As this blog has noted, there are enormous benefits to integrating mindfulness and meditation into your life: the impact on your brain health, your stress levels, your focus and productivity is significant – and backed by science.
Why so many benefits?
Because you are literally rewiring your brain.
And the use of essential oils, commonly associated with aromatherapy, provide a helpful complement to your meditative state. They are certainly not necessary for everyone and when you are performing your 5, 10, 20 – or even 1 minutes mindfulness sessions in the morning, the preparation or application of essential oils may be an afterthought.
However, for many people, the simple application of topical oils, for example, heightens the senses and facilitates the transition to a meditative mind / body state.
Essential oils can benefit your mindfulness exercises by helping you:
- reduce negative energy and self-talk
- focus the mind
- ease, calm, or soothe the body
I am open-minded but skeptical by nature, and was surprised in the first place to hear that aspects of aromatherapy have been validated by scientific study. That is certainly not a prerequisite: look how long it took the western medical community to accept acupuncture to this day, doctors still don’t fully understand how it works, but they can nonetheless appreciate the results.
A Brief Overview of Essential Oils And Its Benefits
Essential oils are ‘merely’ concentrated plant extracts.
They capture the plant’s scent and flavor, or “essence,” plus its unique chemical properties. They’re made by steaming or pressing various parts of a plant (flowers, bark, leaves or fruit) to capture the compounds that produce fragrance. It can take several pounds of a plant to produce a single bottle of essential oil.
Because of these unique chemical properties and their benefits, essential oils have long been used in herbal and natural medicine, and are now associated with aromatherapy
According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including:
- Relief from anxiety and depression
- Improved quality of life, particularly for people with chronic health conditions
- Improved sleep
- Smaller studies suggest that aromatherapy with lavender oil may help:
- Reduce pain for people with osteoarthritis of the knee
- Improve quality of life for people with dementia
- Reduce pain for people with kidney stones’
Or as Johns Hopkins University more generally says ‘Essential oils can make a positive impact on your health and well-being as long as you use them in a safe way’.
Quality Control: How to Find the Best Essential Oils
Proponents catalogue a dizzying area of ailments that can be treated by essential oils, from acne and bee stings, to hair loss and eczema, but the focus of this post is on on mindfulness.
However, step one is the same – assessing the quality of ingredients and reputability of the supplier.
This is crucial because essential oils are not regulated and the label may not even list everything that’s in the bottle you’re buying. Many companies claim their essential oils are “therapeutic grade,” but don’t be fooled – that’s just a marketing term.
Here are some tips to help you shop for pure essential oils – and you can follow our recommendation here:
- Check the label. It should include information on purity or other ingredients added to it, and – importantly – the country in which the plant was grown. There are assorted varieties of each of these plants. To differentiate these varieties, the botanical name is used to tell them apart. For example, two assorted oils are referred to as “bay laurel essential oil,” yet they come from 2 assorted plants. The attributes and aroma of each oil do differ as does the basic cost between the two. It is critical to pay attention to the botanical name
- Evaluate the company. Purchase products from a well-known and reputable company that’s been around for several years. You may want to know know that the plants are grown in remote locations use only natural fertilizers, with no pesticides, herbicides, or harmful chemicals.
- Choose dark-colored, glass containers. Pure essential oils are highly concentrated. They can dissolve plastic bottles over time, tainting the oil. Most companies package essential oils in small brown or blue glass bottles to protect the quality.
- Compare prices. Essential oils range in price, depending on how involved harvesting and production are. Within a line, there should be a wide variety of prices — rose absolute or sandalwood oils will be more expensive, while sweet orange oil will be on the less expensive end.
Our recommendation is family-run, science-based, 100% USDA certified organic, and provides the widest array of products available:
What Essential Oils Are Good For Meditation
Here a sample list of our 10 favorite essential oils for meditation.
1. Frankincense – one of the most widely regarded essential oils for use in mindfulness meditation. Ancient Egyptians used this resin as perfume and incense and as an offering to the Gods. It can be used to help relieve stress and anxiety and promote feelings of calmness.
2. Sage – a powerful euphoric essential oil reputed to bring centeredness to the symptoms of imbalance such as mood swings or lethargy. Burning sage has been used for centuries in ceremonial practices, as it was believed to ‘remove negative energy’.
3. Lavender – a sweet and reassuring essential oil, lavender is perhaps the most well known of all essential oils, regarded highly for its known benefits such as inducing calm and relaxation. In spiritual practice, it is known to encourage compassion and gentleness towards others, and is said to help relieve the feeling of heavy emotions.
4. Sandalwood – a woodsy and warming base note, sandalwood is touted for its ability to calm unstable emotions and help soothe frayed nerves.
5. Neroli – derived from the fragrant white blossoms of the bitter orange tree native to Asia. When used in aromatherapy for meditation, neroli oil provides a calming and relaxing scent that helps alleviate anxiety and even heart palpitations.
6. Myrrh – has an uplifting scent that promotes calmness, tranquility, and greater spiritual awareness.
7. Ylang Ylang – has a sweet, heady, flowery scent. Pronounced Eee-lang Eee-lang, and distilled from the flowers of a tree native to southeast Asia, it promotes relaxation, kills bacteria, lower high blood pressure, and is often considered an aphrodisiac.
8. Sweet Orange – perfect for your essential oil starter kit. It mixes well with most other oils, and while noted for skin care, blends harmoniously with the other oils on this list.
9. Balsam Fir – commonly used in anti-anxiety blends. Its warming, soothing properties make it great for massage, chest rubs and other body care products. It is also great for diffusions and mists (most popularly in the wintertime) on its own or blended with other essential oils.
10. Bay Leaf – has an aroma similar to clove and cinnamon, but its freshness feels like an ocean breeze scented by tropical flowers.
Topical Application of Essential Oils
Rubbing essential oils into the skin is a standard delivery method, but use caution: First, make sure that the essential oil you are using is approved for direct skin application.
Second, essential oils are very concentrated, and a little bit goes a long way. Try a drop or two to start with–even if it’s been approved for topical use–and see how it affects you.
- Place a single drop of oil in the middle of your forehead.
- Add a drop or two to your favorite hand lotion and rub it into your arms and legs.
- Rub a drop between your hands and then inhale the scent from your cupped hands.
- Dilute a small amount of essential oil to twice the concentration you plan to use regularly.
- Place two to three drops to the pad of a bandage and apply it to the inside of your forearm.
If you experience any redness, blisters, itchiness, or swelling around the site, you should not use that oil topically. However, particular topical applications are also used for therapeutic skincare treatments.
Dilution of Essential Oils
Because essential oils are so concentrated, it is almost always necessary to dilute them before use. Carriers such as:
- pure olive oil
are commonly used to dilute the essential oil.
Usually, concentrations of three to five percent are safe for topical use. This amounts to about three to five drops per teaspoon of your carrier oil–though, as stated above, you should always do a patch test before applying directly to the skin.
Some oils are safe for use undiluted, but dilution will make those oils go further and still deliver the positive benefits.
Important! Check with your vet before diffusing essential oils in the same area shared with pets.
Animals process air particles differently than we do and even diffused, essential oils may be too potent for them to process and may cause poisoning.
Diffusers for Meditation
One of the easiest ways to use essential oils for meditation is through diffusion, Diffusers are a simple way to disperse the benefits of the oils throughout your space, and by refreshing your air and creating a soothing atmosphere, you’re setting the stage for an easier transition to mindfulness.
Diffusion involves dispersing the oils into the air via a fine mist. Essential oil diffusers,small household appliances that create scented vapor, can be problematic. For example, peppermint is often recommended for headaches. But if you use it around a young child months old, the child can become agitated. Additionally, someone with a fast or irregular heartbeat can react adversely to peppermint.
However, using diffusers is very popular for meditation, so you only need to take care.
A simple way to use essential oils for meditation is through topical application, per above. You can use roll-on’s with carrier oils in a safe dilution, and apply them directly to the body to enhance your meditative experience.
Store your oils in dark glass (amber or cobalt blue) and in a cool, dark place. Bare wooden boxes may be bought at craft stores. Wooden diskette holders can likewise serve this purpose well.
And if you are not convinced, let us assure you: inner peace itself is a powerful aphrodisiac 😄