Friday, January 31, 2014

Flower Essence Aromatherapy for the Year of the Horse

"The Day the Wall Came Down" by Veryl Goodnight Bronze, 2004, Photo by the CIA. In the Public Domain.
Gong Hey Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

It is the beginning of the Year of the Wood Horse. Awesome. Wild, free and powerful, the Horse Year is considered lucky in Chinese Astrology. It's a time when the desire to break free of vexing situations will either lead to an abundance of energy to make change —sometimes fast and often furious— or conflict if that urge to be free is challenged or pushed away. It is, however, a time to be quite deliberate and cautious. Too much impulsiveness can make this year too much of a wild card. Be careful not to party too hard and go running off half-cocked in the wrong direction!

But what if you're ready to make a change, ready to try something new, but feel fearful about taking the leap? (Because leaping WILL be required in the Year of the Horse if you are deliberate about where you want to leap to!)

I've got a flower essence aromatherapy formula for that! It's called "Doing New Things with Confidence" and it's the one I chose to spray myself with today. I love its balancing sweet scent of Rosewood and Lavender but it's the combination of flower essences that really rock my world! (And I have an unscented flower essence only version if you'd be more interested in that.)

What's in it?

Corn: for feeling grounded and centered in one's body
Chaste Tree and Red Clover: for ease in handling change and a calmer sense of presence
Larkspur: for being enthusiastically in charge in the face of challenge
Zinnia: for an attitude of fun and adventure

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Using Flower Essences and Aromatherapy to Create an Energetic Shield

Well, this is a blog post I thought I'd never write. I mean, "energetic shields". . . how woo-woo can you get?!! I know I can get really out there but I'm also pretty much an educated intellectual type so talking about the most esoteric part of my practice and my life doesn't come easily in public even though in private spiritual counseling sessions Paul and I have helped people with this many times.

Okay, here we go. If you are very sensitive to the influence of others, particularly if your job (massage therapist, psychotherapist, nurse, teacher, social worker, family caregiver) requires you to help people through challenging problems, health or mental health issues, you most likely have had the problem of taking the problems of your clients home with you. You worry about them too much perhaps, have a hard time relaxing after work, or even get sick or find yourself mirroring their problems in yourself. If you get adequate supervision as a therapist you might have good support to process what these clients bring up for you but many people in the helping professions don't even realize how much they might be soaking up the distress of the people around them.

In our spiritual counseling practice Paul and I teach our clients how to healthfully release what they bring home and learn to become less vulnerable, more grounded and effective while they are doing their helping/healing work for others. Generally speaking, if we do the healing work we need in our own lives other people's stuff is less likely to stick. But there are also multiple energetic techniques people can use to become less "sticky" and to cleanse themselves energetically after the fact. We teach a variety of methods.

I also created a flower essence aromatherapy formula that is extremely effective. I originally created "Inner Strength and Protection" as an unscented flower essence-only spray for my own use. The first time I used it I was shocked at how quickly and viscerally I felt the energetic effect. Pink and Golden Yarrow are the main flower essences used in this formula. The Flower Essence Society says Yarrow works by "tightening up the aura" where it is too diffuse and vulnerable. When I first read this I had no idea what they meant. But I was in a very vulnerable state when I tried it and it seemed like the flower essence took my very spread out aura (the self outside my skin) and literally sucked it back inside me. I know this has got to sound bizarre to anyone who isn't familiar with energy healing or similar such work but I have no idea of how else to talk about it. And it was a bit shocking to experience it. But it made an immediate and very calm-inducing difference.

Since then I've used this formula at various times with effective but less obviously dramatic effect. The very interesting thing about flower essences is that they work most obviously when you need them most (assuming you have picked the right one). As you heal, the less intensely you'll feel the effect. And if you don't need that particular formula anymore you won't notice any difference at all.

Years later I made an oil-based version of this same formula for my Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy business. And given that at that time everything in my product line included essential oils I added Yarrow essential oil along with Patchouli and Sandalwood. So far so good.

But last year I was guided to add flower essence aromatherapy sprays to my line and, as of today, Yarrow essential oil will no longer be included in the spray versions of this product (although it will still contain the necessary amount of Yarrow flower essences). I make the sprays with distilled water and organic vodka and that works quite well, generally speaking. Except for this one—because Yarrow is a surprising color blue and will not dissolve in water and vodka. I used to warn people not to get freaked out if dark blue droplets float in their spray. "Just shake it up really well before use. . . and imagine that the problems of your clients could just bead up and be shed like water off a duck's back and the beaded-up droplets of Yarrow in your formula are demonstrating how that is done (and what it can do for you)." Oh yeah, great advertising copy except for one thing: it doesn't look good on the shelf, if you don't shake it up it will stain, etc.

So how am I going to "spin" this decision? No issue here: In product design as in life you have to set appropriate boundaries. Does someone's behavior cause too much pain and misery? Just say "no"! No, you don't get to "follow me home". No, you can't call me on the phone after hours. No, I'm not going to let your problems occupy so much space in my consciousness or in my life. I like you, I care about you, but I can't let you do this to me. Yarrow, you get to be in my products if you are colorless and mix in but if you refuse and continue to stain everything you touch, I'm sorry but I can't allow it any longer.

It's about inner strength and protection: the strength to lovingly set limits and keep yourself healthy and safe.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Restocking with Confidence (Flower Essences and Aromatherapy)

I had a dream last night where I was new on the job as a designer at a magazine. It was my first day so I was spending most of the day gathering first impressions. My good friend Susan was starting that day, too, and she was nervous but I was feeling pretty confident that I could handle the job. But I wasn't sure yet that it would turn out to be a good place to be.

Another new employee —a guy I know as being pretty negative at school—expressed the opinion that he thought that the fact that we were redesigning the magazine to a smaller kind of unusual size might mean the magazine was in trouble. But the magazine was called "Inc. Magazine." There really is an Inc. Magazine and even in the dream I kind of knew they weren't likely to be going under any time real soon.

I was more concerned about the boss. Remember this is a dream if you're visiting from Inc.! I know nothing about this magazine in real life! But in my dream the boss walked into the room and he was a young guy with glasses wearing fairly casual clothes. He was very friendly, upbeat and a pretty awesome guy. He sat down at a computer and worked on the magazine in the same shared office space along with the rest of us after telling us about the office party coming next week with all sorts of wonderful gourmet treats! It seemed like this was going to be a pretty good fit.

In real life I am taking classes to update my skills in graphic design and adding new skills in multimedia while committing to working on and perhaps greatly expanding my own business. I'm in the experimentation stage right now but I'm hoping to create some new really good "gourmet" herbal offerings. I've been fretting about apparently going in more than one direction at once so I guess this dream was trying to inspire me to imagine a new career with what looks at first glance like it could have a very desirable outcome.

Which is what the flower essence aromatherapy formula I just restocked today is about. Doing New Things with Confidence is about going forth on your path with a steady grounded inner stability combined with an attitude of fun and adventure. Exactly the way you would want to feel on a new job. Or any time.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How's Your Attention?

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with way too many details. I'm not typically someone who comes across as having ADD or ADHD. I certainly have never had any cause to even be tested. But there are times when my attention flits from one thing to another. I call it Facebook syndrome because whenever I spend too much time online I feel like I can barely remember why I went on the internet at all! What was that thing I was trying to look up? Oh well, I'm sure it will come back to distract me as soon as I try to get something done!

Today I realized I had forgotten to restock my Focused Attention Flower Essence Aromatherapy formula. That figures. So that project got back on my list today. Oh! Another flitting thought: "Focused" is spelled correctly! People like to let me know it ought to be spelled "focussed." I appreciate your concern -- sometimes I spell it that way because I know so many people want me to -- but the proper spelling is either way. I'll probably change it permanently to appeal to public opinion but not until my current packaging is gone.

Oh yeah, why was I writing this blog again?

The subject of paying attention and why I probably ought to be using my Focused Attention formula for myself! Wait, what was that alert signal? Did someone "like" some post of mine on Facebook? I better get back to work and restock that formula now!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Give Me Comfort (and Joy Would Be Even Better)

Ever feel like this?

"I'm not depressed, not REALLY, but I wish I felt . . . I don't know . . . BETTER! I'm okay. I have good days and bad ones but my good days aren't super great and my bad ones really get me down. I get scared that maybe things won't work out. Or maybe, not well enough. You know, I've been on this road a long time and I'm still not where I want to be. But it's okay. I just wish I felt like it was okay a little more often. I want to feel like my life isn't all about work and being concerned about the future. I want to feel like I did when I was 20. Open, looking forward to my life. Like maybe something really cool will happen!"

I was restocking my Comfort and Joy flower essence aromatherapy formula tonight and deliberately "spilled" some on myself. It smells SO good! I love this one so I thought I'd relate what this formula is meant to do. Here's what's in it:

Larch Flower Essence: for feeling better about the future, feeling better about the outcomes of what you're trying to do, for believing that maybe it will all work out. It heals a habit of believing the worst about one's self or, worse, excessive belief that one's work or choices won't be well received by others. It's a good one for anyone lacking confidence or someone who is afraid to break out of their shell and try new things.

Rock Water Flower Essence: for lightening up about impossible "shoulds." Are rigid standards and self-denial getting to you? Maybe you need to enjoy the ride? Rock Water is intended to allow for more spontaneity in your life, to give yourself space for fun, enjoying the possibilities of life and not just soldiering on and on.

Zinnia Flower Essence: Want to recapture the joyful enthusiasm of your youth? Zinnia is about joy, playfulness, humor. It's not just about having fun—but for believing that you can bring an attitude of active engagement, joy and enthusiasm to whatever you do!

Cedarwood Essential Oil:  For emotional fortitude and groundedness. You know, to go with the flow and loosen up. After all, you need to feel up for the ride, more relaxed, not so tight or nervous.

Bergamot Essential Oil: Also balances the emotions and eases depression and anxiety.

Cinnamon Essential Oil: Cinnamon helps relieve tension while waking up the senses. Just a touch of this is used because this essential oil is really strong but it adds a little needed spice.

Add it all up and you have comfort mixed with joy.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Herb Tea Experiments

Mama Love (me) used to be BIG on herb teas. Not for sale. This was long before I ever imagined being in the flower essence aromatherapy business. It was for myself, for my own healing, peace and well-being. I had an herb garden. I frequented herb stores, read books on herbal medicine. I even worked for a publishing company (Crossing Press) that had a strong focus on alternative healing and published books on herbalism by some of the best known herbalists in the business.

I drank herbal teas every day and even started to blend my own... but that was MANY years ago in a life that often feels sad to have left and very far away.

My more recent life with my partner Paul introduced me to the pleasures of coffee. Paul was a bit of a coffee geek when I met him. He had his own espresso machine-- a big one, not one of those cute designer kitchen types. He bought green coffee beans online from all over the world, roasted and ground his own coffee, sometimes made his own blends. It was a treat to sit on our front porch in Santa Cruz tasting tastes I had never even heard of before. One type of coffee we tried tasted like chocolate!

But I could rarely drink more than half a cup -- less if I added any sugar.  A little bit -- a couple of sips -- was relaxing but a whole cup makes me very ungrounded and spacey. I can't concentrate, can't think. All I can think about is how to get this coffee out of me!

I DO like the taste though so I got in the habit of having sips of Paul's wonderful coffee drinks every day and wished I could have a lot more. In the meantime, though, Paul has developed chronic heartburn that we know is somewhat related to his coffee consumption. It gets better when he cuts back or takes a break. So it's doubly on my mind to find acceptable alternatives.

Every time I go to a coffeehouse with Paul I ask about no caffeine drinks. They point me to decaf which I can handle better but when I ask about no-caf the same thing happens. There are two choices: peppermint or chamomile herb tea. It's okay. I even like it. But Paul is getting a big mug of awesome-smelling intensely flavored stuff with cream and maybe chocolate added and whipped cream! Oh, the disappointment. My choices are the kind of drink young children are given before going to bed. It's just not the same.

So this new year started the process of experimentation. It's bringing back bittersweet memories of my life in Santa Cruz, buying bulk herbs at herb stores and making new blends. But it's also netting some creations that are really awfully good.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Flower Essences and Aromatherapy Combine for a Good Night's Sleep

Lately, I've been needing to use one of my most popular Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy formulas for myself -- Restful Sleep. I'm doing a lot of experimenting with new product ideas for my business and I've been like an over-excited hyperactive child who just can't seem to settle down. But, when I remember to use them, my formulas do me a lot of good and at times Restful Sleep can work so well it's shocking. So that got me thinking: what makes this particular blend so effective?

First, keep in mind that this is not a potent tranquilizer in the sense of it being a sleeping pill that could put down an elephant. Not even close! In fact, I strongly recommend that chronic insomnia sufferers first consult with a doctor and then use this blend 2-3 times a day, sometimes more. Generally speaking, I find it works extremely well the first day and almost infallibly so (for me) by the second day of this treatment... but, of course, your mileage may vary!

That said, why does it work? We're talking about essential oils applied to the skin, combined with flower essences which have no smell, and infused with Reiki.

I actually have no idea from a medical point of view! This was a spiritually guided formula that I have been pondering ever since I started making it. But let's break down what I can tell you about it ingredient by ingredient:

Chamomile in both flower essence and essential oil form: Well, okay, this one is practically a no-brainer as Chamomile tea is one of the most popular natural sleep-enhancing herb teas there is. I use German Chamomile essential oil which is a shocking blue-green color. It is most famously used in the treatment of both colic and hyperactivity in children but adults like its antidepressant and stress-reducing effects. I find my Restful Sleep formula addresses stress and emotional tension I tend to accumulate in my stomach and solar plexus. Chamomile flower essence is said to help this very thing.

Nicotiana flower essence: This is the most unusual ingredient as I have never seen it used in any other sleep formula. Nicotiana (also known as Flowering Tobacco) is recommended most highly for people trying to kick their addiction to nicotine. Based on the idea of like treating like, Nicotiana flower essence uses an almost microscopic level of the flower of this plant to inspire the body/mind to bring forward the internal state it needs to come into balance. It imparts peace and groundedness while releasing the need to harden one's heart to the stress of living in what might seem to be an emotionally harsh world. Is your heart really in this stressful society we find ourselves in? Or are you carrying a double burden of soldiering on, doing the "right" or expected thing, doing what you feel needs to be done without wanting to feel anything about it?

Remember the Men at Work song "Ain't Nothing Gonna Hold Me Down"?
Ain't nothing gonna break my stride
Nobody's gonna slow me down
Oh no, I've got to keep on moving
Ain't nothing gonna break my stride
I'm running and I won't touch ground
Oh no, I've got to keep on moving
 That's the mindset that needs to be addressed! This is even more true if as the song says:
You're on the road and now you pray you'll last
The road behind you was rocky
But now you're feeling cocky
Oh yeah, you "know" what you need to do: get it done, get it done, get it done, done, done. Of course, in excess this mindset will kill you! Same thing is true if you're up late at night planning and scheming or fretting about what might need to be done. What we really need is a more grounded relaxed perspective as we travel the road we're on. A more Taurus perspective: grounded, moving forward step by step, only responding most vigorously when in true danger or when there is a real need to act fast. Taking a long-term view and having a long-term gameplan. Life coaches like to say that life is a marathon and not a sprint. But I hate that metaphor because most marathons are grueling! I think it best to enjoy a nice long walk with time to smell the flowers and enjoy the fresh air.

So Nicotiana flower essence is in this. To allow a person to stop and enjoy the road a bit, to be at peace with life and let go -- at least sometimes -- of the need to keep performing.

Rock Water flower essence: Rock Water is also a much overlooked flower essence in sleep remedies. It is used to help release rigidities, especially the harsh inner taskmaster with its impossible to maintain beliefs about how you should behave and how much you should get done. It helps people let go, go with the flow, even change course when getting where they need to go could happen by following an easier route or, better, with an easier attitude.

Spikenard essential oil: This is the very costly oil Mary Magdaline so famously poured over Jesus's feet. It is a very potent oil that has been used to treat insomnia and release tension for millennia.

Jasmine and Rosewood essential oils: These are both used to increase feelings of tranquility and  reduce worry and concerns that cause anxiety or depression.

Mama Love for Restful Sleep is available both on my own website and in my Etsy shop.