Aromatherapy and a Journey Towards Wholeness
Botanical Baths To Replenish and Nourish the Entire Being
Derek J. Healey
Holistic Arts Institute
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Meeker, P. (2014). Did You Know? Retrieved from