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.


Morandia said...

Here is a question for you - does the book explain why Brandy is used to mix with the essences? Why not some other Alcohol? Basically, I have some gin- in "travel bottles" but no brandy. And my parents wouldn't would not like anything else brought in the house. I think they have forgotten about the gin actually.... heh. I was wondering if I could use that or does it have to be brandy or cider vinegar. - and why.

Carla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carla said...

(Never mind about the deletion. Accident.)
The book does address that. Any spirit can be used. Vodka, whisky or cider vinegar. It is not an active ingredient and so it doesn't matter. It's merely a preservative. (But actually I like the flavour). You can even mix your remedy with no alcohol if you plan to keep your treatment bottle in the refrigerator. Brandy is used because that's what Dr. Bach used. He liked it because it was organic--plus I bet he just liked French brandy!

Morandia said...

yea.... good to know. I thought that might be the case, but wanted to double check. Flavor wise, I'd prefer brandy probably, but gin is what I have. My essences should arrive the 19th according to the email I got...