrance to progress causes doubt and soon disheartens them. 
  1. Clematis
Quiet people, not really happy in their present circumstances, living more in the future than in the present; living in hopes of happier times, when their ideals may come true. In illness some make little or no effort to get well. 
  1. Water Violet
Very independent, capable and self-reliant. Almost free of the opinions of others. They are aloof, leave people alone and go their own way.  
  1. Impatiens
Those who are quick in thought and action and who wish all things to be done without hesitation or delay. When ill they are anxious for a hasty recovery. 
  1. Agrimony
Though generally they have troubles and are tormented and restless and worried in mind or in body, they hide their cares behind their humour and jesting and are considered very good friends to know. They often take alcohol or drugs in excess, to stimulate themselves and help themselves bear their trials with cheerfulness. 
  1. Centaury
Their good nature leads them to do more than their own share of work, and in so doing they may neglect their own particular mission in life. 
  1. Chicory
Those who are very mindful of the needs of others; they tend to be over-full of care for children, relatives, friends, always finding something that should be put right. They are continually correcting what they consider wrong, and enjoy doing so. 
  1. Vervain
Those with fixed principles and ideas, which they are confident are right, and which they very rarely change. They have a great wish to convert all around them to their own views of life. 

How to get started with flower essences


"First determine the personality and temperament – the fears, worries, emotional upsets and the subsequent effect in outlook and attitude. More than one remedy can be taken at one time, but it should not be difficult to limit your choice to within six or seven." - Dr. Bach 

First, download Bach's Twelve Healers or visit the Bach Centre for detailed information about the full 38 flower essences. Bach noted that combining all 38 remedies into one wasn't effective - as tempting as it may be. Limit your choice to six or seven. 


Find Bach remedies to purchase. 


Dosages: 

Take two drops from each chosen stock remedy in a cup of water or other beverage and sip frequently. Replenish cup to continue treatment if need be.

To stretch your remedies for a more cost effective method, and for giving to children, put the drops in a 1 oz. glass bottle with a dropper and fill up with natural spring water. Take four drops on the tongue directly from the bottle. Take as often as needed but at least four times a day, and especially first thing in the morning and before you go to bed. Hold the dose for a moment in the mouth before swallowing to gain the full effect (this also applies when sipped from a cup).


Treatment bottles will keep for about three weeks if stored in a cool place, or in a fridge if weather is too warm. You can also add a spoonful of brandy or cider vinegar to the preparation to act as a preservative. 

Most remedies sold are preserved in brandy, so they should be diluted if possible to reduce the alcohol intake. If this isn’t possible then drops can be taken direct from the stock bottle. 


Any of the remedies can be given externally by moistening the lips, behind the ears and on the wrists, or placed in a spray bottle diluted with spring water and dash of cider vinegar or brandy.

That's enough to get you started! I'd love to hear about your Flower Essence experiences.  



"And may we ever have joy and gratitude in our hearts that the Great Creator of all things, in His Love for us, has placed the herbs in the fields for our healing."  - Dr. Bach


Further learning: 


For further study, you can learn more about North American flower remedies at the FES website. 

Flower Essence Society 
Bach Centre
The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy 
Flower Essence Repertory



Please Note: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Individuals suffering from clinical depression or other mental health issues should contact a licensed mental health professional for treatment. While flower essences will not interfere with other health programs, they do not replace professional medical care if that is appropriate.







Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My 10 Favorite Pregnancy & Birth Books



For the last year I've been teaching Prenatal yoga here in in Portland. I see beautiful, glowing women come in to the studio every Sunday afternoon and I love spending an hour leading them through a gentle, supportive class. So even though I'm not pregnant, my mind returns to my experiences and also sits with the experiences that my students' are having on a daily basis as I prepare sequences for classes and just think about what my mamas might need. For some, it's their very first time. For others, they've been through it before, although every pregnancy and birth stands alone. I'm putting together some resources for them and thought I'd share what I come up with here, too.

Reading about pregnancy and birth is so fascinating, but sometimes its hard to know where to start. The books I've listed below hopefully cater to a variety of personalities, so you'll find something you like, or a tone or perspective that suits you. Pregnancy and birth is a very sensitive time in a woman's life and it doesn't help to hear condescending or doom-and-gloom voices coming off of the page...but everyone's tastes are different. Explore this list, maybe stop in at the library before committing to a purchase, and see what you like. It was hard to narrow this list down to ten. Two of them are journals, so technically it's eight...but ten is a nice round number and I wish I'd have thought to find a very pretty journal to write in! This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have a book you'd put on this list, let me know in the comments!

(All links will take you to the book's Amazon page, and are affiliate links.)

Pregnancy & Childbirth

The Mama Natural Week-By-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Holland

Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Deepak Chopra, David Simons, and Vicki Abrams.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy & Birth by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Patty Simkin

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon

Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond by Nancy Bardacke

Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood by Erica Chidi Cohen

Journals

Expecting You: A Keepsake Journal Pregnancy by Amelia Riedler

Bump For Joy: Guided Pregnancy Journal by Studio Oh! 



Watch for my favorite postpartum book list coming soon! 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Simple Autumn Family Rhythm Ideas




So far, we've been delightfully in tune with Autumn this year. I love this time of year in the Pacific Northwest. The weather is usually balmy, sunny days with a few chunks of gloomy rain here and there, but the sun comes out again before the moods start to drop too dramatically.

Having seasonal family traditions or rhythms has always been of interest to me but deciding on them and following through has not been a strength of mine. So whenever we intentionally try or complete a seasonal activity it feels like a huge win! I also know that our rhythms will change as we move through different ages and stages. That's also why I like the word "rhythm" over "tradition," because it gives a lot of space for change and ease.

For now, with three small kids, these are my favorite five fall rhythms that don't take a million supplies and the whole family can participate in together. They are SO SIMPLE  yet leave us with warm fuzzy memories of time together.

1) Leaf Walk + Beeswax Leaf Dipping Garland

My neighbor invited us to do this with her and now it's a little tradition. It's very simple and easy for the kids to help. Simply collect medium-sized and varied shapes of beautiful leaves. Buy beeswax at the store or Amazon and melt it in an old or thrifted saucepan that you're happy to "donate" to the yearly beeswax-melting activity. Once the wax completely melts, dip the leaves in and let them dry on waxed paper. String baker's twine or ribbon through the leaves and you have a lovely festive garland! Invite friends or family to join and have snacks and hot cocoa afterwards.



2) Family Pumpkin Patch Day

This one is trickier than it sounds up here in the Portland metro area. Pumpkin patches are big business and incredibly popular with us outdoor-romantics, and there are several scattered around the area that are huge operations. Visits to those places tend to lend an air of frantic anxiousness to me and then subsequently to the kids, so this year we were on the hunt for a smaller place with less "attractions" and just pumpkins, and maybe a wagon ride. We luckily found a place outside of town that was not crowded at all, and had the most gorgeous Clydesdale horses pulling a wagon, plus pony rides and a slide/playground area. We kept looking around wondering when the throngs of people were going to pile into the parking lot but they never did. Best pumpkin patch year EVER.



3) Attend a Fall festival or carnival

We have two Fall Festivals we attend - one at our church community and one at the girls' school. They get to do the fun carnival activities like fishing, cornhole, photo booth, and facepainting, all with people they know. Both our church and school are very small and so the community feel is strong and feels safe and not overwhelming. This is definitely a tradition the girls are loving.



4) Check out Autumn-themed books at the library

I love incorporating seasonal books into our reading! Try these we've enjoyed:






5) Begin lighting a candle at dinner.

This is my favorite, and it normally carries into winter, too. As darkness begins to fall earlier, it's so cozy to light a candle at dinnertime. The older kids can take turns lighting each evening. We are sensitive to scents and I don't like the smell of burning paraffin so we use pure beeswax tealights. Because our table is small and I'm not quite confident in a tall taper candle not getting knocked over, we burn a tealight in a himalayan salt tealight holder. It has a lovely orange glow and paired with the subtle scent of the natural beeswax, it feels very Fall!

6) Family Leaf Walks

When the weather is good we spend as much time outside as possible, because when the rain comes, we're indoors for what feels like months. A before-dinner walk, extra time at the school playground, or weekend outdoor adventures get us fresh air and we also get to watch the trees change, leaves fall, and the air grow more crisp! The girls gather leaves, pinecones, and other nature items. Plus the lingering smell of wood fireplaces begins in the evenings and it feels so cozy.

That's it! So simple, right?

What are your favorite autumn rhythms/traditions? 
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