Tag Archives: meditation

CHASE AWAY THE WINTER BLUES

To many people this time of year brings an all-time low. It gets colder and darker and our energy plummets. This is believed to occur because the hormone serotonin decreases when there is less light.

There are plenty of ways how to bring energy and joy back into life as the nights get longer (and actually start creeping into daytime…).

  • Enjoy the season; This is a time to go indoors; light candles, buy flowers, make your home cozy; this is your space of retreat. Experience the bliss of sitting in the warmth of your home with lit candles, watching the cold darkness outside.
  • Pamper yourself: Take warm baths, create a home-spa; rub, buff, peel and moisturize! Go for a massage.
  • Un-clutter: Go through ”all that stuff”; pictures, books, papers, clothes. Use this indoor-time to clear your living-space and allow yourself the joy of uncluttered living. Believe it or not, but this is a great boost for serotonine-levels in the brain. Clutter creates stress.
  • Meditation: Take time out each day for yourself, 10 minutes is enough. Light some candles, put on relaxing music, lie or sit comfortably, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Really bring the breath all the way down into your belly. Set a timer so you don’t have to worry about the timing. These minutes will feel longer than they are… Great energizer!
  • Get outside EVERY day: Even for only a little while. Your system needs day-light and exercise in order to function. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Just get out there and walk or jump around for a while. It will boost your energy-levels and you will feel great! (then you can crawl onto your sofa with a steaming cup of tea and a good book, or movie…BLISS!)
  • Herbal teas & natural remedies: St Johns wort, Lemonbalm, lavender… Stay clear of too much stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and sugars.
  • Aromatherapy: Of course. Essential oils are a great help to help with emotions and stress. They also work directly with the hormonal system. Use uplifting oils in a burner or on a tissue to inhale. Great scents for winter are: Citrus-oils (orange, mandarin, lemon, grape…), Lavender, Ylang-ylang, Geranium and/or whatever you prefer. Remember; essential oils are strongly concentrated and only a few drops are needed to have an effect.
  • Thought-patterns: When you feel yourself thinking negatively, change your thoughts, think of uplifting things.

 

Remember: This doesn’t just happen by itself. You are responsible for your well-being. No matter how difficult or un-attractive it might seem to exercise, for example. Just do it and you will notice what an incredible change it makes!

In the times when people still lived in harmony with nature and seasonal changes, this was a time for togetherness and preparation for the hectic spring/summer season. Bedtime came earlier because of the dark.When we remember the rhythm of the seasons and allow ourselves to fit into this rhythm, we handle seasonal changes better. Once spring comes again there will be an explosion of action and energy…then we need to be rested.

For ideas on how to use essential oils, see earlier posts under the “aromatherapy” category.

 

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INVISIBLE STRESS

(Escher: Labyrinth)

I am working with a young woman who suffers from an invisible, high-level stress. Her stress comes from inside and even though she’s plenty busy, this is not the source of her problems. The first signs were head-aches that over time became both more frequent and painful. Then she became aggressive and worried. After 4 months she was seriously ill with constant migraine, nausea, constipation, mood-swings and night-mares. One day she fainted in the street and was brought to the hospital where she underwent all the tests in the book: Brain-scan, neurology-tests, blood-analysis – the works. Nothing could be found. The doctors diagnosed migraine and gave her different kinds of medication, constantly increasing the strength but nothing helped, the girl was seriously ill.

At this point enter the complementary forces:

After talks with her it is obvious that she has an enormous need of controlling her world, everything must be perfect – which is also mirrored in her appearance and surroundings. She helps her friends with everything she can and is always available when needed. The feeling I get is that her head is stuck in a labyrinth box. There is such tremendous mental pressure that it has turned into pain, she can find no clarity and when she tries to figure things out she gets confused. She is angry and negative towards her state and scared that it will not go away.

  1. Going over her diet and taking out all stimulants; sugar, tea, alcohol.
  2. Teaching her about mind-mapping (see an earlier post) and how to find clarity. At this point she gets angry and can not find any “clues” in her mind-mapping. I take her through a mind-game and she relaxes as an “inner door” opens. When she feels the results, she is pleased.
  3. Brain-movies: In a guided meditation I take her to a nice place which is her own and where she feels happy. This place is where she will go to heal. I make sure she remembers the path to this sacred place and tell her to do this every night until falling asleep there.
  4. Breathing exercises and how to control the mood-swings by recognizing signals.
  5. physiotherapy for the tension in head, back and stomach – 3 sessions in 2 weeks.
  6. Full-body massage once a week and home-massage of face and neck twice a day with essential oils.
  7. A small roll-on phial with pure essential oils to be carried in hand-bag and used at first sign of headaches; massage temples and nape of neck.

Used oils:

  • Geranium (pelargonium graveolens) Emotional balance.
  • Ylang-Ylang (cananga odorata) Anger-control.
  • Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) Clarity of mind.
  • Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) Lighten up the inner child.
  • Sandalwood (santalum album) Spirituality and cooling energy.
  • Roman Chamomile (Chamameleum nobile) Deeply relaxing on all levels. Safety
  • Pepper-mint (mentha piperita) Head-aches.
  • Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) Head-aches and clarity.
  • Lavender high altitude (lavandula augustifolia) Head-aches, calming and relaxing.

THE MYSTICAL SCENT OF OUD

Oud is an oil that has fascinated me for the last 18 years. Its scent is mystical, mythical and magical, this is why I want to present this profile to you.

Oud or Agarwood or Aloeswood (Aquilaria agollocha, A. malaccensis, A. crassna) is an evergreen tree native to the forests of Northeast India, Bhutan and Southeast Asia; Viet Nam, Kambodja, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea. The tree reaches a height of about 40m with a diameter of about 60cm. It bears sweetly-scented snow-white flowers. For the oil to exist, the tree needs to be infected with a fungi; Phialophora parasitica. The tree produces this oleoresin to protect itself against the fungi by saturating the heartwood. The longer time a tree is infected, the deeper and darker the oleoresin gets. This can take up to a 100 years and inevitably ends with the tree dying. By this time the heartwood is almost black, deeply saturated and scented by the oleoresin. The heartwood of an uninfected tree is light and pale-colored.

Extraction methods:

  • Water extraction: The wood is immersed in water for about 3 months, after which it is put into stills (huge burners) where it is cooked for many hours until the resin dissolves and floats to the top of the water; Indian distillation method.
  • Steam distillation of the wood-chips; Mostly used by East Asian countries.
  • CO2 extraction: When a certain amount of pressure is applied to CO2 (carbon dioxide) this gas turns into liquid. This liquid CO2 can be used as a very inert, safe, “liquid solvent.” CO2 is the gas we all breathe out of our lungs. It is also the gas that plants themselves thrive on.

Because of the immense popularity of this plant-matter for oil, perfume and incense, the trees are now endangered species  protected world-wide under the CITES-convention (http://www.cites.org/) and by laws in the different countries. Even so a large number of trees are illegally cut down to obtain this hugely expensive material.

There are many grades of Oud; First-grade (the highest quality) is one of the most expensive natural products in the world. The pricing lies around 13 000 dollars/pound of oil. (0,453kg) The oils from wild trees (illegal) catch an even higher price, more than 27 000 dollars/pound. The whole-sale price for a decent quality oil is around 1000-1400 dollars/ounce. (30ml)

In Assam, India a few families have started plantations with Aquilaria agollocha, ensuring the survival of this precious tree and its hidden gifts. Most reputed Oud-traders today, trade with plantation-grown oils and wood. Due to the success of the plantations in Assam other countries are following suit; Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and other areas in Southeast Asia.

History

Oud has a long history of use in the eastern parts of the world; Buddhist monks use ut for meditation, saying it aids in the transmutation of ignorance. Tibetan monks use it to calm the mind and spirit. Sufis use it for esoteric ceremonies and in China it is considered to have psychoactive properties. Oud has been used as incense, aromatic oil and medicine for thousands of years. It is mentioned in the Bible (under the name of Aloewood): “Nicodemus used pounded aloewood to embalm the body of Christ”. The Prophet Muhammed of Islam mentions in the Koran 1400 years ago; “Treat with Indian Oud, for it has healing for seven diseases”. In Egypt Oud was used by the Pharaos for embalming. Buddha called it the “Scent of Nirvana“.

The Scent

Complex, balsamic, deep woody fragrance. Tenacious basenote, it lingers longer than any other known scent. The scent is rare and powerful. Blended with other precious oils such as Rose (r.centifolia, r. damascena), Jasmin (jasminus officinalis), Sandalwood (santalum album), it enhances them and creates a blend which is deeply soulful.

Uses

A well-known aphrodisiac; use it as a perfume neat on the skin (I recommend a patch-test for sensitive skin) or diluted in Jojoba-oil or alcohol. The skin will release its scent over the course of 12-15 hours. (It is tested safe to use undiluted on skin.) The oil is viscous and in room-temperature it stays thick. To make it thinner, put the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

It has been used by Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic and Unani physicians in practice to treat various disease and mental illness.The list of ailments that can be helped by Oud oil is vast. I will not document it here, since considering the price and rarity of this oil, it is better used for higher purposes such as meditation and personal growth. During my research I have found that every eastern culture names Oud in treatment of the respiratory and digestive systems. This is interesting because these two systems are both deeply connected to life-force, and the most outstanding feature of Oud is its magical and mystical properties when used in meditation; It connects Heaven and Earth within us, creating balance, inner peace and enlightment.