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Aromatherapy and Ayurveda - The Science of Life

Each of us is uniquely blessed with specific passions - things or ideas that light us up on the inside and make us bubble over with joy just talking about. If I had to name the top three passions of mine (or the three most prevalent e-book topics on my Kindle), I would without hesitation blurt out:

  • Spirituality/Philosophy

  • Herbalism

  • Natural Healing Modalities

If I wanted to get more specific, I might add:

  • Aromatherapy

  • Yoga

  • Meditation

  • Ecology

  • Traditional Chinese Herbalism (TCM)

  • Ayurveda

You may be familiar with some, most, or all of these areas. But what you may not know is that those first 5 sub-topics (aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, ecology, and TCM) all stem from the practice of Ayurveda. And it’s at the heart of everything here at Stellar Moon.

So what is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient science of healing that dates back over 2000 years ago to India and South Asia. It predates most Western medical systems, and even influenced the practice of TCM! The word Ayurveda is Sanskrit for “Ayur” meaning “knowledge” and “veda” meaning “life”. It is a medical system that incorporates a holistic approach to treating the causing of underlying dis-ease that sees the mind, body, and spirit as inseparable from each other in the manifestation and treatment of one’s health and wellbeing.

This ancient system of medicine contrasts Western medicine by looking at the body as greater than the sum of its parts. Where Western medicine is reductionist, Ayurveda is all-encompassing. Western medicine tends to view the body as a machine comprised of individual parts whose actions can be studied in isolation, however Ayurveda perceives the body as a system of integrated parts in which one function or malfunction can be the cause or effect of a chain of a host of other issues throughout the mind and body.

Where Western medicine relies on a scientific method that produces one-size-fits-all results, Ayurveda and other Eastern medicines, believe that no people should be treated the same, even if they are experiencing similar states of dis-ease.

A good example could be skin irritations or rash. Western medicine may decide that the rash is caused by inflammation of the dermis and thus prescribe a topical cream treatment that would reduce the redness and swelling. But it would not prevent the rash from returning. As such, it is treating the symptom.

In contrast, an Ayurvedic practitioner might take that person’s pulse, examine their tongue, ask him or her about his or her sleeping patterns, fears, traumas, diet, etc. then deduce that the patient has a anxiety-induced trauma caused by a fear of underperforming that creates imbalances in their physiology. It also causes him or her to over-eat a heat-stimulating source of food that creates an imbalance in the constitution (also known as dosha or dosa). The patient overheats and the heat escapes through the skin causing discomfort, redness, and inflammation of the dermis, the body’s largest and most external organ. The inflammation is really just a physical manifestation of a deeper, in this case, non-physical issue.

So how does this relate to aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a common healing modality that might be advised by an Ayurvedic practitioner as part of an individual’s specific regimen. The use of essential oils and their aromatic compounds treats the person on a holistic level. Diluted with a carrier oil, essential oils can be applied to the body (skin) topically to treat a variety of skin conditions.

Most popular is rose essential oil, known for its astringent properties that make it a popular ingredient for facial toners. in other words, it draws water out of the skin tissues in order to shrink pores, tighten skin, and remove oil. While normally astringents are drying to the skin, rose essential oil’s moisturizing, hydrating, and blemish reducing properties combat dry skin and reduce acne as well as dark spots. This is due in part to its antibacterial properties which disinfect skin from Propionibacterium (a bacteria which causes acne). Drops of rose essential oils also help heal scars rapidly due to their antioxidant properties. It also protects your skin against harmful radiation from the sun, as well as parasites, and heat.

And that familiar rosy aroma we love so much? That is thanks to terpene alcohols and geraniol content mixed with citronellol, farnesol, and nerol. These are chemicals responsible for odor carriers and fixators. These compounds produce a distinctive fragrance of rose essential oil - a blend of floral, fruity, and sweet notes.

You might wonder how the alcohol properties of rose essential oils benefit you on a spiritual level. Well, the aroma of the rose connects deeper with your mind, body, and spirit. In many spiritual belief systems, the rose is considered a sacred symbol of communication between the angels and people through meditation or prayer. The aroma of the rose is a tangible manifestation of the angels' spiritual presence due to its strong vibration of energy fields at a rate of 320 megahertz. Rose is also believed to have the highest electrical frequency among the Earth's flowers, connecting humans and angels. 

Aside from this, the Anahata (heart chakra) is said to be strengthened and balanced by the rose fragrance, which invokes positivity and fosters spiritual development. The sweet and floral aroma of rose brings joy, fights anxiety, stress, depressive states, etc. and strengthens and relaxes the mind.

Rose essential oil’s aromatic compounds are light and volatile enough to disperse through the air, making their way to our nostrils. From there, they travel straight to the limbic system in the brain where they then affect our emotions.

For someone struggling to feel more uplifted, relaxed, or energized, aromatherapy can be beneficial. And as we discussed earlier, emotions, fears, and traumas, while not physical in nature, can manifest physically when left untreated. This supports the Ayurvedic assumption that there is an intrinsic connection between the mind and body, between the more subtle layers and the more gross (physical) layers of our health.

Creating a daily ritual using Aromatherapy can benefit your self on multiple levels. It doesn’t have to require complicated or drawn out steps. The best way to start is by diluting your essential oil such as Rose mentioned above in a carrier oil and applying to your skin. Stellar Moon's natural aroma rollerballs make an excellent option as well.   

As you do so, practice a yogic breathing technique by inhaling to a count of four seconds, then holding your breath for one second, exhaling out for seven seconds, followed by holding your breath out for one second. As you inhale, take in the full aroma of the essential oil and notice how it makes you feel. Maybe imagine that it is purifying any areas of stress or anxiety. As you exhale, scan your body and release any tension you find.

You might choose to journal about your experience and any emotions that arose for you. This process can also work with lotions, body washes, or body oils.

There are so many ways that plants in their essences can help us heal multidimensionally. Aromatherapy, then, is one way to help us address our multi-dimensional selves.

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