I’m a fan of the work of Heather Dawn Godfrey and I interviewed Dawn for UK Health Radio on the power of essential oils and how they can be used for meditation and mindfulness.
Check out the interview here and Dawn’s excellent books such as Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation and Essential Oils for the Whole Body
Check out Dawn’s work at www.aromantique.co.uk
Here’s a Q&A where Dawn tells us more about the motivation behind her great work:
Tell me about your company
‘Aromantique’ incorporates three dynamic strands; workshops and training, aromatherapy treatments, and the ‘Essential Oils for…’ book series.
My aromatherapy clinic is based in Lyme Regis, which nestles on the south coast at the border between East Devon and West Dorset. Thus, my clients are a mix of holidaymakers and local residence. I prefer to work face-to-face with students rather than virtually. I have a lovely group of students, who are patiently ‘distancing themselves’ while we wait for ‘lockdown’ to lift; lots of work, though, creating and completing ‘stay at home’ work-packs and tasks.
I have, so far, published (Healing Arts Press, Inner Traditions) two of a series of four books exploring essential oils, Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation (2019 Platinum Awards winner), and ‘Essential Oils for the Whole Body’. There is also a traditional Chinese version of Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation, translated and published last year. This book is listed as one of the publisher’s 2019 best selling new releases. ‘Essential Oils for the Whole Body’, my entry for the 2020 Janey Loves Platinum Awards, was published five months ago and is already listed by Inner Traditions as a 2020 ‘best pick’.
What were you doing in a previous life?
As my age determines, I have travelled a long and varied road. I learnt to meditate in the early ‘70’s, and, at the same time, serendipitously, was introduced to complementary medicine (or ‘alternative medicine as it was coined then). I met and worked for Robert Tisserand, who originally inspired my interest in essential oils, and met others who introduced me to acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy; I was young and fascinated, this was a whole new ‘world’ to me.
I have four lovely grown up children, who have children of their own. While they were small, I did various part time jobs that enabled me to juggle being a mother and work to ‘help make ends meet’, for example, I was ‘Arts Coordinator’ for my local Council funded Arts Association, and also worked for a T-shirt printing company, among other jobs. I was a parent governor, and also stood for the local Green Party (more of a quest to encourage the other parties to take on green issues in those days, a strategy that did work in part).
As my children began to grow up, I was able to pick up the threads I began to weave earlier. I completed a B.Sc. degree in Counselling and Complementary Medicine, then Masters’ modules in Mindfulness, and Supervision of Counselling, at the University of Salford, and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education at Bolton Institute. Following this, during this time, I set up my aromatherapy practice. I taught at various local FE Colleges: for example, subjects included ITEC aromatherapy and reflexology, and PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector). I accepted a post at the University of Salford, in the School of Health Science and Social Care (now the School of Health and Society) and was Programme Lead for the B.Sc. Integrated Therapy in Practice degree, and Module Lead for Aromatherapy, and Supervision and CPD, among other roles. I worked there for a number of years as part of a team delivering degrees that straddled Complementary Medicine, Health Sciences and Counselling. My specific interest was the psycho-emotional influence of essential oils on health and wellbeing (my original dissertation explored ‘The Role of Essential Oils in the Management and Treatment of ADHD’, and my Masters assignment explored ‘Essential Oils and Mindfulness’).
My books are an accumulation of my years spent studying, teaching and working in this field. Essential oils seem to embrace so many dynamics – creative, artistic, sensual, emotional, healing and nurturing, and have led me to delve into aspects I might otherwise have shied away from – organic chemistry, botany, pathophysiology – but which I find fascinating, so I am grateful for the nudge. I am, in this respect, a perpetual student – the adage ‘the more you learn, the less you know’ seems so true.
I moved from Lancashire to Dorset six years ago (my children adults, with families of their own), which is, in fact, where the roots of my extended family are (dad, a ‘Devon lad’ joined in the RAF as a teenager, met my mother, ‘a Dorset girl’ and my brother, sister and I spent our childhood and teenage years travelling with our parents wherever dad was posted). Lyme Regis sits neatly between both counties.
Why natural / organic / sustainable / holistic?
It’s a no-brainer. It’s impossible to be involved in complementary medicine and not realize the intrinsic connection we have with our environment and nature; that everything is interconnected; that we are influenced by what we eat and consume in many ways; and that we, in turn, influence the environment around us through our actions and behaviours. We are part of, not separate from nature, we are dependent – for example, the slightest change in levels of oxygen in the atmosphere and we would cease to exist; our bodies cannot function without the nutritional input gifted by nature. Experiencing respect and reverence is as important to our souls as feeling unconditional love; these conditions are, in fact, expressions of that love.
I selected my publisher, Inner Traditions, not just because they publish books in my genre, but also because they uphold ‘green’ values (https://www.innertraditions.com/greenpolicies).
Equally, I select suppliers whose oils and products are ethically sourced and, as often as possible, organic, especially my essential oils (for example, NHR Organic Oils https://www.nhrorganicoils.com/frame.php?page=info_34, Oshadhi UK https://www.oshadhi.co.uk/). All be-it ‘out there’, there is something about the energy and therapeutic quality of oils that are appropriately, respectfully sourced and distilled. As well as appropriately grown and sourced plant material, appropriate length of distillation time and temperature are significant to the resultant quality of the essential oil. Sometimes this means paying a little more for things, but if that payment supports this practice and finds it’s way back down the chain in fair remuneration to everyone involved, so we are all able to support each other, then so be it. Quality and reliability are paramount with regard to my therapeutic practice.
What’s your USP? What sets you apart from your competitors?
All of the above. I have gained a lot of experience and insight through ‘waking the walk’, studying and pushing my boundaries. But whether that sets me apart? My aim is to do what I do well, conscientiously, and to the best of my ability. I am an expert in my field, but I do not know everything. I have learned and achieved, not just from my own hard work, but also by virtue of the generosity and hard work of other people who share their own expertise and insights (books, research papers, seminars and lectures, incidental conversations).
Competitors. Competition can be both a motivator and driver, and a destroyer. I can learn from my competitors, and sometimes they keep me on my toes, so that I am not complacent. What sets me apart? Perhaps it’s all of me; my struggles, failures, disappointments, achievements, successes, tenacity on the darkest day, gratitude and appreciation when I am successful (and holding that sense when I am not successful as well, for the lessons I learn) – I am what I am by virtue of all of these things; but I think these draw us together, not apart. How does this translate to my work? I present my work through this lens, uniquely reflective of my experience and insight.
Essential Oils for the Whole Body was written to provide a broad platform to ‘get the reader started’. I wanted to provide a ‘one stop’ go-to handbook that will take the reader through the practical and subtle applications of essential oils, so they can readily adapt according to their need at any given time, safely and appropriately. I also wanted to tap into the creativity and sensuality of essential oils. Embracing dynamics such as colour and gemstones is fun, but I wanted to ensure that I did not trivialize their inclusion, nor trivialize the application of essential oils. When applied appropriately, I have observed, this subtle dynamical approach can actually be very effective, especially psycho-emotionally.
As I explain the in the book, the boundaries between physical, psychological and emotional (body, mind, and spirit) often overlap. Indeed, feeling happy, relaxed and calm, positive and optimistic demonstrably influences physical function; heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol levels, endorphin release, digestion, and so on. Therefore, a significant aspect of our wellbeing, in terms of immunological support, and healthy function, is our state of ‘being’ – ‘being in stress’ or ‘being in equanimity’, ‘being in fear’ or ‘being in peace’. Indeed, we are often reminded that unconditional ‘love’ is an optimum state of ‘being’. Our state of ‘being’ influences our state of ‘body’. It is in this context in which essential oils find a perfect niche, as they are shown to influence all of these dynamics both independently and together.
Also, through my practice, training and teaching, I have come across situations in which essential oils, while extremely valuable, are potentially contra indicated because a person has certain serious underlying health conditions or is taking medication, which essential oils may interfere with. Hence the practical grounded elements of the book, that explore the basic physiological function of the body, how essential oils are absorbed and excreted, which oils are not safe to use in certain contexts and which oils are safe, and how to apply and blend these appropriately. Grounded in this understanding, I then explore ways in which essential oils can be applied subtly, with minimal risk; highly diluted, with just a hint of scent (olfactory receptors can detect very small amounts of essential oil molecules), alongside colour and gemstones to positively but gently support their subtle dynamics.
What kind of feedback have you received from clients?
The feedback I get is very positive. But, in terms of my aromatherapy practice, my clients generally aren’t the kind of people who would share negative feedback, unless as a quiet word in private. The only time this has happened, however, is when I used spikenard in a massage blend and my client did not like the ‘after scent’ – shall I repeat how she described it, yes, ‘like a wet dog’!!! This description stayed with me; we both laughed at the time, but I still chuckle to myself when I remember her words. The sense of smell, in deed, is very personal, what one person finds pleasant another may describe as unpleasant; not everyone likes the same scents. Also, an essential oils odour profile changes over time, as the more volatile molecules evaporate; so the scent that’s left behind can be quite different from the scent first encountered.
Feedback from my Clients
Heather is a very talented and experienced aromatherapist, she intuitively blended a sublime mix of oils specifically for me and gave an amazing massage. I left with both my body and mind relaxed and rejuvenated. An absolutely delightful experience, thank you Heather.
Wow! Went to Heather for a massage last week. It was an amazing experience, incredibly relaxing, and very healing. Heather is incredibly professional, whilst at the same time, extremely warm and welcoming, instantly putting you at ease. The treatment took place in her studio, which is warm, cosy and peaceful. A full body massage is just that and I felt that every part of my body benefited from the gentle massage using the essential oils that Heather and I chose together. By the end of the session I felt as though I had been wrapped in a little cocoon and was very reluctant to leave! Have already booked my next treatment. Thank you so much, Heather. I shall be recommending you to all my friends x
Feedback from Readers of my Books
Essential Oils for the Whole Body
An impressive and comprehensive presentation of what essential oils are, how they work, and how to use them, not only for physical illnesses but also on the psycho-emotional level. A great book on essential oils!
Christopher Vasey, ND, author of Natural Antibiotics and Antivirals
In times when most aromatherapists are going back to using simple recipes based on the biomedical paradigm, this book opens up another way of looking at topical applications and absorption dynamics. These areas are actually more complex than mechanical interpretation allows and require a book with a holistic, and even spiritual, background combined with scientific insight. It will surely build stronger relationships with the ‘whole body.
Martin Henglein, Naturopath, Aromatherapist, and Osmologist
This book offers a beautiful bridge between the science of aromatherapy and esoteric application. Godfrey presents a truly holistic approach that explores how to support the whole self, from the physical to the emotional and spiritual.
Candice Covington, author of Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice
A lovely book packed full of information about the form and function of the human body and the ways essential oils can interact with it. This book builds on the author’s previous work, Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation, to create an invaluable guide for those who wish to understand essential oils and use them creatively and safely.
Sophie Olszowski, PhD, director of SPZ Associates Ltd.
I am an avid believer in using essential oils in many different aspects of body health and home use so I was thrilled to receive this book for review. What I found here is a great complete education on Essential Oi . The author has included blending of oils, safety as well as even the chemical contents, which are good to know for those of us that use oils in our daily lives. I highly recommend the instructions for making creams, ointments and skin care product’s, which was so fun to learn so much more then I knew. The recipes are brilliant and easy to follow. There is also information on diffusing oil’s, which I am already using and enjoying. A ‘definitive’ book on essential oils this book I highly recommend for all who use oils and wish to educate themselves on both the oils, the process and the creation of recipes. Out of all the books on Essential Oils I have read over the years this is my favourite.
C. C. Netgalley
The content of this book is full of very descriptive information about essential oils. It would make a great reference book in any home as well as the local public library. This book would also be a well-used addition to any person wanting a more in-depth knowledge of oils. It will also help those like me who dally somewhat with oils but do not fully comprehend all the intricacies. Might keep someone like me from handling the oils improperly.
This book is a great resource for anyone wanting to dig deeper into essentials oils, you get tons and I mean tons of resourceful information I cannot express how much detail and research this author did just for this book. You get recipes, for creams, lotions, and perfume oils. The author doesn’t only use essential oil, but she also gives you a list of gemstones to use every day, you get worksheets and much more to help you in your study and lifestyle.
Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation
There is a unique way to enhance psychological well-being waiting to be explored. This book tells you how meditation and aromatherapy, classic tools for modifying the mind, can work together to maintain a state of calm and insight. Familiar oils like rose and frankincense add serenity and inspiration to the practice of mindfulness meditation. Diffusing an essential oil during meditation practice can even return your awareness to that meditative mode if you smell the aromatic oil again later.
The author is an aromatherapist who not only uses essential oils professionally but also conducts research into the effects of these powerful plant ingredients. The reader will find out how knowledge of traditional practice and subjective experience, backed by scientific evidence, is an ideal path for discovery; how mindfulness meditation and essential oil inhalation relieve anxiety or calm the mind, as explained from the perspectives of ancient history, religious practices, and modern complementary medical practice. Scientific studies involving human subjects and essential oils tested in laboratory models are described in easy-to-digest detail that adds value and validity.
Advice on how to use the pure essential oils comes with a thorough briefing on dose and safety–a prerequisite for these concentrated and potent plant extracts. In passing, learning about the many everyday food, drink, and cosmetic products that contain essential oils is an eye-opener on the hidden influences on the mind and body. This book is bound to have a long-lasting impact on both meditation and aromatherapy practices, thanks to its inspired author, Heather Dawn Godfrey.
Elaine Perry, Ph.D., professor emeritus of neuroscience at Newcastle University
This interesting book melds the science and alchemy of essential oils and their use in meditation with a mix of personal anecdotes and evidence. Taking the reader on a journey through these highly topical disciplines, it is a timely reminder and how-to guide of the importance of stepping back from the maelstrom of modern life to find a sensible inner balance.
Sophie (Petit-Zeman) Olszowski, Ph.D Author of Doctor, What’s Wrong? Making the NHS Human Again, and Editor, NHS Researcher, and Director of SPZ Associates Ltd
This book is an impressive and comprehensive presentation of what are essential oils, how they work and how to use them, not only for physical illnesses, but also on the psycho-emotional level. A great book on essential oils!
Richard Vasey Author of Natural Antibiotics and Antivirals
Godfrey, an International Federation of Aromatherapists fellow, skilfully explains how scent works on the brain to create relaxation and how this affects our well-being. Odors that stimulate brain chemicals, such as serotonin and GABA, trigger composure, concentration, deep breathing, and a meditative state to reduce stress and anxiety. Research is presented on rehabilitative techniques to remove negative emotional states, like regrets, traumas, fears, and anxiety. Charts and discussion show the brain’s hemispheres and the actions of a few essential oils are mentioned, although no recipes are suggested. There are also guidelines for use, healthy foods, and methods, techniques, and tools for application.
American Herb Association Quarterly
This book is an informative guide to the use of essential oils as an accompaniment to meditation/mindfulness. It finishes with a chapter on other forms of achieving wellbeing – nutrition, exercise and relaxation. There are footnotes and a bibliography for further information. As such it’s very comprehensive but as a newcomer to essential oils I didn’t find the content intimidating.
A great guide for beginners wanting to learn more about mindfulness and meditation and how to use essential oils for relaxation. A good reference book to have on hand with well organised tables for easy access to information. Great background information on mindfulness and using essential oils for those that are just starting out.
What’s your Big Dream?
At my age, to fulfil the typical cliché, my big dream is a cottage with a lovely big kitchen, and a massive garden where I can grow things and distil essential oils, and live happily ever after!! Meanwhile, back in the real world; to continue to write and share through teaching; all my books are successfully published; I have sufficient funds to work less so I can afford time to delve more into art (I love drawing, photography, and creativity) and to explore and appreciate the world around me. I do not envisage that I will stop working, because I love what I do. But I have a feeling something amazing is going to happen that I have not imagined, because each day is a unique moment full of unimagined of possibility.