Myths and Truths about Fragrances and Meditation
Fragrance plays a big part in all our lives. From the moment we’re born certain smells have the power to evoke memories, stimulate our senses and influence our emotions. Fragrance is a very powerful force. The question has often been asked – do I need to surround myself with aromas when I meditate and if so, which fragrances are best? Alternatively, will it spoil or interfere with my meditation? Let’s demystify the subject once and for all.
Fragrance as a Part of Ancient Rituals
The use of aromatic oils or incense in sacred or traditional rituals is as old as the hills and relates to many different cultures around the world. From the anointing with oils of a sacrifice to some ancient god to the modern practise of filling our homes with scent from room sprays or applying perfume to our bodies, fragrance has been utilised to convey a certain mood or purpose. It is for this reason that fragrance is used sometimes as an aid to meditation or simply in order to be surrounded by a pleasing aroma.
Scent Can Enable You to Focus
If your purpose for meditation is simply to induce a relaxed state of mind and body, then this is quite easy to achieve without the aid of any outside influence at all. However, as lavender is known for its relaxing properties then this particular fragrance may help you to attain your goal. When meditation is needed in order to, for instance, clear the mind or find a solution to a problem then there is no doubt that being surrounded by certain aromas can help the mind to focus more clearly. Before deciding which ‘off-the-shelf’ fragrances to use why not try this experiment first? If you already have bottles of scent or scented oils, or even scented candles or incense sticks, settle down in a quiet room, close your eyes and deeply breathe in each scent, one at a time. See which of these smells elicits a reaction in your mind; whether any of them provoke a memory or a feeling will tell you which are going to be helpful in your meditation.
Which Scents for Which Moods?
Neroli, derived from orange blossom, originated in Italy and became popular in the 16th century. It is said to promote feelings of cheerfulness, joy and creativity and is also said to have aphrodisiacal properties. Neroli oil can help those lacking in confidence or self-esteem.
Benzoin or vanilla is commonly used as a comforter due to its calming, sweet aroma. The aroma can help you to feel calm and balanced.
Cardamom is a spicier scent often used in incenses however it is said that in medieval times it was known as the ’fire of Venus’ and was used as a love potion. Its distinctive aroma, shown to help increase blood flow to the brain, will certainly help to clear the mind and invigorate the senses, useful if you need clarity in order to bring resolution to an issue.
Cedar wood, derived from the juniper plant, is not only useful in keeping moths away from your favourite cashmere but was traditionally used to keep evil spirits away from the door. It is often used in conjunction with sage to bless and purify the home whilst attracting positive energy. During meditation this could be useful in helping to instil confidence and positivity.
Bergamot, sometimes known as bitter orange, is often blended with other scents and is known for helping to cope with depression and anxiety.
Camomile is another scent useful in creating a calm, relaxed state and its most common use is in tea form which is taken before bed time to induce sleep.
Jasmine, sometimes called ‘Queen of the Night’ because, as anyone who has a jasmine plant in their garden knows, its fragrance is strongest throughout the evening and night time. The rich smell can help ease depression and promote uplift in the mood.
It’s a choice only you can make
In conclusion then, the choice of whether to use fragrance in any form while you meditate is an entirely personal one. Some people prefer a completely undiluted meditative experience and some love to envelop themselves in fragrance and draw on its power in order to enhance their experience or help them to work through problems.
There is a phrase – ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ – meaning to be alert to a foolish or dangerous notion, proving beyond doubt that smell plays a big part in influencing our actions. There is most certainly a working relationship between the brain specifically the olfactory senses and the emotions. If you believe that scent can stir memories and create emotions, then you will surely find that the power of fragrance can help you in many ways.