One of my favorite movies is My Fair Lady. It opens with a montage sequence of flowers in full bloom. Flowers have always drawn me. But having lived in urban areas I often feel deprived of running into a garden with flowers blooming all around me. In my happiest times, I often find myself transported in my imagination into rolling fields of lavender! (Like a French version of Tujhe dekha to ye jaana sanam 🙂 ) And hence, one of my greatest “grounding” techniques, or simply connecting to nature, is through aromatherapy. I am most preferential to essential oils, and it is really amazing that even medical shops have started housing aromatherapy oils these days. If you Google up on essential oils, you will easily get a list of flower/herb fragrances and what they do. Hence, here I share the ways in which I use oils & fragrances that have benefited me immensely.
To heal excess mental activity, using lavender essential oil has always instantly put me at ease and relaxed my breathing. A simple way I use it is smelling it straight from the bottle. Just taking a few deep breaths has infinitely calmed me. At times when I have felt nervousness or palpitations or a great grief overcome me, taking a base oil such as sesame seed oil, warming it, and adding a few drops of lavender oil, and rubbing this on the mounds of my feet has brought me great relief and consolation. Many a times I’ve also rubbed lavender oil on my pulse points, especially to bring me back to my body during office hours where there is a lot of mental work involved. Rubbing this base oil + lavender oil on the base of your spine also helps during those emotional phases (especially PMS).
During the water birthing session of a client where I was present, the midwife used a mixture of tea tree oil and lemongrass oil in an oil diffuser the whole night that the labor was on. It transformed the ambiance into a nurturing one. Later, I learnt that using this oil diffusion when having colds/sinus outbreaks/fevers helps a lot in soothing the body as it goes through its letting go process.
Anti-dandruff shampoos often give me the jitters with the host of chemicals they put in. Recently, as I switched to a soap-free shampoo, I was looking at options that will give me freedom from dandruff and frizzy hair at the same time. Tea tree oil did the magic! Just putting 2-3 drops of it in a coin-sized portion of any shampoo in your hand, rubbing it on your palms and applying it can totally rid you of the dandruff and tone down frizziness. I do this for both washes. Care must be taken though because sometimes the fragrance is too strong for the eyes.
I love the smell of freshly laundered clothes. So when our washing machine began to give off a stench, I decided to put aromatherapy into action to see if it works. And it did. In order to have the clothes smell (sincerely!) beautiful, alongwith the washing machine, once the soak cycle had started and the drum was filled with water, I put the machine on pause, and added about 7-8 drops of patchouli oil (you can use any oil whose fragrance you like). Leave it like that for about 5 minutes. Then restart the cycle. This gave an amazing fragrance not only to the clothes, but also to the machine. Also adding the oil once the clothes were completely submerged also prevented any oil stains from getting onto the clothes.
Vanilla is the “salt” of scents for me. I used to add a stick of vanilla in my sugar jar when I used sugar. Now of course with jaggery replacing sugar that is not an option. But in days of winter, vanilla essential oil is my “cozy” favorite that transports me in a warm world of quilts those cold mornings of frail sunlight.
The two heart chakra fragrances I know of are jasmine and rose. For me personally, rose oil works wonders in making you feel at peace when your heart feels “under restoration”. I simply dab a few drops of it on my wrists. (Rubbing the wrists together often “burns out” the delicate fragrance molecules. You can “bump” the wrists together instead). And times when the heart is gentle and flowing, jasmine is the fragrance. Using moringa oil on the face in case of dry skin, especially as a night restorative feels very nourishing.
Recently, on this website I stumbled upon a wonderful solution to reduce oily skin, called oil pulling. Mix equal measures of castor oil and olive oil in a bottle. You can add a few drops of tea tree essential oil or another oil (I tried peppermint oil). Close the bottle tightly and shake it up thoroughly. Then dab on this mixture onto the face, wait for a minute or two. Take a washcloth, soak it in hot water, wring it out and spread it out onto the face. Allow the steam from the cloth to do its work for a few minutes. Wipe and rinse the face off. It clears all the dirt and oil on the face. Olive oil allows the skin to remain moisturised, since castor oil is known to turn the skin dry.
A few other favorite ways of using flowers and oils are –
Filling a brass vessel with mogras, keeping marigold petals in between pages of a book/diary, using marigold petals to garnish tea (got this idea thanks to Aromas cafe), using peppermint oil to feel instantly energized, using rosewater as a natural toner.
Aromatherapy products I recommend
* Auroville’s products – You can order them online at www.auroville.com
* Forest Essentials India – http://www.forestessentialsindia.com/
Update (September ’14):
Using oil diffusers (I use ceramic ones but the electrical ones these days look very fascinating!) with water and few drops of your favorite essential oils in them help soothe the ambience at home. I was intuitively guided to juniper essential oil with some lavender to help bring down over-thinking and foster sound sleep. I put up these diffusers on either side of my bed.
Have you ever noticed how instantly you are in your witnessing consciousness when you are smelling something? 🙂
Did you know: Most perfumes used whale barf to make their fragrance last longer. Some still do I guess. What is whale barf? In short, it is whale vomit/excretion.
A perfume is generally “constructed” in 3 layers also called “notes” – the top note (which is the first to detect and is generally something obvious such as citrus fragrances), the middle note or the heart note (which is given away more at ease as the perfume wears on during the day) and the base note (generally woody, or something that gives a foundation to the perfume) that you can often smell when you wake up the next morning or that is released when you come in contact with warm water. Often brands will list these notes on their site for their perfumes.