Both meditation and essential oils have been used as wellness tools for thousands of years. Recently, they have been recognized more and more for their long-lasting, life-changing benefits.
Essential oils are powerful! Today, I’m going to share with you how to use them for meditation and its associated benefits. First, let’s talk about what meditation really is!
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation affects your brain, body, and emotions. In 2011, Harvard researchers conducted a study at Massachusetts General Hospital where they observed people meditating for 8 weeks. Before the study began, they took MRI images of the brain. Eight short weeks later, they took MRI images again and found that meditation had literally changed the participants’ brains.
The researchers found two distinct results. First, there was a decrease in gray matter in the amygdala and an increase of gray matter in the hippocampus. Why is this important? The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls the “fight or flight” responses the brain uses to manage the body’s stress response.
A decrease in gray matter in the amygdala indicates a reduction in the stress response and represents a change happening in the brain. They also found that during this process, the prefrontal cortex would thicken. The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of the brain. So meditation literally changed the participants’ brains with response to stress and increased logical decision-making.
The second change that occurred in the brain was an increase in the gray matter of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for helping to control memory, learning, self-awareness, introspection, and compassion. So researchers found that in 8 weeks of meditating for less than 30 minutes a day, it was changing the brain to get positive results and help to decrease some of the negatives.
Let’s stop and consider that for a minute…do we meet our needs in positive or negative ways?
Think about all of the things that people do in order to feel better. As human beings, we want to feel good, we’re wired for happiness. Psychologists have concluded that we have very similar basic needs. We want to feel safe, we want to feel secure, we want to feel loved, connected, and feel like our lives matter. But overall, we’re each meeting our needs in positive, neutral, or negative ways. Take for example that issue of lowering stress. Stress is a painful experience, and we don’t like pain, so when we feel it, we want it to go away immediately!
When some people feel stressed, they smoke a cigarette to calm them down. Does it meet a need? Yes, but only for a moment. As we know, there are negative effects to meeting a need in that way. Sometimes when people feel stressed, they yell and it releases the pressure, and they start to calm down.
Consider the purpose of anger for a moment. It does cause a feeling of control to rise to feel more empowered in those moments. However, there are always negative effects that come along with that coping mechanism.
The common theme is the same, we all have needs and we all need to learn how to meet those needs in a positive and sustainable way. If you want to calm down, lower your stress, and increase your decision-making abilities, you should consider using meditation and essential oils, which both have long-term benefits.
It takes discipline and conscious choices to meet your needs in positive ways, both short and long term, instead of just meeting your needs for the moment.
When we teach ourselves self discipline and become mindful of the choices we make, we see a change that lasts not days or months, but years. Changes that can potentially even last for a lifetime, and maybe even pass down throughout generations. This is a choice we can make every single day.
Here are some other benefits of meditation supported by research:
First, meditation helps preserve the aging brain. In 2015, Forbes published an article that shared scientific research on the benefits of meditation, saying a recent study from UCLA found that meditators had better preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged.
Second, meditation reduces activity in the brain’s “me” center. A study at Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network or the DMN. The DMN is part of the brain that is responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts. Some people call this the monkey mind. I call it the lower mind. The DMN is active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our mind is wandering from thought to thought. Therefore, a decrease of activity in the DMN is a good thing, since mind wandering is typically associated with being less happy, more stressed out, and more worried. Meditation ultimately helps people step out of their lower mind and into a higher state of being connected to the higher self.
In summary, here’s what research has found in terms of benefits and meditation:
Decreases the stress response for the fight or flight center in the brain.
Increases decision-making capacity.
Improves awareness and concentration.
Helps preserve brain matter through the aging process.
Reduces the default mode network or the me-center, or the monkey mind.
Decreases depression, anxiety, and pain.
Increases positive feelings of well-being.
In case you’re thinking all of this sounds great and you can see the benefits, but you’re not exactly sure what meditation is, here are some simple definitions to help.
Meditation is a state of mental silence or rest where the mind is not consumed with constant thought. Mediation can also be described as a state of conscious awareness where the mind is calm and clear. It’s often accompanied by deep peace, wisdom, and sometimes spiritual insight.
Here’s what meditation is not:
Meditation is not hyper-concentration or mental fixation on something. It’s not sitting quietly while your body is still, but your mind randomly wanders from place to place. It’s also not a loss of control or experiencing apathy. It really is just as simple as slowing down the mind. And it’s a practice that helps you find a deeper, higher awareness, leading you to greater peace and greater wisdom.
It’s estimated that we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. Psychologists have concluded that many of these, up to 90% of them, are repetitive, negative, and conditioned by our environment. This is the default mode network. That thought-machine is running - all the time, over and over again. This is the part of us that has been conditioned by our environment and is linked to basic human instinct of survival. It sees life in those basic terms - surviving.
The “me” center is prone to worry, to stress, to constantly think about the past and the future. It’s a part of our natural or our earthbound self. It’s competitive, it’s busy comparing all the time, and it’s overly protective. It constantly views people and life as threats and responds in those ways.
It’s important to realize this is not all of who we are. We have a higher self. We have a higher mind that we can access. This other part of us is deeply peaceful, trusting, and hopeful. Our higher self is very creative, it thinks all things are possible. This is where we live in the present, where we feel a lot of joy, and where we are open to options. We’re naturally kind, loving, and forgiving.
So we have dual citizenship. We have this higher self that’s divine, wise, peaceful and creative. We also have this lower self that’s constantly afraid, anxious, and competitive. Most people fluctuate everyday, back and forth in their higher self and their lower self.
You’ve probably had experiences with both of these sides. Have you ever walked into a conflict with your kids, with your husband, or maybe even with yourself and started to solve it from your lower self? How did you feel? Stressful, frustrated, angry… it’s hard to understand all perspectives and often when you’re solving problems from your lower self, you’re just trying to get it to stop without having a higher, more holistic perspective.
On the other hand, have you ever had to solve a conflict or problem with somebody from your higher self? This is where you enter the situation and you’re patient, clear-minded, open to listening, and creative in problem solving. It feels completely different.
Not only does it feel good it is far more efficient! It’s easy to feel more love and connection with people when approaching a situation from your higher self.
Joy and happiness comes from within us when we live in our higher mind and our higher selves. Life feels amazing when we see it through the lense of joy. How do we stay in this state when there’s so much going on. There is a solution...meditation allows your mind to pause, slow down, and create space. This space is which allows openness for greater insight to come. Instead of being immediately reactive… instead of stimulus and an immediate response, you’ll notice through constant or continual meditation practice, there’s a stimulus… and then there’s a pause!
This also creates space for solutions, space to find out how we want to respond, and space for conscious choice. It’s in that space where we can choose our responses, allowing us the power to create the life we truly want.
HOW ESSENTIAL OILS ENHANCE MEDITATION
We’ve now learned about the benefits of mediation. Next, I’m going to share with you the effects of bringing essential oils into your meditation practice and what it will do for you.
First, essential oils support your physical body during meditation by opening airways and increasing mental alertness and focus.
Second, essential oils work with the emotional centers of the brain that help create positive emotional responses. While meditation practice itself is changing our brain, essential oils can trigger positive emotional centers in the brain and in the body.
Olfactory or smell receptors are directly connected to the limbic system. This is the part of the brain that’s thought to be the seat of emotion. Smell sensations are related to the cortex where cognitive recognition occurs only AFTER the emotional parts of our brains have been stimulated. Thus, by the time we’ve correctly named a scent like such as lavender… the scent has already activated the limbic system, triggering a deep-seated emotional response.
Another thing oils do is create emotional memory, because aroma and memory are so closely linked together in our brains. When you link essential oils to your meditation practice, eventually the smell alone will quiet your mind and put you in a meditative state.
In summary, essential oils can:
Bring increased mental focus
Promote a feeling of well-being.
Create emotional memory to calm the mind.
Influence the nervous system to either stimulate or slow down.
Now let’s talk about ways to use essential oils during meditation.
1. Put a diffuser in the place where you meditate and diffuse the oils into the air.
2. Put a few drops in the palms of your hands, take a deep breath and inhale.
Here are some common oils that are used for meditation:
Serenity is a doTERRA blend with Lavender, Cedarwood, Ho Wood Leaf, Ylang Ylang Flower, Marjoram Leaf, Roman Chamomile Flower, Vetiver Root, Vanilla Bean Absolute & Hawaiian Sandalwood Wood.
It evokes positive feelings of self awareness and helps ease feelings of tension. It also softens emotional tightness while helping to increase clarity of your thoughts or your mental activity. Lavender has been noted to have the emotional benefits of supporting people who need to verbally express themselves. Maybe you’ve shut yourself down in honest communication, Lavender can help and has been called, “the oil of communication.”
Balance is a blend of Spruce Leaf, Ho Wood Leaf, Frankincense Resin, Blue Tansy Flower, Blue Chamomile Flower, and Osmanthus Flower essential oils based in Fractionated Coconut Oil.
Balance promotes a whole-body sense of relaxation. The spruce needle in balance gives it a woodsy smell, creating a grounding feeling. Almost like you’re aligning with a solid center. It evokes tranquility and Balance may even help ease anxious feelings. I apply this oil to the bottoms of my feet everyday to feel grounded and centered.
Frankincense has been used for centuries and prized for it therapeutic, medicinal, and spiritual properties. It’s been called by some to be the “oil of truth” and helps us let go of lower vibrations to open one up to receive higher principals. Frankincense is calming and relaxing to the nervous system and supports healthy nervous system function. It induces feelings of peace, satisfaction, and overall wellness. When used with meditation it can help people who feel abandoned, lost, or alone start to feel connected to the higher purpose and the divine.
Immortelle is a blend of Frankincense, Sandalwood, Lavender, Myrrh, Helichrysum, and Rose essential oils.
This blend combines high vibrational oils along with grounding oils to help us stay connected to our day-to-day lives here but from the highest spiritual place. Immortelle can help you quiet your mind and bring you to a place of inner stillness reminding you that even during struggle, you have divine purpose. Immortelle can help lessen feelings of tension and promote a sense of calm. It also doubles as an essential part of your beauty routine to decrease the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Sandalwood has been a popular oil for meditation around the world. It’s been associated with prayer, spirituality, inviting connection & communication with deity. Sandalwood can help to quiet the mind. It can enhance positive mood and help you feel grounded, humble, and open to receiving.
When you go into your own meditation practice, you’ll naturally find your favorite oils. Remember that you really can’t go wrong. What you’re going to do is just start with a few oils that you have on hand and try them out. You’re going to eventually find your favorites and move on to other ones. You can’t go wrong just opening your bottles and beginning your practice right away.
Here are some success tips to help you get into regular practice.
1. Create a sacred space for yourself. This may include a quiet room or space in a corner of a room that makes you feel comfortable and at peace. This space may include a comfortable pillow to sit on, items that bring you peace, and/or a mala to help quiet your mind.
2. Get a diffuser JUST for that space. You don’t want to be moving it around to other places. When it’s time to meditate, you want it to be easy and have everything ready for you.
3. Get a set of oils that are JUST for that space. The last thing you want to do is be searching all over the house for Lavender oil.
Remember, this is an investment in you and you are worth this time. So create the space, have everything ready, and have all of the tools you need right on hand.
In short, you really want to make this investment in yourself. You deserve this time, this attention, and this care to give yourself this amazing gift.
Alright! Ready for a meditation session? I’m going to take you through a simple meditation technique. The first thing I want you to do is prepare the space, make sure that your area is quiet so turn off your phone, close your office door… whatever you need to do to eliminate noise and distractions… you can go ahead and do that now.
Second, get out your essential oils. Go ahead and grab a bottle of Lavender, a bottle of Balance, or Citrus Bliss and apply them in the way of your choice. Maybe you’ll start your diffuser? You can put a couple of drops on the bottom of your feet or just put a drop of two in the palms of your hands and take a nice deep breath in.
Now sit in a comfortable position, either on a chair or on the floor. Relax your shoulders and release any tension or tightness that you might be carrying. Release any thoughts about events that have happened or will be happening.
Take a couple of deep breaths. Start from your abdomen and take a nice, deep breath from there. Focus on abdominal breathing and release shallow breathing from your chest.
Sit comfortably, relaxing your body, and increasing the depth of your breathing. At this time, you’re going to let your thoughts slow down. Whatever’s happened throughout this day or before this time, just let it all go. You can even imagine that it’s in a container in another room. It’s just not here. Maybe it’s calling out to your attention. Trust that you’re going to get back to it. After you’re done meditating, it’s all going to be there but right now you’re going to take this time just for yourself. If your mind starts to wander, just bring your attention to your breathing.
Next, take a nice deep breath in and slowly exhale. Your mind is starting to slow down, your body’s starting to relax, and even though life is happening somewhere else, you’re here, you’re completely secure, everything works out for you, you can take all the time you need to slow things down and get to a peaceful place.
Take 3 more deep breaths in. As you’re finishing your meditation you notice your attention is coming back to the present moment, but as you come back, you’re more peaceful than you were before. Life is lighter and it’s easier to handle. Trust that you find the solutions you need to have and that things work out for you.
Take two more nice deep breaths in.
When you feel complete, open your eyes.
As you do this, notice if your mind wanders. Don’t worry about it, it’s very common and trust that as you continue to practice meditation, eventually your mind is going to slow down. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Did you also notice a greater sense of peace? Or perhaps feeling lighter inside? This the benefit of meditation. I want you to imagine what your life is going to be like if you were to do this every single day.
Meditation can be simple, easy to learn, and done anywhere. Whether you are in your own private meditation room or stuck in your car in the carpool lane, you can practice meditation anywhere. Let me walk you through another simple 5 minute meditation that can be used anytime! This meditation is perfect for the busy professional, multitasking mom, or the individual who wants to learn how to meditate but doesn’t know where to start.
You know life situations come and go. Sometimes things happen and it’s totally out of our control. We’re busy people and I’m sure there are many aspects of your life you care about. If you take the time and use meditation & essential oils you create a space in your life where you find openness, joy and live from a higher place.
You’re going to have more peace, creativity, and ability to stay in the present. It’s also going to be easier to let things go, forgive, make wise decisions, and be more equipped to create the life you want.
If you are ready to bring essential oils into your life and meditation practice I have a special gift for YOU! I've been education people about essential oils since 2011 and am passionate about helping you feel your very best. You will receive 25% off select starter kits on my shop page!
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Disclaimer: Not everyone is the same. That sounds obvious, but when it comes to using essential oils, although a particular essential oil might suit most people, there are likely to be some for whom that particular essential oil is not so effective. When using essential oils, don’t be disheartened if a particular oil isn’t as effective for you as it may seem for others; simply choose another that has similar properties. It’s important to always use high-quality oils with extraction methods that are working towards healing our planet and its inhabitants. For best practices for your safety, consult a medical professional before starting a wellness routine. This post is for informational purposes only and an avenue for me to share with you how I use my oils. Essential oils are not designed to cure, prevent, or treat disease.
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