©2002 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Some years ago, Andrew Ramer and I were exploring addictions from a spiritual viewpoint
and testing alternative healing methods for our books Spiritual Dimensions of Healing Addictions
and Further Dimensions of Healing Addictions. (Cassandra Press, 1988, not currently available.)
A group of recovering alcoholics from our neighborhood volunteered to try out the information.
Though I am no longer working in that field, I wanted to
pass along what Andrew and I learned from these gutsy, committed individuals. They were willing to
experiment with flower remedies, visualizations, Reiki, crystal healing, guided imagery, and anything else that
would help their recovery along. No responsible practitioner would claim that alternative
healing alone cures alcohol abuse, which is a multi-layered problem requiring
the coordinated effort of many disciplines and approaches. However, alternative healing methods
can add a much-needed element.
Almost without exception, a major task we had to address was healing the heart. Eventually, it grew clear that abuse of alcohol was intimately related to heart wounds. When we talk about a broken heart, we are really talking about the heart chakra, also known as the heart center, the part of the aura or energy body found in the region of the physical heart. It governs our capacity to give and receive love on an energetic level, and a major loss often damages the heart chakra. Many alcoholics began drinking heavily after losing someone they loved. This is especially true of the men, for they seldom got permission to actively grieve their losses -- tears are a healing balm for the heart.
On a physical level, a stiff drink brings an immediate rush of blood to the actual,
physical heart, so it feels like the heart chakra is alive, open, and full. People
who abuse alcohol--and its near but somewhat less potent relative, sugar--often are drawn to it because their own hearts are numbed or aching due to losses of loved ones or a lack of sense of connection with others. Longstanding abuse of alcohol, however, winds up even more seriously wounding the heart chakra. It is finally depleted and numbed until alcohol abusers feel isolated and alone. The love and caring they receive from other recovering alcoholics in recovery programs is a start in reawakening the heart.
In another article in this issue, I discuss Bleeding Heart, but here I wanted to talk
about how it can affect those in recovery from alcohol abuse with longstanding and heavy
heart wounds. A crucial remedy, yet one to be use with utmost care, Bleeding Heart can
be extremely cathartic. The sorrow--even the grief--about losses or lack of love that the person was drinking to avoid can come to the surface in a rather overwhelming rush. The facing and clearing of these sorrows was very necessary to my clients'recovery, yet they needed a great deal of support from me and from their various A.A. groups, sponsors, and friends in order to deal with what came up.
I learned to have them start very slowly on this remedy, letting their instincts guide them,
but maybe only one or two doses a day to begin with. I prepared them carefully for the fact
that feelings about old losses might rush to the surface. I suggested taking a few days off
from the remedy if they were inundated. I made sure they knew that I was available by phone
or for extra sessions if they needed to process the feelings and insights the remedy evoked.
Most of all, I learned not to give this remedy to people in the raw, early stages of recovery, for they needed time to strengthen and renew themselves and to weave a strong support network before they faced the challenge of healing their badly-wounded hearts. (Oh, yes, and I learned NOT to use brandy as a preservative in the dosage bottle for recovering alcoholics, but rather apple cider vinegar, which works just as well!)
You may be wondering if problem drinkers who are still abusing alcohol would be helped by
Bleeding Heart. My inclination would be to advise against it, though for specific individuals
you could double check with muscle reflex testing or other tools. Consider that some of them
may be drinking in the first place to numb themselves against painful heart wounds.
If so, the emotions that Bleeding Heart often brings to the surface might even intensify
the desire to drink.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: For other important words of caution for essence practitioners and users,
see Donna's earlier article, "Are There
People Who Shouldn't Take Essences?")
In essence work with those in recovery, I learned to add gentler, supportive and
strengthening remedies to the mix and often to start with those before going to Bleeding Heart.
An important remedy in almost any healing process is Self-Heal, which enhances our self-healing
abilities, so I used it with them often and repeatedly.
One of my favorite heart healers is Heartsease, which is like mother's milk for
the aching heart. I used the remedy from Harebell, which is hard to find, but other
companies also make remedies from the same plant, pictured here. It has the Latin name Viola
tricolor. Part of the violet family, it is a sweet-faced miniature pansy that has many names in various parts of the world. Whole Energy Essences makes it under the name Johnny Jumpups, and the Alaskan Flower Essence Society calls it Blue Elf Viola.
On the whole, my recovering clients did not respond well to gem essences, variously
called gem elixirs or gem tinctures, depending on the method of preparation. The catharsis
they got from a gem essence seemed a great deal harsher than the reaction to a flower essence,
sometimes intolerably so. One exception was Rose Quartz, a soothing and comforting
essence that the heart almost seems to inhale. To boost the healing, I often gave them a
piece of rose quartz stone to carry in their pocket or to set on their bedside table. (The layers
in these illustrations are based on a photo of rose quartz.)
Alcohol abuse has a profound effect on the drinker's relationships, in part, again,
because of the heart chakra damage. An important pattern that became clear as I delved
into the histories of these recovering alcoholics was that growing up in alcoholic families
set many of them up for repeating the pattern.
Though alcoholism is in part a genetic sensitivity to this substance and in part a coping strategy learned from parents, there was also a way that heart chakra damage entered into the picture for my clients. Apparently, both the drinking and the non-drinking parent grew needy due to the deadening impact of alcohol on their heart chakras, so they unknowingly drew energy from the still-developing heart chakras of their children to fill their own emptiness.
Another large number winds up in relationships with heavy drinkers, because their heart chakras became overdeveloped at the expense of other chakras,
like the self-esteem related solar plexus. I found that a remarkable number of adult
children of alcoholics enter the helping professions--just ask around if you don't believe me!
Another large number winds up in relationships with heavy drinkers, because the type of
heart energy exchange feels familiar and comfortable even though it is far from fulfilling.
On either pathway, an overdeveloped heart chakra at some point can become drained. These people can be drawn into abusing alcohol or sugar as a way to feel that heart chakra
rush again. Thus the impact of long-term alcohol abuse on the offspring and mates of
alcohol abusers can be considerable, and they may also need heart healing through the
remedies and other tools covered in this issue of Vibration.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Cunningham, MSW, is one of the editors of Vibration and has many years
of experience in both flower remedies and astrology. For links to more of her articles,
visit her Frequent Contributor's Page.
ART CREDITS: The rose quartz the background tiles were based on comes from a fine collection of gemstone photos by Professor Jill Banfield of the University of Wisconsin Geology Department.
Clip art from Art Today, Expert Software, and Print Perfect.
The World Wide Essence Society does not mean to imply any recommendation of nor give certification to any individuals or companies above. This article is provided purely for informational purposes. We ask consumers to make their own determination as to quality of the services and products offered above. This article is not meant to be advice, and the information is not meant to replace medical or psychological treatment.