The first time I came across the Bach flower system of healing, when I picked up a leaflet in a London wholefood store many years ago, I admit I was sceptical. And yet I’d been open-minded about so many other branches of holistic health, nowadays I cannot explain this initial reaction. Perhaps I needed to go through the emotional suffering (and resulting health issues) I could have avoided had I tried the Bach flowers sooner. I believe everything happens at the perfect time.
A few years later, when I opened a wholefood store in Eastbourne, one of my best customers (an heiress with a philanthropist’s soul) insisted I should stock the Bach flower remedies. I resisted at first, telling her it was my intention to focus on offering the public organically grown foods (which in those days weren’t easy to come by). Fortunately, Rosemary kept insisting and when I invoked my lack of cash to invest in the initial stock, she offered to lend me the money. So I no longer had an excuse. In any case, before I started taking Bach remedies, saying ‘no’ was something I had struggled with. And in this instance that weakness proved to be a great blessing in disguise. I shall remain eternally grateful to dear Rosemary for having been so insistent (in more than one instance).
Not long afterwards, I felt guided to confide in one of my regular customers whose husband was a naturopath that I was puzzled about my daughter’s persistent catarrh1. Fiona suggested: “Why don’t you try the Bach Flower remedies?” Although at first this seemed rather illogical to me, as soon as she’d left, I picked up a copy of Dr. Bach’s booklet The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies which I stocked but hadn’t read until then. And just leafing through it had a similar effect on me as I imagine Archimedes had felt when he jumped out of his bath, shouting “Eureka!” And yet, Dr. Bach wasn’t mentioning symptoms at all. I guess his wisdom had triggered my intuition.
That same evening I gave my daughter a dose of Centaury – the flower remedy which seemed to best correspond to her nature.
The results were astonishing: not only did my daughter’s allergies clear up, but her personality was completely transformed: whereas before she used to be the kind of child who got bullied at school, suddenly she started to develop such self-assurance, such inner strength that it seemed by taking just a few doses of Centaury she’d become immune to any kind of bullying. Her personality blossomed and all throughout the years I have remained in awe of how wise she is.
(In my experience the Bach remedies seem to work so much faster with children. This is perhaps due to the fact most adults have had time to accumulate so many limiting beliefs, dogmas and so on, it is like trying to clean up decades of rust on an antique object.)
Needless to say, having witnessed such positive results with my daughter, I started reading and studying everything Dr. Bach had written.
I could fill pages and pages with examples from my own experience where Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy had an often instantaneous, miraculous result (including with animals and even plants).
Since others, such as Gregory Vlamis2 have already documented the subject so well, I’ll just tell you about one case: On a rare day my shop was closed because it was a bank holiday, I had been looking forward to a rest (running the store single-handedly was hard work, even though I enjoyed it immensely).
I was still at the stage where I found it impossible to say ‘no’ and set healthy boundaries. So when an acquaintance asked me to look after her three young children, (which included a baby who was just a few months old), while she and her husband went to an event, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to say I was tired and needed a rest.
When they came to drop off the children, the baby was asleep. When he woke up shortly afterwards and instead of seeing the familiar face of his mom he saw a complete stranger, he began to scream with such a look of terror on his face I was afraid he’d have a fit. Naturally, I tried to console him, cuddle and rock him, but even when I asked his eight-year old elder sister to cradle him, he continued to scream obviously extremely distraught. I asked my daughter to fetch the Rescue Remedy and since I obviously couldn’t give him the drops orally, I dabbed a few drops on his temples and forehead. Almost instantaneously he calmed down and for the rest of the day he remained as good as gold, in spite of the fact his parents only returned late into the evening.
At the time I’d started discovering the effectiveness of the Bach flower remedies, my daughter and I went to spend Christmas at the home of one of my older half-sisters in Belgium.
I’d taken my bottle of Mimulus along, since getting rid of my shyness and fears was my number one priority. When we arrived, I was sorry to see that the family dog, Pollux (a longhaired dachshund) seemed dejected. He was also a very timid creature. My sister told me Pollux had recently lost his best friend: a kitten my nephew had rescued a little while back. Pollux and the kitten had become inseparable (it would take rides on Pollux’s back). But soon before our arrival, the kitten had disappeared. And since then Pollux would lie in his basket with a mournful look.
When I talked about the Bach remedies as a possible help, I was met with scepticism. In my family only what the doctor (or the pope) said was valid. But my sister nevertheless gave me permission to put a few drops of Mimulus in Pollux’s drinking bowl. Just as in my daughter’s case the effect was instantaneous: not only did Pollux stop mourning but he also became less fearful. For the rest of our stay, he would follow me around (whereas before he was shy of anyone not part of the household). It led to a bit of embarrassment for me because he would come and lie on my lap when we were all reunited and would frequently pass smelly wind loudly. And I was worried folks would think it was I who suffered from flatulence.
Talking about Bach flowers for animals, there was one instance where it didn’t have the desired result: I had a French friend whose teenage daughter was due to participate in a horse-riding competition. My friend had become a R.R. enthusiast after witnessing the positive effect on her daughter while on a visit with us.
She decided to give some R.R. not only to her daughter but also to the horse just before the competition: it so relaxed the animal he came last in the competition.
I take this opportunity to mention that:
Shortly after this visit to Belgium, I was heartened when a young GP whose practice was in the same street as my wholefood store came to buy Bach remedies for his own children. Soon he also started sending some of his patients. But instead of giving advice, I would invite the person to choose their own remedies, assuring them we are all endowed with the necessary inner wisdom. Once they had made their choice, I would briefly explain (in as diplomatic a manner as possible) what the effect and properties were of the flower remedy they had intuitively selected.
There were several reasons why I preferred to work in this manner:
I’ll give you an example: one day an elderly customer (a delightful gentleman) arrived at my shop very upset, almost in tears. When I asked him what was the matter, he said he’d just come from a consultation with a Bach flower therapist who’d suggested he needed to take Vine.
Unfortunately, unlike Shimara Kumara’s book The Flowers of Life, where she lists positive qualities first, before mentioning “negative states” each flower is designed to address, in the leaflet that was produced by the Bach Centre (at least in those days), this is what it said for Vine: “For those who are dominating, inflexible, ambitious, autocratic, arrogant and proud.”
When explaining how Bach remedies work, I have always been careful to focus on the positive qualities taking a flower essence will produce.
Although Dr. Bach, as a medically-trained doctor treated the patients who came to him by prescribing and preparing dosage bottles for them, based on their personality traits, it is obvious that in that day and age this was the appropriate method. But humanity is forever evolving (or at least we are meant to evolve and not keep repeating past experiences). So, in my view flower remedies are the perfect, gentle and totally harmless tool for self-knowledge and thus self-healing. Flower remedies work in a subtle manner to correct imbalances in our personality and beating ourselves up is counterproductive.
Besides, it is often not obvious at first-hand which flower remedy is needed at a particular time. For example, my landlady is an older woman who tends to be self-centred and boss people about. So when she wanted me to prepare her some Bach remedies and I suggested it was best she chose her own, using my deck of Bach flower cards, I was surprised when the first card that popped out was Centaury. I told her Centaury was for people who found it hard to say ‘no’ and set boundaries and asked her if this corresponded to what she felt she needed. She confirmed she had no problem saying ‘no’ and thus felt she didn’t need to take Centaury. (Incidentally, she did pick Chicory next, which she wholeheartedly agreed she needed.) Mind you, I don’t think she would have been keen to come for another (free) session had I told her what it says for Chicory in the above-quoted leaflet: “for overpossessiveness and demanding attention; selfishness.”
Anyhow, I had already seen a gradual transformation in her as she started taking flower remedies and her health had also improved concurrently.
Since she’d agreed that Centaury didn’t fit her, I hadn’t added it to the dosage bottle I made up for her. And yet, a few days later, she was faced with a situation where it transpired that although she isn’t an obvious Centaury type, in that particular instance it would have been most helpful and that she did in fact carry the Centaury pattern buried within. So this has been a great lesson for me too to trust what comes up, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense.
But let’s get back to the days where I was running the wholefood store. My daughter and I had had an opportunity to visit Mount Vernon, the quaint cottage where Doctor Bach had lived and where the Bach Centre still has its headquarters.
This visit had made a great impression on my daughter (who must have been around fifteen at the time). While there, she’d said one day she’d like to work with Bach flowers. An opportunity came along far sooner than she would have anticipated. Indeed, not long after that visit to the Bach Centre, M.H. offered to stand in for me at the shop on a Saturday morning to give me time to do some work at home.
While I’d had a tendency to pamper her, she had been keen to become self-sufficient and early on had refused the pocket money I gave her, saying: “Mummy, I don’t see why you should give me money. I’m going to look for a part-time job for outside college hours”.
I admired her, because I would certainly not have had the courage and confidence to become a tele-sales person as she did (first for a double-glazing firm, then selling insurance over the phone). She was paid a pittance and there was the constant pressure: if you didn’t reach a minimum of appointments, you got sacked. I felt incensed by those kinds of business practices, but my daughter felt those part-time jobs provided a useful learning experience (she’s one of the most ‘zen’ persons I’ve ever encountered). When she would tell me how rudely she was often treated (and let’s not mention the perverts here!), I learned my own lesson from this: although like most people I’m not at all keen to receive those non-sollicited telesales phonecalls, I always make sure I am nice to the person who is trying to earn a livelihood doing this type of work and I tell them I wish them success with all my heart.
When M.H. offered to work for me at the store, needless to say I insisted on paying her more than the going rate as a matter of principle even though the shop was barely breaking even.
One Saturday morning, a grumpy little old lady came to the shop and snapped: “It’s the doctor who sent me to get some Bach flowers. I feel fed up with life and feel like killing myself.”
When she recounted the episode that afternoon, M.H. admitted her first thought had been: “I wish mummy were here!” I asked her why she hadn’t phoned me. She replied she hadn’t wanted to disturb me. Instead she followed what I’m certain was guidance “from above” and she suggested Olive and Star of Bethlehem, which aren’t the flowers one would normally have recommended in such a case.
When I saw the little old dear arrive on the following Monday morning, I thought: “Oh dear! God knows what I’ll have to hear!” When she came in, it was with the same grumpy voice as usual that she told me: “These Bach flower remedies are a miracle. I don’t feel at all depressed anymore. Give me another bottle!”
At the time, the Bach flower remedies were sold in 10ml vials and only cost a few pounds. I was nevertheless surprised she’d finished both remedies in just a couple of days. I wondered whether my daughter had specified 2 drops per dose were sufficient. But never mind. It was the result that counted: the little old lady felt better. Don’t you think it is encouraging to see there are doctors who recommend Bach flower remedies to their patients instead of simply handing them a prescription for drugs with dangerous side-effects?
Do you remember the airplane crash that happened in 2015 during a flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf? It was found the co-pilot had deliberately crashed the plane which killed all of the 144 passengers and 6 crew members. Although it later transpired this co-pilot had been on anti-depressant medication, frustratingly no-one seems to have taken this as a strong warning sign it was high time to put a stop to this barbarity, which only has money-making as a motive, whereas harmless, effective and cost-effective alternatives, such as flower remedies are available.
Not long after the little old lady’s case, one Saturday afternoon a middle-aged woman came in who told me: “I am a paediatrician at Eastbourne District General Hospital and I have vaguely heard about the Bach Flower remedies. Can you tell me a bit more about them?” God only knows how she’d been led to my shop, since it wasn’t in the town’s main shopping area. I never cease to be in awe about how Universal Intelligence is forever guiding us: serendipity is my favourite word in the English language.
Allow me to briefly digress, dear reader, to tell you how I came across this term and why Serendipity became a protagonist of Bovenia Comedia under the guise of a cat. In the days my daughter and I were still living in South Kensington, there was a friendly cat around the corner, which seemed to live in the street. At first we were concerned she might be a stray, but on further enquiry, we were told by a resident that “Dippity” belonged to an elderly lady living nearby in a basement flat and that she was well-cared for. Curious, I enquired what “Dippity” meant. The neighbour replied it was short for “Serendipity”.
Whenever we went past, we would always stop to stroke her. One day, as we were approaching, we saw someone else was petting ‘Dippity’: it was Nicholas Lyndhurst (Young Rodney in “Only Fools and Horses”). I would joke afterwards our only claim to fame was to have stroked the same cat as Nicholas Lyndhurst.
‘Dippity’ ended up following us home every time we passed the spot where she was hanging out.
After we had moved to Eastbourne, one evening after dinner, M.H. suddenly asked: “Mummy, what does ‘serendipity’ mean?” I wasn’t sure, so I picked up the dictionary and read the definition out to her: “the faculty of making happy and
unexpected discoveries by accident; coined by Horace Walpole (1754) after The Three Princes of Serendip” (Sri Lanka; a fairy tale).
Not only did this out-of-the-blue question by my daughter (years after we had said goodbye to ‘Dippity’) reminded me of how we are all connected to Universal Intelligence when we are in tune with our intuition, but the timing of her question also seemed most serendipitous: I had just received the inspiration for one of my first creative projects, a deck of ‘Soul Cards’, of which ‘Serendipity’ became one of my favourite cards. It was somewhat of an uncertain time for me and I felt my Spirit Guides and the Higher Forces of the Universe had used my daughter as a channel to provide encouragement and much-needed reassurance about this brand new path I was embarking on by reminding me I could invite ‘serendipity’ to be my joyful companion through life.
So, Dr. Kinder’s visit was one of those serendipitous occurrences. Since Saturday afternoon was one of the quietest periods at the shop, we were able to spend the entire afternoon chatting and I also lent her all my books on the Bach Flowers (which she never returned, which I see as a very good sign!) She paid me another visit a few weeks later to share the positive results she’d obtained treating her little patients with Bach remedies. When I suggested she’d let the children choose their own, she retorted: “Now you’re exaggerating! How can children be expected to choose their
own remedies?” I said: “Look, you can always jot down first what you’d prescribe, but then make a game of it to let them select the bottles they feel drawn to. Then you can compare your choice with theirs and decide what to give them.”
She came back a few weeks later, telling me, “You know, it’s incredible: the children invariably choose the right remedies.”
Well, yes: in a purely materialistic world there is a tendency to forget that the soul knows and that the majority of children are still connected to their soul’s wisdom, before they get indoctrinated to become perfect little guinea pigs destined to keep the consumer’s society’s machine going.
Here follows an example from my own experience to illustrate how this gentle form of healing works at the deepest level:
While I was dealing with all the challenges of running a wholefood business at a time when ‘organic’ hadn’t become en vogue yet, I had started suffering from kidney pain. This puzzled me since I didn’t drink alcohol, coffee or other unhealthy drinks. Instead I drank pure water.
I had a friend whose husband practised Chinese herbal medicine. He generously offered to make me up a mixture of Chinese herbs. They tasted dreadful and when I didn’t experience any improvement, I didn’t continue taking them.
Not long afterwards, having noticed the wonderful results the Bach remedies had produced with my daughter, I started taking Mimulus, since tackling my shyness and fears (including the fear of going out of business) were my priority.
Being so busy running the store and looking after my daughter I tended to ignore my own needs. Thus it was only some time later that I noticed my kidney problem had cleared up. By coincidence, not long afterwards I came across Mantak Chia’s books on the Taoist approach to healing and was interested to learn that certain negative emotions affect one particular organ more than the others:
Negative emotion affecting:
So, by working on my fears I had eliminated their deleterious effect on my kidneys. Can you imagine how much suffering and serious health problems would be alleviated if orthodox medicine wasn’t ruled by a pharmaceutical industry solely interested in making money at the expense of humankind’s well-being? Just imagine how different the world would be if doctors studied holistic medicine as part of their training and followed Plato’s dictum: “TREAT THE CAUSE, NOT THE SYMPTOM”.
I daresay that for this to happen it is us who need to learn to take responsability for our own health:
In the year 2000, having sold Renaissance Wholefoods in 1994, I had moved to Calais, as I had embarked on a new career as a freelance tour manager for UK tour operators and was mainly leading tours in France.
I had become friendly with the pharmacist whose shop was next door to where I lived. I’d managed to get her interested in the Bach Flower remedies and aromatherapy. She became an enthusiastic proponent of these natural remedies, but told me of her frustration: nine times out of ten when she’d recommend these, most clients preferred to stick to the medication prescribed by their doctor, simply because it was reimbursed by the social security system and they weren’t prepared to pay for remedies out of their own pocket.
During a stay in California in 2003, the director of the holistic retreat centre I was staying at suggested I’d give a talk on the Bach Flower remedies. Among the people who attended was an 84 year old gentleman who came to talk to me afterwards saying he suffered from prostate cancer. He was asking advice about which remedy could help him give up coffee. He explained the medication he was taking was making him listless. So he was drinking coffee to help him get through the day. However, he’d begun to notice caffeine wasn’t doing him any good either.
This may shock some of you, but I had no hesitation in telling him: “Arnold, the first thing to do if you want to get well again is to give up the medication. It isn’t by taking poisons that one heals.
To begin with, I suggested he’d buy a bottle of Olive at the health store near the retreat centre.
It turned out to be a neat feat of synchronicity that Arnold had arrived in Ojai just before I was due to give that talk.
(The retreat Centre’s director, Ulrich, an altruist with a most generous spirit, allowed Arnold to park his trailer in which he lived, in a corner of the extensive grounds.) In exchange, Arnold would prune the trees.
A matter of days after I’d recommended Olive, I saw Arnold sauntering towards me “with a spring in his step” as the saying goes. He said, “Look at me: full of energy! I stopped the medication and coffee and I feel great.”
We became good friends and I suggested he’d also clean up his diet. He started practising yoga. During one of our chats I told him about the Silva method, which I’d used to get rid of a fibroid that had grown to the size of a grapefruit.
Just as was the case with Arnold, at the time I was lumbered with that fibroid I was on a tight budget, thus I studied the Silva method using José Silva’s book rather than follow one of the fairly expensive courses on offer. Arnold bought the book and started practising with I have to say far more enthusiasm and dedication than I had done.
I also offered to do a past-life regression with him, as I felt this might bring to light a possible emotional cause. In fact, in his case it was a childhood wound related to his father that came up and he started to cry gently. (In my experience, healing our Inner Child is a fundamental step toward leading a healthy, truly happy and fulfilling life.)
Arnold had been a clinical psychologist and two expensive divorces had reduced him to life in a trailer. But in spite of this he was so full of joie de vivre he became an inspiration to me.
A few weeks after I got back to England, I received a letter from Arnold in which he wrote: [……The doctor has confirmed my PSA is zero: I’m cured……] He added, […You saved my life, dear lady…..]
I replied: “No, Arnold, it wasn’t me who saved your life. You did. I only shared with you what I learned from others. But it was you who decided to take charge of your own healing.”
Indeed, I have tried to share this knowledge with so many others (and always free of charge), who chose to stick to orthodox medicine however –including my dearly beloved father who didn’t die of his prostate cancer, but from the barbaric allopathic treatments he was subjected to.
He would often make fun of me, telling me: “One day they’ll put you in prison for ‘practising medicine without a licence’ ”(thank goodness it isn’t yet a crime to give free advice and harmless holistic treatments without charging for it!).
While living in the Spanish Pyrenees, through yet another neat feat of synchronicity, I met a retired doctor who’d not only used Bach Flower remedies while treating his hospital patients (which included drug addicts), but he’d made his own range of flower essences using wild orchids growing in the surrounding mountains. He’d even written a book about the latter.
When I told him I was surprised he’d been able to practise as a hospital consultant using flower remedies, he told me he simply didn’t discuss this with his colleagues: he kept a low profile about it.
Looking back on all those serendipitous events that enabled my path to cross that of the young Eastbourne GP; the paediatrician; Arnold; Dr. Calvo and so many others, I can but be in awe and conclude that at a soul level we are indeed all connected. And I wholeheartedly agree with Einstein when he said: “Coincidence is God walking amongst us incognito.”
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