Mindfulness is the practice of thinking with intention. To be mindful is to be aware of what’s happening in your life, and not be overwhelmed by it. Mindful awareness benefits include helping to slow down the pace of our busy lives, feeling an increase in gratitude and self-acceptance, as well as learning to regulate our emotional responses.
Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses in the body, and combining it with mindful meditation enhances the overall outcome. Aromatherapy triggers chemical or olfactory sensors in the brain and the responses from these triggers are linked with emotion and memory. Smelling a pleasant or familiar scent can elevate our mood or help us feel relaxed. Essential oils have the ability to calm the senses, especially when combined with a mindful awareness practice.
The exercise below shows how the mind and body are interconnected, and how the intersection between these two systems can be activated through our sense of smell.
Be comfortable: Sit on a cushion, on the bed, on the floor, or wherever you’re most comfortable.
Pick an essential oil: Diffusing or applying essential oils that provoke thoughts and support relaxation during mindfulness is always beneficial. A few suggestions to consider: Mantra, Lavender, Bergamot or Frankincense. Some people enjoy citrus scents of Orange and Lemon.
Observe the present: Pay attention to what is happening now, allowing judgments to pass. This may take some practice. Close your eyes for a moment and breathe in through your nose…what aromas do you notice? Try to name each scent as you become more aware of the different aromas. Are the scents around you pleasant or connect to a memory or past experience? Sit for a moment and notice any emotions that are present or sensations that occur in your body as you consider the different aromas in your surroundings.
Return to the present: Your thoughts may wander. When you notice this happening, return to thinking on the present and don’t beat yourself up for your wandering mind. With practice comes success.
Celebrate! You just achieved mindful awareness with the help of aromatherapy.
So you’re thinking, I don’t have time to sit and meditate…No problem!
You can practice the mindfulness with aromatherapy steps in your daily activities. During your morning shower, put a couple of drops of Eucalyptus in the shower and just breathe. Think about the scents, your breathing, how the water feels (try to stay in the present, not in traffic or the meeting in an hour). Yep! You just practiced mindful awareness with aromatherapy.
Think about how to blend mindful awareness and aromatherapy with your daily activities whether it’s cooking dinner, getting ready for bed, working on your golf swing, or walking the dog. Check out mindful.org for other suggestions.
Breathe and Bloom!