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Essential Oils Blog

Tag Archives: mind

When Life Gives You Elevens

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Almost exactly two years ago, this happened.

I got in the car, turned it on and this was the odometer exactly. I could have missed it, or I could have been driving. But, that wasn’t the case. I believe the image was there to get my attention.

Up until this point, I had been seeking answers about certain life situations, but I had been spinning a bit.

The opportunity of witnessing the odometer turn to a perfect 100,000 hit me like a ton of bricks. My immediate thought was “what am I supposed to know from this?” You see, I don’t believe in coincidences. I do believe in messages. More on that in a moment.

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Essential Oils and ADHD

Essential oils are great support for so many ailments we battle each day – which you probably already know if you’ve been reading out blog! But did you know these amazing all-natural oils can also provide relief for symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD?

If the term ADHD sounds familiar, it’s likely because approximately 11% of all U.S. children have been diagnosed with it at some point in their young lives. That’s 6.4 million kids – one out of every 11. About 60% of children with ADHD become adults who have ADHD, which is about 4% of the adult population [1]. Maybe your own child has ADHD, your spouse or significant other, maybe your neighbor or co-worker’s children. The point is, ADHD is a pretty prevalent brain-based syndrome. It can cause real every-day challenges for both children and adults. These challenges can include controlling impulses and hyperactivity, staying organized, maintaining concentration and motivation, the ability to learn, and being able to enjoy regular deep and restful sleep. Relationships with others may suffer as well, since some people with ADHD struggle with their social skills.

So, essential oils can help?

Many essential oil’s primary properties include helping to increase focus, stay alert, and calm down the mind and body. These oils can be an amazing compliment to treatments already in place for an individual with ADHD (such as behavioral management, family training, and/or prescribed medication). However, whether you are a parent, an educator, an adult with ADHD, or anyone else interested in using essential oils for ADHD, approach cautiously. Since there is a very limited amount of research done on this topic, you should always consult with a physician before making any kind of changes to a treatment plan.

The most frequently cited case study done on ADHD and essential oils comes from the late Dr. Terry S. Friedmann, M.D., A.B.H.M. For a two year period (1999-2001), Dr. Friedmann experimented with oils on a group of 40 children, half of whom had an ADHD diagnosis, and half of whom did not (the “control” group). Each day, the children were asked to inhale essential oils when they began to feel “scattered.” For each essential oil Dr. Friedmann was testing, the children used it for 30 days. Ultimately, the study concluded that certain essential oils really did make a significant impact on the symptoms of ADHD. In particular, Lavender, Cedarwood, and Vetiver oils were used and Vetiver made the most notable success in improving performance [2].

Where should I start?

First, let’s take a moment to appreciate Plant Therapy’s unique blend of bright and uplifting essential oils that make up our A+ Attention Synergy. Perfect to help calm an overactive body while bringing focus and clarity, this synergy is a great place to start for anyone looking to support an individual with ADHD.  A+ Attention is part of our KidSafe line of products, which means that each essential oil used in this synergy is totally safe for young children.

To use, just add 5 to 10 drops to a personal aromatherapy inhaler. There’s really no beating the convenience and ease of using a personal aromatherapy inhaler – it’s perfect to take to work or to pack in a child’s backpack so they can use it whenever they feel like they need it (but please check with the school first! Your district may have a policy about bringing essential oils to school, so check with the child’s teacher or administration). Or, dilute A+ Attention with a carrier oil (2-4%) and apply topically to the chest, back of neck, and wrists.

Another great option to support individuals with ADHD is our Clarity Synergy. The essential oils used in this blend have therapeutic benefits that enhance focus and memory. For any task requiring sustained mental effort, Clarity may be just what you need. Use it in the same ways directed above, but keep in mind that this is not part of our KidSafe line.

If you’re looking to try single oils for ADHD support, here are a few suggestions to start you off.

Remember, no two people are exactly the same. What may work well for one person may not work the same for another. The oils listed here are those known to be either calming for the mind and body or can improve mental clarity and boost memory.

  • Chamomile Roman – Soothing, comforting, and famous for its calming properties, this is an especially great choice if you’re looking for an oil to help get deep, refreshing sleep.
  • Lavender – Surprised? Of course not! Lavender is such a powerhouse oil with an incredibly wide range of therapeutic properties! It pops up all over the place. If you have an ailment, there’s a good likelihood that Lavender is on the list to help you get through it. For ADHD support, Lavender is known to reduce feelings of nervousness, bring calm to the mind, and, like Chamomile Roman, help the user to get a peaceful night of sleep.
  • Vetiver – While also a fantastic choice for promoting sleep, this oil was notably found most effective during Dr. Friedmann’s study. Further, it can help calm the ‘mind chatter’ that prevents the mind from focusing, leading to an increase in concentration.
  • Cedarwood – This is a great choice for creating a positive atmosphere and warding off negative thinking. It has a woody, rich scent known to calm the mind and balance emotions.
  • Frankincense – The soothing properties of Frankincense may be exactly what’s needed to help calm an overactive mind and body. Plus, it is also a great support to the immune system!

Try out these recipes for your diffuser or personal aromatherapy inhaler to enjoy their awesome therapeutic benefits!

Focus Blend 1

3 drops Frankincense Carteri

2 drops Lavender

2 drops Lime or Mandarin

Focus Blend 2

3 drops Balsam Fir

2 drops Frankincense Carteri

2 drops Grapefruit Pink

1 drop Orange Sweet

ADHD and essential oils – what do you think? Have you ever tried oils to support yourself or someone else with ADHD? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

References:

[1] Adult ADHD. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/adult-adhd#

[2] Friedmann, T. S. Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). http://files.meetup.com/1481956/ADHD%20Research%20by%20Dr.%20Terry%20Friedmann.pdf

 

From Surviving to Thriving with the Power of Essential Oils

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


If you’ve followed my blogs, you are likely familiar with my backstory. Unhappily successful executive desperately wants to jump off the rapidly racing treadmill, is too afraid, and literally and figuratively gets run off the road in a life-threatening, life-altering blink-of-an-eye moment. Wakes up, literally and figuratively, to a new reality of re-learning how to move more step-wise through life in search of restoration and revitalization.

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Essential Oil Well-being: Be Gentle, Be Generous, Be Grateful

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist

Essential well-being. Where mind, body, and spirit meet aromatherapy.


Essential Wellbeing: Where mind, body and spirit meet aromatherapy.

As you may know, from reading my previous blogs, the catalyst for my own healing journey started with a traumatic injury. I mention this here because, in retrospect, there is actually a prequel to that moment in time.

Prior to the accident, I did not live a healthy life. I lived the idea of the “American Dream.” Marriage, dream house, well-educated, big job, nice car, travel to amazing places. Regardless of what it took for me, and what it took out of me, I persisted in how life was “meant to be.”

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Natural Brain Boosters

Natural Brain Boosters

Do you have goals set for this new year? Maybe you have your heart set on learning something new or following a personal passion; maybe your sights are set on getting a raise at work or acing that final exam.

Unfortunately, sometimes our goals require a lot more motivation and focus than we can seem to muster. During those long days at work or hours spent spilled over a textbook, time seems to slow down, making us feel foggy, unfocused, and exhausted. Our mind searches for any kind of stimulation to perk up. Giving into those distractions only moves us further away from achieving what we want. Don’t let your goals get derailed every time your mind loses focus on the task at hand! Stay sharp with the help of essential oils known to help boost your cognitive abilities.

For a quick fix for a foggy brain, you can count on Plant Therapy’s unique blend of brain-boosting essential oils in Brain Aid Synergy.  A few deep inhalations of this citrusy, herbaceous, woodsy, and minty aroma will invigorate your mind to keep it going strong all day long. Our Certified Aromatherapists created this blend to awaken your mind when mental fatigue is slowing you down. The essential oils in this blend can profoundly change the way your brain is processing information, which in turn helps you to remember more and keep you laser-focused on your task.

For kids with busy brains who struggle concentrating, Plant Therapy’s KidSafe A+ Attention is a calming and balancing blend of oils that safely and naturally keep them focused.

Single Oils Good For Brain Power

There are also some wonderful single oils that will help you regain clear-headedness and motivation. Rosemary 1,8-Cineole is one of the most popular oils for brain power and is known to help long-term memory. The compound that makes Rosemary so distinctive is 1,8-cineole, which aids a brain chemical linked to learning and memory.

Basil Linalool is also an excellent choice if you’re looking to improve focus and refresh your mind. Besides being a popular culinary herb, Basil also helps restore mental alertness when inhaled. It clears the brain fog. The refreshing aroma of Basil also reduces excitability, helping you settle down and focus better on a singular task.

Likewise, to ward off a dwindling attention span, Cedarwood Atlas is known to support focus and quiet a racing mind with its grounding, rich, earthy aroma.

And last but not least, Peppermint is also a powerful brain energizer that stimulates the mind, supports memory, focus, concentration, and mental performance. Fragrant and familiar, Peppermint will wake up the mind and help boost your productivity.

Usage Tips:

I like to carry personal Aromatherapy Inhalers. These compact inhalers are small enough to carry with you in your pocket or purse. Add a few drops of Brain Aid Synergy, and reach for it anytime you need a boost of brainpower!

Another great option is to diffuse Brain Aid (or other mind-sharpening oils). I like to use my Diffuse on the Move, plugged into my laptop when I’m working on an important project.

We want to hear from you! What essential oils help give your mind an extra boost? And what are your goals this year that will require some extra brain power? Comment below, and let’s help support one another to be awesome!

Lessons from Irma for Weathering Life’s Storms

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


I began the drafting this post from Atlanta, Georgia where I evacuated from my home on the Gulf Coast of Florida. This was located in the path of historic Hurricane Irma. As I finish this blog more than a month later, I am grateful to have escaped all but some displacement, stress and inconveniences.

Others were not as fortunate, and as I finish this blog there are still many suffering not only from Irma, but also from Harvey and Maria.  And, while the East has been drenched, the West has been parched with folks there suffering terribly from the raging wildfires. I want to acknowledge their significantly more serious situations and note that I am simply sharing what I learned from my own personal experience in the hope that it may help should your life’s journey suddenly become stormy. As always, with a life crisis, do not hesitate to access professional support as needed.

While I have been exposed to hurricanes, and hurricane season, for a number of years (a Floridian fact of life) this one felt different. Irma intensified quickly and, then, she didn’t set her compass for a distinct location until the last minute. Instead, she led us on a wild chase as we raced to do what we could and must to avoid her destructive forces from a direct hit of unknown determination.

When you live in certain locations, planning and preparing for the possibility of a hurricane comes with the territory. But, for myself, and for many, the intensity and unpredictability of Irma caused chaos creating a storm within us mirroring the force of nature coming at us.

Two critical lessons I have learned about the healing process after a crisis both start from the inside out.

The first practice is to pause to restore and rebalance. The other is to savor that solitude so I may hear my soul speak.

It is only in this quiet space, with my whole self, that the lessons I seek reveal themselves for next steps in my life journey. What this looks like, for me, is to support mind, body and spirit in a restful and introspective state while opening myself to higher consciousness. In this way my spirit can show my mind the information I need to see through my sense of intuition.

Once I reach the part of my being that is  internal, I am then able to ask of the Eternal,  “What am I meant to learn/know?” After doing so, I let that thought go from my conscious mind, before I drift into a mindful meditation trusting the answer will return to me when I am ready to receive it. Sometimes, it is immediate and sometimes the information arrives much later at an unexpected moment when my mind is again quiet. But, it always comes as a sense of clarity where I can “clearly see” consciously what I couldn’t before.

Here is what came to me.

While Irma was her own event, she also acted as a natural life metaphor bringing me the following message. What worked well in weathering this storm, would also serve well in weathering any other stressful life crisis suddenly blowing in to buffet our sensibilities and our unbalance our sense of being in the world.

In that spirit, here are the Lessons from Irma for Weathering Life’s Storms that I wanted to share. I hope you will bear with me as this blog is a bit longer than usual. Irma had a lot to say.

Looking back, for me, there were three distinct stages of the crisis that sustained intense levels stress over a period of several weeks. Each meted out and merited its own message.

 

The Arrival of Seriously Significant Storm

Prep and Plan But Be Prepared to Change – over a series of hours and days, it seemed that no matter which way I planned to go to get out the way, Irma’s path followed my every move. This required discarding the plan and making new preps sometimes on the spot multiple times in day.

When the wind keeps changing directions it is important to be resilient.

 

You Can Run, But Nature Runs It’s Course – at the last possible go time, driving what is normally a seven-hour distance northward and inland to Atlanta seemed the best course of action. And, then, Irma locked in her GPS to follow. We ended up at a safer distance from the intensity and a direct hit, but there was going to be no total escape from the storm. Eventually, you are going to have to turn and face the circumstances.

 

Do Not Hesitate to Ask for Help – there are many people who love me, but assumed I had it handled. What we needed was a place to stay out of the way. When we thought of whom to ask, we hesitated because of the last-minute imposition. Yet, when we called, she was relieved. She had heard we were going in another direction, but that plan had been scrapped the day before while things were moving quickly. She was ready to help. Don’t assume someone knows what you need. Help them help you if they are able.

 

Don’t Take In the Alarm of Others – while busy planning, re-planning and rebooting those plans, I was trying my level best to stay calm and focused. In that time, I received an incredible amount of messages from folks who were anxious on my behalf. What they mostly transmitted, however, was simply a sense of alarm without specific support that was rational, reasonable or doable. Absorbing all that anxious energy finally sent my own anxiety over the edge taking  me off course into a melt down for a short period of precious time. While there a hurricane around you, you do not have to bring the storm into your soul.

 

Choose Your Planning Partners Wisely – it is simply impossible to think of everything yourself. Look to those who know you best, and whom you know will come through with concise and sound information specific for you and your situation. For me, this was my best friend, who was also my roommate, and who was evacuating with me. In spite of the stress, we worked in sync keeping a synergy to our energy so we could do more than we thought possible. My Mom, from across the country, dispensed some insightful advice through the distance to help sort out some simple solutions to smooth the way and sooth the stress. Carefully choose  whom to take along for the ride so you may depend on their ability to help navigate the crisis.  

 

Focus on What is Immediately Important – I always thought I knew everything I would pack and take if we ever had a hurricane on the way. For the all the reasons outlined above this was not my reality. While I did not know which direction I would be heading, what I did know was I needed to be nimble. What that meant was I needed to be able to carry what I brought to manage within my abilities. That realization helped me quickly focus on what was would literally fit into two suitcases, a small tote and my handbag. Turning the lock in the front door, and leaving my car behind as I left, I felt confident I could create a new life from the few things I carried. Letting go of what was helped me lighten the load while traveling toward the unknown. 

Note: As an aside, you may be wondering what I brought from my precious stash of essential oils and supplies.  I wrote about this in an upcoming  companion blog. I thought  the lessons I learned there merited their own mention. Look for this followup to publish shortly. In the meantime, you will find some supportive synergies for this blog below.

 

Find The Time to Keep Your Gas Tank Full – growing up in earthquake country this was a mantra my Dad had drilled into me. You never knew when there would be any kind of personal or environmental emergency and so  it is important to be prepared. Irma’s direction for landfall in Florida became apparent as one day drew to a close. By early the next morning, the gas stations in the local area were drying up. I had just filled up my tank the day before for the week ahead and was never so glad I had listened to my Dad. Just as importantly, it was the close of a holiday weekend. I had spent the last few days relaxing and restoring my body, mind and spirit. Having been rested rather than run down was never more important for being able to take the trip ahead. Taking the time to top off your tank of energy reserves ensures you don’t get unexpectedly stuck or sidelined.

 

What Can Seem Impossible Can Be Possible – if you had told me that we were going to make an arduous trek in the car over 16 hours in one day, I might not have even tried. With my spinal cord injury, and my friend only 8 weeks post major surgery, the notion would have seemed daunting for the two of us. We knew the trip in traffic would take longer than the normal 7 hours and so started out early on a day we hoped we had timed to miss the worst of it. We were wrong. Taking turns resting and driving we crawled forward mostly in middle lane to see and steer around any upcoming chaos coming our way. Staying focused on navigating the road right in front of us kept the fear at bay for how far we had yet to go. After we safely arrived, we were both dumbfounded at the distance we had covered. A significant journey forward happens one step at a time, with lots of stops and starts, and by focusing your navigation on what is immediately in front of you. 

 

Anchoring While Weathering the Storm

Restore Your Power Supply At Every Opportunity – once we arrived in Atlanta, we had two full days to rest, restore and replenish ourselves and our supplies and we took full advantage of the opportunity.  Irma arrived on at our doorstep in the evening of day three downgraded to a tropical storm.

While Florida would have weathered that reduced intensity well, this was Atlanta’s first ever experience which she was not built to withstand.  Predictions that the high winds would topple massive amounts of old growth trees taking out the power lines on the way down proved correct.  (As an aside the dark humor of my mind kept me humming in my head the old Vicki Lawrence song “That’s the night the lights went out in Georgia.”) When you find even small pockets of time, take that time to prepare for the next wave by restoring to shore yourself up again. 

 

Ration Your Energy Between Recharges – the unparalleled force of the storm winds left behind an unprecedented power outage for most of the population of the Atlanta region, as well as other areas of the state. And, backup crews were already handling a one-two punch in Texas after Hurricane Harvey and in Florida following Hurricane Irma.

What that meant for Atlanta was that time and patience were going to have to prevail. For three days we were faced with no electricity to power our sources of outside information including, most importantly, our phones. So, we powered down to battery saver mode and also to the off position so we need only recharge our phones rarely by way of car charger because we also needed to reserve our gasoline. While you are weathering the storm it is important to conserve what energy you have left lest you become totally run down and offline. 

 

Mind Your Mind – sometimes , when we are in crisis mode, our worst enemy is our own mind. We can whip up a host of worries, or we create peace by managing our mindfulness. Repetitive negative thinking creates distress in the mind and stress in the body.  Below are the practices that helped me steer back on course when I drifted toward doubt and worry. Ruminating on what may or may not be down the road is a waste of much needed energy.

  • Draw On Your Inner Reserves –powering down my connection to outside world cleared the way to cultivate calm in my inner world. Being oddly out of touch also created longer time lags I didn’t always take in my day-to-day world. Here was an opportunity for more spacious periods of meditation especially important at this time get in touch with my own innate wisdom.

 

  • Stay in the Present – when I was connected to the TV and phone, what was coming through was a barrage of gloom and doom. This created a sustained sense of anxiety and a stressful sense of needing to know about things I could not control nor deal with at present: Is the power out at home? How is traffic getting back? Did the water crest the bridge cutting off the route home? Is my roof leaking like the neighbors’ homes? These were all important questions, but without answers days in advance.  With the power out I just needed to focus on what was important in that moment.

 

  • Gratitude Helps Get You Through – when my mind did wander to the worst case scenario, I would start to feel overwhelmed. So, I refocused my mind on large and small mercies. I was safe. I had a place to stay. A comfortable bed in my own room. Hot water. Temperatures in the area were cool. My best friend was with me. Folks were looking in on us and helping how they could. My things were insured. I had what was most important with me. I had work I enjoyed and family and friends I love. I could start again.

 

  • Use Your Imagination For Visualization when I found myself imagining the worst, it only created worry. Instead, I would visualize what I wanted to see as a good outcome. I also used my mind’s eye to see peaceful pictures that would soothe the spirit. Regardless of what I would find later, I had to the power to choose to change the channel on the pictures I was seeing in the present time.

 

Small Mercies Can Help You Feel Whole – at one rest stop along the way, I got a good look at myself in the mirror. After three days of panicky prepping, a poor night’s sleep, a quick and early departure and many demanding hours on the road, I indeed looked and felt like an evacuee. My clothes had been grabbed for comfort not style and now felt grubby. My hair was dirty and in disarray. I had been sweaty from the heat and stress.  And, I was exhausted and undernourished from snacks at short gas station stops.

By the time we finally reached Atlanta,  I couldn’t have felt further away from my own sense of humanity. I nearly cried with relief when I discovered there was a tub in the guest bath, complete with Epsom salts and bath gel so I could take an aromatic bath to ease my bones and spirit before sleep. When you are under duress some things, no matter how small they may seem, can contribute to your sense of self when you need it most.

On that note:

  • Little Luxuries Are Important –bringing only things that I could carry meant keeping it simple for my toiletries.  Yet, as I was grabbing to go , I also instinctively popped in two little luxuries that would fit – the sumptuous face serum and cream set I had just purchased. It wasn’t about the money. It was the intuitive need to have something nice to help support my sense of self when things seemed down.

 

  • Pack More Underwear Than You Think You Will Need. Seriously. I’m not sure there is a life lesson here except that your mother was right. I underestimated how long I would be away and what my circumstances would be in Atlanta. When the power finally came back on there in the middle of the night — bringing back to life the washer and dryer — it was literally just in time for me to refresh my supply to shore up my sensibilities.

 

The Aftermath of The Storm

Make Way for Your Own Disaster Relief – After a week away, when I finally arrived home, I found myself feeling like washed up debris from the storm surge. My natural energy flow was spent and my spirit felt scattered to the four winds. My thought patterns were short-circuited making it hard to concentrate and recall things.

With my brain not fully functioning, I had to keep asking what day it was and couldn’t complete thoughts and sentences. Emotionally, I was torn between wanting to put everything away and be back to “normal,”  or to keep everything packed “just in case.” In talking with several others, this shared experience seemed a common occurrence that was taking some time and support to shake off.

I recalled, on our way north to Atlanta, the only vehicles heading south were the convoys of military and power repairmen setting up to be in position for the aftermath of the storm’s wrath. On the return trip home we were again accompanied on the road by more convoys of military and power repair trucks, as well as disaster relief organizations.  Over the next few weeks, they were everywhere getting the population back on the grid and  it was a timely reminder that I needed to do the same to get myself up and running personally. It is vital in the aftermath to take the time to attend to whatever restoration and rejuvenation you need to shore up your sense of wellbeing in your whole being.

Over the next several days, the sky was blue and clear. I slept, took hot showers, ate hot meals, gathered groceries and the gardeners came on schedule. Though I was starting to feel a sense of grounding, I needed a greater sense of support.

As always, aromatherapy can be of great comfort during times of crisis  to support restoration, self care and repair.

Below are the synergies I rotated through my diffuser, during the post-crisis mode, that helped me the most to decompress. For a look at what I brought with my on the road as an aromatherapy crisis care kit, please look for the follow up blog coming shortly.

After the Storm Synergy

2 drops Fragonia Taxandria fragrans
2 drops Eucalyptus Dives Eucalyptus dives
1 drop Lemon Myrtle Backhousia citriodora

 

This synergy helped me rebalance in my energy flow, uplift my spirit, focus my thoughts, gently jump-start my sense of vitality, clear the air and my respiratory system, and ward of some threatening scratchiness and sniffle that were threatening.

Additionally, Plant Therapy had just released their new Chakra Synergy line to help create balance in our wellbeing. I chose the following:

Grounded Foundation – this helped me to pull my scattered energy back into my body and rebalance and reground while help to soothe the spirit. I used it with the affirmation “I am safe. All is well.”

Self Manifestation — though sometimes we have no control over which way the winds will blow us, we are empowered in how we deal with the storm. I used this synergy with meditation to replenish this sacred center of empowerment to reaffirm and remember that I can do more than I ever thought possible.

 

My wish for you is that your journey always be smooth. Should you run into stormy weather, my hope is that you will find some inspiration in these “Lessons from Irma for Weathering Life’s Storms.” Knowing our own situations and needs are unique,  I would love hear back from you on what you have learned in working your way through your own life’s storms. You never know who you might help!

My Top Three Essential Oils for Whole Being Balance


Recently, we discussed the practice of holistic care in “What Does Holistic Have to Do with Our Health.” Essentially, we are caring for mind, body and spirit to bring balance to our whole being for a greater state of wellbeing.

You may recall from “Food for Thought, that our mind, body and spirit are interconnected. Depending on our state of mind, our body and spirit are impacted in chemical messages from the brain created by stress. This distress of the mind, especially over the long-term, can lead to dis-ease due to our body’s inability to compensate and re-balance.

Aromatherapy, in particular, the practice of holistic aromatherapy, is the perfect partner for helping to support harmony on all three levels of our existence. When we can find balance within ourselves and our environment,  we can experience a greater sense of optimal wellbeing.

Each essential oil and extract has its own therapeutic profile and value, often with multiple core applications.

And, often, we blend synergies from a selection of essential oils to create the holistic profile we are seeking as we did to accompany self-balancing activities outlined in Balancing Our Whole Being.”

There are, however, some essential oils and extracts that are just excellent at equally supporting and entire being.

I find myself reaching over and again for three in particular when I want well-rounded and robust support to bring my being back into balance.

The three I love the most for holistic use are: Bergamot, Fragonia and Blue Yarrow. Oh my goodness, do I love the gifts of these oils.

On their own, they are wonderful to bring equilibrium to mind, body and spirit. Mixed in other synergies, they enhance the holistic value. In my opinion, blended together, they create something extraordinary.

Below, you will find why I consider these my top three essences as my very favorites for holistic support on all three levels — mind, body and spirit.

In addition, I have included one of my very favorite blends with the added benefit of a soothing bath. I find this one of the best ways to find balance from within for my whole being.

As always, I  encourage you to consider options that match your own unique needs.

 

Bergamot Citrus bergamia  (bergapten free)

Bergamot is a favorite for its array of uses and its sunny scent. It is an incredibly uplifting, calming and balancing essential oil.

It is especially helpful when you feel off balance due to nervous tension and when you need to invite in more positive thinking and energy.

Mind:  Balancing to emotions. Uplifting and calming.  Promotes positive thinking while helping to release negative emotions.

Body: Supports the body in returning to a state of relaxation. Soothes the nervous system and smooths nervous tension held in the tissues.

Spirit: Helps to harmonize the spirit, especially when affected by strong, negative emotions. Supports the ability to receive positive energy and helps our natural energy to flow smoothly.

 

 

Fragonia Taxandria fragrans

Fragonia is highly valued for its uniquely balanced composition. It, too, has a wide array of core therapeutic uses and has a soft, refreshing scent.

It is especially helpful for letting go of old emotional thought patterns and negative energy blocks that are impacting your balance and wellbeing.

Mind:  Helps to release old emotional patterns. Calming and uplifting, it helps to reduce worry and nervous tension.

Body:  Balancing to the nervous system. Relaxing and relieving to nervous tension creating discomfort in the body.

Spirit:  Helps to release deep-seated blocks in the energy flow caused by old wounds. Strengthening to the spirit.

 

 

Blue Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Blue yarrow has been prized throughout time for its ability to support wounds on all levels. Though it provides powerful support, it is gentle in nature.

Its “blue” constituents are especially helpful to bring a cooling sense of balance to  heated conditions of mind, body and spirit.

Mind:  Supports emotional equilibrium. Helps to calm worry and nervous tension.

Body: Calming to the nervous system. Relaxing and relieving for nervous tension held in the tissues.

Spirit:  Powerful support in releasing blocks created by repressed strong, negative emotions. Helps to support a smooth natural energy flow. Balanced between opposing energies, it helps to equalize these energies in our own being.

 

Balancing Bath Blend
  • 2 drops Bergamot  Citrus bergamia
  • 2 drops Fragonia Taxandria fragrans
  • 1 drop Blue Yarrow Achillea millefolium
  • Mix with 2 T natural, unscented body wash

Add 1/2 c of Epsom Salts and mix.

Add to your warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.

Bringing the best of the abilities from my top three oils for whole being balance. This is an especially wonderful immersion experience before bedtime. 

 


Sources:

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health & Well-being. New York: Fall River, 2014. Print.

Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: A Guide to Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance through Essential Oils. London: Gaia, 2005. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending . Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria: Aroma Tours, 2004. Print.

An Achilles Heel to Healing

As we read in “Food for Food for Thought,” and “Take and Breath and Cool Your Jets,” distress of the mind, unchecked, also creates a stress response in the body. In therapeutic bodywork, we say your issues are in your tissues. You know that feeling of discomfort from the knots in your shoulders and neck where many hold their stress. This is the body armored and ready for battle. But, this unrelenting state of distress also can lead to chronic and serious conditions through the stress cocktail that impacts our body’s ability to find a healing balance.

In energy work, we say this sense of armoring, or holding, creates blocks in the natural energy flow of our subtle body. From this perspective, left unreleased, these blocks can become a deeply suppressed source of dis-ease that eventually manifest as physical health conditions, most especially where weak spots have developed.

In my own healing journey, a colleague recently pointed out my persistence in working to heal a chronic lower back condition. In fact, I was so persistent, that I tried pushing forward with the same therapeutic modality for a year.  And, though I made some progress, I wasn’t making a breakthrough.

In retrospect, I needed another approach, but I was not willing to flex to some other options because I was certain this was the answer if I just gave it enough effort and time. Yet, the more I persisted the more frustrated I became with my body leading to some distress in the mind, creating more stress in the body, which affected the pain I was experiencing through a state of dis-ease and back to the frustration and stress of the mind. What a cycle, huh?

The breakthrough came, when I eventually broke down. A few months ago I “suddenly” had an issue with intense acute back pain that impacted my ability to fully function. What I thought had been under management morphed into requiring much more intensive therapeutic work. I had missed the message in my persistence to progress.

What also made itself known was a major jump in my blood pressure into a very high and concerning range indicating I was holding stress under my “can do” persistent armor. My acupuncture physician had also been warning that my liver meridian was way out of balance indicating a holding of anger and resentment. Whether you practice western or eastern medicine (or both like me), the modalities were in agreement. I was holding in frustration that was turning toxic.

The very act of persistence became my Achilles Heel, blocking my continued healing of lingering issues, and creating new chronic conditions.

While we never want to be sidelined by injury or illness, if it happens it is always an opportunity to stop and “take a look.” What I discovered about myself was that I persisted in getting through the last nine years, after the life-altering accident, by armoring up and toughing it out. In fact, those were skills I likely learned early in life and had sourced within to get through. And, they did in fact get me to a certain point. But, now, it was time to let go of persistence and learn something new that would take me farther in my journey.

So, then, what else can we do when the stressors of life are zinging at us?

We learn to bounce through resilience vs. battling through persistence.

Researchers have found that healthy people are more resilient in nature and that resilience is a key factor in greatly improving the healing process. From a wellness perspective, psychologists define resilience as the “the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.”[3]

As it relates to our wellbeing, researchers have this to say:

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.” [4]

Key factors identified in resiliency are the ability to keep a positive outlook, manage our emotions, and adapt. “Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.” [5]

Rather than pushing forward through adversity with the obstinate rigidity of persistence, the practice of resilience is a softening of our stance allowing us the flexibility to regroup and respond.

Here was a novel concept. I could armor up, absorb the reverberations of the stress I was creating, experiencing holding in as my personal poison — or, I could relax into a buoyant stance, taking care with self-care after the fact to ensure I had not overlooked any arrows to my heel.

Aromatherapy excels in supporting this softening of our being so necessary to a healthy resilience. So often, when I open my spirit to working on a certain place of healing in my being, the absolute perfectly necessary essential oil shows up in my space to support me just at precisely the right time. Blue Yarrow is no exception. It came to me at just the right time to help calm the mind, relax the body and soothe the soul.

Blue Yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, is named for Achilles. The herb was traditionally used in battles for wounded warriors. [6] And, so for those of us who have learned to battle forward through persistence, blue yarrow is wonderful companion in learning to remove the self-inflicted stress poison of own Achilles Heel.

Blue Yarrow essential oil also is considered wound healing for blocks in our natural energy flow created by deeply repressed negative emotions, such as the anger, rage and frustration that so often accompany chronic stress and impact our overall wellbeing.[7]

It can be used when you need greater emotional support and insight during significant life changes, when you feel challenged by your weak spots, and when you seek stay balanced while keeping your sense of integrity.[8] Blue Yarrow has also been used in ancient cultures to promote intuition and divination.[9]

If you are having a day, week, month or moment that feels like you are coming in from a battlefield, Blue Yarrow is a wonderful support to any self-care routine you have that allows you to slow down, soften up and relieve your stress as practice resiliency. If you would like some ideas for some mindfulness approaches that would support steps toward a resiliency practice, to start, take a look at “Take a Breath and Cool Your Jets” and “M is for Meditation.”

Below are two of my new favorite mini-master blends working with Blue Yarrow to support my journey toward a softer stance and bouncing back. I like them both in personal inhalers to have with me on the go. You can triple the blend to use them that way, or you can use as is in your diffuser.

 

Blue Bliss

2 drops bergamot

2 drops coriander

1 drop blue yarrow

This is a great blend for calming the mind, body and spirit. It is clearing and cleansing, especially for repressed emotions such as tension, frustration and anger, and helping to balance our natural energy flow. It encourages optimism and enthusiasm, while uplifting and calming to mind, body and spirit.

 

Blue Skies

2 drops elemi

2 drops grapefruit pink

1 drop blue yarrow

I love this blend as support for healing meditation. It is grounding and strengthening while opening our mind to our intuition and the Divine with greater clarity and inspiration. Helps to clear and move deeply held, negative energy blocks such tension and frustration. Promotes a sense of peace while uplifting and the mind and spirit.

 


Sources:

[1] “Achilles’ Heel.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

[2] Persistence.” Google. n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[3] “Resilience.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[4] “The Road to Resilience.” Pardon Our Interruption. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

[5] “Resilience.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2017.

[6] “Achillea Millefolium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.

[7] Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance through Essential Oils. London: Gaia, 1999. Print.

[8] Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria: Aroma Tours, 2004. Print.

[9] Achillea Millefolium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Aromatic Medicine Making. Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

 

 

Winter Solstice for the Spirit

By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist

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The advent of the Winter Solstice is a deeply profound period for me on many fronts. Steeped in the rich symbolism of rebirth and reawakening, it has become important to me to recognize this point in time by creating a restorative ritual that allows me to go deeply inward as a means of continually moving forward.

This year’s Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st marking the shortest day and the longest night of the annual cycle of dawn to darkness. And, for some, this longer descent into darkness can trigger a plunge in spirits.

For many years, when I worked in Chicago, I took the train from the suburbs into the city to work. During the icy, cold grip of winter, I departed in the dark and returned home after dark. A California girl by birth and nature, my spirit mourned the loss of light to the night.Winter Solstice for the SoulBut, then, I had an awakening and I came to see the Winter Solstice as light at the end of the tunnel. For this longest day of night marked the milestone when we would again march toward the light. I rejoiced that the dawn of a new day meant we had turned again toward the much-needed sun for my soul. Rather than fear the dark, I had faith that every day would be a bit better than the last.

Ancient civilizations recognized this turning point toward the gradual return of the light as a time of reawakening and rebirth heralding a time of new beginnings. Because the coming deep winter months also required preparation for a period of survival on less sustenance, the Winter Solstice was also known as the hibernal solstice, and celebrated as the last joyous feast day until spring.[1]

For me, the Winter Solstice follows my birthday in early December and, what I refer to as, my re-birthday in early February, acknowledging not the trauma of the accident, but the impetus through which I was reborn to my authentic self.  This period, provides the perfect time for introspection – a searching inward toward the innate wisdom of my own core essence in preparation for my spirit to open more fully to receive the coming light.

I create  mindfulness rituals for myself especially focused on restoring, renewing and reawakening my spirit. This involves quieting mind, body and spirit, creating affirmations and meditation. With the arrival of the Winter Solstice, I also take time to express gratitude for where I’ve been, where I am, and the Divine connection that nourishes my spirit and has supported my journey so far. I also set intentions, in my mind’s eye, of where I see myself next and how I wish to be.

Creating You Own Restorative Ritual

If the idea of creating time for a restorative inward reflection this Winter Solstice resonates with you, you will find below an array of options below to help inspire your own introspection ritual. The idea is  to pick a practice, or practices, along with an aromatic  approach that works for you personally, or to create you very own, so that you may honor the movement of time and light in support your own sense of reawakening and renewal.

I hope you find these helpful and wish you joy on your journey. As we say at the end of yoga “namaste.” There are many beautiful interpretations. But, here, I will leave you with one of my favorites

“The light in me honors the light in you.”

 

1) Practices for Quieting the Mind

We’ve discussed these mindfulness practices throughout the past year.  For review, some blogs you may find helpful, include:

 

2) Aromatherapy to Support the Spirit.

This is the blend I created especially to support a divine awakening within my own spirit. I share it with you here as an offering if it resonates with your own sense of reflection, restoration and renewal.

Given the purpose, I chose to blend intuitively letting my senses and nose lead. Once, I sensed the synergy connect with my spirit, I checked the implications with my sources on subtle aromatherapy. I am always amazed and affirmed how when I listen to my inner knowing, the messages I need will come through.

 

Winter Solstice in a Frosty Forest

(This blend is KidSafe)

1 drop chamomile roman

2 drops coriander

1 drop balsam fir

1 drop bergamot

Support for the Spirit:

Grounds and promotes a sense of security. Clearing and cleansing, while helping to calm and relax the conscious mind. Invites positive energy and optimism while encouraging confidence and motivation.  Encourages intuition and insight and helps to manifest.

Supports the healing process on all levels, especially wounds of the heart. Helps to clear emotional blocks and supports the transformation of challenging emotions to promote balance.

Strengthens connection to a higher consciousness. Allows us to better receive and communicate spiritual truth.  Encourages Divine love and compassion to move through our being. Connects us to the collective wisdom of the world around us.

In addition to the blend’s support for the spirit, it also is soothing to the mind and body. This helpful to keep in mind if you want to experience the multi-purpose effects on all levels of your being.

For the Mind 

Uplifts, while calming and clarifying.  Relaxes and soothes, inviting a sense of peace. Restorative for mental and emotional fatigue.

For the Body

Relaxes nervous tension held in the body.  Helps to release and soothe overworked and tired eases muscles. Restorative and balancing.

3) Aromatic Applications to Support your Ritual.
  • Diffuser add 5 -8 drops
  • Inhaler – add 15 drops
  • Bath Soak – add 5 drops to natural body wash and mix. Add ½ cup Epsom salts. Add to warm bath. Soak and relax for 20 minutes.
  • Massage Oil—add 18 drops to 1 oz (2% dilution) of jojoba or other carrier.
  • Body Lotion – add 9 drops to 1 oz unscented body lotion (1 %)
  • Roller Bottle – add 6 drops to 10 ml carrier (2%). Apply to pulse points.
  • Room/Linen Mist – add 9 drops to 1 oz (1%) pure grain alcohol, such as Everclear.

Sources:

[1] “Winter Solstice.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Shutes, Jade. “The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending and Reference Manual for Essential Oils and Base Materials.” N.p.: East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies. N.d. Print.

An Attitude of Gratitude

By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist

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I have a confession to make …

I have been a bit grumpy lately. Not outright, and not outwardly to others, but out of character for me. The munchkins in my mind have been mighty reactive lately. I have been easily irritable and paltry on patience.

“Wait. What?” Didn’t I just post a two-part blog on A Cup of Compassion? Yes, I did. And, this is where having a practice of living a compassionate life helps. Because others don’t need to be exposed to my grumpy gremlins. So, while inwardly, my mind might be sparking at so many small things, I did my very best to keep my mouth from outwardly speaking in a snit to others.

In retrospect, and through introspection, I understand where my patience veered off the peaceful path. First, there are some deep waters bubbling to the surface that clearly need my attention. Second, I had not been as diligent with my self-care routines for mind, body and spirit because I let myself get too busy for more than a few days. But, when I am very busy is when I most need to take care.

So, I was in dire need of an attitude adjustment.

And, I got one.

As I was confessing and venting my maddening muddle headedness to my acupuncture physician, she simply asked:

“What are you grateful for?”

The question stopped me short. And, immediately created a shift.

What am I grateful for?

stressed-calm_web

While I lay on the table for my treatment, I used the time to meditate on gratitude. And, this change in my focus changed how I felt my body. My sense of stress cleared way for a calming sense of peace.

An attitude of gratitude, not only reframes our perspective, it helps bring us back from the brink of repetitive negative thinking.  In Food for Thought, we discussed how chronic negative thoughts can impact not only the wellbeing of our mind, but also our body and spirit.

What are you grateful for?

This subtle change can create a substantial shift  to help reframe our focus from negative thinking to the positive potential. It is one way to get ourselves to mindfulness in the moment from a mindless myriad of thoughts.

But, I want to be clear here … focusing on what you are grateful for is not to meant to be used as a diminishment of your feelings. When you are feeling blue, or angry, or anxious and you or someone says “yeah, but you should be grateful for ….” this can invalidate your  emotions. And, while how you feel and how you think may be linked, they are actually separate streams of your being.

After I broke my neck, and before I did work to mend my mind and spirit, I had an enormous amount of stress and trauma suffusing my whole being. And, when I mentioned this, I can’t tell you the number of people who patted me on the arm and simply said “well, you should be grateful you are alive.” Well, ummmm, yes. Actually, I was. Very much so.

But, I was struggling while moving forward in a new reality. So, I stuffed the feelings down and slapped a smile on my face because I thought that was expected of the kind of “can do girl” I am. And, that caused some delays in healing my overall wellbeing. Faith, gratitude and positive thinking were vital to my recovery, but dealing with what lay beneath was critical. Two streams of being dealt with simultaneously.

What we are talking about here is simply a another practice of positive thinking for every day things and our every day being so that negative thoughts don’t become chronic negative emotions, and so that any immediate tension in our mind does not feed distress throughout our body.

What are you grateful for?

Researchers have found those focused on gratitude are happier and more optimistic,  have a greater sense of wellbeing, less visits to the doctor’s office, and enhanced relationships. Focusing on gratitude is another form of mindfulness – focusing on the now and what we do have, rather than waiting until a later date for something else externally to make us happy. [1] Studies in positive psychology have also shown a regular practice of gratitude reduces stress, enhances immunity, and promotes a healthier lifestyle. [2]

With Thanksgiving under our belts, we have been reminded to reflect on our blessings. But, rather than one day, this presents a perfect opportunity to create a personal practice of gratitude, not only for now, but for our ongoing essential wellbeing.

We don’t need to make a big splash, just a simple subtle shift will suffice. As always, using essential oils in your practice can significantly support your whole being creating your own personal aromatic blessings.

Here are some suggestions for how you might incorporate an attitude of gratitude into your daily self-care routine.

 

AN AROMATIC ANCHOR AND AFFIRMATIONinhale-gratitude

As we discussed in in Food for Thought Part II, we can choose a scent, unique to our own needs, to create an aromatic anchor. When we inhale this scent, continually thinking of a positive thought, our brain creates an association.

Later, we can simply sniff the scent to break a negative thinking pattern and bring our mind to our positive thought, also known as an affirmation. In this case, our affirmation would be something for which we are grateful.

Affirmations are always stated positively and in the present tense.

“I am grateful for ______________” (fill in the blank).

Inhale while while you are repeating the affirmation to yourself.

Affirmation Blend

This can work well with a single scent and an personal inhaler to carry with you. In her book “The Blossoming Heart,” Robbi Zeck recommends melissa to support affirmations of gratitude. [3] You can, however, choose whichever scent is meaningful, uplifting and positive for you.

 

AN INTENTION OF GRATITUDE

day-gratitude_web

Intentions  are another way of keeping us grounded.  They can help bring us back to our center if we find ourselves adrift in our thoughts.

You can use a statement of gratitude to set your intention for the day upon waking, and to help turn off of negative thoughts prior to sleep.

Intention Blend

This blend helps create a sense of bliss for me, which is the state I want to reach and experience. The combination of this blend with a gratitude intention can help support the mind, body and spirit in reaching a relaxed state. It can be used equally morning and night, and throughout the day either in your diffuser or personal inhaler.

This blend is Kidsafe.

2 drops ho wood

2 drops kunzea

1 drop sandalwood

 

MEDITATE ON GRATITUDE

thank-you-lav_web

You can create a gratitude meditation – a form of mindfulness focused on a positive phrase. When I do a relaxation mediation I often focus on phrases such as peace and calm. Or a phrase such as “all is well.

In a gratitude meditation, I might use “I am grateful for_______” to center my mind as I focus gently on my breath inhaling and exhaling. If you need help getting started, see “M is for Meditation” for some simple steps.

Meditation Blend

I love this blend for helping to mellow the mind for meditation. These can inspire a sense of peace and calm, while opening the mind for reflection.

1 drop buddha wood

2 drops ho wood

1 drop blue cypress

1 drop ginger co2

 

KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

gratitiude-list_web

For folks who like to make lists, keep a journal, or simply write down their thoughts, a gratitude journal could fill the bill. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, and the entries don’t need to be extraordinary.

Just the simple act of writing down our gratitude thoughts can reinforce our feelings, help us progress toward healthier goals and provide more clarity to the positive things happening in our lives. [4]

 

Positive Thinking Blend

I love this blend for  unwinding a sense of restlessness in the mind and inspiring a sense of hope to heart and soul. This could be diffused to support your practice of positive thinking.

This blend is KidSafe if you use bergaptine free bergamot such as the one Plant Therapy carries. 

3 drops of:

bergamot

copaiba oleoresin

sandalwood

 

What am I grateful for? 

While I can’t say I am grateful for the car accident that interrupted my life, I AM grateful for the opportunity to reshape the trajectory of my life into what is most important to me.

I am grateful for the entire journey that brought me back to natural healing where my passions and ability allow me to express myself in creative, healing ways that help others while creating balance in my own wellbeing.

I am grateful for my loved ones who have supported me in being my authentic me, whether they always saw me as me, or supported me in coming back to me.

And, I am so very grateful for Plant Therapy, and all of you, for creating and sustaining an amazing community, inside and out, in which to gather, share and support in our learning, healing and life journeys.

 

What are you grateful for?

 


Sources:

[1] Publications, Harvard Health. “In Praise of Gratitude – Harvard Health.”Harvard Health. Harvard Medical School, Nov. 2011. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

[2] Heubeck, Elizabeth. “Boost Your Health With a Dose of Gratitude.” WebMD. WebMD, 11 Jan. 2006. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

[3]Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria, Australia: Aroma Tours, 2014. Print.

[4] Carter, Sherrie Bourg, Psy.D. “The Benefits of Adding Gratitude to Your Attitude.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.

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