“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl
When I was younger, my emotions were on a hair-trigger alert system. There was no space between a stimulus and my response. I often felt at the mercy of my seemingly mysterious emotions, which were triggered by random events.
After experiencing a difficult loss during my early 30’s, I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of Tara Brach’s book ’Radical Acceptance’ and was introduced to Insight Meditation, which I have practiced for ten years now. Insight Meditation has helped me lengthen my response time and therefore come to understand my emotions and choose more mindful reactions.
A few years after I began meditating, I was lying flat on my back at the end of a yoga class when the teacher applied a delicious scent to my temples and feet. I immediately felt like an enormous pressure had been lifted from my chest and relaxed into a peaceful state of rest, emerging from class feeling more calm than I ever had before. That was the beginning of a loyal love affair with using essential oils in my mindfulness practices.
Using scent enhances our spiritual activities, making them more effective. Priests and sages have, for millennia, combined incense and herbs with ceremony. No matter what you do to unwind, whether sitting in meditation, praying, or soaking in a calming bath, essential oils are perfect companions.
A note before we move on: High quality essential oils can be found from several reputable sources, but there are also a lot of synthetically produced oils on the market today. Be very selective when choosing your oils, as synthetic scents can actually have a detrimental effect on your health and hormones. To learn more about the brand I use, visit my Aroma page.
Here, now, are 3 benefits of using essential oils:
ENHANCE YOUR SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
I keep a colourful little row of glass bottles next to my meditation space. Each bottle contains a different blend of essential oils that I find beneficial to my sessions.
Meditation and prayer help to activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which is responsible for rejuvenating and energising your body and mind. Using some essential oils, like lavender, sandalwood, or bergamot, can help enhance the positive effects of such activities.
How to use: Simply keep a couple of your favourite calming essential oils in the area you sit when you pray or meditate. Before you begin, you can simply smell the oils or dab a couple of drops behind your ears. You might also want to invest in a high quality diffuser for the space.
Let’s face it, some days meditation or prayer can be hindered by an overactive mind. Rather than skip your practice at a time that you most need it, essential oils can help you find the focus to tame your monkey mind.
How to use: When you’re feeling overwhelmed or scattered, apply a blend of a carrier oil and Frankincense, Lime, Ylang Ylang, and Roman Chamomile to your temples and the base of the neck. Rub a small amount on your hands and take a few deep inhalations of the delicious scent to create instant focus.
IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
Because aroma affects the emotional brain immediately, essential oils are excellent tools to use to support your mood. Certain categories of aroma can affect different emotional states, so you can hand pick your scents to support the feelings that you want more or less of. The oils from citrus are uplifting, tree oils are soothing, floral scents help diminish fear, and mints can help us feel more confident! When we combine different categories of scent, we can get really specific about the ways we want to be supported.
How to use: I always recommend that people find pre-made blends, created by aromatherapists, when wanting to enhance your mood. There are several on the market, and they come in roller bottles, perfume sprays, and bath salts. (Again, make sure to do your research to ensure your safety.) If you’d like to know more about the blends that I use to support my emotions, download my free “Emotional Support with Essential Oils” Cheat Sheet.
Essential oils, when combined with a mindfulness practice, can help us be more mindful and create space between stimulus and response so that we can enjoy the freedom of being in control of our emotions and a more peaceful life.
Have you used essential oils in your spiritual practices? If so, please share in the comments!
Guest Blogger Bio: Lisa Machac is a freelance writer and blogger and the creator of Genuine, an online resource that simplifies self care in order to foster a sense of inner peace and altruism. Genuine connects readers to free self care and mindfulness practices that help boost confidence, connection, and the desire to serve others.