Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mimulus Flower Essence for Taming the Monkey Mind

Monkey Mind. If you've spent any amount of time around Buddhists you've certainly heard this phrase used to describe the incessant drunken chatterings of a person's typical mental state. Fear monkeys are especially noisy: "What if? What if? What if this happens or we're not prepared for that? What if the plan goes wrong? What if we have no plan? Can we trust this situation, this person, this thing? omg, omg, omg, etc, etc, etc."

Calming the mind is a central tenet of almost all forms of meditation. Paul says really overstimulating the mind can get you to the same place— maybe because learning to focus in the midst of overstimulation requires the most intense focusing of all? I'm not sure but one thing I do know is that calming those fears almost always involves getting those monkeys to have a little faith.

Faith frequently comes from experience. If you learn how to float and go with the current while getting to the shore you'll be far less likely to fear falling into the stream. Likewise, if you can at least address the fear and anxiety with positive choices about how you might handle those what ifs, you can bravely go forward despite the fears. You know you can handle the consequences. When I lived in Santa Cruz, CA and rehearsed fears about what I might do in an earthquake while in my bed at night, my husband helped me calm those fears by intellectually describing where the most structurally sound places in the house might be. My game plan was to find the nearest doorway (my bedroom doorway is what I always visualized from my anxiety-ridden bed) and stay underneath it. So when the Loma Prieta earthquake did hit in 1989 I ran to my bedroom doorway and did stay safe while chimneys collapsed into piles of bricks, cabinets opened and flung out their contents, and big heavy mirrors and framed pictures fell off the walls and shattered into big shards of pointed glass in the other rooms. Of course, I wasn't actually in my bedroom at the time of the earthquake and there were doorways much closer to where I had been at the time... but it worked out nonetheless.

Giving my mind something to hold onto is a strategy I've used since then with some success. The what if's prefer to have intellectual answers even if the answer is what if that scary thing does happen? Could you live with that? Could you recover? Is the possibility of success worth the risk? If my thought is some version of  "I guess so" then I go for it. If not, then I choose another path.

Monkeyflower flower essences all address exaggerated fears. The original Monkeyflower Bach flower remedy, Mimulus, is for known fears rather than nonspecific. People who benefit from Mimulus know what they're anxious about and generally it's the everyday kind of thing like how to make a living, talking with people, being alone, fear of accidents or illness. The remedy calms imagined and real fears, quieting the Monkey Mind and enabling the person to develop more courage and confidence that they can handle whatever might come their way.

I now have Reiki infused dropper bottles or sprays of Mimulus Bach Flower Essence in my shop at dosage strength. That means it is ready to use without dilution.

There are many other essences that address different aspects of anxiety. I have an excellent blend called Releasing Worry and Fear that includes Larch (for countering negative expectations), Rock Rose (for deep panic or terror), and White Chestnut (for quieting the mind). There are also other Monkeyflower remedies. I use Purple Monkeyflower (for fears around spiritual or psychic phenomena) in my Trusting Inner Guidance formula and Pink Monkeyflower (for social anxiety) in my Attracting a Partner formula.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Angelica Flower Essence for Deep Spiritual Support

Ancient folklore of many Northern European countries ascribe great healing properties to Angelica. Supposedly, during the Black Plague an angel came to a monk in a dream and told him to use this particular herb to treat the sick. It was made into candy and used extensively to protect against contagion of all kinds, including spiritual diseases coming in the forms of spells or enchantment.

Angelica is an impressive plant found in cold wet climates. It grows 4-6 feet high and has large deep roots and hollow stems. The flowers, which are numerous, grow in large globular umbels and have a very noticeable sweet aroma. It grows best in very nurturing environments with rich soil near flowing water but can survive highly adverse conditions and severe frosts as well.

Umbels consist of many tiny flowers spraying outwards from a central point like the spokes of an umbrella. In the spiritual language of plants they represent the integration of ideas and energies being brought together into a balanced whole. The umbrella shape also symbolizes protection. The height of the plant and its white color indicated to earlier cultures that this protection came from spiritual (angelic) realms, hence the name "Angelica". Its tendency to grow in nurturing environments indicates that those who use this flower show a need for great nurturance but the plant's ability to withstand quite severe conditions attests to its actual strength. Angelica Flower Essence is recommended for anyone in spiritual crisis or in the midst of a major life transition especially when one feels isolated or cut off from spiritual guidance and support. Metaphysically, the height of the plant and the depth of its roots connected by a hollow open channel describes the state of being one needs to return to in order to feel safe--an open channel for spiritual guidance grounded to the safe security of the earth or material world.

According to the Flower Essence Repertory by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz: "Angelica flower essence especially encourages the individual to develop a relationship with the spiritual world, transforming an overly abstract or intellectual viewpoint into a genuine feeling for spiritual presence and spiritual beings. This awareness is particularly enhanced for that group of spiritual beings who immediately border the human kingdom: the angels."

That may be true for many people but since I already had a gift for hearing guidance psychically it did something better for me. It allowed me to feel safe with that gift. I could tangibly feel the inner channel that runs though the center of a person's body clear out. I felt noticeably more grounded whenever I used it and when I needed additional support to heal hormonally-driven panic symptoms and insomnia I used the Chinese version of Angelica, Dang Gui, with enormous and immediate success. I was guided to use Angelica essential oil in my Support for Troubled Times flower essence aromatherapy formula. That was so powerful and well-received it launched my career as a flower essence aromatherapy product maker. I also use it as a flower essence in Trusting Inner Guidance. Angelica is a special gift and I particularly recommend it for any difficult or even joyous transition where a person needs a little guidance and spiritual support.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vine Flower Essence

© Copyright Sheryl Karas
I recently wrote an article about using Vine to loosen the grip of internalized authority figures -- those inflexible inner voices that attempt to obstruct our every move, especially when we're attempting to disrupt the conservative status quo. You know, like Republicans in Congress filibustering everything originating from Obama! Only, in this case, I was talking about our inner Congress and ways to break the deadlock.

That was a week ago but still Vine is on my mind. Julian Barnard, who wrote Bach Flower Remedies -- Form and Function, says that since grapevines are some of the very earliest cultivated plants they need to be viewed as a species that exists in a chronic relationship with human beings. Not only that, their cultivation can be seen as so harsh compared to how they would be in the wild that the relationship should be considered one of great subjugation. In order to force its energy into producing the kind of fruit the farmer wants grapevines are always cut to a stump, two to four shoots are tied to wires or along a trellis while the rest are cut away, and those shoots are constantly tended and pinched back to force its growth in the desired way. At the end of the growing season the plants are cut or burned back to stumps again while poorer producing plants are torn out entirely. It's an extremely harsh life, one that would be deemed intolerable to human beings.

Try to imagine what it would be like to be treated in such a way. Matthew Shepherd, the gay man who was tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming and then beaten and killed for being who he was went through that experience. Now imagine what it's like to live this way—the horror and anguish, the deepest fear and despair, and the fury and possibly -- for some people -- the need to control should one escape so it will never happen again. Like a Vine plant they use their tendrils to use whatever means they can to climb to the top. And when they seize power they grasp it with an iron fist, thickening their position and using it to force their will. People who try to dominate and force their positions on others often come from family and societal backgrounds where another's will was forced on them. Their personal self-expression would have been forced into a highly controlled mold by their families, church or, for example, a limited small-town community's point of view. And there's nothing they want to destroy more than a young upstart (like Obama) who would otherwise want to go his own way and force a change they don't want on them again.

When I think about flower essences I always think about the healing of polarity. What's the opposite of tight domineering control? Wild grapevines run free when left to their own devices. They climb here and there wherever they want to go, roaming and exploring far and wide but rarely produce the quantity and quality of food they do in captivity. The fruits they do produce are, of course, sweet and highly prized or humans would not have attempted to cultivate them. In human terms they could make a good living producing fruit like that --they just a need a little discipline! But that's a western civilization point of view. A wild grapevine doesn't have to worry about making a good living -- they just innately live and do what they will with their gifts. But in the society we've created  it seems like not being disciplined enough with one's gifts and talents can lead to subjugation or disaster. If you don't find your own way doing something more "fruitful" you'll wind up working for Walmart or some other minimum wage employer, essentially working for "slave wages" or worse until you do!

But what if the lesson in healing the polarity of Vine -- being a highly subjugated but prolific producer vs living free but not producing so much -- lies in allowing in a more gentle healing version of reality than our western civilization allows? What if the wild grapevine was seen as producing enough by just being itself? What if what you did naturally—whatever you found interesting to explore or do -- could lead to a great life? It might not have to be the highly structured and very stressful but affluent life that you might have been taught to think is the highest pinnacle of success. It might be a modest life or one of incredible affluence: where the achievement of what you most desire and enjoying doing most is the sign of great success and there's no fear that every need will be met. Saturn (structure and control) versus unbridled Bacchanalia? Vine flower essence loosens the hold of the inner and outer demand for authoritative control so the voice of one's Higher Power can heal the dichotomy and lead the way.


Addendum: It's been a few weeks since I wrote this and I just stopped using Vine flower essence for myself a couple of days ago. I was experimenting with using Vine to deal with an overly authoritarian inner voice and an interesting breakthrough happened: I suddenly had an enormous burst of enthusiasm for a project I've put off for at least a year and have easily mustered the lacking self-discipline to follow through! Ahh, the healing of the dichotomy and not what I would have expected. But the self-discipline that came was of a very different nature from the inner beating I had been trying before. Funny that. Left to my own devices I heard my inner guidance and, instead of rebelling as I had been, I dove into the rather involved task and got started on another set of projects, too.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Inner Democrats and Republicans -- Healing the Conflict Within

Our latest newsletter is online for Mama Love and our spiritual counseling and healing practice. This month's article is about healing the war between our inner Obamas and Republicans!