Saturday, 31 May 2008

Relieved

I got a call last night regarding the job. There were two candidates for this secondment and neither one of us got it. Both of us required too much training to get us up to speed for a post of only 6-12 months, so they are going to have to either offer it internally again and hope for a job share from more experienced staff, or open it up to the public and advertise for it, which is expensive and a bother. I do feel sorry for the SLS manager; she is trying to do the work of three posts on her own in only 3 days a week! (She was job sharing the post of manager, but her colleague is retiring!)

I got some really encouraging feedback. She told me that two points held me back: my lack of knowledge of children's literature and the primary curriculum, and my lack of knowledge of the kinds of partnerships available to Schools Library Services. She acknowledged that with my secondary school teaching background and work in adult stock in the library, I have had no way of really gaining that knowledge. She said that she can see me in the role of SLS adviser, if I had the sufficient background knowledge, and strongly encouraged me to go for a lateral post that is coming up in Schools Library Service in July. A Senior Library Assistant is going on 12-month maternity leave, and she says it would be the perfect opportunity for me to work in SLS and gain the stock and procedural knowledge needed. She says that with those skills in place, when the time comes to hire the SLS Adviser as a permanent role, I would be very a strong candidate for it. That time might come any time during 2009, or even 2010. She also suggested that I might consider becoming a school librarian, and mentioned that there will be some school librarian posts coming up. (Personally, I would rather work at SLS as an SLA than be a school librarian.)

All in all, I feel very positive, and the SLS manager was extremely supportive of me. She said I really came into my own when talking about reader development, but she could tell I found information literacy a dry topic, and she admitted that it is a dry topic!

I am relieved because now the pressure is off me to have my licence by a certain date, but there is a prospect of getting a job much like the one I really wanted anyway--SLA in Warwick, so I can commute with DH to work. And in SLS, you don't have to deal with members of the public.

Nice one!

May all beings be at ease.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Review: Kundalini Yoga for Empowering Women


I've been thinking about buying this workout for a few years, and finally took the plunge when the price came down from £17.99 to £9.99. The DVD arrived yesterday, and I spent some time previewing it. I have to admit, I instantly started thinking about offering it for trade. The set is dark, the participants all look rumpled and exhausted. Nobody looks like they're having fun; so solemn. Carolyn Cowan, the teacher, is stony-faced and imposing in her white robes, complete with headdress and veil. Nobody seems to smile in this DVD. Nobody offers pithy rhyming aphorisms. The music isn't funky or hip. The teacher keeps talking about childbirth and breastfeeding. (I get the feeling she's into the earth mother thing.) It's all very serious. To be honest, my heart really sank when I watched it.

Then today after work, I did the kriya. Since most of the practice is done with the eyes closed, it didn't matter that the set is dark, the participants less than perfect or that Carolyn Cowan rarely smiles. Her voice is quiet and calm. The music, while not on par with Ravi & Ana, Mantra Girl, or Maya Fiennes in the fun factor, seems in keeping with the practice. Here's the kriya:

Standing forward bends, 2 minutes
Sufi grinds, 90 seconds each way
Seated forward bend, held for 2 minutes, last minute breath of fire
Rock pose with hands behind head in venus lock, breath of fire, 2 minutes
Easy reverse boat pose, normal breathing, 2 minutes
Stretch pose, BOF, 2 minutes
Bicycle legs in time with breath, 2 minutes (absolutely killer!)
Double leg raises, long deep breathing, 2 minutes
Cobra pose with feet pointed at back of head, 2 minutes
Extended locust pose, BOF, 2 minutes (couldn't do this, had to keep putting arms down, left and right)
Full reverse boat pose, 2 minutes with BOF
Spinal rolls, 2 minutes
Side to side bends, 2 minutes
Swinging arms out left and right, 2 minutes
Standing forward bends again, 2 minutes
Repeat 2 minutes of bicycle legs (this nearly killed me, couldn't keep up!)
Alternating single leg lifts, 2 minutes
Sat kriya, 2 minutes
Boat pose, 2 minutes with BOF (this one was virtually impossible for me, a real struggle to even approximate the pose)

Between most of these sets, you are allowed a brief rest in baby pose or corpse pose.

After the kriya, you lie in corpse pose for 11 full minutes while listening to a version of 'Guru guru wahey guru, guru ram das guru'.

There are 3 meditations on the DVD and I chose 'Aad guray nameh.' It goes for 11 full minutes, with accompanying arm movements. I loved doing this.

When I finished this kriya, I felt radiant! I really, really enjoyed doing it, even though I had trouble holding some of those moves for the full two minutes. I think that I am going to be sore tomorrow for sure.

Word of warning: Because everything is done for the exact amount of time as taught by Yogi Bhajan, it is a LONG practice. It took me about 2 hours, and there are no express options. Still, it would be great for those long, lovely days when there's no one home but you. This practice followed by a long hot soak in a fragrant bubble bath---ahhhh!

Recommended. :)

May all beings be at ease.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

A ha!

Something suddenly occurred to me last night. I have accomplished every single thing I have set out to do since I got to this country. I got a teaching job, I got QTS, I got out of the classroom, I got ACLIP. I got my UK citizenship. And yet at the outset of each of these accomplishments, I felt just as worried and anxious as I do now at the outset of this one. For some of them, the path was a trail of tears, for others a matter of getting it done. But in all cases, I have accomplished what I set out to do.

Now what's to make me think I can't get my driving licence by October? I can and I will.

The key to getting through these trials has been for me to remember present moment living. I must keep my head out of the past and the future and in the present moment. As the moments pass, I get closer to my goal, but by keeping myself in the present, I avoid worrying too much about it all. So...

When I'm at work I'm at work, and know I am working. When I'm typing, I type, and know I am typing. When I'm eating, I eat, and know I am eating. And when I'm driving, I drive, and know I am driving. And in the midst of each moment, I breathe, and know I am breathing. The breath is the key. I will breathe through each moment and will get my driving licence.

[Oh, by the way, I am still on day one of my Complaint-Free challenge! I haven't had a complaint-free day yet...but I did have a day where I switched the bracelet only 2 or 3 times, so that is an improvement!]

May all beings be at ease.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Nothing left now but the waitin'


The interview was today and I think it went very well. There's only one worry now. If they offer it to me, they will expect me to have my driving licence by October 'at the latest'. I am not entirely confident that I will have it by then, but I have been thinking about it and have the vague outlines of a plan.

If they don't offer me the job, I will continue as I am, taking lessons at a reluctant pace and working on my ECDL.

If they do offer me the job, I have already contacted Learn Direct to ask about going on a hiatus until November and I can sign an agreement to do that. So I will freeze ECDL where it is and get in contact with DH's old driving instructor to line up two lessons a week for the foreseeable future. I will also go out driving every day with DH for practice. In addition, as soon as I've had my first lesson with DH's instructor, I will book my theory test and study for it in earnest. I will have roughly 20 weeks to get it done; that would be 40 lessons plus with daily practice, about 100 hours practice time. Surely that will be enough to get me to test-passing level. In any event, if I am offered the job I have no choice. I have to do it.

I'm not nervous about being able to do the job. I know I can do it! It's just the driving licence that is freaking me out. I'm going to have a good think about the proper flower essence treatment for my anxiety through this process, and also continue with my daily sitting meditation.

Speaking of meditation, I've been using Mantra Girl's 'Truth' CD lately. My favourite mantra lately has been 'Ek Ong Kar'. It goes like this:

EK ONG KAR SAT NAM SIRI WAHEY GURU


I have found a good explanation of the mantra here: Ek Ong Kar Meditation. And Mantra Girl (her real name is Erin Kamler) does sing it just as described. The mantra repeats for about 8 minutes, and it is wonderful to do in the morning. I follow that with a few minutes silent meditation following the breath. Lovely stuff!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Song of the Soul


I am neither ego nor reason, I am neither mind nor thought,
I cannot be heard nor cast into words, nor by smell nor sight ever caught:
In light and wind I am not found, nor yet in earth and sky -
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have moulded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:
I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution -
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.

I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed;
No touch of pride caressed me, so envy never did breed:
Beyond all faiths, past reach of wealth, past freedom, past desire,
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is my attire.

Virtue and vice, or pleasure and pain are not my heritage,
Nor sacred texts, nor offerings, nor prayer, nor pilgrimage:
I am neither food, nor eating, nor yet the eater am I -
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no misgiving of death, no chasms of race divide me,
No parent ever called me child, no bond of birth ever tied me:
I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend -
Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.

Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,
I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:
Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free nor bound -
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is where I'm found.


~~from Atma Satkam, Sankaracharya,
rendered into English by BKS Iyengar, 'The Illustrated Light on Yoga'

Friday, 23 May 2008

Oh boy

I have a job interview next Wednesday! I only just handed in my application on Tuesday of this week, got invited to interview yesterday! I guess internal appointments are different. This is a secondment. If successful, I would be a Schools Library Service Adviser. In essence, I would provide support, advice and training to schools to help them improve their school library and their students' information literacy. The secondment will be 6-12 months as Schools Library Service undergoes restructuring. What would happen after that I don't know, but this would be my first actual librarian post (rather than admin staff) and it would give me the opportunity to charter, so that in future I would have more of a chance of securing posts that require a qualified librarian. I don't have any librarianship qualifications, but there are lots of people working as librarians who don't actually hold a degree in librarianship, and hopefully I am going to become one of them.

I have to prepare a presentation of no more than 10 minutes on this topic:

"The synergies of Schools Library Service and Public Libraries in developing information literacy across the curriculum."


To all my librarian friends, if you know of any online sources that might be helpful in working on this, please tell me now!

(Flower remedy practitioners, advice on mixtures for the event also greatly appreciated).

And please wish me luck.

May all beings be at ease.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Beech



An interesting afternoon. Working the flower remedies has helped me get to the root of my intense emotional reaction to driving lessons. I had a lesson today and when I got home I just had a big old cry. (You might remember that I took 3 lessons back in January and quit because I didn't like the instructor. I now realise it was most likely not his fault at all!) I decided to try to peel back the layers of this episode and see what I found. Panic and fear on the surface. Dread. Feeling criticised. Feeling like a failure. Feeling like the country is being unfair to me, feeling weary of always being the foreigner. Resentment and indignation that what I can do so easily back home in America is so difficult for me here. Embarrassment. Humiliation. That was it--humiliation and shame. Indignation.

Well, there aren't any flower remedies for humiliation and indignation. What could be causing it. After some thought I realised--intolerance. All this emotion, panic and dread comes from the wanting to avoid humiliation, and the humiliation comes from my intolerance of the way things are done over here. It's all different, and yes, different to the point that I'm for the most part having to relearn how to drive. As someone who has had a license for 24 years, it's humbling and embarrassing to be a beginner. I realised that it's easier for me to blame the instructors for jabbering on at me, blame the country for having such rigorous drivers training, and even blame myself for leaving America where everything's 'normal' than to accept the way things are here. I need Beech to overcome my intolerance for this aspect of my new culture. I need to accept that I am a learner driver here, that's that.

The thing is, nothing really went wrong today. I drove around for an hour, stalled the car twice, and didn't understand a lot of what the instructor was saying to me because she was using British driving jargon which confused me. (We talked about it later and realise we are going to have to get some terms straight before we set off next time!) But I still came away from it feeling like a failure because I didn't drive like the old pro I am at home. I drove like what I am here, a beginner.

Before the flower remedies, I would have cried and felt forlorn, but would never have sat and peeled back the layers of the emotion to get to the heart of it. I would still be harbouring resentment and blaming the world. Now I can see more clearly how the answer lies with me.

Hooray for Bach flower remedies!

May all beings be at ease.

A New Earth, Part 2, and A Complaint Free World



I am on Chapter 8 of 'A New Earth'. Here are some quotations from Eckhart Tolle's book that struck a chord in me:
"Nobody is wrong. It is the ego in somebody, that is all. Compassion arises when you recognise that all are suffering from the same sickness of the mind, some more acutely than others."

"All you need to know and observe in yourself is this: whenever you feel superior or inferior to anyone, that's the ego in you."

"Whenever there is negativity in you, if you can be aware at that moment that there is something in you that takes pleasure in it or believes it has a useful purpose, you are becoming aware of the ego directly. The moment this happens, your identity has shifted from ego to awareness; the ego is shrinking and awareness is growing. If in the midst of negativity you are able to realise 'At this moment I am creating suffering for myself' it will be enough to raise you above the limitations of conditioned egoic states and reactions."


And three personal favourites:
"There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realisation is true forgiveness."

"Nothing that you can find out about yourself is you. Nothing that you can know about yourself is you."

"Only if you resist what happens are you at the mercy of what happens, and the world will determine your happiness and unhappiness."


I do intend to finish the book, but I don't think I need post again about it. I can make my final pronouncement about it right now. There is nothing new in this book, and other people have said what Tolle tries to get across, only much more beautifully. However, I would agree with Oprah that out of the many books like this that I've read, Tolle's is the most simply explained. If you've never been exposed to any of these concepts of consciousness and the ego, this is very clear. It's good, in a way, that there's nothing new here. If Tolle claims to have found the way to happiness, and it's the same as the sages have been saying for centuries, that must mean we're all heading in the right direction. As he says in the Chapter One webcast on Oprah's website, if you go deeper into all religions, you will find yourself at this same place.

I'm still not sure what Tolle is getting at with the pain-body stuff. I hope it's just an imperfect metaphor he's constructed to help him teach about emotion. I look forward to watching the webcast about that chapter to see if I can get any more detail about his ideas.

Overall, the book is worth a look, but I don't think it is one of the most important books ever written, or that Tolle is one of the foremost thinkers of the century or any of that other folderol I've heard Oprah spout about him. Get it from your library if you're curious.


I have been on the waiting list for 'A Complaint Free World' for months, but our library finally ordered it and I started reading it yesterday at lunchtime. This is another American thing that most of my American readers are probably more familiar with than we are over here in the UK. A pastor in Kansas City, Will Bowen, decided to challenge himself and his congregation to try to go 21 days without complaining or gossiping, and because he was in the habit of giving out 'doo-dads' as object lessons, he ordered some purple silicon bracelets to give out on the day of the sermon. The idea was to wear the bracelet all the time, and when you catch yourself complaining, you stop and move the bracelet to the other arm. You have completed the challenge when you have gone 21 days without moving the bracelet. He first did this back in 2006, and says that the average time it takes to achieve this goal is 5-7 months. I am sure most of the words that I speak are complaints in some form or another, whether it's disguised as an observation about something like politics and government, a wise crack, or general kvetching. I can't just say 'We need to tidy the living room', I always have to put some negative gusto behind it, 'This place is a dump! I can't believe we let it get to this state. I am so sick of sweeping up.'
This sort of talk is habitual, and serves only to make me feel bad all the time and make others feel bad, too. You don't even realise you're doing it. So 'A Complaint Free World' seemed like a good thing to try, because it would be a way of flagging up to me how I'm framing my thoughts and giving them voice.

You can request a free purple silicon bracelet from A Complaint Free World, but I went out on my lunch hour and bought an elasticated bead bracelet from Claire's Accessories instead. To me, the purple silicon bracelet draws attention and would cause people to ask you what you're doing or what it means, then you'd have to explain...that just seems like asking for attention for your good efforts; could lead to smugness, etc. I didn't feel comfortable with that. But no one will notice a regular bracelet, and if they see me moving it from one wrist to the other, they'll just think it's a nervous tic or something. My programme of self-improvement is for me, and any notice they take of it should be that I'm nicer to be around, not that I have a bright-coloured, faddish purple bracelet. (I did try to find a purple bead bracelet to keep the spirit of the project, but settled for a smoky gray one. It has some faceted beads in and has 3 strands, and I don't think anyone will take any particular notice of it.)

Well, I put this bracelet on at 12.30, and by 1.45 I had switched it 7 times. And that was while I was working the frontline! I stopped counting after that, but I moved it several more times and a few more times after I got home. I got up this morning and put on the bracelet, saw something on TV about wages vs the rising inflation rate, opened my mouth and had to move the bracelet again, and that was at 6.30 in the morning! The rule is, you have to move the bracelet if you speak. If you catch yourself having a complaining thought, you don't have to move the bracelet, but as you learn not to speak it, you will tend to think it less. That's the theory.

Now when I say I'm going to try not to complain, that doesn't mean that I'm going to avoid standing up for myself. I have a formal complaint lodged right now with the NHS for my local hospital taking 14 weeks to get me an appointment to see a consultant. What I'm talking about is a constant stream of negative remarks that serve no purpose other than to keep me in a general state of negativity and make me a pain in the butt to be around. If no one notices a difference in me, so what. If I feel better within myself, that's the important thing--and maybe my skin will clear up! :)

This book is a quick read. I will finish it today as it's my day off and I have no intention of going into town because I've spent enough money lately and every trip into town ends up costing me at least £20. (It's a mystery why stopping for a loaf of bread ends up in a shopping spree to feed the Waltons.)

I think the idea to try to go without useless negativity is a wonderful one. It's day one for me again today, because every time you move the bracelet you have to start over. If anyone wants to join me, feel free! Get yourself a bracelet or some other token and check in here with me, and if you have a blog, leave us a link, please!

Oh, I have my first lesson with a new driving instructor today at 3.15. Full report later!

May all beings be at ease.

Monday, 19 May 2008

A New Earth, Part 1


I am half finished reading Eckhart Tolle's 'A New Earth'. Now, I don't watch Oprah and I don't live in America, so I'm not really privy to all the hooplah surrounding this book. I'm reading it because my online pal, Anna, recommended it and from her descriptions, it sounded really good.

I started reading this book several weeks ago, but took a break from it to read 'A Thousand Splendid Suns', then became further distracted by my flower essence reading. I picked it and started reading in earnest yesterday, and amazingly I am half way through it. This includes taking time out to copy striking quotations into the back of my new flower remedy journal. So far I would have to say I agree with most of what he says about the ego. His writing is like 'Buddhism lite', with a bit New Age stuff thrown in for spice.

The only thing so far that I've not really agreed with (or possibly haven't grasped) is this whole 'pain-body' theory of his. Maybe it's because I find the very term 'pain-body' quite distasteful. And his description of the pain-body is eerie and disturbing. This alien, almost demon-like force indwelling you and feeding off negativity, like that blobby monster in 'Ghostbusters II'! Tolle says, 'The pain-body is a semiautonomous energy-form that lives within most human beings, an entity made up entirely of emotion. It has its own primitive intelligence, not unlike a cunning animal, and its intelligence is directed primarily at survival.' Its food is negative emotion, according to Tolle. It wants to gorge on bad feelings. I don't accept this concept at all. I also don't accept the notion of a collective pain-body amongst females, nations and races. I believe there is only one source of suffering in the world-- not realising that we are all part of everything else, that we are all made of the same stuff, and any separation we see or feel is illusion. Tolle expresses this rather well in his initial chapters on the ego, but he loses me with the pain-body.

I still have 5 chapters to go, so we'll see what I think of him when I've finished!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

New bottle


I finished my 1st treatment bottle this morning. I poured it into a glass of water and finished it off. It was only half full, and I was afraid it was going stale as I used tap water in it.

1st TREATMENT BOTTLE 8th-15th May
Since taking the remedies, I feel I have been on a more even keel. I have felt more positive about my life overall, and haven't blurted out, even in jest, my usual sayings such as 'What is the point of my life!' or 'I feel like everything is so stupid and useless' [mustard]. I have not found myself sinking into my usual pattern of overthinking [white chestnut]. I have felt anxious about known fears (in this case, driving and applying for a new job), but those fears have not served to tip me into the groove of overthinking and guilt about certain topics that always come up when I'm feeling a negative emotion. This is major. I haven't been able to go a single day without melting down about certain topics for quite some time; to go a week without a meltdown is big. I have not allowed my emotions to overwhelm me and send me on a two-hour crying jag [cherry plum]. There was one instance where I caught myself about to start, but I went and sat for a few minutes then had 2 drops of neat cherry plum. Nothing further happened. I also haven't ranted about being past help [gorse], although I did struggle at times with feelings of guilt.

Another positive is that my TOM came with barely a ripple. Usually PMT just helps to bring on emotional trauma, but this time, it actually snuck up on me.

2nd TREATMENT BOTTLE 15th May-?
So I mixed my 2nd treatment bottle today. It consists of:

Cherry plum--My habit of surrendering myself to storms of emotion requires constant treatment, at this point.

Hornbeam--I've added this to give me the ooomph to go ahead with my job application and driving lessons, two things that I've been dreading and that have caused me stress.

Larch--This is to give me confidence in my skills, both for the application and the driving lessons.

White chestnut--My pattern of overthinking is too habitual to not take this remedy regularly.

Vervain--I've included this remedy to keep my enthusiasm in check. I get obsessed with things, whether it's flower remedies, yoga or any other interest, and immerse myself in them to the point of evangelical zeal, but my plans and expectations become too elaborate and I end up feeling that I've let myself down, that I'm not good enough. The vervain is to balance my interests and duties and not set myself up for feelings of failure.

For this bottle, I used boiled water, quite a bit more brandy than called for (about a Tbs total) and then filled the bottle only 3/4 full instead of topping it up.

May all beings be at ease.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Book Review : Bloom


Bloom: Using Flower Essences for Personal Development and Spiritual Growth by Stefan Ball

I finished reading this book over the weekend, and having read and/or examined over half a dozen flower essence books, I believe this one is going to be my flower essence bible. It is an excellent resource because it gives a thorough explanation of each of the 38 remedies, using language and examples that make sense to the contemporary mind and experience. (Dr. Edward Bach's original descriptions, written in the 1930s, are beginning to sound quite antiquated, and many subsequent resources are similar in style and tone). In addition to the wonderfully useful explanations of the remedies, the author provides information and his personal thoughts on achieving balance in life, emotional evolution, how the Bach flower remedies fit in with any belief system, finding insight in the 'peaks and paradigms' of life, why the Bach remedies are a stand-alone system and why it is unnecessary and counter-productive to try to combine it with other systems (such as which flowers for which chakras, or using drops on acupuncture points).

One of the most useful chapters for me is 'Toward Intuition', which explains why Dr. Bach's remedies should be used in their simplest and most straightforward context, as originally taught by Dr. Bach. The most important aspect of using flower remedies is identifying your emotions clearly; this must be done either on your own or with the assistance of a practitioner in order for the remedies to help you grow. Selecting them 'intuitively' (for example, by drawing from a deck of cards, 'dowsing' for them with a crystal on a string, or even closing your eyes and grabbing a bottle, all of which are 'methods' prescribed by some flower essence users and 'holistic therapists'!) won't help you, because you won't be getting to the heart of the matter . The flower remedies work by helping you identify out of balance emotions and easing you back into a gentle balance. If you don't know what you're doing or why, you're never going to find your way out. That makes perfect sense to me. I have adopted these remedies, not because I put a lot of credence into vibrational medicine, but because it seems to me that moving from the heat of the moment to identifying the flower that matches it is serving as that ever elusive 'golden moment' I have searched for so long, that instance where I can decide how I'm going to respond. It pauses me long enough to see what's happening, giving me the chance to change direction. For example, the other day I was walking along absorbed in thoughts of my parents. I hadn't been able to reach them by phone for a few days. My thoughts began to whirl. What if something was wrong? What if something had happened? Surely someone would have called me. What if something happened to both of them and no one knows about it yet? Then the guilt started to creep in. Why am I so far away? Why have I moved off from my family, shouldn't I be closer so I could take better care of them? And suddenly the thought popped into my head, 'This is red chestnut.' Red chestnut is the remedy for over-concern and worry for loved ones. I didn't have any red chestnut on me at the moment, but just thinking of the remedy helped me to put the brakes on that particular instance of overthinking. It helped me see it and step aside from it. So instead of continuing to emote about it inside, I said to myself that I would call them later that evening when I got home from work and if I couldn't get them, I would call my brother to see what was going on. I didn't think about it again after that, but when I got to work, I had a few drops of Rescue Remedy,which I have started to carry with me in my handbag. This is how I believe Dr. Bach intended the remedies to work. Not that there's necessarily anything 'magical' about the essences. It's how you consciously use them that counts.

Another favourite section is Appendix 2 'Using the System'. Here Stefan Ball carefully explains how to use the remedies, and provides useful information refuting much of the advice given in some books and online sources. He cuts through the nonsense about special places to store the essences, worrying over number of drops and what order things are placed in the treatment bottle, etc. He provides a long list called 'Things that don't matter', which is a list of bad advice that some people give out, advice which makes flower essences seem too complicated to take without the guidance of a therapist. You don't need a therapist, you just need to learn what the 38 remedies treat and then take a moment to identify how you are feeling at the moment, then take the remedy and, if you're so inclined (and the Bach Centre recommends) make a note in a remedy journal about it.

I want to make it as simple as this: I am hungry, I will go and pull a lettuce from the garden for my tea; I am frightened and ill, I will take a dose of Mimulus.

~Dr. Edward Bach


I think, and this sounds like a cliche, but I have read a lot of flower essence books in a very short time, so I can make genuine comparisons--if you buy only one Bach flower remedy guide, this one should be it.

May all beings be at ease.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Bach Flower Remedies




I have embarked on a new journey. I have just discovered the world of Bach Flower Remedies.

What is a flower remedy?
There are 38 flower remedies discovered by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s. He determined the treatment value of each flower by trial and error upon himself and his patients. Each flower remedy addresses an emotion or state of mind. Dr. Bach considered his set of remedies complete at 38.

A flower remedy or flower essence is made by placing flowers in a bowl of water in the sun. Alternately, some types of flowers are boiled. This flower-infused water is then mixed 50/50 with organic brandy to create a 'mother tincture'. This mother tincture is then further diluted for sale in 'stock bottles'. The dilution is 27% grape alcohol with 1.75 drops of mother tincture in a 20ml bottle, and the bottle is topped up with mineral water. This is the product you can buy in the shops. You determine which flower remedy you need by thinking about your current emotional state.

To use, you may take straight from the stock bottle 2 drops at a time, drop 2 drops into a glass of water and drink it, or you can create a 'treatment bottle', which is is a 30 ml bottle into which you drop 2 drops of your selected remedies (up to 7), add 1 tsp of brandy or cider vinegar, and top up the bottle with mineral water. You can then take this 4 drops at a time as often as you like.

What do flower remedies do?
The flower remedies work by a principle of resonance. They will be most effective and noticeable when they actually match the core mental or emotional challenges you face.

In the long run, working with flower essences will help you to feel more alive and in touch with your goals, values, and creativity.

However, the essences do not create euphoria, nor do they banish pain and conflict. They work by stimulating awareness of our conflicts and challenges, and they strengthen our ability to work through the obstacles to our health and growth. Thus, taking flower essences may at times stimulate some discomfort and awareness of pain or conflict. This is a normal part of the journey towards wellness, and can lead to a much more complete state of health than the suppression of pain, or artificial stimulation of feelings through bio-chemical intervention.

(Information taken from FES Flowers).

What is the evidence of their efficacy?
There is no scientific data to back up the efficacy of flower remedies. All studies done to date indicate that they are no more or less effective than a placebo.

I am not bothered by a lack of scientific evidence. There is no scientific back-up for lots of things that people find useful and helpful in their lives.

Can the flower remedies harm you?
There is no way a flower remedy can harm you. There is very little if any actual flower material contained in a stock bottle or treatment bottle, and only 1 part in 600 of alcohol. They are flower essences, not flower extracts.

My story so far
I discovered Bach Flower Remedies through the Rescue Remedy, found it effective in helping me deal with emotional crisis points, and decided to do further investigation. On a recent trip to Milton Keynes, I discovered a display of individual flower remedies and bought four bottles. I have been using them and find that for me they do what is claimed. The white chestnut did stop an instance of overthinking. The larch helped my confidence. The pine did help me stop an episode feeling overly guilty. I just took 2 drops of the stock liquid whenever I found myself becoming mired down in these state. I began to wonder how these remedies might be used for deeper treatment than emergency rescue. I read Principles of Bach Flower Remedies and The Essential Writings of Dr. Edward Bach, then decided to order more flower remedies and a storage box to keep them in. All my purchases arrived today, and the box looks like this:



I have bought 11 remedies so far that seem directly relevant to me and my husband. Today I mixed my first treatment bottle.

Cherry plum--The cherry plum state is being swept along in uncontrollable and irrational emotion, with the mind under great strain and threatening to give way. Cherry plum allows us to express emotions in a positive way, because the cleanest release of emotion is when we remain coherent and rational. It opens us up to the better path of building our reserves of sanity and self-possession so that we will not snap and don't need to fear doing so.

Gorse--The gorse state is a deep state of despondency in which we have chosen pessimism and feel that nothing can be done to help us.

White chestnut--The white chestnut state occurs when our thoughts run away with us and wear themselves into a groove. They go round and round without getting us anywhere.

Aspen--The aspen state is a vague dread varying from generalised foreboding to hair-standing-on-end shaking terror. Aspen gives us faith in the goodness of the world and helps us overcome fears unrelated to any cause.

Mustard--The mustard state is when we lose consciousness of the joy in life. Everything in our lives is going okay, but we lose touch with joy and have an unaccountable sense of gloom and depression.

I have decided to address these particular emotional states because I have been tremendously and unaccountably stressed out for the last several weeks, to the point that I have considered going back on serotonin reuptake inhibitors. My thoughts have been out of control and I need help getting my mind back on track.

I am going to take this treatment four times a day and as needed, as suggested. I will also continue to journal, and will update my experience on this blog.

I am now reading Bloom: Using Flower Essences for Personal Development and Spiritual Growth, and will be reviewing it here soon.

May all beings be at ease.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Who lost my bread?


PAIN PERDU a la VEGAN


I made up this recipe today based on the recipe for 'Fronch' Toast from the book 'Vegan with a Vengeance'. I used the ingredients listed below because they were on hand. The only ingredients that actually seem key to the success of this recipe are the rice milk, cornstarch (aka corn flour) and the chickpea flour (aka 'besan'). Thus the credit goes to Isa Chandra Moskowitz for discovering that combination. Why the chickpea flour ends up making the stuff taste like eggs I don't know (and according to her book, neither does she), but it really works unbelievably well.

To make my version, you will need:

wholemeal baps
hazelnut and almond flavoured rice milk
plain unsweetened soy milk
cornstarch
chickpea flour
organic cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil
pure maple syrup

Mix together the following (it will probably by slightly lumpy):

300ml of hazelnut and almond flavoured rice milk (or vanilla flavoured would be good)
75-100 ml plain soy milk
2 well-rounded tablespoons cornstarch
4 well-rounded tablespoons chickpea flour

Slice 5 wholemeal baps into halves while heating a nonstick pan. Put an even tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan to coat. Dip the bread slices into the mixture, gently squeezing out the excess before arranging the slices in the pan. (I could only fit 5 slices into my pan at a time, so I did this in two batches). Cook as you would for any french toast recipe, over medium heat until browned. You can flip them as many times as you like. Serve with a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

I ended up eating four slices and DH had six. This would have been good with bananas, but we didn't need to guild the lily as we were stuffed.

Next time I make this, I am going to slit a pocket into each slice and put a touch of strawberry jam inside before dipping and cooking. That sounds good!