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Aromatherapy: A Smell Can Take You There

Take a deep breath and let yourself escape into the calm and tranquility of your imagination via your sense of smell. I'll tell you just how to get there.

Do me a favor right now and take a deep breath. Inhale through your nose and exhale. Take the time to imagine in your minds eye that you are in the place that brings you the most joy. The place that makes you feel at ease. Think about a place you've been before that you wish you could return to. What does it smell like? I know that's an odd question, but bare with me here. I'm going somewhere with this.

Take the time to imagine in your minds eye that you are in the place that brings you the most joy.

We can't all drop what we're doing the second we get overwhelmed or stressed out and take our leave of this exhausting world. But through the calming effects of aromatherapy, you can get pretty darn close to that feeling you get when you're soaking in a warm, lavender scented bubble bath, eating cheese and enjoying the soothing sounds of Tyra Banks critiquing young girls photos in their attempt to become America's Next Top Model. A little too specific? That's okay. Find your happy smell and get sniffin'!

Aromatherapy can be used simply by attaching certain scents to activities and feelings you enjoy. And, over time, with repetition, your brain will start to associate whatever scent with the feeling you gave to it while you were breathing it in. This is the same logic that explains how smelling a certain perfume can bring back the memory of a deceased loved one upon smelling it. Putting some effort into creating the connection in your brain between the scent and the feeling you want to have will be important here. I'm sure we've all fallen victim to clever marketing ploys that claim inhaling said scent will create an instant sense of calm and tranquility. Sure, it can totally happen instantaneously like that. But more often than not you've got to train your brain a little bit to create the feeling you want when you smell the smell that is attached to that feeling. So how do you train your brain? Well, let's dive into that.

I can create a sense of calm within all the chaos by using the calming scent I've oh so carefully trained my brain to use to induce that zen feeling.

A great way to scent-train your brain is through meditation. Meditate and really put that scent to the feeling you want. For example, if I'm wanting to create a sense of calm and inner peace, I will sit myself down in a calm, quiet area and inhale lavender oil or a lavender scented candle or incense. While I'm in this setting, I can focus on how peaceful I feel in that moment, and credit it to the lavender scent. Later, and after some brain training; meaning doing this more than once, I can create that same sense of calm in a chaotic situation by rolling on some lavender oil or spraying some lavender scented mist in my vicinity. My brain will automatically make the connection that this scent is associated with calm, regardless of the situation I'm currently in. For example, getting flustered and falling behind at work, thus feeling the pressure to pick up the pace, I can create a sense of calm within all the chaos by using the calming scent I've oh so carefully trained my brain to use to induce that zen feeling.

Vitality Extracts makes a phenomenal roll-on lavender essential oil that is budget friendly and totally worth it! Snag one for yourself here!

I have a handful of go-to scents that I use throughout my week to help me feel at ease.

In addition to using lavender oil to induce a calming sensation, I also use orange oil to create a lively, energetic and happy feeling. Through previous practice and brain training, I use a roll-on orange essential oil to give me a burst of energy and make me feel like summer isn't so far away. In the cold winter months, it can sometimes feel like you'll never feel the warmth of the sun on your skin again. Or smell the sweet smells of summertime. By getting a whiff of a little orange every once in awhile, or even eating one for that matter, I can experience a tiny slice of summer and hold on for brighter, warmer days.

Lavender is by far, in my opinion, the most popular oil to use. Commonly diffused or sprayed onto the bed, lavender can create a sense of calm and peace, as previously mentioned. I use this primarily at bed time and when I'm taking a bath, getting a massage or participating in any other relaxing activity, like meditation. Lavender has long been used in soaps, lotions, sprays, and various other 'spa' type products, and it's no secret that it's branded with the promise of relaxation and calm. Maybe it's marketing, maybe it's actually relaxing. But by attaching a specific scent to a relaxing part of your day that brings you calm and peace, you can trigger that feeling of serenity regardless of if it's lavender scented or not.

Let's not forget either that your sense of taste and smell are intertwined and this practice can work interchangeably. I used the example earlier that eating an orange can create that warm, summer feeling just as well as smelling an orange. The same can be said for eating lavender ice cream; Although it may be the act of eating ice cream itself that creates that feel-good feeling in your brain. I can't say I've ever eaten ice cream and still remained sad. Ice cream is overall good for the soul. It should go without saying that you shouldn't be ingesting any smells that don't translate into something edible; Like lavender or orange are safe to consume.

The practice of using aromatherapy can be beneficial for most. But be mindful of workplace preferences if you choose to sniff on the job, and steer clear of any scents that someone may be allergic to. This rule applies to living arrangements as well. My dear former roommate was, and still is, quite allergic to peppermint. So burning a peppermint candle or using peppermint oil to clear up a stuffy nose was certainly out of the question during our residency together. Practice mindfulness and meditation with aromatherapy, and also practice mindfulness and compassion for others scent preferences.

With that being said, go start that brain training! Find a nice, quiet place that you can relax in...Inhale your preferred scent through the method of your choosing, and begin to tell your brain what that scent means for you. Happy smellin'!


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