Aromatic plants in the form of oil and incense were elements of religious and therapeutic practices in early cultures worldwide. Anointment with perfumes and fragrant oils was an almost universal practice. Burning incense in rituals provided a connection between the physical and spiritual—between the mundane and the divine.
-Sandra Kynes, The History of Herbal Medicine and Essential Oils
Why use essential oils for meditation
Essential oils can be used to support your meditation practice in many ways. A single essential oil or a synergy of two or more oils can:
- Help prepare your environment for meditation
- Help fully immerse you in the practice of meditation
- Slow down your pulse and breathing
- Improve mental clarity and concentration
- Provide a focal point and keep the mind focused
How to use essential oils for meditation
- You can diffuse an essential oil or a blend of essential oils with a room diffuser. Diffusing your selected oil(s) in your mediation space before you start meditating can help prepare the environment. This is particularly helpful if you don’t have a designated “meditation space” in your home.
- You can make a personal anointing blend by combining 10 ml of jojoba oil with 2 – 3 drops of essential oils. A roller ball is a perfect applicator for this.
- Apply the anointing oil to your wrist pulse points, or put some on your third eye, or even put a little on your hands, rub them together and inhale the aromas.
5 essential oils you can use in your meditation practice
The essential oils I have listed below are generally considered non-toxic and non-irritating (Tisserand & Young, 2013).
Frankincense Boswellia carterii
tranquil contemplation, spiritual liberation
- Frankincense has long been considered a sacred oil. It played a role in the spiritual and daily life of the Ancient Egyptians, Babylonian, Persian, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman civilizations (Mojay, 1996).
- Frankincense calms, comforts and centers, as well as stabilize one’s emotions. It is very grounding and quiets and clarifies the mind. When used in meditation it promotes a state in which one is better able to receive and integrate healing energies (West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy, n.d.).
- Tisserand and Young caution using frankincense oil if oxidized as it can cause skin sensitization.
Orange Citrus sinensis
ease, adaptability, optimism
- This sweet smelling essential oil is extracted through cold expression from the rind of the fruit.
- The warm and sunny aroma of sweet orange essential oil conveys joy and positivity. Sweet orange can help you take a more relaxed approach and helps to ease tension and frustration (Mojay, 1996).
- Avoid using of the oil if it has oxidized (Tisserand & Young, 2014).
Cedarwood Cedrus atlantica
strength, endurance, certainty
- The Ancient Egyptians valued cedarwood for its resistance to bugs and fungus, and also for its fragrance (Grayson, 1993).
- If you’ve ever spent time in a cedarwood forest, you will be familiar with the incredibly grounding scent of cedar. The scent steadies the mind and helps return you to your path (Mojay, 1996).
- The universal essence is a valuable aid for deep breathing (Grayson, 1993).
Lavender Lavandula officinalis
calm composure, easy self-expression
- Lavender essential oil relaxes the mind and stabilizes emotions. It is calming, comforting, and balancing.
- An aromatic “rescue remedy”, it works to calm any strong emotions that threaten to overwhelm the mind (Mojay, 1996).
Vetiver Vetiveria zizanioides
nourishing, restoring, reconnecting
- Vetiver is a tall perennial grass native to India and Sri Lanka and has been used in perfume in India for thousands of years (Davis, 1995).
- Vetiver’s earthy scent is both grounding and restoring. In fact, it’s known as the oil of tranquility.
- It is a fantastic oil for people who live too much in their heads. If you are overworked or out of touch with your body, vetiver centers and reconnects, relaxing an overactive mind and bringing you down to earth.
If using essential oils with your meditation practice is new to you, I recommend starting with only one essential oil at a time. Take your time and see what oils resonate with you and your practice.
After you have explored each essential oil, try these synergies:
- Lavender 2 drops
- Vetiver 1 drop
- Orange 2 drops
- Frankincense 1 drop
- Cedarwood 2
- Lavender 1
- Vetiver 1
Davis, P. (1995). Aromatherapy An A – Z. Essex: C.W. Daniel Company Ltd.
Grayson, J. (1993). The Fragrant Year. San Francisco: Harper Collins.
Kynes S. (2014, April) The History of Herbal Medicine and Essential Oils. [article] Retrieved from http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/history-of-herbal-medicine-ze0z1404zcov.aspx
Mojay, G. (1996). Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. London: Gaia Books Ltd.
Tisserand, R. & Young, R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety. Churchill Livingstone.
West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.westcoastaromatherapy.com/free-information/articles-archive/meditation-and-essential-oils/