Travaasa Austin’s Spa Director, Maggie Wagner, offers her advice on adding an aromatherapy element to your meditation practice.
Aromatics and essential oils have been an integral part of Eastern and Western spiritual practices for centuries as an added element of sensory stimulation that can guide you into a deeper state of consciousness. Meditation is proven to slow down the heart rate, calm the nervous system and quiet the mind. To fully experience the benefits of a meditation practice, regular practice is necessary. Designate 30 minutes of your day to a silent reflection and turn your concentration inward. Turn off your phone, TV, computer and any other form of distraction and find a quiet, comfortable place to relax and focus. Sit on the ground with your legs crossed, or straight out in front of you, making sure to keep your back straight, as this facilitates the flow of energy along the spine. If sitting is uncomfortable, you can also lie down completely, letting your arms fall to the sides of your body with your palms facing up.
Depending on your mood or intention, adding essential oils or incense to your meditation practice encourages you to breathe deeper and focus more intensely. There are a few methods of diffusing essential oils into your surrounding environment – a burner with water, or an electric or battery-operated diffuser. I prefer a burner with a tea light, as it adds a bit more ambience to the room. Add a few drops of essential oil to the petri dish according to the directions relevant to your diffuser or burner. Before you begin, wait about ten minutes to allow the aroma to fill the room.
Here are a few essential oils to consider:
- Frankincense promotes deep breathing, allowing for a calmer, deeper meditative state.
- Sacred and deeply spiritual, Palo Santo is a grounding scent that enriches thought processes in the mind.
- Considered the oil of the heart, Rose Maroc encourages creativity and feelings of love, both for the self and others. This scent also assists in visualization techniques.
- Calming and ultra-soothing, Lavender relaxes and balances the mind.
- Stimulating and energizing, Rosemary promotes mental clarity (and also blends well with Lavender).
- Without causing drowsiness, Cedarwood relaxes and calms the mind.
- Vetiver oil is psychologically grounding, calming, stabilizing and great for restoring balance.
Susan Anderson, Travaasa’s resident yogi, offers a guided meditation class which uses essential oils, such as the ones mentioned here, to help reduce stress and allow the mind to shift to an altered state, opening oneself to receive information with more clarity.
(Sources cited include: Subtle Aromatherapy, Patricia Davis The Fragrant Mind & Cristina Procano-Carrion, Meditate Better with Essential Oils)