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Living Scent-sually: The Benefits of Aromatherapy

Story by Dana Keller.

Before I properly begin, I feel that I need to apologize for the title. I’m not sorry enough to change it, but I recognize that (as with many puns) it’s a bit of a groaner, and for that, I’m sorry!

Alright, now that I’ve completed the ancient Canadian custom of beginning all communications with an apology, let’s dig in . . .

This is the fourth and final post in the blog series detailing my experience of Glynnis Osher’s Aroma 911 online course, offered here at the Vancouver School of Healing Arts. The previous three posts explored the Why, How, and What of essential oils and learning aromatherapy. This post will be more of a personal perspective on how I’ve incorporated the Aroma 911 wisdom into my daily life.

I’ve found aromatherapy to be a simple and effective tool for encouraging mindfulness and intention in my daily actions. From a grounding oil during meditations to a focus blend while working, to a few drops of lavender on my pillow at night, essential oils help guide me through the day and draw my mind back to whatever goals I’ve set – for example, if my thoughts are racing before bed, a whiff of lavender is enough to remind me that I need to focus on calming my mind so that I can move into sleep.

Aromatherapy is also a wonderful way of infusing our lives with a bit of magic. I don’t mean magic in the sense of witchcraft – though I do think aromatherapy complements many witchcraft practices given that it connects the mind, body, and nature. More so, I’m referring to the aspect of ritual, of creating “sacred” spaces – whether physical or mental – which encourage us to acknowledge and appreciate each moment as we move through our days. As an example, I live in a different country from my family and many of my friends. I’m lucky to be able to visit family every second winter, but because I’m often travelling in the winter, I don’t bother to get a Christmas tree or decorate my home. For me, the winter holiday season means cozy, decorated homes and the scent of baking and mulled cider, which is very different from the cold, relatively bare flat that I occupy for much of that time (not to complain, it’s still lovely!). That’s all to say, this past December I decided to create an essential oil blend of clove, bergamot, and that warmed my home and made it feel more festive, which in turn lifted my mood.

Since starting the Aroma 911 course I’ve become even more interested in using essential oils in a somewhat ritualistic way in order to create spaces for myself that support and strengthen my intentions. It’s a small thing, adding a scent to a daily activity, but it’s often in the trivial stuff, the little details, that we can find the most to be grateful for. For instance, adding a spicy essential oil blend to the diffuser while reading a book takes you from simply reading (already great, I know) to something that feels more luxurious – it’s like pairing your favourite tea or coffee with a food that brings out its flavours: on their own they’re both great, but together they inspire a new sensual experience that is utterly indulgent.

Speaking of indulgent, the Aroma 911 course introduced me to essential oil methods that I’d never thought of before – steam bowls and body oiling being two favourites. As a practitioner of Ayurveda, Glynnis talked about using steam bowls and body oil daily in her preventative self-care practice. The oils that she uses in these everyday rituals match the seasons – for example, warming and immune-building essential oils for the winter and spring, and cooling oils for the summer. I’m coming from a place where a treat means a piece of cake or a bottle of wine while watching guilty-pleasure movies, so for me, it’s been enlightening to learn other ways of taking care of myself that truly nourish my body, mind, and soul.

Learning aromatherapy has equipped me with new methods for connecting to myself and to the world around me. It has something to offer even the most science-minded person who may eschew alternative medicine. Beyond the scientific evidence suggesting the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, there’s the simple truth that scent affects our consciousness. In the course materials Glynnis notes that she finds aromatherapy most effective when working with emotions, and I found that to be true for myself as well – especially when paired with other self-care methods such as meditation, yoga, or breath work. If a hit of ylang ylang or bergamot doesn’t improve your mood, the act of intentionally taking a moment to stop, breathe deeply, and mindfully focus on healing will. Used in this way, as a mode of boosting the efficacy of your daily activities, essential oils are most effective.

In case it’s not obvious from what I’ve written up to this point, I highly recommend the VSOHA’s Aroma 911 online aromatherapy course. I’ve long wanted to learn about essential oils, but with so much information out there, I had no clue where to start. It helped enormously to have an expert sort through all the information and present it in such an easy to digest way. Thanks to Glynnis, I now have a strong foundation on which to build further aromatherapy knowledge, and a supportive community (via the Aroma 911 Facebook group) to check in with as I continue my journey. If you’re seeking tools for your self-care toolbox, Aroma 911 is an excellent option.

Essential oils used while writing this post: Focus diffuser blend (recipe included in the Aroma 911 course)

DanaJKeller-Writer About the Author

Dana Jeanne Keller is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, and marketing consultant who lives between Scotland, Canada, and Germany.

Her specialties are book publishing, film, folklore, the occult, and spirituality. Among other things, she enjoys yoga, meditation, and disappearing into nature.

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