“Nature is the ultimate healer.”
That’s a telling quote from Dina Saalisi and her book*Listening to Flowers: Positive Affirmations to Invoke the Healing Energy of the 38 Bach Flowers, with illustrations by Audrey Violet. Saalisi, a California-based healer and hypnotherapist, believes that nature can help cure what ails us—especially the fragrances found in various flowers and flowering plants.
Part of the title of the book might have you scratching your head: “What are the 38 Bach flowers”? There’s an interesting story behind the flowers that Saalisi recounts in the introduction. In 1930’s England, there was a renowned doctor and homeopath named Doctor Edward Bach. In the author’s words, he “developed a method for using the subtle energy from flowers to relieve the disharmony of disease.”
*Calling this “a book” comes up short—the book itself is nestled in a small, beautifully designed case that includes a deck of 38 cards, each featuring a brilliant illustration of each of the Bach flowers, and a positive affirmation for each.
“There is no true healing unless there is a change in outlook, peace of mind and inner happiness. Health depends on being in harmony with our souls.” ~Dr. Edward Bach
As you can probably tell from the quote above, Bach’s approach to medicine was unique. He believed that the emotional state of his patients was more important than their symptoms and that our emotions could dictate our physical well-being. So, he would ask his patients how their illness made them feel. Do you feel fearful? Are you anxious? Discouraged? Depressed?
Through trial and error, and his own insights and intuition, Bach examined a myriad of different flowers. His method was to float the freshest bloom he could find in a glass of spring water and then place it in sunlight. By doing this he could extract “the healing essence of each flower.” He then observed the effect the flowers had on people when placed in their presence. Thirty-eight seemed to possess special powers.
Bach came to discover that each of the 38 flowers fell into one of seven unique categories of “emotional challenge” that could be overcome. These included Uncertainty, Despondency or Despair, and Insufficient Interest in Present Circumstances. He then published a short guide, The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies, enabling his patients and others to self-help their way to a better, more balanced emotional state.
Dina Saalisi took the Bach teachings a step further.
The author has her own interesting back story. Many years ago, Saalisi worked on an organic flower farm in Northern California and realized that “each flower had its own personality and energy.” Guided by Bach’s teachings, over the past three decades, she has spent “countless hours listening to flowers … and absorbing the wisdom of their essences.”
Her interest in flowers comes from Saalisi’s belief that we are inherently linked to nature and that “we exist within nature’s grace, alive within the flow of the earth’s natural rhythms.” She tells us that there are many opportunities for us to connect with “the profound energy field of nature … if we simply take notice.” She says that “nature can’t help but touch us at the core” and writes of a spiritual practice based around nature:
Allow yourself to drink in the imagery and sounds that are here stunningly and for free. Then, resume life, with a fuller, richer sense of being. This is the practice.
For her clients, Saalisi uses a combination of flower therapy, combined with positive affirmations, to put them in the right head space. Her process for creating the affirmations involved “taking each essence internally, sitting in silent meditation, and allowing the phrase to organically emerge.” She believes these affirmations “serve as soul wisdom to those who are struggling to transform limiting beliefs of their minds.”
Here are three of those affirmations with the flower or plant they align to:
Hornbeam: for Uncertainty
I awaken to the joy of life
I undertake my activities with vibrancy
My energy is renewed as I find motivation within
Pine: For Despondency or Despair
I am worthy and deserving of life’s gifts
I release guilt and shame
I embrace my divine nature
Vervain: for Overcare (relaxing the need for control)
I relax and allow life to unfold peacefully
I transform tension into calm
I soften my views and trust in a higher power
Does the Bach healing method really work?
The Bach names lives on today, and if you don’t want to go through the trouble of tracking down some of the more obscure flowers listed in the book, you can buy the remedies themselves online. They can also be purchased at many health food stores, and through specialists like homeopaths, herbalists, and acupuncturists.
According to Web MD, people use Bach remedies “for many conditions, including anxiety, depression, stress, emotional and physical trauma, cancer, and HIV.” They also point out that while safe, research has been inconclusive as to whether they actually work. In their words, “They seem to make some people feel better, but it isn’t clear if this is a result of the placebo effect.”
My take: It’s a reassuring thought that nature may be able to cure while ails us. While nature may not be able to resolve more serious illnesses, it seems to make intuitive sense that they could help heal loneliness, despondency, or apathy. Glimpse the pretty pages and compelling story of Listening to Flowers, and you too may become a believer.