To meditate is to say yes to existence. By saying yes to existence, you automatically open up your senses, clear the mind and allow each moment to unfold according to its spontaneous nature.
Speaking of our senses, all five of them, are wonderful windows into reality and life as we know it. One sense-organ that oftentimes gets overlooked is the nose and the sense of smell.
If meditation is the cultivation of conscious awareness of ourselves as we are, then any of the senses at our disposal shouldn’t be overlooked, all of them, individually and collectively, are big parts of our existence.
In this article we’ll go through how to boost your meditation by stimulating the nose through the rich and healing scents of essential oils.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are concentrated liquid extractions from plants through the process of distillation. The function and aim of these liquids is to retain the natural scents and flavors of the extracted plant in order to promote health and wellbeing.
Essential oils are mostly used in aromatherapy, an alternative practice that focuses on healing the body and mind mainly through nasal inhalation of therapeutic essential oils, oils which can also be applied topically, for example during massage but also during water immersion like in a bath.
The potential benefits
There have been a number of scientific studies concerning the efficacy of essential oils when it comes to boosting health and wellbeing. Though the evidence isn’t conclusive, there are some studies that suggest that essential oils can occasionally help relieve cases of anxiety1, depression2, nausea3 to name a few notable ailments but also potentially enhance appetite and improve sleep quality.
Why meditation and aromatherapy?
Meditation allows you to become more aware of your senses. In contrast to the psychological aspect of us human beings, the senses are immediate and pure in their perception.
By using essential oils and aromatherapy alongside a meditation practice, you can allow yourself to shift your attention more readily and effortlessly to your immediate reality, instead of being stuck in the same old thoughts and stories that you keep repeating in your head.
4 ways to use essential oils for meditation
There are many ways of using essential oils, ranging from an essential oil diffuser, which is the more popular way of doing it, to infused eye pillows, which is rarer.
When it comes to meditation, we recommend four ways of using essential oils:
Diffuse the essential oil into the air through the help of an essential oil diffuser, which is an inexpensive device that automatically releases the essential oil(s) into the air. Essential oil diffusers are convenient, cheap and easy to use.
If you have a meditation space where you meditate regularly on your meditation cushion, make sure to place the diffuser at an optimal distance, which means not too close to get overly distracted by the aromas and not too far so that the scents become imperceptible, and therefore ineffective. Somewhere between 1-3 meters (3-10 feet) is a nice sweet spot to place it from your seat of meditation.
Use the essential oil topically by placing a drop of oil in the palm of your hands, rub them together, cup your hands, place them in front of your face and inhale slowly through your nose.
You could also use a roller bottle blend where you can use one or mix a couple essential oils to expose different areas of your skin to the rollerball infused concoction.
This will help you focus on the immediacy and richness of the scent(s).
Wear an essential oil diffuser necklace that allows you to hold a couple of drops of essential oil in it through the help of detachable pads. This is a smart and subtle way of having the healing scent near your nose, which in turn will remind you to keep your attention and awareness on the senses.
Eye Pillow Infusion
Place an eye pillow that can safely and smoothly be infused with essential oils. This is especially great for those that prefer meditating lying down while focusing on your breath or while listening to guided meditations.
The best essential oils for meditation
Depending on what your goal is with your meditation session, you might want to choose your essential oil accordingly. Here are five great choices to use during your meditation session:
- Frankincense is the go-to-choice when it comes to advancing your spiritual and meditation practice to the next level. If you’re a spiritual seeker that wishes to connect deeper with the source being, frankincense is an excellent choice. Frankincense can also be good for relieving stress and sleep debt.
- Sage is a good choice when wanting to cleanse yourself and your surroundings from negative thoughts and energies. It wakes you up, promotes clarity of mind and also boosts your mood a tad.
- Lavender is great for overall relaxation and for promoting harmony in the body, mind and heart. Lavender is also effective when it comes to anxiety, overthinking, restlessness and sleep problems.
- Peppermint is the right choice if you’re looking to enhance your focus and attentiveness with your meditation practice or session. If one-pointedness of mind is what you’re looking for, then peppermint is great. Peppermint can also be great for relieving you of nausea.
- Sandalwood and its woody and earthy natural scent can be the right oil for you if you’re looking to ground yourself to the earth and nature by relieving yourself from stress and anxious thoughts.
If you’re feeling courageous you can also blend certain oils that complement each other nicely in a diffuser or in a rollerball bottle. Make your research first though on which oils blend best with each other.
Additional things to know about essential oils
Don’t consume orally: Remember that pure essential oils are potent extracts and NEVER to consume the essential oils orally.
Allergic reactions: Some essential oils have proven to be more cause for allergies than others, like for example oregano, cinnamon, bergamot, chamomile, jasmine and lemongrass. Allergic reactions to these oils can include redness, pain and itchiness. This is also partially the reason why we haven’t included them in our list when it comes to the best oils for meditation.
Meditation is, in some poetic but also profound sense, the unrevealing of our essential selves. An essential self that is neither a body nor mind, but an immediate sense of presence, of pure being, here and now. By using different tools, like essential oils, you can boost your meditative awareness of your miraculous senses and yourself as you are.