What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy, or essential oil therapy, is used by holistic health and wellness practitioners to improve a client’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Essential oils can help regulate mood and bring about a sense of peace, comfort, or help with attention and focus. Adding essential oils to a mindful breath practice can help anchor our attention to our breath using our sense of smell and touch.
Mindfulness is the practice of connecting to our breath and our bodies in the present moment, while taking a look at our ability to practice being non-judgmental in thought and reaction, and to bring awareness to all of sensations occurring in the here and now.
I invite you to try a brief mindful breath practice, and incorporate essential oils.
How to Get Started
Before choosing an oil, read the label for ingredients, and see if it’s appropriate to put directly on skin. You want your essential oil to be 100% essential oil; no additives or fillers. Some oils, like peppermint, can leave the skin feeling red or tingly, and shouldn’t be placed on sensitive skin near the eyes, nose, or ears. When using oils like peppermint, add a few drops of the oil to your palms along with a non-scent lotion or base oil (argan, avocado, olive, coconut, jojoba) to prevent skin irritation.
If you are new to essential oils and don’t have a favorite, try one of the following: lavender, eucalyptus, orange, lemongrass, peppermint, or lemon. Find a scent that you would like to breathe in for a few moments. Once you have your essential oil, you are ready to begin your mindful breath practice.
Find a comfortable seat, and bring attention to your breath and to your posture. Have your essential oils diffusing nearby and perhaps have some soothing sounds in the background. If you don’t have a diffuser or sound, listen to the sound of your breath during your practice.
Add a few drops of essential oil to your palms. Rub your hands together and take a few deep and cleansing breaths; Place your hands on your temples and massage in a clockwise and counter clockwise motion. Rub your neck and shoulders gently, feel your body response to the scent and to the gentle massage and warmth of your palms and fingers.
Bring your palms back to your face and take a few deep and cleansing breaths in and out; then place your palms face up on your lap, and take some time here to settle in to the natural rhythm of your breath.
Bring your awareness to the present moment.
Notice the smell of the oil, notice your breath as it moves in and out, as your chest and belly rise and fall, notice how your body feels, relax each muscle, and relax even deeper. Remain here for several breaths; Notice how it feels to sit and simply be.
As you close your practice, take a few cleansing inhales and exhales, find some gently movement in your body, and when you’re ready, open your eyes gently, coming back into the room, and enjoy the rest of your day feeling more calm, present, and alert.
Lauren Corsillo, LPC