by Judy Ramsell Howard

Director of the Dr. Edward Bach Centre 


housepainting.jpgDr. Bach believed that negative emotional disturbances such as stress, fear and depression – the things that make us unhappy – create an imbalance between soul and mind, and that this imbalance was the root cause of an eventual breakdown in mental or physical health.


This sometimes raises the question whether treating negative emotional disturbances can cure any disease? It's an enormous question! – but a more precise one might be: "What is health?"


Dr. Bach answered the latter question beautifully when he described a little girl painting a picture of a house for her mother's birthday in the opening chapter of Free Thyself:


"To the very best of her ability she has put her idea of a house into form. It is a work of art because it is all her very own, every stroke done out of love for her mother, every window, every door painted in with the conviction that it is meant to be there. Even if it looks like a haystack, it is the most perfect house that has ever been painted: it is a success because the little artist has put her whole heart and soul, her whole being into the doing of it.


"This is health, this is success and happiness and true service. Serving through love in perfect freedom in our own way.


"The same little story of the child-painter will illustrate how, if we allow them, the difficulties of life may interfere with this success and happiness and health, and deter us from our purpose.


"The child is busily and happily painting when someone comes along and says, 'Why not put a window here, and a door there; and of course the garden path should go this way.' The result in the child will be complete loss of interest in the work; she may go on but is now only putting someone else's ideas on paper: she may become cross, irritated, unhappy, afraid to refuse these suggestions; begin to hate the picture and perhaps tear it up: in fact, according to the type of child so will be the reaction.


"The final picture might be a recognisable house, but it is an imperfect one and a failure because it is the interpretation of another's thoughts, not the child's.


"This is disease, the re-action to interference. This is temporary failure and unhappiness: and this occurs when we allow others to interfere with our purpose in life and implant in our minds doubt, or fear, or indifference."


Life is full of ups and downs, dealing with problems and difficulties, sometimes crisis after crisis. That's what life is about, for that is how we experience things and learn by its lessons. Some lessons are about suffering, and that might include the experience of physical or mental ill-health. Life is also about accepting that we cannot always have what we want; it's about learning to be patient and learning to be positive, even when surrounded by apparent negativity. And it's about understanding how our negative emotions can adversely affect others, and how we can reverse the effect in order to spread happiness and harmony instead.


The Bach Flower Remedies are there to help us through all of these things; they are there to help turn our world the right way up and show us why it was upside down in the first place.


Health and healing, therefore, are not necessarily about freedom from germs and viruses, or being cured of a particular condition. “Cure” in that sense is sometimes not possible. But there is a kind of health and healing that has to do with coping, understanding and learning from life. Whatever our illness, we can still hope to move in that direction towards mental and spiritual freedom.


You can download the complete text of Free Thyself – for the all-inclusive price of nothing! – by going to http://bachcentre.com/centre/download/index.htm


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