Using Scent to Deepen Meditation Experiences…by Carly Wall
edited: Monday, February 12, 2007
By Carly J. Wall
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2003
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Excerpted from The Scented Veil: Using Scent to Awaken the Soul A.R.E. Press
How important is scent to us? Think about our obsession with “good smells”. Ads on television tell us we can banish all the bad body odors with this product or that. Certain laundry products can make our wash smell fresh and clean as a spring breeze. The latest perfume to come out tells us that this scent is sure to drive the opposite sex wild. Has it always been this way? Archeologists say yes. Research has proven that humans have had a long love affair with the scented plants. They have been used as medicines; balms for the body and mind. They have also been used for pleasure. But there is another use that hasn’t gotten much press, and that is its use in religious and magical rituals. Apparently far back in time, man used scent first and foremost in religious ceremony. And I don’t think this was an arbitrary choice. At some time far back in history, someone discovered that the use of scent could alter man’s mind. As experimentation and experience increased over the years, man found that some scents were more powerful than others, some used for specific purposes and others were healing to the psyche or physical body itself. At some time over the centuries, the importance of this finding was lost. Perhaps the meaning behind the rituals became lost in the routine of the actions themselves.
Take for example the Catholic Church, which uses incense to this day in their rituals. The most important scent used in incense has been Frankincense, also called “holy smoke”. From ancient times it was regarded as a treasure, and was traded as such. It has been said to be the highest of the mind-elevating scents and placed in value the same as gold. Don’t forget, it was recorded in the Bible as one of the gifts the three Wise Men chose for the King of Kings.
Yet, we become surprised in modern times that it has such a power. In 1981, scientists in Germany were called in to investigate a strange happening in the Church. The altar boys were reported to be getting “high” on the smoke from the incense. During their investigations, the scientists have found that the Frankincense resin, when burned, produces a chemical called trahydrocannabinole, a psychoactive substance. The result is that this substance has been found to have the power to send the mind into another dimension of awareness.
Plants contain essential oils, what has been termed their “life-blood”, which has been likened to chemical messengers the plant uses in a similar way that our bodies use the hormonal system. A hormonal system for plants? Perhaps. But more importantly, not only can the plant use these chemicals for their survival; killing bacteria and molds, as well as attracting pollinators, or repelling enemies---but the chemicals are useful to us. The various scents have been found to affect us profoundly, deeply.
These essential oils can be very powerful if you know the right ones to use for your particular usage. Each plant’s essential oil has its own uses and effects. If for example you wanted to deepen and increase your meditational experiences, you would use essential oils which would help in that area. In 1977 Psychologist Hines studied the effects of odours on the right cerebral hemisphere of the brain and stated that “…odours are capable of inducing an ecstatic, emotional state of consciousness that would render individuals more susceptible to the sort of consciousness persuasion on which ritual and religious rites depend.” 16
The International Journal of Aromatherapy Vo. 5, No. 1 1993 p. 8 J. Steele
Here are a few essential oils which you can use to help deepen your meditations, however, caution must be observed. Large doses can cause headaches or nausea. Alcohol used in conjunction with these scents is not recommended. Also, if pregnant or nursing, avoid usage. Not for children. Use care in use and only as recommended.
How to: Use a diffusor to scent the room where you will be meditating, or use a tissue with a few drops of essential oil to sniff in preparation to your meditation.
A Few Essential oils Helpful to Meditations
Vetiver: Vetivoria zizanoides
It is a grass grown in India. It calms, grounds, protects and uplifts. It is a sedative to the nervous system and stimulates circulation. It is deeply relaxing and known in Sri Lanka and India as the “oil of tranquility”. Sanskrit texts refer to it as having been used to anoint brides. It grounds, inspires a quality, deep meditation and is earthy with a smoky odour.
Galbanum: Ferula galbaniflua
Used in Egypt as incense, and for embalming, it is a fragrant greenish gum resin. It was an ingredient in the famous Mendesian perfume called The Egyptian. The Hebrews used it as anointing oil. It is warming, healing and sedative.
Elemi: Canarium luzonicum
Used throughout the Arab and Turkish world in ancient times, its’ name in Arabic means “above and below”. This is a shortened version of the old Kabalistic and alchemical term “as above, so below” and refers to the correspondence between the spiritual and earthly realms. It encourages deep peace combined with full lucidity. It has a light, fresh, balsamic/spicy and lemon-like odour.
Carly Wall is author of The Scented Veil: Using Scent to Awaken the Soul, A.R.E. Press, as well as author of Flower Secrets Revealed: Using flowers to Heal, Beautify and Energize Your Life! A.R.E. Press, Naturally Healing Herbs, Setting the Mood with Aromatherapy and The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Home Remedies, all with Sterling Publishing, NY.
A regular article contributor for Llewellyn's annual publications for the last seven years, she holds a certificate in Aromatherapy. She is a member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), has been a member of the A.R.E. for almost 15 years, and is also a member of the Cat Writer’s Association.