Meditation is a practice aimed at finding inner peace or simple relaxation. Aromatherapy has the same approach, to bring benefits to the whole being, which is why the combination of meditation and aromatherapy is very appropriate. The choice of the Essential Oil used is also essential. Depending on the dimension you wish to give to your relaxation or yoga session, the Essential Oil will not be the same. Here are a few tips to guide you in this practice, as well as an overview of the most suitable essential oils for meditation.
1. What is the purpose of meditation?
Meditation is a method that can be used in response to many problems: anxiety, insomnia, lack of concentration, anxieties, or just the desire to take a break. It is a real gymnastics of the mind that aims to abstract the negative and oppressive thoughts that we may face in our daily lives.
The benefits of meditation are:
-allow oneself a time just to be alone,
-develop one’s emotional balance,
-learn to re-focus and concentrate.
In this way, we are fully aware of our surroundings and the present moment. After a relaxation session (which may only last about ten minutes!), the body and mind are rested.
2. Why meditate with essential oils?
Firstly, because meditation and aromatherapy have a common goal: to bring to the user well-being and calm.
Secondly, because EOs are natural alternatives that can act on the body in a way that goes far beyond simple odours. When we breathe in an EO, it is captured by the limbic system (or emotional brain) which is the seat of memory and emotions. Through the smell, the EO can bring appeasement or stimulation through emotion.
3. Top 10 essential oils to stimulate meditation or a yoga session
Caution: Meditation-inducing EOs are powerful and often contraindicated for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under the age of 10. Please consult the precautions for use before using them.
3.1 Frankincense Essential Oil: the meditation champion
By encouraging the abandonment of the mind, it is the meditative EO par excellence. The soothing and invigorating richness of its aroma provides an infinite source of well-being.
It is particularly suitable for meditation, with a scent similar to the incense sticks you are probably familiar with (without the disadvantages that are specific to them, such as the release of toxic compounds into the air).
Frankincense is said that it is the essential oil of detachment.
It is ideal for anyone who may have difficulty concentrating during a yoga or meditation session.
And as a bonus, its antiseptic properties will purify the air in your space.
– promotes meditative states and spiritual uplift
– ability to help promote calm
– releases fear of the future and nightmares
– releases agitation, calms stress, irritability
– promotes surrender of the mind
– stimulates and elevates the spirit
Precautions for use: reserved for the use of adults and teenagers – not to be used by pregnant women. Asthmatics and epileptics should seek medical advice before using this EO.
3.2 Lavender EO for relaxation
True Lavender EO contains esters that will interact with the nervous system, relaxing it.
When your mind is racing, when you know you have a million other things to do than meditate, you need to relax more than ever, and lavender promotes letting go and calming
– brings harmony and balance, relaxes, calms
– cleanses and purifies both psychically and energetically
– leads to self-respect
– promotes inspiration
Precautions for use: no known risk. However, it contains a large quantity of linalool, which is an allergenic compound, so people with an allergic background must be careful. It is contraindicated for people with serious cardiovascular problems. Finally, people with asthma should seek medical advice before using it.
Tip: mix 100ml VO with 20 drops of lavender EO in a glass bottle. Once the mixture is ready, simply place a few drops on the inside of your wrists, on the soles of your feet, on your temples or on the back of your neck!
3.3 Sandalwood EO, to open your 3rd eye
Sandalwood is very popular in India and in Buddhist shrines to accompany meditative ceremonies. It is said to calm your mind, make the mind more receptive and thus elevate spirituality.
Sandalwood is said to open the Third Eye, allowing you to connect with your spirit. This makes it a must-have oil in this top 10 list for improving both focus and mental clarity.
– unifies the physical, mental and spiritual bodies
– helps to find inner balance, peace and serenity
– helps to find one’s spiritual path, invites to meditation
– makes the mind more receptive and thus raises spirituality
– promotes meditation and contemplation
Precautions for use: not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under 10 years of age. Caution: when applied to the skin, sandalwood EO should be used in low doses and for a short period of time.
3.4 Orange EO to appease anxiety
It has the ability to provide a stimulating effect that helps with concentration as well as reducing the body’s natural reaction to stressors.
A dab of sweet orange essential oil on the inside of your wrists can help with the flow of different asanas, as well as relieving feelings of frustration or fear.
Combine this with deep breathing, and your body/mind will come out relaxed.
In the citrus family, note that :
Lemon EO can also be of great help in providing an energy boost and an increased level of self-confidence, both of which can promote concentration.
The pleasant scent of Green Mandarin EO will remind you of a happy, carefree childhood when good humour was the order of the day and nothing was serious. It will therefore also facilitate “letting go”. Tangerine encourages detachment and will favour your meditation thanks to its calming, relaxing and anti-stress properties.
Very good atmospheric antiseptic, it will help to disinfect your environment.
3.5 Atlas Cedarwood EO, the connection to the Earth
Cedarwood EO is known for its ability to enhance the mind-body connection and can help one feel more connected to the earth (which is often what we are asked to do in yoga classes) through its scent alone. Atlas Cedarwood EO is also interesting as an emotional balancer. It is both energising and sedative and helps to refocus. It is therefore an excellent way to relax while toning up.
Sesquiterpenes, the main compounds of this EO, have calming properties on the central nervous system.
Precautions for use: forbidden for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under 12 years old, epileptics or in case of hormonally dependent cancer. Do not use it purely on the skin, it may be irritating
3.6. Juniper EO
The common juniper (Juniperus communis) has the same indications as to the mountain juniper (Juniperus communis variety montana). However, its vibratory level is lower and its psycho-emotional effects are lesser.
– purifies the body, soul and spirit
– helps to face conflicts
– helps to overcome the fear of failure
– purifies the space, drives out bad energy
– intensifies positive thoughts
– helps to dissolve mental rigidity, old mental patterns
Precautions for use: do not use with pregnant women and children under 12 years. In case of overdose and prolonged oral use, it may be nephrotoxic (toxic to the kidneys), this route is reserved for the therapist. Do not use purely on the skin, it can be irritating.
3.7. Spikenard EO (Nardostachys jatamansi)
In India, it is a well-known ingredient of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Little known and little used (notably because of its rarity), the essential oil of Himalayan Nard has calming and harmonising properties and is beneficial in case of strong emotions.
– harmonises the neuro-vegetative system
– transmits warmth, comfort and security
– acts on the heart, helps the individual to refocus and be in control of his or her life in calm and inner peace
– harmonises all aspects of the personality
– roots, connects all the chakras together
Precautions for use: do not use with pregnant women and children under 12 years. The oral way is to be proscribed. It is not toxic but has oestrogen-like properties.
3.8. Patchouli EO
– conveys stability and grounding
– stimulates the desire to go beyond one’s inner and outer limits
– awakens sensuality and fantasy
– favours letting go by dissolving tensions
Precautions for use: not recommended during pregnancy and for children under 8 years old. Possible “oestrogen-like” effect, avoid in case of mastitis or hormone-dependent cancer. Caution: this oil is tonic when used in low doses; on the other hand, it is sedative in high doses.
3.9. Rosemary verbenon EO
– strengthens the aura, especially the subtle mental body
– strengthens self-confidence, helps to control emotions
– activates the 3rd eye and the solar plexus
– strengthens the ability to memorise, analyse and synthesise
– helps to develop verbal expression
– acts on the solar plexus and the 3rd eye
Precautions for use: this oil contains ketones, neurotoxic and abortive risks. Do not use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, nor on children under 8 years old, epileptic subjects and sensitive elderly people. Contraindicated in case of mastitis or history of hormone-dependent cancers (breast, ovarian, endometrial). Avoid overdosing and prolonged use.
3.10 Clary sage EO
– revitalizes, stimulates, dissolves tension
-removes fears and worries
– stimulates inspiration and creativity in artists
– strengthens self-confidence
– increases inner peace
– opens the door to our subconscious, clarifies and facilitates the interpretation of dreams
Precautions for use: do not use with pregnant or breastfeeding women, nor for children. Do not use in case of mastitis or history of hormone-dependent cancer (breast, ovary, endometrium), due to its “estrogen-like” effect. Caution should be exercised in women because of its hormonal influence: talk to your doctor. Oral use should be reserved for the therapist.
3.11 Ylang Ylang EO
Ylang-Ylang essential oil is well known for reducing tension in the body by helping to free oneself from negative emotions that lead to an inability to concentrate (anger, frustration…)
– triggers lightness, joy, euphoria
– spreads a sense of security and inner calm
– develops intuition and creativity
– facilitates communication
Precautions for use: do not use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, nor for children under 3 years old. Possible skin irritation: on the skin, always use well diluted.
HOW TO USE THESE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR MEDITATION?
Whether or not you like a particular fragrance is a factor to consider when choosing an EO.
The most suitable EO for you is often the one with the scent you prefer. The emotional aspect plays an important role in well-being. It is therefore important to exclude all fragrances that put you off or make you feel uncomfortable, even if their virtues are otherwise recognised. If you don’t like the aroma of an oil, you should discard it, because it is simply a sign that it does not suit your particular metabolism. This is also why I have mentioned several!
Through the air
ON A HANDKERCHIEF
A few drops on a handkerchief are enough to relax and create an inspiring or motivating atmosphere, or even improve breathing.
IN A DIFFUSER
The use of a diffuser remains the best choice for meditation with EO.
You can formulate a synergy of EO to diffuse yourself, which will be adapted to your practice. One chooses 1 to 3 EOs which one adds one by one in the chosen proportions in an amber glass bottle. When the time comes, use a few drops of the synergy in the diffuser. Note that the slight noise of some of these devices can however present a certain discomfort during a meditation session
IN A SPRAY BOTTLE
Example of preparation: 30 ml of 90-degree alcohol + 30 drops in total of one or more EOs(2 or 3 EOs in total).
30 ml of 90-degree alcohol + 30 drops of frankincense
30 ml of 90 degree alcohol + 10 drops frankincense + 10 drops lavender + 10 drops Ylang-ylang.
- Pour the alcohol into a bottle and add the EOs
- Shake the bottle for about one minute.
- Label the bottle.
Shake well before use. Only spray 2 or 3 times in every room.
Precautions of use: Never spray on the skin or eyes. Store away from light and heat. Do not overuse the spray as it may suffocate the air with essential oil particles. Check the precautions for using the essential oils you will be using.
BY CUTANEOUS WAY, IN MASSAGE
For cutaneous use, prepare a mixture with one or two EOs: pour a total of 8 EO drops into a 10 ml tinted glass bottle and top up with a VO of your choice:
Example of a soothing and relaxing mixture.
lavender EO: 4 drops + frankincense, EO: 4 drops
Your own choice of VO for a 10 ml bottle.
Apply a small dab of the mixture to a forearm at the beginning of the meditation session
Precautions of use: frankincense EO is intended for use by adults and adolescents and should not be used by pregnant women.
CASE STUDY FOR A MEDITATION WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
First of all, gather the conditions favourable to this practice: a comfortable position, the absence of noise and, why not, also bring to your meditation perfumes which help to create an olfactory bubble around you.
The choice of Essential Oils for meditation
Choose an EO that promotes both refocusing and letting go of the mind:
- Cedarwood Atlas EO (Cedrus atlantica): sedative and energising, it helps to refocus and connect with the earth
- Frankincense EO (Boswellia serrata): relaxing and morale-boosting, it promotes spiritual elevation *
Then add an EO with relaxing and calming properties: Fine lavender EO (Lavandula angustifolia), sweet orange EO (Citrus sinensis), Petitgrain bigarade EO (Citrus aurantium amara) or ylang ylang EO (Cananga odorata). They can all be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women from the beginning of the 4th month of pregnancy.
Directions for use:
You can then use the 2 EOs you have selected in two different ways:
- Atmospheric diffusion: place 5 drops of each chosen EO in your diffuser. Start the diffusion 5 minutes before your session and continue it for a maximum of 10 minutes after the session;
- Simple olfaction: mix equal parts of the two selected EOs, place 1 pure drop of the mixture on the inside of your wrists and rub them together. Then position your hands in a cathedral shape and bring them to your nose to take 3 to 5 deep and slow breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Anti-stress and “olfactory” meditation idea (by Adeline Gadenne)
You can do a small, easy and effective meditation to fight stress and let go in your daily life: the “body scan”. This consists in going through all the parts of the body with the mind in order to feel each one of them and by “breathing” through them. Because you are going to inhale deeply, the body sweep is very pleasant to carry out with the association of essential oils.
- First stage: Take your EOs with you. In diffusion or simple olfaction, they help you to mark the beginning of your ritual. Make yourself comfortable, sitting or lying down, and adjust your posture, back straight, shoulders low. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing, observing whether it is calm or agitated;
- Second stage: Start by focusing your attention on the top of your head. As you breathe in, imagine that your breath is flowing through your body to your brain, and as you breathe out, imagine that your breath is releasing all the tension in your body. Repeat this breathing several times, then move to the face, where you will also “breathe” in consciousness. Gradually scan your entire body, focusing on your jaw, neck, shoulders, one arm, then the other, chest, stomach, one leg, then the other, one foot, then the other. Each time a feeling or thought emerges, observe it, then let it pass as a cloud passes through the sky and return to your exercise;
- Third stage: At the end, take several breaths and compare them to the ones at the beginning – they are probably calmer. Open your eyes when you feel ready. Gently wiggle your fingers, feet, arms and legs and then come out of meditation.