Dr. Edward Bach is known as the discoverer and developer of the Bach Flower Remedies. Less well-known, but equally important, is the philosophy of health and healing which is the foundation of his work.
Every time I read the pamphlet, "Free Thyself," which contains the essence of his beliefs I find myself re-examining my life. I pay more attention to the quality of my relationships; I look at possessions and beliefs (which are also possessions) which clutter my path; I examine the path itself.
Part of my path is to share ideas which have made a difference to me; hence, this article, which I've written with gratitude, both to Dr. Bach for the gift of his gentle wisdom and Remedies, and to you, for allowing me to share what I've learned.
"If we follow our own instincts, our own wishes, our own thoughts, our own desires, we should never know anything but joy and health."
This is the heart of Dr. Bach's philosophy. He believed that each of us come into physical world with a purpose, a way of being and doing and a direction which is uniquely ours. It is not to be judged by the world (which prefers brain surgeons to dogwalkers); and it isn't about suffering or sacrifice ("I'd rather raise flowers, but my duty is to do this job I hate which helps others because I'm a good person.")
It is that way of living which calls to you above all others, which makes you happy, which makes your life worth living.
It is a vision of fulfillment which many of us weren't taught to attain.
Imagine a child coloring. He pays no attention to the lines in his coloring books; each page is a launching pad for explosions of brilliant streaks, bobs, and zigzags.
Then one of his parents come along and say, "No, no, you've got to color inside the lines," perhaps even guiding his hand to do so.
Thus a war inside him begins. That energy within him which longs to feel orange and yellow and blue dancing wildly on the paper, which intuitively senses of the rightness of his choices, will resist for a while, but it will most likely lose out--for the people who are saying, "No, no," and showing him what they want him to do are the givers of love, of food, of security, and he is learning that their love and protection depends on their approval of him. He is also learning what he has to do to win their approval: color inside the lines, shrink himself until he fits into their expectations.
If he is well-trained he will learn the habit of monitoring himself, suppressing every intuitive desire in favor of approval. He will learn to choose the good opinion of others over his needs, and in time he may lose his intuitive sense altogether, and find decision-making difficult.
He may, instead, become a rebel. By this, I don't mean that, in following his intuitive sense of what's right for him he chooses a path of which society may disapprove. A rebel may know that (s)he has a purpose beyond unthinking obedience to the norm, but by choosing to do the opposite of what (s)he's expected to do (s)he is still being directed by the opinions of others.
A child may also seek approval (and this is usually unconscious) by adopting his/her parents' fears. I had a client whose father had wanted to become a minister. He'd grown up in the Depression, though, and had been afraid to give up his secure job. He died in his early sixties, a bitter and resentful man. Years later, my client faced a similar dilemma. "I feel that not living the life he wanted killed him," she said, "and I feel the same thing happening to me."
When we habitually ignore and suppress that voice which is uniquely ours the divine spark which is ours at birth becomes all but extinguished. Then we wonder why we are unhappy, bored, frustrated, worried. And sick.
When we're in contact with the divine aspect of ourselves (called by many Soul) we're able to use the spiritual energy which flows from that source. (In the practice of Reiki this energy is called Universal Life Force Energy). If we resist that energy by following instead the commands of others, energetic blockages occur which cause us to be unbalanced and out of touch with our intuitive wisdom. These blockages, by preventing the natural flow of healing energy, can also cause physical disorders.
Stress, for example, is often caused by the mind being burdened by worry, which in turn is caused by a lack of trust in one's ability to guide oneself through life. Worry involves thoughts (I have so much to do; how will I ever get it all done) which create doubt (I can't), with accompanying feelings (the sensation of fear, panic, etc.) which produce emotional blockages. These can lead to bodily tightening and tension, which can create the conditions for pain and/or illness. Medical, surgical, or pharmaceutical solutions may relieve the physical symptoms, but they or a new set of symptoms will occur if the basic imbalance remains.
Our little stifled artist might develop the following disorders: (we've indicated the corresponding Bach Flower Remedies in parentheses)
Having been impressed with the importance of doing things exactly right, he may make very strict rules for himself, and this mental/emotional rigidity may lead to a corresponding skeletal and/or muscular stiffness (Rock Water).
He may become fearful of anything unknown, which can lead to being afraid to go to sleep at night, thus causing insomnia and a general condition of physical debilitation (Aspen).
He may become afraid of any spontaneity, including the expression of his feelings, and keep his fears, worries, and physical pain to himself. Feelings held in eventually become unbearable, and the unwillingness to experience them is often the root of various addictions which mask pain and unhappiness (Agrimony).
He may learn to be resentful and bitter (I could have been a great artist if it weren't for my parents) and feel like a victim. Keeping such emotions inside can cause a range of digestive disorders and worse (Willow).
As adults, when we attempt to re-connect with our intuitive, spontaneous selves, the learned habit of worrying about others' opinions may stop us. Many of us learned that to follow our deepest desires is to be selfish, despite Shakespeare's observation that we're true to ourselves we will be false to no one else.
In Dr. Bach's view selfishness consists, not in honoring our own desires, but in interfering with the desires of others.
Consider the following phrases:
Probably most of us have used them at one time or more in our lives, but how do they sound in the light of Bach's ideas. If we are each born with our unique spark of divinity how can we know what's best for anyone but ourselves?
When we say, "This is for your own good" we really mean "This is for my own good." We're saying, "I'm right, and you're wrong." We are practicing intolerance. And just as we may become eventually ill if we allow other people to interfere with our path, disease may also develop when we interfere with others.
When we're busy directing others onto the paths on which we think they should travel we aren't paying much attention to our own. When we're unwilling to acknowledge that each person has a higher self who guides them we deaden our connection to the wisdom of our own higher selves.
begins with small steps. If there are young children in your life let them teach you and direct you in the games and activities which you share.
Go to a playground and swing and climb the jungle gym and go down the slides.
Learn something which is fun and has absolutely no social value (i.e., it has no connection to your job, and it won't make people think you're a better person).
Play with crystals. Pick them up and look at them (without trying to remember what each is for). Roll them in your hands. Enjoy their light, colors, and textures.
Begin to consciously open up to your intuition. Small steps lead to larger ones. If you have an urge to eat banana-mocha ice cream instead of vanilla do it. Read the book by that author you never heard of. Go to Nova Scotia instead of Cape Cod.
Get interested in your dreams. (See). This doesn't necessarily mean analyzing them, but remembering them, and with appreciation. We are all creative and spontaneous in our dreams.
Be alert for so-called coincidences, which may actually be signposts on your path. A friend tells you she took a great class on unlocking your creative potential; then another friend tells you about the class; then you see an ad for it. Find out more about this class.
Get a coloring book and color outside the lines.
A creative partnership with crystals and flower essences can be a very playful experience. In choosing them it's most helpful for you to figure out the particular areas where you're stuck (as in the examples given above for the small frustrated artist). Here are some other examples for crystals:
Clear quartz is a lovely, playful stone which belongs on anyone's journey of self-discovery.
Zinnia (FES) is ideal for awakening the playful child within.
Larch (Bach) helps to elevate self-esteem.
Iris and Indian Paintbrush (both FES) stimulate creativity.
Walnut (Bach) is useful for all transitions.
If you'd like assistance in your journey we're available for consultations. We have been down this road of discovering our true purposes in life, and we know the value of a helping hand.
Beyond the Rainbow