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I was introduced to essential oils many years ago, when I worked for Robert Tisserand in London, during those early days when he first began developing his business, the Aromatic Oil Company, later Tisserand Aromatherapy. Then, I was a teenager, naive and idealistic, believing that I had so many years ahead, my life spreading out before me with endless possibility. So, when a friend beckoned me to join her in Corsica to work for a season, I went without hesitation, assuming I could simply pick up the threads when I was ready to return. Within a year, however, I was married and expecting my first child, my path decided and etched to a distant horizon.
One day, four beautiful children and some years later, I serendipitously found myself in a bookshop, waiting for a friend. Browsing the shelves in front of me, I noticed with pleasant surprise a book written by Robert, The Art of Aromatherapy. Intrigued, I flicked through the pages. Memories instantly flooded through me; the air I breathed seemed suddenly imbued with the scent of rose, ylang ylang, and chamomile.
I recalled, as if only the day before, weighing dried chamomile and rose flowers and packing small brown bottles of essential oils with Robert and Jonathon (“Jack” and “Hans,” as they were known then). I remembered the indulgent ambience the scents created—sweet, spicy, earthy, leafy, fruity, woody, floral, deeply rich, or playfully light—permeating every corner of the space, dispelling the dank background smell in the small old building we occupied then.
Picking Up The Threads
From that chance moment in the bookshop, revisiting the comfort, the familiarity, the tingle of excitement I felt, my inspiration was rekindled. My children were growing, and it was time to pick up the threads I had started to weave and complete the journey I had begun during those early years in London.
I earned a joint honors degree in counseling and complementary medicine at the University of Salford and master’s certificates in integrated mindfulness and supervision of counseling and therapeutic relationships, going on to work in several capacities at the College of Health and Social Care at the University of Salford, including running the aromatherapy clinic for staff and students. I’ve also offered essential oil therapy in private practice for over 25 years.
I have had the good fortune to work with a range of clients (parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, researchers, managers, nurses, acupuncturists, counselors, and a variety of health-care professionals, among others) who have sought treatments for many different reasons. These include balancing physical and psycho-emotional well-being while working in demanding roles; managing stress or a stress-related condition, such as insomnia, mild depression, or anxiety; and support during challenging life events such as bereavement, job loss, or relationship breakdown, and, conversely, exciting events such as moving, changing jobs, or getting married. Sometimes it is for the simple but possibly most significant reason of all: to relax and enhance a sense of well-being.
Attention and Awareness
Indeed, the inspiration to write this book evolved from observing my clients’ responses to the scent of essential oils. I observed how the experience of aroma absorption and perception drew their attention and awareness into the moment. I also noticed how those moments were enriched as the scent permeated their psychic being and appeared to trigger a psycho-emotional response and effect. These responses were initially observed through a softening of facial expression and calmer breathing, after which clients reported their experience of increased energy, clearer thinking, and a sense of feeling relaxed and grounded. Their experiences have also been substantiated by measurable physiological responses in the nervous system.
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Just as my connection to essential oils began many years ago, so did my relationship with meditation. When I learned to meditate, meditation was regarded as a fringe or hippie-type practice, encapsulated and epitomized by media images of the Beatles sitting with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, developer of Transcendental Meditation.
Meditation has not changed my destiny or my life’s lessons, but it is an invaluable tool, consistently grounding my sense of reality, anchoring my psyche when I feel insecure, calming my racing mind, and uncluttering my perspective. I do not meditate every day, but whenever I do, the experience is unconditional, unfailing, always “just there,” if I choose to notice, to focus my awareness.
Mindfulness is a meditative construct similarly applied as a tool, to the same end. It is an ancient practice, steeped in Buddhist philosophy, which nonetheless currently occupies the foreground of vogue acceptance as a nonreligious, cost-effective, destressing, antianxiety, antidepressant tool. It is increasingly embraced by mainstream health care as a viable self-help remedy that may be safely applied independently or alongside conventional treatments.
Is There A Magic Formula?
At my age, I am aware that there is no magic formula, and that life is a journey. We each travel on our own path, which may sometimes be easy and sometimes difficult to tread. However, there are positive and negative ways of coping with the stresses and joys of everyday life. Around the world and through the ages, meditation and mindfulness have been practiced and valued as among the most positive and effective methods.
Companions of the meditative process and remedies in their own right, essential oils play an invaluable complementary role, particularly when we utilize their psycho-emotional properties such as their ability to uplift, brace, and ground. These qualities, among many other significant ones, are simple yet important when dealing with everyday life.
Through my clinical practice, observing my clients’ responses to essential oils, and my own experience, I notice how enriching this relationship is, how practical and pleasurable, healing and uplifting, and how this in turn may also translate into a healthy sense of well-being.
Essential oils appear to be a multidynamic gift presented by nature— offered, it seems, to accompany our journey through life, through the ups and downs and the joys and challenges, like a supportive friend.
©2018 by Heather Dawn Godfrey. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted with permission. Healing Arts Press,
a division of Inner Traditions Intl. www.InnerTraditions.com
Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation: Relax, Replenish, and Rejuvenate
by Heather Dawn Godfrey
Explaining methods to incorporate essential oils into your practice, Heather Dawn 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. (Also available as a Kindle edition.)
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. Heather was introduced to the philosophical tenets and practice of complementary medicine and meditation in the early ‘70’s. She worked for Robert Tisserand when he first developed his essential oil business in London, later completing a BSc (Joint Hon) degree in Complementary Medicine and Counselling, Masters certificates in Mindfulness and Supervision of Counsellors, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), among other qualifications. Vist her website at http://www.aromantique.co.uk