Aromatherapy and a Journey Towards Wholeness

Aromatherapy and a Journey Towards Wholeness

Botanical Baths To Replenish and Nourish the Entire Being

Derek J. Healey

Holistic Arts Institute

Abstract

This paper reviews recent attempts by the author to utilize aromatherapy botanical baths (hydrotherapy) as a means for increasing physical health, mental clarity, emotional harmony, and spiritual awareness.  The author found that with consistent daily use for seven days, health aspects of the test subject improved. The findings signify that when Bergamot, Lavender, and Mandarin therapeutic-grade essential oils are used in botanical baths, circulation improves, skin integrity increases, and dreams become more vivid.

Keywords: aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, spiritual bath

Botanical Baths To Replenish and Nourish the Entire Being

For centuries our ancestors prized essential oils more than jewels or gold, (Meeker, 2014) some for their pleasant aromas, but mostly for their ability to fight off dis-ease on all levels: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. The healing benefits of essential oils are innumerable. From their basic antiviral and antibacterial properties to being able to affect hormone levels, (Cooksley, 2002) and be used to treat some of the world’s worst diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress or even cancer; therapeutic medicinal-grade essential oils are truly powerful agents of healing. It was not too long ago that I was introduced, by my teacher Joanna Powell Colbert, to the idea of taking sacred spiritual baths, which is also a time honoured tradition across many, many cultures. A Spiritual Bath combines the healing properties of water, flowers, herbs, and prayer in a ceremony to purify and wash away past pain, trauma, and hardships. It cleanses your mind, body, and soul of all negativity, eliminates energy blockages (toxins), and allows you to remove any walls or barriers in your life that are keeping you away from reaching your highest potential. (Colbert, 2012). It is a rather beautiful way of sweating out and confronting your demons.

Therapeutic-grade essential oils are MUCH different than store-bought essential oils in that they can be used for medicinal purposes. They destroy harmful fungi, viruses, and bacteria in the air we breathe as well as inside our bodies. While being deadly to pathogenic microbes, they are actually harmless and helpful to humans. A single drop of therapeutic-grade essential oil will cover every cell in your body with 40,000 molecules in less than 20 minutes! (Meeker, 2014). In this way, essential oils  are nature’s most powerful antioxidants that cleanse free radicals from our systems, which helps maintain a state of wellness and can even extend our life spans. Essential oils work in our limbic systems to help clear negative feelings and blocked emotions, thus eliminating the root causes of many diseases and conditions. This is the aim of all holistic health alternative medicines: to eliminate dis-ease at the source. Not to ignore it and only treat the symptoms, but to work and treat the illness from whence it originates! In conjunction with other therapies, essential oils can facilitate communication between client and practitioner and allow the client to feel comfortable enough to divulge this information. Breaking patterns of behavior is hard enough on its own, but with the help of essential oils, it makes it all the easier. Essential oils also support our spiritual health and harmony by increasing our intuitive powers, sharpening our awareness, and assisting with effective meditation and prayer. Religions all over the world, from ancient times to present, diffuse the aromas of essential oils as incense in their sanctuaries for this very reason. Essential oils affect our state of consciousness and raise our etheric vibrations up towards the heavens. In all of these ways and more essential oils work on all human levels: physical, mental, emotional, social, sexual, environmental, and spiritual. 

We can take advantage of all of the health benefits of essential oils in various ways. We can inhale them, apply them topically, or even ingest them orally under the supervision of a licensed Aromatherapist. One of my favourite ways to utilize these healing properties is topically in the bath. Combining the healing powers of hydrotherapy, flotation, herbs, and aromatherapy creates a synergy of healing ingredients towards wholeness of health. Hippocrates even said that, “the way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.”

Method

Materials and Procedure.

This was a self-conducted study following the directions of Valarie Gennari Cooksley, R.N. . in her 2002 edition of “Aromatherapy: Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate, and Heal.” The recipe for her Botanical Bath includes ingredients from both the plant and animal kingdoms. By combining one-fourth of a cup of aloe vera juice, one-fourth of a cup crème, 2 tablespoons of raw local honey, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, one-fourth of a cup of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of powdered spirulina sea weed, and  a Serenity Blend of 5 drops Lavender, 2 drops Bergamot, and 1 drop Mandarin essential oil; you create a powerful and very “indulgent bath that nourishes the whole body.” (Cooksley, 2002). While preparing this recipe you get a double dose of pleasure, first while you are mixing the essential oils with the Botanical carrier and again once you place the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.

Procedure.

Each trial began with sacred intention, I collected the essential oils from herbs, fruits, and flowers of purification and blessing. With deep knowledge I knew that Bergamot as an anti-depressant will help with stress as it is “nature’s way to balance.” I knew that Lavender, as an analgesic and “grandmother’s incredible remedy,” will abate any muscle tension. I knew that Mandarin, as a “promising favourite of children” will not only allow my own inner child to shine, but as a tonic  will also invigorate and strengthen my body.

Each trial was also conducted in complete darkness. Bathing in this way is a “great antidote for sensory overload in our modern world.” (Cooksley, 2002). Due to the dark environment, ingredients for the bath were mixed and prepared prior to “lights-out.” The bath was controlled at a temperature of 108 degrees Fahrenheit for all seven trials. According to Cooksley, “a hot bath (99°-108° F) is good for insomnia, to increase circulation, help relieve pain and eliminate toxins.”  Like I always tell my friends, “turn off your phone, dry brush before if you like, and turn on some deep theta music that is very calming or that puts you into a light trance state, and turn out the lights. Sink into the bath, and soak, for at least 20 minutes. Splash yourself. Chant, sing, and pray. Release all your stress, worries, and sorrows. Allow your body to heal itself by purging built-up toxins and sweating them all out. Then release the negativity, down the drain with the bath water when you’re done. Towel off, and look in the mirror at a fresh, and beautiful example of a healthier, more happy, more whole and vibrant YOU.”

For all seven trials, I used an organic dry brush to slough off dry skin, always brushing towards the heart. I soaked in the bath for 20 minutes, with my shoulders completely submerged, and followed with a short one-minute cool shower.

Results

After sinking into a tub on more than one occasion with this recipe, I am more than pleased and can be certain of its positive effects. After the seven-day trial period, circulation in my extremeties improved. When the weather is cold, my hands and feet are often the first to lose their warmth, as I have very low body fat percentage (BMI of 17.0). During the course of the week trial, I was able to maintain warmth in my hands and feet for extended periods of time. My pulse would elevate during the baths with an average 102 beats per minute for the first five minutes, but then would normalize back down to an average 72 beats per minute. As such, I would highly recommend this treatment for anyone wishing to add a bit of nourishment to their bodies. After every treatment, not only do I mentally and spiritually feel at peace, but my body not only feels relaxed, but my skin feels incredibly soft and supple, and retains its moisture for several days afterwards. This is one to jump in, soak, rinse, dry, and repeat as often as one can.

Discussion

Treating myself with a Sacred Bath is a part of my spiritual practice not only as a Reiki Practitioner, but also as a Holistic Health Practitioner student.

Aromatherapy is a beautiful remedy to a world full of discombobulation. By opening up to the potential to have better health, on all levels, we can begin to look at our lives and environments with different eyes. We begin to see that we do not always need to surround ourselves with toxic chemical odors. We begin to see that we do not always have to clean with toxic chemical cleaners that create super-bugs and antiviral/antibiotic resistant infections. We have a choice. Aromatherapy offers us an alternative way of taking care of our minds, bodies, and spirits (without all the side effects.) Since I began incorporating more and more therapeutic-grade essential oils into my life and practice, I have not only been less prone to infection, but I have become more happy, more lovable, and more informed. Paradoxically, I have drawn more and more clients, more and more adventures, and more and more health into my life. With workshoppes and by writing online articles, I have been able to help so many people with  their common ailments like headache, and even more severe ailments such as broken bones. If that is not a success story, I don’t know what is? I have been able to armour myself against dis-ease, and even if I do feel something coming on, I quickly react and “poof!” whatever it was is gone before it even arrived.

Teaching and transferring this knowledge has been an incredible pleasure for me. Seeing my friends and family being more conscious and happy themselves as a result, assures me that I am on the right path with my career. Helping and healing and teaching have always been my passion, and offers me a sense of wholeness by living my bliss. And aromatherapy is just one more tool that I have added into my healing basket.

References

Colbert, J.P. (2012). Gaian Soul Practices for Candlemas, Week Three Spiritual Practice:

Spiritual Baths. Retrieved from
http://www.gaiansoulgrove.com/seasons/

Cooksley, V. G, (2002). Aromatherapy: Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate, and

  1. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, Inc.

Farrer-Halls, G. (2005). The Aromatherapy Bible: The Definitive Guide to using Essential 

    Oils. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Meeker, P. (2014). Did You Know? Retrieved from
http://completehealthcircle.com/aromatherapy-young-living/

 

Foraging in Albany

Lately, I have been on a foraging craze. In preparation for my next coursework in Herbalism, I have wanted to get more familiar with the area for next season when I begin my coursework. Little do we know that there is much around us to discover, and yes to EAT! 

With the following edibles, you will not only add more biodiversity and health to your diet, but you will learn to have more of an appreciation for the natural world around you, your family, friends, and larger community.

Dandelion

8958803712_b3c1da28bf_b

The whole plant can be eaten: leaves in salads, sandwiches or pies, while flowers (in bloom between February and November) can be used in anything from risotto to omelettes. If you can’t wait for the buds to open, they can be marinated and used like capers for flavour. Make dandelion coffee by grinding the dried roots and use as normal. It’s totally caffeine-free and has a vaguely chocolately taste. The roots can also be thrown into stir-fries or added to vegetable dishes.

RECIPES: Sauteed Greens. Try adding other greens and be sure to cook thorouhly. Add balsamic viniagrette if you find the taste too bitter, but it shouldnt be a problem if you use enough garlic, onions, salt, and pepper. Dandelion and Onion Soup.

Wild Chives, Garlic, and Ramps (Leeks)

3703590943_5220ccc9a8_b OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 468955683_2e3c498389_o

RECIPE: Soup, Pesto, and Butter.

Purslane & Lamb’s Quarters

8428807032_7dd94b2eab_b 4969449044_be79ca6be6_b

RECIPE: Roasted chicken with Purslane and Lamb’s Quarters.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

13065689245_80c0392ccd_b

Extremely photogenic flowers dapple the early spring woods with their beautiful yellow. The root bulb corms (tubers) are edible raw when peeled and cleaned. These little ones are very prevalent at my grandparents house in the woods. Granted, they live up in the northern Adirondacks, but I had to add these to the list.

 RECIPE: Trout Lily Salad.

“Fiddleheads” Ostrich Fern (Pteretis pensylvanica)

2521740890_95f2d8a0ca_b

The term “fiddleheads” refers to the unfurling young sprouts of ferns. Although many species of ferns are edible as fiddleheads, Ostrich Ferns are the best. They are edible only in their early growth phase first thing in the spring.

PLEASE NOTE: Most or all other fern species are either unpalatable (too tough or not very tasty) or contain high levels or carcinogens. Ostrich Ferns are the safest in that they contain the least amount of these. However, do not eat large quantities of even Ostrich ferns, as the carcinogens do accumulate over the short term.

RECIPE: Fiddlehead Tart.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

7531612510_f6b6cc0fb2_b

Other common names: Queen Anne’s Lace, Bird’s Nest
The root is edible, and tastes and most importantly SMELLS like carrots. The first year roots are the best. But be very careful not to confuse Wild Carrot with other similar species, some of which are DEADLY POISONOUS. Be sure that the plant you think is Wild Carrot actually smells like carrots. And that it is growing in a dry field.

RECIPE: Wild Carrot & Mint Stirfry.

Nettles

2544110170_c82d264f7d_b

Another plant pariah, nettles tend to be avoided thanks to their well-known propensity for leaving painful welts on the hands of the picker. But once you’ve invested in a decent pair of gardening gloves, the pros of nettles outweigh the cons. Among other things, they can be used be make tea, soup, beer and even haggis. Boiling will get rid of the sting. Packed with vitamins and minerals, nettles contain more vitamin C than oranges. Nettles should be harvested before the flowers appear in early spring and only the youngest leaves should be chosen; mature leaves can damage the kidneys. Find them in gardens, woodlands, pastures and orchards.

RECIPE: Risotto with Nettles & Nettle Frittata.

Wild Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Thimbleberries

1096499989_38f2d14148_b
3836916697_4f48792f38_o

3729327556_1a4fab3b96_b
Abundant, tasty and packed with vitamin C, berries are one of the easiest foods to forage. They often abound in accessible areas and there’s so much variety, you can’t go far wrong. Among the most common are blackberries, raspberries, mulberries and sloes, and uses range from juices and cordials to jams and jelly, pies and cakes, wine and gin, and ice cream. Look for berries in woodlands, hedgerows, and parks from late summer.

RECIPE: Thimbleberry Pie.

Nuts

2869587704_c61489e337_b 1463357713_3d4a82c5c0_o 12383072155_16e17f40e9_b
Nuts are a rich source of protein and energy for hungry foragers, but bear in mind that nuts are relied on by many birds and animals, so don’t take the lot. Forage for nuts in the autumn, keeping them dry and warm once picked. Eat them as they come or roasted. Most nuts can also be used as a replacement for protein, so work well in nut roasts and nut breads, or mixed into salads and stir-fries for extra crunch. Ground nuts can be pressed through a fine muslin bag to extract the oil, which can then be used for frying and dressing salads. Favourites include acorns, chestnuts, beechnuts, hazelnuts, and walnuts. Grubbing for pignuts was once a popular past time but is now illegal without the landowner’s permission.

RECIPE: Acorn and Chestnut Cake & Acorn Soup.

General Disclaimer

To the best of our knowledge all the information contained herein is accurate and true.

However we cannot guarantee that everyone will react positively to all edible plants or other plant uses.

It is commonly known that many people suffer allergic reactions to conventional foods and products. Even amongst the more commonly eaten fruits, for example, there are plenty of instances where people react badly to them:

  • Many people are allergic to strawberries and will come out in a rash if they eat them.
  • Some people develop a rash if they touch the stems of parsnips.
  • Potatoes become poisonous if they turn green.
  • Eating large quantities of cabbage can adversely affect the thyroid gland.

In general, we believe that the overall health of people will be greatly improved by bringing more diversity into their diet and through using more natural products.

We strongly recommend the following preventative precautions when trying anything new:

  • Make sure you have identified the plant correctly
  • Try a small taste of anything new in your diet. If there are no side effects increase the quantity at the next meal.
  • When trying new soaps or skin applications try them on a very small area before proceeding to larger areas of the body. Look for any uncomfortable reactions or changes and if there is do not proceed with further application.

No liability exists against Complete Health Circle or any member of the CHC, nor can they be held responsible for any allergy, illness or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of information in this catalogue or through using any of the plants mentioned by Derek J. Healey, HHP, ARP.

REFERENCES

Creative Commons Photography courtesy of: J.M. Raby, Glenn F., Allie K., Brewbook, Justthisguy, Jason MerrickYooperan, Martin LaBar, Cross Duck, Bryant Olsen, Farruckh,

For She was a Woman Who Loved

view
With a pounding heart, she began to write

– the love letter she never received,
and wanted to share with the world.
(for She was a woman who Loved.)

 

With a bleeding heart, she began to see
– the pain she never spoke of,
and wanted to share with the world.
(porque Ella era una mujer que Amaba.)

 

With a leaping heart, she began to dance
– the music she never sang out loud,
and wanted to share with the world.
(car Elle était une femme qui Aimait.)

 

With a hungry heart, she began to hunt
– the journey she never started,
and wanted to share with the world.
(pois Ela era uma mulher que Amava.)

 

With an accepting heart, she began to cry
– the life and hand she never took,
and wanted to share with the world.
(per Lei era una donna che Amava.)

 

With a joyous heart, she began to smile
– the words she stamped and sealed,
and would share with the world.
For She was a woman who Loved!

Photo courtesy of Columbia University

Meditating with Mantras

6225530793_306198433d_b

One of the things that many people ask me is, “how can I stop all the noise in my head when I meditate?”

The answer: stop trying to silence the noise, and add your own.

Using mantras is one such way. By focusing on a single phrase, we add focus to our meditative practice, and allow ourselves to hone in on that space of tranquility inside of us and also around us; no matter the level of distraction.

I have listed several mantras that I have used with my many 21-day meditation challenges with the Chopra Center of Meditation. All you have to do is sit, lay down, or even go for a walk. Did you know you can meditate in more than one way? What remains the same though is your intention for tranquility and for focus. Begin by silencing your phone(s) and ask with compassion to be left alone for a period of time. Sink in and begin your meditation practice. Concentrate on your breath, falling deeper into your own innate rhythm. Then when you are ready, begin repeating one of the following mantras, silently to yourself. Repeat it anytime a thought comes in, or just repeat it over and over again until you are finished with the day’s practice. Play with it. Have fun. Insert here and there, test yourself. See how long it takes before an outside thought pops in. And when it does, acknowledge it, don’t try to suppress it, and introduce that thought with your chosen mantra. All things in life need less control, and only ask for simple acknowledgement and respect.

Namaste my friends~

2665726862_728fb94fa0_b

Finding Your Flow Sanskrit Mantras

Day 1 – Lam, “I am security.”
Day 2 – Yam, “I am happiness.”
Day 3 – Ram,“I am strength.”
Day 4 – Vam,“I am love.”
Day 5 – Ham,“I am creativity.”
Day 6 – Om,“I am wisdom.”
Day 7 – Sahasrara Im,“I am pure awareness.”
Day 8 – Om Dakini Namaha, “I activate my stability.”
Day 9 – Om Rakini Namah,“I activate my happiness.”
Day 10 – Om Lakini Namah,“I activate my power.”
Day 11– Om Kakini Namah,“I activate my love.”
Day 12 – Om Shakini Namah,“I activate my creativity.”
Day 13 – Om Hakini Namah,“I activate my intuition.”
Day 14 – Om Katyayani Namah,“I activate my pure awareness.”
Day 15 – Om Bhu, “I express my stability into the world.”
Day 16 – Om Bhuvaha,“I express my happiness into the world.”
Day 17 – Om Swaha,“I express my confidence into the world.”
Day 18 – Om Maha“I express my love into the world.”
Day 19 – Om Janaha, “I express my uniqueness into the world.”
Day 20 – Om Tapaha, “I radiate truth into the world.”
Day 21 – Om Satyam, “I express my pure awareness into the world.”
Day 22 – Shanti, “I feel my Being as the Being of all creation.”

5986163319_93bac1bc65_b

Desire & Destiny Sanskrit Mantras

Day 1 – “So hum.” I am
Day 2 – “Om Kriyam Namah.” My actions are aligned with with cosmic law.
Day 3 – “Sat Chit Ananda.” Existence, consciousness, bliss.
Day 4 – “Aham Brahmasmi.”I am the universe.
Day 5 – “Om Bhavam Namah.” I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibility.
Day 6 – “Om Vardhanam Namah.” I nourish the universe and the universe nourishes me.
Day 7 – “So Hum.”I am.
Day 8 – “Om Varunam Namah.”My life is in harmony with the universe.
Day 9 – “Om Varunam Namah.” My life is in harmony with cosmic law.
Day 10 – “Om Vardhanam Namah.” I nourish the universe and the universe nourishes me.
Day 11– “Aham Brahmasmi.” I am the universe. I am absolute existence.
Day 12 – “Om Varunam Namah.” My actions are in alignment with cosmic law.
Day 13 – “Om Bhavam Namah.” I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities.
Day 14 – “So Hum.” I am.
Day 15 – “Om Vardhanam Namah.”I nourish the universe and the universe nourishes me.
Day 16 – “Om Varunam Namah.” My life is in harmony with the universe.
Day 17 – “Om Varunam Namah,” My life is in harmony with the universe
Day 18 – “Om Bhavam Namah.” I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities.
Day 19 – “Sat Chit Ananda.” Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.
Day 20 – “Aham Brahmasmi.” I am the universe.
Day 21 – “Om Bhavam Namah.” I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities.
Day 22 – “Yum.”

meditation2

Miraculous Relationships Sanskrit Mantras

Day 1 – “Om.” Om is known as the centering sound. Repeating “Om” honors our connection to the universe.
Day 2 – “So hum.” I am. 
Day 3 – “Sham.” Repeating “Sham” connects us to our wisdom and inner knowing. It is also correlated to Ajna, the Third-Eye Chakra.
Day 4 – “Om Vardhanam Namah.” I nourish the universe, and the universe nourishes me. 
Day 5 – “Om Bhavam Namah.” I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibility.
Day 6 – “Sat, Chit, Ananda.” Existence, consciousness, bliss.
Day 7 – “So hum.” I am. 
Day 8 – “Om Vardaham Namah.” I nourish the universe, and the universe nourishes me.
Day 9 – “Yum.” Repeating “Yum” facilitates a deep connection to everyone in our life. It is connected to our heart chakra, Anahata. 
Day 10 – “Om Varunam Namah” My life is in harmony with cosmic law.
Day 11– “Sat Chit Ananda.” Truth, pure being, and bliss. 
Day 12 – “Om Ritam Namah.” My intentions and desires are in alignment with and supported by the rhythm of the universe. 
Day 13 – “Om Vardhanam Namah.” I nourish the universe and the universe nourishes me.
Day 14 – “So Hum.” I am. 
Day 15 – “Om Bhavam Namah.” I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities. 
Day 16 – “Om Anandham Namah.” My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome. 
Day 17 – “Om Ritam Namah.” My actions and intentions are supported by cosmic intelligence. 
Day 18 – “Om Bhavam Namah.” I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities. 
Day 19 – “Sat Chit Ananda.” In unity I experience the state of truth, pure being, and bliss. 
Day 20 – “Om Vardhanam Namah.” I nourish the universe, and the universe nourishes me. 
Day 21 – “Aham Brahmasmi.” The core of my being is the ultimate reality, the root and the ground of the universe, the source of all that exists.

Photography courtesy of Moyan Bren,