Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation: Relax, Replenish, and Rejuvenate

Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation: Relax, Replenish, and Rejuvenate

by Heather Dawn Godfrey PGCE, BSc


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A hands-on guide showing how essential oils can support and enhance meditative and mindful practices

• Details safe and effective methods to incorporate essential oils into your mindfulness or meditation practice

• Explains the many ways essential oils benefit the mind, such as how odors can immediately draw your attention to the present moment, trigger a specific state of consciousness, or provide a way to regain composure quickly

• Provides the latest scientific research on the emotional, psychological, physiological, and neurological effects of essential oils on the mind, body, and nervous system

• Includes an easy-to-follow chart to help you choose the right essential oil for you

For millennia, the spiritual power of odor—such as from incense or frankincense—has been used to symbolize intention, stimulate awareness of our spiritual self, and accentuate rite and ritual. Drawing on this power, as well as their healing qualities, essential oils can provide the perfect complement to meditation or mindfulness practice.

Outlining the practice and benefits of meditation and mindfulness in combination with the use of essential oils, Heather Dawn Godfrey explains how these practices hone and sustain a conscious awareness of “being” in the present moment, focusing attention on what you are sensually experiencing and leaving no space for regrets, traumas, fears, anxiety, or anticipation. Providing the latest scientific research on the restorative, rehabilitative, and psycho-emotional healing effects of essential oils, she explains how the sensory experience of odors can immediately draw your attention to the present moment, trigger a specific state of consciousness, such as a deeper meditative state, or offer a way to regain composure quickly when dealing with life’s ups and downs. She shows how many essential oils naturally reduce stress and anxiety, promote a peaceful attitude, support concentration, regulate breathing, and stimulate serotonin and GABA pathways in the brain, making them ideal aids to mindfulness and meditation.

Explaining methods to incorporate essential oils into your practice, Godfrey introduces readers to the “Gem” essential oils—a group of oils specifically selected for attaining and maintaining a state of mindfulness, as well as a broad spectrum of therapeutic properties—and she provides an easy-to-follow chart to help you select the oil that is right for you. Offering a hands-on practical guide to integrating essential oils into mindful and meditative practice, the author shows how each of us has the ability to self-generate a calm, tranquil, and worry-free state of mind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620557624
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Heather Dawn Godfrey, PGCE, BSc, is an aromatherapist, fellow of the International Federation of Aromatherapists, and an aromatherapy teacher. She has published a number of articles and research papers exploring the benefits of essential oils, such as how they can be applied in the management of ADHD. She lives in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2

Essential Oils as Meditation Companions: The Science of Their Use

Essential oils possess numerous qualities that can support and enhance wellness and a sense of well-being. They may improve mental clarity and concentration, instill a sense of feeling calm and uplifted, energized and awake. They are perfect meditation companions.

What Is an Essential Oil?

Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile, odiferous phytochemical derivatives extracted from various parts of certain plants, trees, and shrubs: for example, rhizomes and roots, stems, leaves, flowering heads, seeds, wood (stumps, trunks, heartwood, sawdust), twigs, bark, resin, needles, berries, blossoms, fruit, rind, and grass. Not all plants produce essential oils. According to Tisserand and Young (2014) and Lawrence (1995), there are an estimated 350,000 plant species existent throughout the world, of which just 17,500 (5%) are aromatic. Yet just 400 of these aromatic species surrender essential oils suitable for commercial use. Half of these are specifically cultivated for their essential oil while others are grown, managed, and harvested in the wild. Many essential oils are produced as a by-product of industry (for example, citrus oils are produced for the food, manufacturing, and perfume industries).

How Does the Brain Respond to Essential Oils?

The brain is responsive to external sensory input and neurological stimulation and facilitates internal homeostasis, environmental awareness, consciousness of a deeper sense of being, and relationships with other people and the external world. Fragrance detection triggers numerous neurological, physiological, emotional, and hedonistic responses at the same time, which are difficult to disentangle. While it may be difficult to prove or explain specifically how essential oils affect the brain, numerous studies demonstrate that their vaporizing odorous molecules do instigate neurological responses that appear to affect mood, emotion, memory, concentration, and cognition (either via inhalation or circulatory absorption), even if this influence is temporary.

Studies using animals, such as mice, although ethically controversial, eliminate many potentially influential subjective psycho-emotional variables when exploring the basic physiological and behavioral effects of essential oils, and provide very useful indications. However, these studies do not completely reflect the real complexities of true life scenarios when applied to humans, where the idiosyncratic psycho-emotional and hedonistic responses to essential oils contribute to the outcome of their actions—and/or, for that matter, conversely, the complex influence essential oils actually have on the individual’s psyche, cognition, and physiological function.


Odor memory is more tenacious than other senses (sight, sound, touch, hearing). Memory is reinforced, enhanced, and may last or linger longer where multiple sensory stimulation occurs at the same time, especially when less consciously controlled cognitive processes, which do not involve judgment, deliberation, reasoning, or rational evaluation, are being performed—for example, creative tasks, learning performing by rote, etc. (this works the same for negative and positive experiences). Thus, activities such as massage, meditation, visualization, or relaxation techniques may be positively enhanced and experientially memorably reinforced when complementary essential oils are vaporized at the same time. Herz et al (2000) applied odor in connection with pleasant and unpleasant circumstances to examine the effect of odor on memory, finding that “memories elicited by odors are more emotionally potent than memories evoked by other sensory stimuli, and when salient emotion is experienced during odor exposure, the effectiveness of an odor memory cue is enhanced.” Pitman (2000) exploited this salient connection between odor and memory to help hyperactive children manage their restlessness, using visualization and self-massage during exposure to selected essential oils to instill a sense of calmness and peace that could be recalled and experienced later when deliberately inhaling the odor of the same essential oil(s) as a memory cue. Pitman observed that, “it was very noticeable 4 that both the oils and the relaxation improved concentration. Students definitely stayed calmer longer and recovered quickly from upsets. There were fewer disruptions to lessons.”

Primary Cephalic Actions Supported by Essential Oils

Sedative / Calming
Stimulant / Uplifting
Balance of the central nervous system

Subjective Terms Used to Describe the Psycho-emotional Effects of Essential Oils


Essential Oils and Meditation

Essential oils can be used prior to meditation as part of your preparation process (perhaps in a bath, in an oil blend to be applied in self-massage, or simply environmentally vaporized in a diffuser). They can be used during meditation to aid concentration, focus, and alertness, and to calm racing thoughts and ease restlessness (perhaps applied as a personal perfume or, again, diffused into the atmosphere). Following meditation, essential oils can be used as a memory cue, a gentle reminder to return attention to the here and now. Their physiological and psycho-emotional uplifting, grounding, and balancing qualities are also beneficial at this time.

Your selection of essential oils will be personal and pertinent to you and what you require or need; there is not a “perfect blend” in this context, only the one that works best for you at any given moment in time. Your own nose will help you discover the alchemist within; your instinct is a good starting point.

As a very general guide to get you started, woods and tree resins, roots and rose blossom feature among the traditional scents employed to support meditation and prayer. Woods and flowers/blossoms in combination are balancing and uplifting. Woods aid breathing. Resins and roots are grounding. Spices and citrus oils are stimulating. Herbs are balancing; some are more stimulating (rosemary, for example), some more relaxing (marjoram, for example), some are both, for example lavender and patchouli.

Table of Contents



Coming into the Now with Mindfulness, Meditation, and Essential Oils

1 What Is Mindfulness?
Why and How to Make It Part of Your Life

2 Essential Oils as Meditation Companions
The Science of Their Use

3 Applying Essential Oils
Safety Guidelines and Indications for Eight Therapeutic Application Methods

4 Complementary Wellness Techniques
Relaxation, Exercise, and Nutrition

Entering into Your Own Voyage of Discovery




About the Author

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