More and more people are realizing the health benefits that are associated with regular meditation, and it’s becoming increasingly more popular. In fact, the number of individuals who practice meditation has tripled since 2012.1 With the interest in the practice growing by leaps and bounds, individuals are looking for ways to enhance their meditative experience, leading many to turn to essential oils.
A brief history of meditation
Meditation enjoys a history spanning thousands of years. Although there’s no way to know for certain how long it’s been around, many believe the ancients practiced it as early as 3,000 B.C. and that it originated in India.2 From there, meditation eventually became a part of many different cultures and religions.
Today, meditation is practiced in varying degrees and remains a very popular practice, even among Americans. It is often associated with religious practices; and indeed, many individuals do merge religion with meditation. However, there are many individuals who practice meditation simply for the health benefits and enjoyment of it.
What is meditation?
There are many different types of meditation, and the practice can look different for each individual. However, in the most basic terms, meditation usually involves calming and quieting the mind. For some, it may involve heightening awareness, deepening one’s focus, or simply being still and calming the mind and body. Or, it can even be as simple as focusing your attention on an idea or thought. In religious practices, meditation is often associated with prayer, memorization, and focusing on a thought, word, or phrase.
While meditation can be practiced literally anywhere, the most practical idea is to choose a place where you can sit comfortably and be still and quiet (without interruption). Whether you choose to meditate for 5 minutes or 5 hours is up to you—it all just depends on what your needs and desires are. The great thing about meditation is that it’s entirely customizable and can work for just about any schedule. You just have to choose how, when, and where you want to practice it.
The benefits of meditation
Meditation is thought to be very beneficial to the body as a whole. Many believe that there are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits to practicing meditation. Some of these potential benefits include:
- Decreasing stress and anxiety
- Promoting calmness and relaxation
- Promoting self-awareness3
- Increasing one’s ability to focus
- Enhancing the spiritual experience
- And many more!
In short, meditation is an incredibly simple way to practice a little bit of self-care. And since it can be done whenever, wherever, and however you wish, it’s a no-brainer for those who are wanting to give their bodies and minds some needed attention.
Essential oils for meditation
While there is absolutely nothing required in order for you to practice meditation, many believe that essential oils help to enhance the meditation experience. Essential oils have long been thought to have a profound effect on the mind and body. Some of them are considered beneficial for enhancing one’s focus, while others are considered effective at helping the body calm down and relax. Still, others are beneficial for elevating one’s mood or even grounding or balancing emotions.
Many of the essential oils listed below are beneficial for helping to calm and ease the mind and emotions in one way or another. Because so much of the meditative experience is based on the ability to tame our restless thoughts and emotions and bring peace to our overstimulated minds, I have specifically chosen essential oils that are considered useful in doing these very things.
While there are many essential oils that could be beneficial for meditation, below I’ve listed what I believe to be 8 of the best essential oils for meditation.
Not only is vetiver a treasured essential oil among aromatherapists, it also is by far one of the best essential oils for meditation. It is widely recognized for its grounding properties, and the aroma is favored by both men and women.
Vetiver’s rich, earthy fragrance provides a wonderful depth to just about any blend, and its relaxing aroma is believed to naturally encourage a calm and peaceful environment. In fact, a study conducted in 2015 found that inhaling vetiver oil reduced anxiety-like behavior in rats.4
Vetiver is frequently used in blends for relaxation and would be fantastic in a blend formulated for meditation.
Commonly referenced as one of the most versatile essential oils, lavender is another fantastic oil for meditation. The fresh, floral aroma is well-liked by most individuals, and it is regularly used in formulations to promote relaxation.
Lavender has a long history of use for dealing with stress and anxiety, and it continues to be one of the most frequently used essential oils for encouraging calmness. Simply inhaling the aroma of lavender essential oil has been found to have a positive effect on anxiety and stress.5 And like vetiver, lavender blends well with most essential oils, making it a valuable addition to therapeutic blends.
3. Ylang Ylang
Ylang ylang is one of the more exotic-smelling essential oils and also happens to be one of the best for meditation. The sweet floral aroma is very fragrant, yet potent. Only a drop or two is needed for blends, as the aroma can easily become overpowering and may even cause headaches if used in greater quantities.
When used in appropriate amounts, however, ylang ylang is considered beneficial for reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.6 Additionally, it is frequently used in blends formulated for lifting the spirits and when used sparingly can beautifully enhance a blend.
Cedarwood has been used for thousands of years due to its wide range of therapeutic benefits. The distinct aroma of cedarwood is frequently used in personal fragrance formulations. However, it is also considered beneficial in promoting a peaceful environment.
Animal studies have found that certain compounds in cedarwood oil contain anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) and sedative properties.7 8 It also happens to blend well with many other essential oils—including florals and resins—making it a great option to consider when formulating blends for meditation.
Frankincense is widely considered one of the best essential oils for meditation. The resin has a long history of medicinal and religious use, and the essential oil is frequently used for meditative practices. It contains many therapeutic properties that are considered beneficial for skin and respiratory health, and can also be beneficial for the mind as well.
More specifically, frankincense is believed to aid in boosting depressive thoughts. In fact, an animal study conducted in 2012 found that one of the main constituents of the resin showed significant anti-depressant activity.9 Additionally, another study conducted on rats found that frankincense may have a positive effect on boosting memory as well.10
Chamomile herb is one of the oldest natural remedies and continues to remain popular today due to its versatility and effectiveness. The essential oil is widely used as well and is found in blends formulated for both children and adults alike.
Chamomile essential oil is probably most well-known for its effectiveness at decreasing anxiety, encouraging rest, and generally promoting a calm environment. It’s frequently used to calm fussy babies or overstimulated children, as well as to encourage quality sleep.11
While it has a delightful fruity aroma that is pleasing on its own, chamomile is also lovely when combined with other essential oils.
Patchouli is a unique essential oil in that it has a very distinct aroma that individuals tend to either love or hate. However, whether you enjoy the unmistakable aroma of patchouli or not doesn’t change the fact that it is still one of the best essential oils for meditation.
Similar to vetiver, patchouli is a very grounding essential oil that is believed to help balance one’s thoughts and emotions. Like the other oils mentioned above, patchouli is a very calming essential oil that is considered beneficial for promoting sleep, fighting depression, and boosting your mood.12
When blended with other essential oils, the aroma of patchouli can be especially pleasing, as it has a way of anchoring and providing depth to blends.
Sandalwood is a favorite among many essential oil users, as well as individuals who practice meditation—and for good reason. The essential oil has numerous positive effects on the mind, including the potential ability to increase symptoms directly related to alertness and attentivess.13 Additionally, research suggests that the aroma of sandalwood can help decrease anxiety.14
The aroma of sandalwood gets lovelier as it ages and is very popular among both men and women. However, it should be noted that sandalwood is a costly essential oil and also has a vulnerable conservation status. For these reasons some aromatherapists suggest using it sparingly or even using a different oil altogether.
Essential oil blends for meditation
There are a number of ways that essential oils can be used for meditation, but the simplest way to utilize their therapeutic benefits is to diffuse them in a room. Below, I’ve included two diffuser blends that can help encourage a peaceful and relaxing environment while you meditate. However, feel free to alter the blends to suit your preferences. You may even choose your top oils from a ZYTO bioscan to create a customized meditation blend.
Meditation Blend #1
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
- 3 drops chamomile essential oil
- 4 drops patchouli essential oil
Meditation Blend #2
- 1 drop lavender essential oil
- 1-2 drops ylang ylang essential oil
- 3 drops frankincense essential oil
- 3 drops vetiver essential oil
Add the essential oil drops to your diffuser based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Use essential oils to enhance meditation
Throughout the centuries, meditation has spread throughout the world, with more people meditating now than ever before. While it is often believed to be associated with religious practices, individuals are finding that there are many purported health benefits associated with meditation, leading more and more people to incorporate it into their self-care routines.
Because meditation focuses on relaxation and calming the mind, essential oils can be a great addition to the meditative practice. Specifically, essential oils that are considered beneficial for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression—as well as those that promote relaxation—can be especially beneficial when meditating. Since there are numerous essential oils that can enhance the meditative experience, utilizing them for your own practice couldn’t be easier!
About Nicole Stine
Nicole Stine is a certified herbalist who has numerous aromatherapy and natural health certifications. She is passionate about using herbs and essential oils safely and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about natural health, as well as creating her own formulations.
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