Have you ever experienced smelling a certain aroma – bread baking, the fragrance of a rose, the smell of the seacoast – and suddenly were overwhelmed with a strong memory related to the particular aroma? All of us have positive and negative memories connected to smells, and no wonder. Odor information is stored in long-term memory and has strong connections to emotional memory. This is possibly due to the olfactory system’s close anatomical ties to the limbic system and hippocampus, areas of the brain that have long been known to be involved in memories relating to emotion and place.
Sometimes the memories connected with scent are so strong that we are practically transported back to the place and time the strong connection first occurred – this experience itself is a form of trance – a state of mind in which our subconscious dominates, and we are less attuned to what is going on around us as we re-live the memory.
Aromatherapy is a form of therapy that uses volatile plant materials, known as essential oils, for the purpose of positively affecting a person’s mind, mood, cognitive function and overall well-being. Although certified aromatherapists do practice in the United States, this form of therapy is more widely accepted and practiced in other countries, including Germany, Great Britain, and France.
My knowledge regarding essential oils is based on my years of experience growing herbs and personal research. I favor the widely available essential oils of Lavender and Rosemary as gentle inhalants in hypnotherapy, serving to anchor positive mental states achieved in hypnosis:
Rosemary essential oil: has been traditionally known as a tonic for the nerves. It has been used over human history to enhance mental function and as a remedy for depression, mental fatigue, and forgetfulness. Inhaling the fragrance of rosemary oil often results in an immediate emotional “lift”, resulting in a removal of boredom and fresh mental energy.
Lavender essential oil has a calming, relaxing scent and has traditionally been recommended for insomnia. It has been used as a remedy in treating migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma has been reported to remove nervous exhaustion and restlessness.
Note of caution: please use essential oils sparingly and safely. Purchase pure essential oils from a reputable natural foods store, or online from companies such as Aura Cacia, Frontier Herbs, or Starwest Botanicals. For a safe way to fragrance the air you breathe, consider purchasing a diffuser, such as the Aura Cacia room diffuser.
In summary, our sense of smell is a powerful link to our emotions and overall health. Be mindful of the aromas which contribute to your well-being, and those which do not. Seek out what smells good in life!