Aroma Yoga Meditation Guide
The word meditation is used to describe different states of mind. Contemplation and concentration, devotion and chanting. The word itself probably derives from the same root as the Latin word Mederi, meaning to heal. Meditation can certainly be looked on as a healing process, emotionally, mentally and physically too.
In yoga the mind is the instrument for looking inwards and uncovering the inner self. Meditation or Dhyana is one of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga (a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the yogi to enlightenment), according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. However, meditation can be practised by anyone, young or old, of any physical ability.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation opens the mind to the ideas of something greater than ourselves and may people find this supportive and healing.
It also brings physical and mental relaxation through mindfulness and inward focus; promotes a sense of well-being; reduces stress and anxiety; improves the autoimmune response and helps heal damaged tissue; helps us to feel more at ease and at peace; expands our consciousness.
The brain is regarded as the king of organs, controlling all others, and so yogis believe that through meditation you can learn to control waves of thought by channelling mental and physical energies into spiritual energy.
When should I meditate?
Meditation can be practised at any time of the day but ideally in the early morning when the mind has fewer distractions (bhrami muhurtha – creative time). Ideally 10-15 minutes. Although an evening meditation practise can calm and clear the mind and relax the body, thereby improving quality of sleep.
Different types of meditation
Choose one and practise regularly. A routine helps and creating a meditation space (see below). Visualisation or guided meditations (online or via an app) are often the easiest to start with. These “can help you select a positive, enjoyable focus that induce feelings of calmness and well-being. Images drawn from personal experience are the most powerful.”
Other meditations focus on breath/pranayama* and emotion, walking meditations, chanting / mantras, Mudras, chakra balancing to enhance your lifeforce or Prana and meridian harmonisation to cultivate the flow of Chi.
*The practise pranayama or regulation of the breath helps to prepare the mind for meditation. Conscious breathing shifts your thoughts away from your concerns and brings you back to the present moment – you become mindful.
And last but by no means least aroma yoga meditation, whereby one uses essential oils to set the scene, help you become more focussed, clear your mind and enhance any of the above meditations. For example, see Aroma Yoga for Chakra Balancing. Aroma Yoga with Chakra Balancing Oils You could go on a scent filled journey through an alpine forest in your aroma yoga meditation or take yourself off to the lavender fields in Grasse, the possibilities are infinite.
“Essential oils have a different approach – to meditation – (which is clearly complementary to the others, which is to help a person obtain emotional equilibrium – which allows the happiness and joy, our birth-right, to come out. Essential oils are facilitators, balancers and, at the risk of sounding poetic, drops of pure positivity. They can put the sparkle back into life.” Valerie Ann Worwood, The Fragrant Mind
Create your meditation space
A quiet, undisturbed and warm room. Low lighting can help. Remove all electronic distractions. Create a yoga altar, a designated space to practise.
Purify and prepare your space either by misting or diffusing a cleansing blend of essential oils. (see below)
Aroma Yoga Meditation. How to use essential oils to help you meditate.
Always choose an oil or a blend of oils that you like the smell of, it sounds obvious but don’t choose an oil that makes your nose wrinkle up. You could start with your favourite e.g. Lavender that you know you like and that will help you sleep well if you are practising meditation in the evening. Lavender might not be so appropriate at the start of your day. If you are using a visualisation then choose and oil that cultivates this – freedom, confidence, happiness etc..
Some oils to choose from:
Juniper – “a psychic cleanser, very good for clearing rooms before meditation.”
Frankincense – uplifts and calms without sedation, it “deepens and slows the rate of respiration” and expands the mind.
Cypress – earthy and grounding, it is a prime oil in times of transition.
Rose Otto – mythical in its’ association with the feminine hear, healing and tonifying.
Vetiver – “has a balancing action, very good for bringing the energy of all the major chakras into alignment and for harmonising group energies.”
Some blends to choose from:
Lavender – balancing, sedative. Juniper – protects the psyche. Geranium – balancing, calming, aids homeostasis. Sweet Orange – useful where stress and tension impact the digestive system.
Neroli – peaceful, sedative for chronic stress and tension. Rose Otto – encourages self-care, loving, calming and restorative. Frankincense – uplifting to the senses and helps strengthen spiritual contact.
Fear and anxiety:
Bergamot – uplifts and calms, anti-depressant, helps strengthen spiritual contact. Geranium – particularly useful for those who take their feelings inwards and suppress unwanted emotions. Vetiver – sedative yet nurturing and restorative,
Lemon – uplifts, releases stagnation, emotional, somatic or spiritual. Jasmine – euphoric, sedative, antidepressant, releases inhibitions, sensuous. Sandalwood – strengthening and emotionally grounding.
Prepare to meditate
Sit comfortably on the floor, if you can sit in Sukhasana, cross-legged, perhaps on a cushion, or with your back supported by a wall.
Close your eyes, ground yourself by becoming aware of how your body feels.
Dirga, three-part breath is a simple pranayama. Deepen your breath by breathing into your belly 3x, then take the focus and sensation of your breath into your rib cage 3x and finally into your upper chest, underneath your collar bones 3x. There are many more pranayama practises, Bhramari (humming bee breath) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) for instance, and you are welcome to choose any of them.
Start your meditation with a drop of your chosen oil or blend on a cotton pad between your hands and bring your hands up to your nose. Take 3 deep breaths.
Begin your chosen meditation.
To close your meditation hold your cotton pad between your hands, bring your hands to pray at your hearts centre (mid chest). Rub your hands together and place or hover over your eyes and face, take a deep inhalation and a deep sigh out. This can be repeated twice more.
Thank yourself for taking time to meditate, for being present, for your self-care practise.
Aromatherapy References: G. Mojay, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, S. Battaglia, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, V-A Worwood, The Fragrant Mind
Further references: C. Brown, The Classic Yoga Bible, M. Kan, The Complete Yoga Tutor, Sri Swami Sattchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali