Finding balance in our busy day-to-day lives is challenging. It can feel impossible to take a moment and connect with yourself while running from home, to the office, to dinner, and back again. Fear not: There are ways to take a moment, slow down, and find your center amid the chaos—the best way is to simply take a conscious breath. Essentials oils enhance this process.
Essential oils have been used for centuries for beauty, health, and wellness, as well as in spiritual practice. Extracted from plants, pure essential oils are distilled, harboring the purest form of the plant from which it is derived (for instance, sandalwood or eucalyptus). You may be familiar with some of the more well-known benefits of oils: Chamomile calms us, patchouli grounds us. Capturing the essence of these plants and flowers, essential oils not only smell good—they do good, too: When used in conjunction with therapies and exercises, essential oils can help us to reconnect to our bodies and our chakras.
Essential Oils: Tools for an Enhanced Experience
Guy Vincent, Head of Aveda Pure-Fume™ Aroma, has an expert understanding of aromatherapy, scents, and essential oils. Fascinated by herbal and alternative medicine, Vincent was drawn to study aromatherapy. His background in brewing and winemaking made him particularly interested in the chemistry of essential oils and how they blended.
“I’d always been into health and wellbeing,” he says, “so I went off and studied alternative medicine.” He described taking a class in aromatherapy as a “real eureka moment,” thinking, “wow, here’s this modality that smells great, and is good for you.”
While scientific research on essential oils and corresponding therapies is limited, according to CNN iReport scientists are exploring expanded uses of aromatherapy. It has been said that essential oils can elicit both psychological and physiological responses from the body through practices such as aromatherapy and massage therapy. Researchers at the Wesleyan University in Connecticut, for example, found that the scent of lavender increased deep, restful sleep.
Marc Zollicoffer, Aveda’s Director of Professional Spa Education, says that when you’re inhaling essential oil aromas they can trigger reactions in two ways.
“Just by simply smelling you have two reactions,” says Zollicoffer. “One is psychological—how you individually connect to that aroma based on all the memories and associations you may or may not have. And then you also have a physiological reaction—how it really changes you in the body.”
Connecting to Ourselves With Essential Oils
When Vincent selects essential oils for Aveda products, his goal is to create something that can evoke true memories and true moods.
“A lot of smells are associations,” he says—they’re often linked to a memory, a feeling, or an emotion. Vincent works to understand what each specific product needs, considering the effect it will have, while also assuring that the end result is blended for everyone.
“We consider the aromas to be a really key part of the formula that functions more than just pretty smells,” he says. “[Aromas] have a deeper effect and function in the product, whether the product needs to be reassuring, calming, uplifting, energizing, modern, new, or retrospective.”
Zollicoffer is also a massage therapist, and always uses essential oils in his treatments, including the Aveda Chakra Balancing Massage. Rather than focusing on the more “magical” aspects of massage and aromatherapy, however, Zollicoffer is a realist.
“People talk about out of body experiences,” he says. “To me, the real question is how do you have an in-body experience?” Many of us live in our thoughts not in our bodies; by combining a full sensory experience, complete with a massage, essential oils, and seed sounds, people will ultimately be able to connect with their chakras, and tune into their bodies.
When used in conjunction with therapies and exercises, essential oils can allow us to reconnect to our bodies and chakras.
By eliminating the jargon we so often hear with chakras (balanced, imbalanced, open, closed) Zollicoffer says that we’re able to focus on connection. Chakras may seem like an elusive concept—though you’re probably more aware of them than you realize. When you use terms like heartbroken, what you’re really saying is “heart chakra.” As Zollicoffer says, “they’re the same thing, just a different language.”
Still, you can’t necessarily just grab some Chakra 4 Balancing Body Mist off the shelf and expect to be instantly balanced. “The aroma can help you; the aroma is designed to help you connect to that center. You still have to do all the work necessary to process whatever it is your processing.” Zollicoffer explains. “Once you’re grounded in your body again, you can start to process and feel what you’re feeling. As you start to feel what you’re feeling, you start to move through it.”
If you’re a newcomer to the world of essential oils looking to improve your wellbeing and personal growth, don’t be intimidated by the breadth of options and information. It’s all about connection to self, presence, and body awareness. Tune in to your emotions, your feelings, and your body, and follow its cues.
In partnership with Aveda
Globally loved for its performance-led, botanically-based professional hair, skin and body care products, and its commitment to environmental leadership and responsibility, Aveda™ the Art and Science of Pure Flower and Plant Essences was founded by award-winning hairdresser, Horst Rechelbacher in 1978. Inspired by Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old traditional Indian system of healing and medicine, Aveda takes a holistic approach to beauty where hair, scalp, body and skin are one and products, rituals and services care for the guest from scalp-to-soul℠. Aveda is trusted by salon and spa professionals worldwide, and Aveda products are available in more than 9,000 professional hair salons around the world.