Stress Free Blend

Let’s face it, life can be hard at times. Between the demands of everyday living and the added pressures of tax season, health issues, and the climate of the world it is a wonder we aren’t all exploding at the seams.

I rarely get to worked up about things I cannot control but I still feel the pressure of my life at times. One of the tools that I have adopted in the last twelve years or so is using techniques like deep breathing and the use of aromatherapy. There is quite a bit of research on the efficacy of aromatherapy and the response in the brain’s area of coping and I can personally attest that breathing in something powerful can have a profound effect on my mood.

Did you know that your sense of smell is 10,000 times more responsive than any of your other senses? And that an aroma reaches your brain and stirs up emotions within just seconds of you breathing it in?

I see it professionally, too. Once I was passing oils around my group of adults with traumatic brain injuries and one young man stated that he could no longer smell. I told him that is okay because the brain remembers the aroma. This particular class I was passing around cedarwood essential oil which is a powerful tree aroma that is grounding and also provides a sense of connection and community to those who smell it. I like to use this one in group settings where people often feel disconnected. I passed the essential oil around and instructed them to take three breaths into their hands. After a few minutes had passed, the young man who stated he could no longer smell spoke loudly and said, “For some reason I am thinking about a job I had once had at a logging company where I shredded trees into mulch”. Boom. The brain knows.

I came up with this little combo during a time recently when I was feeling overly compacted with stress. I am typically not a huge fan of florals but something was calling me to them, so I listened. The added punch of citrus gives my nervous system such a calm, relaxed feeling. I did some digging and found some pretty awesome benefits to these oils.

Check it out:

Bergamot:  a citrus oil known as the Oil of Self-Acceptance. Bergamot is uplifting and brigtening in nature. Smelling the oil is an invitation to clear away constricting thoughts while welcoming self-acceptance and self-love. As the oil of self-acceptance, it is said to relieve feelings of self-judgement and low self-esteem. Bergamot Essential Oil inhalation improves positive feelings in the waiting room of a mental health treatment center. At a mental health treatment center in Utah, 57 participants were included for analysis. 15-minutes of exposure to Bergamot essential oil improved the exposed group’s feelings compared with control group, by 17%. I like this one because it is an earthy citrus oil.

Ylang Ylang: Ylang Ylang helps us connect to our heart and become balanced by releasing negative emotions and deep emotional sadness. It calms the heart and balances emotions during times of high stress, crisis, tension, or depression. As a reflection of Ylang Ylang’s ability to restore a healthy flow of positivity in the heart, the essential oil helps encourage a healthy circulatory system. It improves blood flow, fights inflammation, and assist with other heart problems. It is also an effective agent in controlling blood pressure. 

Lavender: Lavender essential oil has enormously powerful calming and relaxing properties which can help ease away all that stress, tension and worry. A study also found that people exposed to the scent of lavender experienced stress relief plus an energy boost. What’s more, once inhaled, it enters the bloodstream within seconds so gets to work immediately. I love to use lavender in my skin care products because of its naturally calming properties and helps me sleep sound.

Patchouli: Patchouli oil is commonly used in aromatherapy because of its depressant remedying properties. Because of the impact that inhaling patchouli oil has on our hormones, it encourages the release of serotonin and dopamine; these hormones ease feelings of anger, anxiety and anxiousness. Rich in the chemical component patchoulol, Patchouli essential oil is known to have a grounding and harmonizing effect on the emotions. Patchouli creates a calming and grounding environment when diffused or inhaled.

Wild Orange: Wild Orange is great for feelings of anxiousness or managing stress. It’s very uplifting and encouraging. So if you’re dealing with sadness, loss of hope, just going through a really dark time, this could be a great oil to help lift you through that. The reason that it’s good for all of these things is because it really stimulates our sense of abundance and possibility. As the oil of abundance, it opens a person’s mind and heart to the possibilities that surrounds them, and their ability to accept the goodness that life is offering. Wild Orange also reconnects us to our inner child and helps us be more spontaneous, fun, creative, playful in our lives as adults. It will lend support by uplifting and promoting a positive attitude while calming our spirit. I just love it so much.

Pretty amazing, eh? Not only do I smell amazing (and get random daily compliments), but my nervous system is calm and my mood is steady. Stress has nothing on me! I apply this one behind my ears, along my spine, under my nose and on my wrists. I have a blend in my car and in my kitchen so I am never without it. It has truly become my ‘signature scent’. It is cool since I wear it everyday, the association with this aroma and me is powerful. My grand babies know this aroma and will likely have formed a deep connection to this aroma that will last a lifetime. Aroma is in fact associated with out strongest sense of memories.

You can learn about how to use essential oils and the versatility of them here in this gorgeous ebook. You’ll see that these oils are so versatile you will soon be using them for sleep support, skin and hair support, and even household cleaning and relieving aches and pains!

If you want to grab this combo of essential oils, just pop over here and then when you do, I will add you to my exclusive education and mentoring group and send you an amazing welcome gift! Plus, you’ll have wholesale prices for a year, just like me! Don’t worry though, you don’t have a monthly purchase requirement or anything like that, just big savings!

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The Charming Gardener

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom – Marcel Proust

For years I have wanted to share a story about a man who has made a profound impact on my life during the month of March when it is the Brain Injury Awareness month, but have struggled to find the words that capture the essence of him and also be sensitive to never want to exploit his life, or his injury.

Every once in a while if you are lucky, you meet someone who touches your soul in a place that you may have not otherwise even known existed. I had been teaching yoga to people with brain injuries for many years when I met someone who reached something in me that is not easily described. Of course, each of my students who have arrived for yoga have brought something unique and often profound to my life, but one man in particular has really found a place in my heart. 

It has been my method while I teach yoga to people with brain injuries to not ever ask how they sustained their injury. It is not that such a huge event in their life does not matter to me, but I do not need to know the details. I do not need to know even what their life was like before the injury. Instead, I prefer to just know them as they are now. I want to know what they like, what they dream of, what bothers them, what they long for, what brings them joy, what hurts and what they love. In time as we work together it is not uncommon for the details of the injury to be revealed, or the life they had prior to the event, but it is not something that I seek out. Just as I rarely seek to learn about someone’s past, because it is now that I want to know and be part of. 

Each time I was leaving the long term care center that I frequented weekly to teach adaptive yoga I would often see a man with the most beautiful blue eyes sitting in his chair watching hockey reruns or slowly walking through the corridors, grasping the hand rail, sliding his left leg along the linoleum floor. I would greet him and I would usually get the same response, “hi….yep yep”. Always the same answer. One day I asked him if he wanted to come to yoga and this time, he gave me an adamant, “nope nope”. This exchanged continued for nearly a year. Always “nope, nope”.

Then one day, I got a “yep yep”.

That was the beginning of a friendship and a blending of two people bringing out the best in each other. In time through his amazing family and his own sharing, I learned about his life before his accident and it is my honor to share it here. 

My friend Jim was just a young man with his whole life ahead of him. A recent college graduate, a great new career at a bank, and a nice home. This elite athlete who had his eyes on an Ironman, who was a former college hockey captain, and friend to anyone was welcoming in a life that many dream of. Surrounded by an incredible family, life long friends and a passion for being a competitive athlete, the younger Jim was a man full of dreams that he knew he could achieve. 

But, in a split second, the life he created was shattered. A training ride on his beloved bicycle changed everything when he was struck by a car. After months and months in the hospital and in rehab, Jim was able to regain some of his skills and returned miraculously to his love of running. With the help of his family and friends, he was able to do some of the things he loved and had some amazing successes through his recovery.

His next hurdle would be the massive seizures that would prove to take away the progress that he had gained physically, and with his language and memory. More work, more struggles and more setbacks. 

When I met Jim he had recently suffered a massive seizure that caused major damage to his brain. His language was stuck on a constant loop of repeating the same phrases over and over, or he would have outbursts that were either bouts of laughter that was uncontrollable, or fits of rage. Physically, he was struggling to walk and use his left arm. Cognitively it was hard to say what he was able to retain since his ability to communicate easily was greatly impacted. 

When a portion of your brain is removed and the misfiring neurotransmitters from repetitive seizures, it is a miracle to witness all that he is able to do. He may not remember what he had for breakfast, or what year it is, but he can tell you the details of his favorite hockey team, the names of his beloved college buddies, or the exact model of hockey skates he prefers. He will laugh at your jokes and even crack a few himself. 

It is hard to capture the resiliency of his spirit. The best way I can describe it is despite all of the struggles and all the loss he has endured, his spirit is as loving, as devoted, as connected, and as grateful as it ever was. His smile can light up a room and the second you remind him that he is a champion, he beams and tries even harder. His confidence in himself marvels me.

I have never once heard him complain about his life. Never once. Instead, he is a light. He bears goodness on anyone in his presence. He brings out the best in me, I know that. He has become my version of the charming gardener who brings out happiness and blossoms in me. 

Jim’s life was on the path much like yours and mine. In an instant it was all gone. And yet, he is the kindest, most humble man, who always shakes my hand to thank me and say goodbye as he looks me in the eye. He could have given up. He could have become bitter and resentful. Instead, he is pure grace and pure light.

One day while I was on the floor at his feet working his very stiff ankle, he whispered something to me. I couldn’t hear him so I asked him to repeat it. He quietly said, “I forgive her”. When I asked him who he was talking about, he said, “the girl who hit me with her car”. 

Can you find that kind of grace and forgiveness? Can you live your life without a complaint? Can you be resilient to the tragedy and loss of your own life? Take a lesson from my friend Jim. He knows the way.

Essential Oils and the Brain

The limbic system is the emotional control center of the brain. It processes your sense of smell and deals with three key functions, emotions, memories and arousal (stimulation).

Here is a quick vocab lesson:

Neuron: (also called neurone or nerve cell) is a cell that carries electrical impulses. Neurons are the basic units of the nervous system. There are up to 100 billion in the brain and they can send information from the brain to the rest of the body.

Neuropeptides: small protein like molecules used by neurons to communicate with each other.

Neuropeptides stimulate hundreds of activities in the body including food intake, learning taste smell and memory.

Receptor: a cell usually a neuron which receives stimuli from neuropeptides.

Neurotransmitter: sends information between neurons, via a neuropeptide by crossing synapse. They are chemical messengers.

There is an outside stimulus of some sort (I call them circumstances) and the brain has a chain reaction that is set off quicker then we can realize- you have a thought, and that thought is actually converted into a neuropeptide that is sent to the cells in the body, literally changing the chemistry of every cell in you body and causing a physiological response based on the neuropeptides released. So in a very real way, your thinking becomes part of you on a cellular level. The different neuropeptides that are sent are what we feel as emotion in the body and the physiological response.

Smell is so powerful because the olfactory bulb gives smells a direct passage into the limbic system, where they imprint with emotional responses we have to that outside stimuli. They become part of the memory of the thought/emotional response to a circumstance. The more we think a thought and have an emotional response, the more the memory, or neuropathway is strengthened in our brain.

That is why emotions can trigger such strong responses in us. Essential Oils, in my research, work different ways in the body and brain to effect emotions. First, they can interact with the limbic system and the amygdala, which plays a major role in storing and releasing emotional trauma. When you smell an oil, it can clear receptors in the cells, detoxing emotion. Citrus oils are great at clearing receptors in the cells, which means they can help with emotional detox on a cellular level. Oils can also help to disrupt thought patterns and help establish new ones (new neuropathways).

Personal example, when my thoughts would start spiraling and I’d start having anxious feelings, I would stop, smell serenity and repeat thoughts that my brain could believe (this is really important) that helped me change the response in my body. Ex. “I am in my home, I am safe.” My brain starts to recognize the pattern of smelling an oil and having a positive thought pattern and “chemical response” in my body.

Our bodies are synergistic. Emotions happen on a cellular level, just as physical health is on a cellular level. When we use an oil, we will have a physical and an emotional component because they are inseperable in the body. Oils that cause emotional responses are having specific effects either in the limbic system or in the cells of the body.

Learn more about the basics of essential oils here.

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