Flower Essences, Prayer, and Healing with Heidi Smith

Heidi Smith is a psychosomatic therapist, herbalist, flower essence practitioner, and author of The Bloom Book based in the New York City area. Today, we’re chatting with her about the many facets of her job, her favorite ways to practice self-care, and much more.

For those who may be new to your work, can you explain what flower essences are?

Flower essences are a type of plant and vibrational medicine used to address physical, emotional, spiritual, and energetic concerns. They create shifts in consciousness for healing to occur. Flower essences are not inert chemicals but are a type of plant spirit medicine, meaning the essences contain their own vital energy or spirit. They are not essential oils and can be taken orally or applied topically. 

 

You don’t just work with flower essences – you’re also a psychosomatic therapist and herbalist! What could a typical day look like for you? 

On days that I see clients, I do quite a bit of my own prep work beforehand so I’m in a good headspace to be grounded, present, and open. I’ll wake up early, around 6:30 am, and drink a bunch of water with lemon to alkalize and offset the coffee I'll drink--I'm currently very into coffee! Then it’s lighting a candle, morning prayers, and meditation. If I have time I’ll go for a run and do some stretching or dancing around. 

Traveling into the city can be stressful for me, so I try to keep it as tranquil as possible. I like to take Pink Yarrow flower essence and listen to ambient or classical music. I’ve managed to hold onto my office in Union Square, and I love being in my workspace. I share my office with a fellow herbalist and he’s very attentive to the energy so I can arrive dive right into work. 

I'll see four to six clients throughout the day with a mini-clearing ritual in between people to recenter myself. Some clients are new, but most are people I’ve been working with for a while. Taking breaks is important, so I’ll go for a stroll, stretch, or I’ll go to Union Square Greenmarket to say hi to my friend Sarah at Knead Love Bakery, and get some wheatgrass for my cats.

Then I’ll take the train home and try to read NYMag or a book instead of being on my phone. I reconnect with my partner and cats and am usually in bed by 10 pm!

 

You’ve mentioned before that you feel deeply aligned with ancient and Indigenous wisdom. Can you tell us more about the importance of learning from and respecting traditions outside our own, particularly when it comes to healing? 

I don’t believe that white colonizers invented wisdom and am more often led to the truths found in ancient wisdom. Recently, we are having more conversations about how to respectfully connect with BIPOC wisdom and traditions. As I mention in my book, white practitioners like me must be aware of the history of colonization and appropriation of BIPOC wisdom and healing traditions. For instance, western herbal medicine has proliferated within a context of white supremacy, and the borrowing and outright stealing of BIPOC wisdom was and is rampant. So, it’s not that we shouldn’t be learning outside of our lineages—we absolutely should—but we must do it with integrity. This is especially true if we are deriving any kind of profit from these practices.  

Some ways to bring more integrity to working with different traditions include learning about your own ancestry, decolonizing your understanding of a particular healing modality by learning from BIPOC teachers, understanding the impact colonization has had on that particular modality, asking permission to share certain teachings or knowledge, always offering credit where it is due, respecting closed practices, being accountable, offering reparations, and continually finding ways create reciprocity in your work.  

 

You previously led a class with us called The Language of Healing: A Process for Working with Flower Essences and Prayer. How do you hope to change the way people think of prayer? 

Alongside flower essences, prayer has been such a transformational practice for myself and many of my clients. There are a lot of negative associations and misconceptions about prayer; the word itself can be loaded for people. I think this is largely due to the negative impact of Christian dominance, and to a certain extent, any kind of religious dominance where we were forced to go along with beliefs and practices that didn’t feel resonant for us. 

To me, language is the agreement we make with our life situations. Intentional language (like prayer) can be a way to reframe negative thoughts and beliefs and bring about different outcomes within ourselves and our world. 

 

From training extensively to writing a book to meeting with clients, you’re an incredibly busy person! How do you care for yourself? 

To me, self-care helps me be of the highest service to myself, my clients and community, and the Earth. It also helps me to be in greater balance, which is very important to me. Self-care and being in balance aren’t about “doing all the things” or doing things perfectly, but rather allowing myself to be in alignment. This natural state of balance is always available to us, no matter what stress, threat, or trauma we may be dealing with. 

Sometimes I require more support to be in balance, sometimes less. During the pandemic, most people in my healing arts community have been quite tapped out. I feel a responsibility to love and care for myself and avoid burnout, so caring for myself remains vital. Some current caring practices I’m enjoying are making chai in the afternoon with ethically-sourced Damiana-infused Cacao from Cacao Lab, walking to Fort Greene park with a friend, prioritizing pleasure and joy (like safely going to see live music and dancing), taking long breaks from Instagram, letting myself receive help and care, and allowing myself to access inspiration, comfort, and ease. 

 

You can purchase Heidi's book, The Bloom Book to learn more about flower essences.

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