Enhancing your Mediation Practice with Essential Oils
By Camilla Restrepo, CAHP®-AM, RPN
If I were to ask you, “Hey do you meditate?” You might enthusiastically say, “Yes, I do! Every morning with my coffee, I take a few minutes to clear my mind. It makes all the difference in my day!”
I would proceed to give you a high five because, well, meditation is amazing! It's how we lower our stress levels and anxiety, enhance our well-being, and practise mindfulness. Meditation practices can range from a few deep counted breaths to focusing on gratitude, embodiment or cleansing the mind. But have you ever considered adding essential oils to your meditation practice?
If you haven’t, let me tell you why you’re missing out. If you have, I would love to take this opportunity to tell you why you should definitely keep up the good work!
To understand why this is amazing, we must talk a bit about the brain, the olfactory system, and how essential oils work their magic during meditation. Although there are many ways to use essential oils, for the sake of simplicity let’s talk about using oils in a personal inhaler.
Are you ready? Let’s get right into it!
The journey of an essential oil molecule from your hand into the deepest part of your brain.
Once you have taken a few deep breaths with an essential oil blend, the essential oil molecules enter your nose and are received by the olfactory nerves in the mucosa. From there, the nerves send the information directly to your brain to a region called the limbic system. This is a crucial component of what makes essential oils so effective at helping us manage our emotions. There is no filter; the limbic system receives the essential oil molecules and has an immediate response that cannot be controlled. Have you ever noticed that your mood changes almost automatically when a smell takes you to an old, pleasant memory? That is because your limbic system is in charge of emotions, memories, motivations and pleasure, and there is no conscious control (Rhind,2016).
When we inhale essential oils, there is a chemical change in the brain. Essential oils have been shown to stimulate the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood. So, here’s how the magic happens…
- You inhale an essential oil.
- The molecules are taken up by the olfactory nerves and sent DIRECTLY to the brain.
- The limbic system receives the information and automatically responds to the olfactory stimulus by releasing neurotransmitters (chemical messages).
- These chemical messages result in changes in body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, temperature, etc.
Okay, so what does this mean for your meditation practice? Science is now able to explain why people have found such profound healing and emotional balance when using essential oils. We are now starting to understand the chemical reactions that happen in the body when we work with aromatic plant medicine. Now, imagine a few of the different reasons people meditate…
- Stress reduction
- Feeling gratitude and joy
- Clearing your mind of clutter
- Visualizing your goals
- Living in the present
- Anxiety management
- Practising embodiment
Next, we want to know which essential oils can help us reach those states more effectively by accessing a part of the brain that cannot be controlled. Let me share some amazing blends that can help you achieve your meditation goals at a deeper level and faster.
Add 10 drops of essential oil to the cotton wick and place inside your personal inhaler.
1 drop vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)
4 drops palo santo (Bursera graveolens)
3 drops frankincense (Boswellia sacra)
2 drops mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
Focus & Alertness
4 drops rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
3 drops black pepper (Piper nigrum)
3 drops lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
3 drops sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana)
3 drops helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
4 drops bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
3 drops lemon (Citrus limon)
2 drops peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
3 drops lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
2 drops basil (Ocimum basilicum var. album)
Next time you are meditating, take a few deep breaths from your personal inhaler to set the intention of your practice. Trust that this natural medicine will help you reach deeper levels of meditation and support your well-being by working with your brain chemistry in ways that only nature can!
Keep calm and be well!
Caddy, Rosemary. 2000. Essential Oils in Colour: Caddy Classic Profiles.
Holmes, Peter. 2016. Aromatica: A clinical guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. Vol 1.
Holmes, Peter. 2019. Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. Vol 2.
Peace Rhind, Jennifer. 2016: Aromatherapeutic Blending: Essential Oils in Synergy.
About the author: Camila Restrepo, CAHP®-AM, RPN, has found a passion for all things aromatherapy and is especially enthusiastic about supporting women on their self-empowerment journey. Camila comes from a nursing background and has had the honour of working very closely with people from all walks of life, including mothers and newborns, forensic psychiatry patients, palliative patients and the geriatric community. Camila is the founder of Essentsia Apothecary, a company proudly focussed on teaching people safe essential oil use and offering natural products to support their self-care journey. Committed to her lifelong learning, Camila is currently studying reflexology and reiki, and is advancing her nursing career into medical aesthetics.
Photo by: kieferpix from Getty Images