I have been a fan of essential oils since I had my first aromatherapy massage when I was in my twenties, I was lucky enough to have found a ‘proper’ therapeutic practitioner and the experience stayed with me. I have always turned to essential oils for massage, bathing, infusing for an aroma in the room, but hadnt thought about their use in meditation till I came upon Heather Dawn Godfreys’ excellent book Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation which was one of the winners in the Platinum Awards.
I invited Heather to write this article for us.
At the epicentre of the storm, there is calm; at the centre of chaos, stillness; at the heart of being, peace.
Meditation returns consciousness to the peace, stillness, and calm at the epicentre of our being. Thus, remaining mindfully aware, we are present and consciously engaged in the here and now.
Everything we need and can handle in life is present-ed to us a moment at a time. Thus too, meditation is a moment-to-moment experience. It is an ancient practice. In deed, “breath focus” features as an aspect of many disciplines, ancient and modern, from prayer and yoga, to the practice of relaxation techniques.
Although incredibly simple, however, meditation can sometimes appear to be the hardest thing to do. I can find time, create a space, and sit with every good intention …… then, suddenly, I wonder if I turned the oven off, I become aware of the clock ticking in the next room, my mind drifts along the threads of whispered thoughts and musings. Don’t despair! This is what the minds does, and continues to do even when we are asleep. Simply notice it’s rambling, but don’t give it your attention. Instead focus your awareness on your breath as it rises and falls within, allow your minds incessant chatter to drift to the sideline: observe, notice, acknowledge, but remain consciously aware of your breathing. Thus we sit within, patiently, compassionately, at the gateway….
Meditation is not a magic wand that waves all our cares away and whisks up our ‘happily ever after’. It may still rain on your wedding day; your flight may still be cancelled as you are about to embark on the holiday of a lifetime; you may not win the game, or get the promotion you hoped for.
What meditation does is enable you to stand (or ‘be’) at the centre of each moment and observe, and thus gain a greater sense of awareness of what ‘is’.
The moment never offers more than we can deal with, yet, the outcome of present-centred awareness and meditation is manifold. It’s a little bit like “re-wilding” the soul. An over-ploughed and depleted field, abandoned and barren of life after years of repeatedly growing the same crop, left to its own devices, will suddenly begin to bloom again as nature magnificently reclaims its territory. In rediscovering our own magnificence, we then notice that life is full of miracles that completely outshine rain on our wedding day.
Essential oils are gifts of nature – one of many manifestations of earth’s nurturing abundance – that provide amazing supportive qualities. Observing the scent of essential oils, we are aware of our breathing and, consequently, of the immediacy of the moment.
Essential oils comprise of a complex mixture of volatile organic molecules, extracted, usually by steam distillation, from various parts of a plant: leaves, blossoms, fruits, seeds, bark, and so on. Essential oil molecules instigate various responses within the body, the most significant of which in terms of meditation, is their influence on the limbic system and their consequential ability to calm, ground and uplift mood and emotion, aid memory and improve alertness, and inspire a sense of pleasure and joy. They are adaptive, and tend to normalise or balance rather than simply stimulate or sedate. They are physiologically protective, restorative, and healing.
Used to support meditation, essential oils can aid focus and concentration, wakefulness, instil a sense of peace and calm, or clear the sinuses to ease breathing. Cedarwood instils feelings of peace. Frankincense and patchouli slow and deepen breathing. Myrrh revitalises and stimulates, yet is also calming. Spikenard inspires a sense of peace and tranquillity.
A carefully selected single essential oil, or perhaps a simple blend of two or three, will work very effectively for a range of needs and requirements. Remember, the sense of smell is personal. Simply, our response to scent usually indicates what is good for us and what is not. We can initially use this instinct to gauge which essential oil(s) will be supportive at any given time. Below are some examples.
To calm anxiety
To aid focus and concentration
To aid wakefulness
To uplift mood
To aid sleep (in small amounts)
Essential oils should not be applied neat to skin, or taken internally without medical advice. Always dilute them in an emollient, such as grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or a non-perfumed cream or lotion, adding no more then two or three drops of essential oil at a time to 6-10 ml of your emollient. This rule applies for massage, skin care, adding essential oils to a bath, and creating perfumes. For further information visit www.aromantique.co.uk.
By Heather. D. Godfrey Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditations, Healing Arts Press, Inner Traditions, Vermont USA 2018