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The Weirdness of Essence Education

Posted by admin on Jun 28, 2009

By Deborah Bier, PhD, co-editor of Vibration Magazine Blog, and maker of Whole Energy Essences

Editors’ Note: In this continuing look backwards at Vibration’s 11 years of publication, we comment upon three trends below. First, Vibration has a long history of calling out both the strengths and weaknesses of our field in a variety of editorials we published over the years, including some about essence education, from which the below is adapted.  Second, Vibration is the only place we know of that publishes such a broad number of viewpoints and voices about vibrational and flower essences without sanitizing them to meet any single manufacturers’ self-interest. Third, our articles are not dedicated to the products of any single essence maker; we find it important to feature a wide variety.
Essences used by chiropractors. Essences combined with social work, psychotherapy and counseling. Essences using in combination with acupuncture, massage, energy work, nutritional counseling, herbal healing, mainstream medicine, naturopathy, astrology, homeopathy. Essences can empower and speed the healing benefits of just about any other therapy. And these other modalities enrich and enhance the action of essences. Who could ask for a better marriage?

Multi-modality essence practice is a growing and vitally important area that deserves more attention than it has received. Thus vibrational and flower essences as combined with a great variety of healing practices  have been  the topic of  three special theme issues (February, 2007 , November, 2002 and   September, 2000)  and a Virtual booklet (Body Work and Essences).   Our many special theme issues and virtual booklets also feature articles by professionals in a variety of disciplines — for instance, Children and Essences and Animals, Pets, and Essences.

Multi-Modalities: A Common Path To Essence Work
Healers all over the world are combining essences with their modalities, and that’s not just because the results are so darned convincing. It’s happening because it represents a common path that healing professionals take to the world of essences. Healers everywhere are looking for new ways to expand their work and to improve the health of those they serve. Trained in a variety of other fields, one way or another they stumble upon flower remedies and often they know instinctively they have to find ways to add them to their pre-existing work. Among Vibration’s many recurring themes are articles devoted to Essence Practitioner Education.

Essences’ potential are recognized immediately, but just how to combine them with other healing tools is  the ongoing question. Though I am always thrilled to hear how essences have made their way into other fields, there can be problem inherent with a happenstance route.

20746549thbWhat’s Wrong with Essence Education by Single Companies?
For several years, I taught a class in essences to Boston pharmacy students as part of their complementary therapies course. When they asked me about how essence practitioners are educated, I always used the following analogy: what if you were to go the Hoffmann-LaRoche school of pharmacy, learning only about their products during your study? When you were done, you’d go to the Ciba-Geigy school. After that, you’d have to enroll in and graduate from the Merck school. And so on.

It would be a pretty silly way to be educated, yes? Of course, pharmacists instead first learn anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, treatment methodologies, patient management, classes of drugs, etc. They learn about specific drug companies’ products only as required by the topics covered.

This points to the greatest obstacle in essence education: learning the basic tenants of healing and essence use FIRST and THEN different company’s work certainly does seem more sensible. But no school we know of is devoid of focus on one or (at most) two company’s products. The lack of a basic essence practitioner education means we each have to find our way to this field on an individual, eccentric path to understanding the underlying principles of the field.

Therefore, frequently professionals enter essence work from some other type of healing modality, only adding the remedies as they learn what powerful tools they are in conjunction with whatever else it is they practice. Education somehow takes place as people cobble together classes, books, articles, and classes with teachers perhaps certified by one company or another.

The same thing is true for consumers who want to explore the entire modality: they generally can’t. They, too, have to put together enough info to genergally figure out what essences are and how they can help themselves and their families through their use. The results can lack the dimension, perspective or reach they should because they were (of necessity) arrived at in such a patchwork fashion.

20745962thb1This is one of the main reasons I founded the World Wide Essence Society. WWES and its publications — Vibration Magazine’s 11 years of quarterly issues and now this blog — are one of the very few ways to learn about essences as a healing modality in general. Our readers get the BIG picture of the art along with information about many companies’ products without bias toward any.

Learned folks like my co-editor, Donna Cunningham, are perfect for this type of education as she has already devoted much of her teaching and writing life to exactly this sort of education. We are long blessed by her enthusiastic and generous presence.

Given the scattershot quality of essence education, written materials of all kinds naturally play an important role for both consumers and practitioners alike. Books and magazine articles are supplemented by the marvelous internet in offering a variety of views and learning opportunities for interested student at all levels of experience.

Many Jewels in the Crown

It can be SO irritating when we find that our well-known, well-respected essence teachers don’t always speak with a single voice. One author writes about how he or she understands flower remedies and we think: “Ah ha! Now we know what this is about!” But we pick up another book or attend a workshop with a different presenter, and find ourselves confronted with a very different point of view.

Many students become angry and frustrated because they just want THE TRUTH about essences, and these differing perspectives only seem to make the subject more confusing. If all authorities aren’t in agreement, then how can we decide who is right and who is wrong? Don’t we need to know who is THE authority of authorities?

Frequently students present me with this dilemma when I teach something that differs from what they had learned earlier. And here is my invariable answer: an art involving health and healing of living creatures is not a place to look for  absolutes. Instead, treasure these varying points of view. Stop struggling to make them line up in a uni-dimensional row. The challenge is to regard them as gifts to help your own understanding stretch and grow.

20746331thb1The Biggest Book of All
Once, a wise instructor was asked why different companies describe remedies made from the same species of plant in different ways. She answered that each makers’ description is but one page in a big book devoted to a single essence. In order to really understand that essence, the entire book must to be read; any single page would not be sufficient.

We facet gems in order to release the color, shine and brilliance from within. By looking at vibrational and flower essences through the lens of several pairs of eyes (or pens), so, too, is their true color, shine and brilliance released. This has been our approach here at Vibration now for over a decade.  By publishing many authors talking about the products from many different essence companies, and exploring new ways of teaching about and understanding essences, we so much better can learn our field together. May we continue our enjoy these explorations!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Bier, PhD, is co-editor of Vibration Magazine, and  a holistic healthcare practitioner in private practice in Concord, MA. This is an excerpt from her newly published book/ebook Flower Essence Practice: For Students, Essence Practitioners & Other Healing Professionals (Windfall, 2008). She is also the author of Healthy Connections: Flower Essences for Better Family, Friend and Work Relationships; The Encyclopedia of Vibrational Essences, and Learning About Vibrational Essences (find all these titles here). She is the maker of Whole Energy Essences, and is available for private consultations.


Cathy Gubersky:

Hi Deborah, I loved this article and your excellent explanations! I have been an RN for over 35 years, and am also an Acupuncturist and Herbalist, both Eastern and Western herbs. I have been reading about and trying out Essences in various ways for several years, and also working with gems and minerals and crystals in the past few years as well. All healing modalities work together with Intention. Since physics tells us everything in the Universe, including us, is vibrating but at a slighlty different wavelength, all of this makes perfect sense from a quantum physics perspective. Now, how to incorporate all of this to be most effectivve? Thanks for everything you and Donna do to enhance our body of knowledge!

June 28th, 2009 | 5:43 pm

I really appreciate your exploration in this latest writing, Deborah. To call it the ‘weirdness’ of flower essence education is accurate. Here are a few complementary thoughts from my corner of the garden.

I’ve been producing flower essences since 1995 and I’ve struggled with the issues of ‘educating’ my public right from the start. I wanted to know how the essences ‘worked’ so that I could explain this to the left-brain of those I encountered. Yet when I tried to describe essences to people from this vantage point, the words often felt like sawdust in my mouth. They always felt like I was somewhat mis-representing the actual depth of the experience, short-changing the vastness of the mystery, trivializing what was a most sacred experience for me. So I wanted to ‘teach’ people what I knew but there was often a distinct gap of understanding.

Eventually, I realized that what people did need, and actually wanted, was a more direct experience with the actual creative process, not just the product! My strength was in providing people an opportunity to open to the aliveness and intelligence of the plants for themselves. The actual essences were a by-product of this more Celtic remembering of the sacredness of all things. I held workshops and events inviting people to experience the garden in a sacred way, not telling them what to see, feel, or hear through their intuition, but simply honoring that this intuitive capacity to connect deeply with Nature was alive in them. Simply witnessing their own experience and validating their perceptions. And I was genuinely fascinated by what they did perceive and what was opening in them as they allowed this experience to unfold for them.

This was a less direct way to ‘explain’ essences but ultimately more successful in opening people to the larger field – the sacred aliveness within all life. others have written and lectured about this: Joanna Macy, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, the poets Rilke, Mary Oliver and John O’Donohue. Through the past ten years, information about quantum physics has come more and more into the public view, reinforcing what were once ‘romantic’ or mystical perceptions.

This takes me back to flower essence education. My current thought is that we are being re-educated to remember the sacredness of all life. Only with this understanding and experience alive within us will we have the beginning basis to understand flower essences or appreciate how flower essences work. If we merely try to understand with our left-brains, we will always falter. Flower essences dance within a much larger field of energy than just our narrowly focused left-brains.

The video on Ted Talks with Jill Bolte about her experience of having a stroke, and being a neuroscientist, able to witness what was happening in her brain AS it was happening is relevant here. When her left brain was shut off at times during the stroke, her right brain ‘knew’ the beauty and majesty of life in a blissful connectedness. When she was able to pull herself back to the invaluable part of her left brain, “You’re having a stroke, call someone…” the blissful swimming connectedness to All was compromised. Her observation of this fascinating dance gives us some clues about our experience with flower essences.

When we work with them, whether we are producers, practitioners, or laypeople, we get these glimpses at times of another whole reality, a completely different possibility of healing. But we can’t and don’t stay there, swimming in the Mystery. We aren’t meant to. So our left-brains click in again, and we ask, “Just how do these things work?” and we come up with some semi-intelligent answer that may or may not satisfy the left-brain for a brief while. And back and forth, this dance continues as people experience (and that’s the key word) the dynamic possibilities of the essences in a direct and highly personal way.

To my mind, we are are doing with flower essences is integral to the waking of the World Soul, what mystics used to call the Anima Mundi. Our fascination with these simple, alchemical products takes us (if we are willing to journey with them) far beyond personal healing. We are being reconnected to the heart of Nature, and in doing so, the World Soul is being affected by our respectful listening, our participation. For this type of healing is not just a one-way action. It is not just a matter of getting what we need from the natural world and using it for our own purposes. The very sacredness of the intention with which most flower essences are created is a remembering of alchemy where sacred intent had an actual effect upon Nature, the soul of the world.

Seen from this perspective, the question of flower essence education, the ‘how do they work’ question becomes less relevant. The bigger question is ‘how can we participate in this magnificent process of co-creative healing?’ And the observation of what flower essences DO needs to expand to a much wider field of possibility than just curing moodiness or upset stomachs!

So thank you for opening this discussion, Deborah. I’m all for keeping the ‘weirdness’ alive in flower essence education for this may lead us into the larger mysteries!

Respectfully, Andrea

June 28th, 2009 | 5:43 pm

I think part of the problem is that people who tend to be more intuitive thinkers or who work in fields that are considered less analytical automatically assume that “analytical” types (and the disciplines that attract them) have an absolute set of unchanging rules and that there is agreement among the experts in that field about the meaning and proper application of those rules.

Having long been privileged to walk in both worlds — as an energy healer who has also earned a living as a science & technology writer — I can assure you and your readers that there are no such things as rules that can’t be (and aren’t) challenged and experts who agree with each other all the time — not in the sciences and not in engineering.

By its very nature, the scientific method is very much about what you at Vibrations advocate for your readers: go in with an open mind, observe, observe, observe, find and compare applicable case studies, and when you think you find patterns, formulate a theory and publish it to see what others in the field think. That’s what occurs all the time in technical fields, which is why rules and theories are constantly being challenged and changed, and why experts rarely agree on anything. What is heresy today is as likely to become dogma tomorrow as anything else.

Maybe the lesson is that a field where nothing is changing is a field that is not evolving and keeping pace with a constantly changing environment.

June 29th, 2009 | 12:39 am

Peggy, I love how you put that about the scientific method. So often “complementary” healthcare is degraded as being “unscientific”. Yet, I believe you are right: we do our best to follow scientific method, even though we also follow the threads of intuition as well — the latter not necessarily being the opposite of scientific, just that it is a path that reaches conclusions in a different way.

It’s always amused me (in a grim kind of way sometimes) how those who say they are “scientists” often have minds shut to observing phenomena that do not fit into their current theories. Which in my book makes them dogma-ists, not scientists. I greatly respect those in the sciences who are open to changing ideas — including ones that shatter paradigms.

June 29th, 2009 | 5:07 am