By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist
With a new year, many of us start a fresh set of intentions for improving our health and wellbeing. So, we count steps walked and clock miles ran. We count calories and reps at the gym or laps in the pool. And, some of us measure our BMI, numbers on the scale, or the inches around our waist.
But, what about counting our breath?
Wait. What? Why?
Ok, let me back up a bit.
We often put the focus squarely and solely on the measures of our physical health. But, ehnancing our emotional and mental health is just as important.
If you follow my blogs, you know I am an advocate for the mind, body, spirit connection and the impact it has on our wellness. When our whole being is in balance, we can find our own optimal level of wellbeing.
Our best of intentions for improving our vitality can be overtaken by our lack of attention to our state of mind. For a balanced equation in measuring our wellbeing, the mind most definitely matters. In fact, it is actually mission control.
So, what does this have to do with counting our breath?
When, our thoughts and emotions are out of balance, it can create havoc with our overall wellbeing. The good news is we actually have a built-in mechanism to take charge of where our mind travels. Simply counting our breath can help rebalance to our being. Coupling our breaths with an aromatic companion can create an even more enhancing experience.
When the Mind Runs Amok
Many of us, myself included, have a tendency to let our minds run away with us. I think of it as the mind running amok. Sometimes, I begin to worry or feel anxious solely because I am imagining all that can go wrong down to worst-case scenario for things that have yet to happen. This is especially true if I am about to experience change or make a big decision. Instead of focusing on faith that all will be well, I can “what if this, and what if that” myself into feeling fissures of fear.
Now, before I go on, I want to clear up any possible confusion. We aren’t talking about a deep sense of worry or anxiousness from significant situational, physiological to psychological issues.
Situational issues might include life’s major stressors such as divorce, job change or loss, financial change, a move, death or serious illness and so on. Physiological imbalances may include chemical imbalances in the mind and body that affect a healthy state of mind to the point of debilitating anxiousness, worry or sadness. Psychological issues could include PTSD, phobias or other mental, emotional impairments.
I have dealt with all of these, and while there are things I could do to help myself, I also needed the help of qualified health practitioners in partnership with my self-care.
But, what if outside of those significantly serious scenarios, we have a tendency toward worry? To imagine worse case scenario when it doesn’t necessarily exist? Can we support a happier state of mind through self-care?
The Short Answer is “Yes.”
Worry is exhausting on all levels of our being and can diminish our ability to be well.
When we begin to remove worry as a constant source of distress, our whole being has the ability to rebalance and replenish. If left in a chronic state, continued distress of the mind leads to stress in the body, which can take a toll on our mental and physical health.
You can read more about this in:
But, by becoming aware of our worry when we are in the moment, we can take control and switch our mind from autopilot run amok to a conscious state where we may steer our thoughts to back to slow and steady.
And, we can do this simply with two natural tools when we find our thoughts tail spinning for reasons not based in our current reality.
Are you ready? Here’s what we need:
- Our own natural breath
- Aromatherapy as an amazing ally
Calming Your Mind in the Moment: Counting Your Breath and Aromatic Anchors
Let’s start with deep breaths and aromatic anchors. We can create a positive association in the brain by connecting a supportive affirmation with a soothing scent to make an aromatic anchor. In this way, we can quickly send a message to our mind that all is well when we subsequently smell the same scent again. This is a great practice to have when you find yourself wandering into worry and need to flip the switch.
First, we want to create an affirmation that is calming to us when our mind in a state of calamity. An affirmation is a positive thought used to replace a negative thought stated in the present tense. I like to use “all is well,” for example, but it is important to use what works for you.
We can enhance this experience by creating a practice combining our affirmation with counting deep breaths. When I was a child, and my emotions became stormy, my mom always told me to take deep breaths and count to three. Naturally, our mothers were right because we now know the deliberate act of slow, deep breathing sends signals to the brain to turn off the stressed state.
Next, we can choose an aromatic synergy that is soothing to us and supports the positive state of mind we are seeking. For this practice, I recommend either adding your synergy to a personal aromatherapy inhaler or diffuser jewelry so it can be with you to whiff when needed.
This is how it would work all together.
- Choose your affirmation to repeat during times of worry
- Choose your aromatic synergy to help soothe your senses
- Create a personal inhaler
- Use the following deep breathing exercise when needed
An Aromatic Deep Breathing Exercise:
- Hold the inhaler under one nostril while gently holding the other nostril closed.
- Begin to repeat your chosen affirmation to yourself.
- Inhale your aromatic synergy gently, deeply, and slowly down into the lungs, feeling your belly expand, to the count of 3.
- Hold a moment.
- Exhale slowly, through the mouth, to the count of 3.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Repeat on each side if desired.
Suggestion for Creating Your Own Synergy
This is one of my all-time favorites for letting go of worry and bringing myself back into balance, especially when I find myself in a heightened state after the fact, or when I become aware of it beginning to bubble up from below:
Add the following to a personal aromatherapy inhaler:
6 drops Geranium Bourbon Pelargonium x asperum
6 drops Neroli Citrus x aurantium
3 drops Orange Sweet Citrus sinensis
Suggestions for Ready Made Synergies
Worry Free – blended to support a relaxed state of mind during times of tension and anxiousness.
Grounded Foundation — helps to soothe, calm and relax when you are feeling distressed by encouraging a sense of safety and security.
Calming Your Mind as as a Practice: Counting Your Breath and Aromatic Meditation
Because thoughts are things that can have real effect on our wellbeing, it is important to learn to drive our own mind, rather than letting it run amok. This is where meditation can make a great impact.
You read more about the many benefits to our wellbeing in:
When we talk about the practice of meditation, it can create a variety of impressions depending on what you’ve heard or experienced. And, for those of us who are worriers, we don’t want the idea of this to be overwhelming.
What we are really talking about is simply a practice of calming the mind and learning to taking control of our thoughts, rather than letting our thoughts control us.
And, this practice of calming the mind works wonderfully both as a preventive measure and to be prepared when we become aware of thoughts heading in a wayward direction.
To keep this simple, here we also use the practice of counting the breath and aromatherapy. Here, again, aromatherapy is a great ally by helping to calm the mind, creating a sense of peace, and opening us to a higher state of consciousness.
Seven Simple Steps to Aromatic Meditation
- Choose an aromatic blend.
- Find a quiet place to practice. Noise canceling ear phones with soothing music may help.
- Start your diffuser (for no more than 60 minutes) Or, inhale from your personal aromatherapy inhaler.
- Sit in a comfortable position and gently close your eyes.
- Simply focus on your natural breath and begin counting each breath.
- Thoughts may bubble up. Just notice them, let them go without emotion or judgement like they are floating on by.
- Return to counting your breath.
Suggestions for Creating Your Own Synergy
3 drops Grapefruit Pink Citrus x paradisi
1 drop Lemon Citrus x limon
1 drop Buddha Wood Eremophila mitchellii
Suggestions for Ready Made Synergies
Clear Intuition — helps to quiet the conscious mind, encourage introspection and connect to a higher state of consciousness while remaining grounded in peace.
Meditation Synergy Blend — helps to take you into a calmer, more meditative state of mind.
I hope you find these practices combining counting your breath with aromatherapy as a companion helpful in easing your mind when you tend to wander into a state of worry. To truly enhance our overall wellbeing and vitality, it is important to care for our whole being. So, while you are focused on counting your steps to feel more fit, don’t forget to include a practice of counting your breath to create more calm on your journey toward the most fabulous feeling you!