The use of essential oils dates back to 5500BC with evidence of the Sumerian culture practicing and recording plant-based medicine. Jumping forward to the 21st century, the practice of aromatherapy is often used in holistic medicine but has gained recognition in science and western medicine in recent history. But what really is aromatherapy and how can we use it to support a healthy lifestyle?
Aromatherapy is the use of natural and potent essential oil fragrances. Extracted from plants, the therapy is based on using aromas to help stimulate our limbic system – also known as the ‘emotional brain’. Essential oils go hand in hand with mindfulness as a way to explore and control our emotions. Often used in meditation or other ritualistic practices, scents are used to stimulate states of mind such as relaxed, focused, uplifted and confident. I’ve put together some suggestions below to get you started.
It’s not a surprise that when we think of relaxing aromas, our mind jumps to lavender. Used in candles, pillow sprays, bath soaks and other self-care items; lavender is wonderful for inducing restoration and relaxation. Other scents such as camomile are also well known to be soothing and calming in the body. Try using some in your bedtime routine on your pillow or rub onto your pulse points.
To encourage a quiet mind and promote mental clarity, frankincense is your guy. Found often in meditation style blends, this warm spicy aroma is great to have on hand to balance your emotions throughout the day. Keep some on hand to smell in between meetings or rub into your temples before you start your to-do list for the day.
With so many responsibilities, it can be easy for us to get bogged down trudging from one task to the next. For a sprinkle of positivity and a spring in your step, reach for trusty citrus oils such as bergamot or lemon zest. Apply some in the shower to boost your mood in the morning or drop some drops into your cup of tea. Please ensure you use oils safe for consumption.
Sometimes our faith in ourselves wavers leaving us to feel uncertain and uncomfortable. When you’re in need of a little assistance in the self-confidence department, reach for oils like sandalwood and cedarwood. Both are very grounding, earthy scents that can bring your assurance and strength. Add some drops to your diffuser while you work or apply to your palms and inhale directly.
The quality of your essential oils is important when you consider whether you will ingest them and the longevity of the scents. At Tranceform, we highly recommend the use of doTerra essential oils for the pure grade certification which means they contain no nasties and can be consumed. Find out more about doTerra over here and if you want to order any, let us know!
Words by Jess Vant.
Think about the last time you had dinner with someone else. How much of it do you remember? Do you remember the textures and tastes of the food you had? Do you remember what you spoke about? Or maybe you were not fully engaged, checking emails, social media or even thinking about other responsibilities. You’re not alone if you can’t answer much of the first few questions. We live hectic lives, and we juggle so many responsibilities it’s not easy to stay present when we’re engaging in things that we do every single day. But you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t – like me – trying to find ways to be more mindful and grounded, in a distraction laden world. So, I’d like to share some of my go-to practices for when I just feel like I’m not being present enough with those around me.
At the end of the day, showing up with your presence is the best way to show someone you love and care for them. Hopefully you can take a little bit of something from any of these practices, not only to your valued relationships, but to everyone you meet.
Enjoy your practice,
We often find starting a new journey to be a little tricky, wondering “where on earth do I start and where do I look for inspiration?”. With access to a plethora of online material and gurus to guide us, it can be a little overwhelming and may even be a hurdle for us to get the ball rolling. Sometimes, the easiest thing we can do to enlighten us on a new topic, is simply to read about it. I’ve put together some of the top books out there that won’t bog you down with technical terms, that will give you simple ways to incorporate practice into your daily life; and hopefully will leave you feeling inspired to start your journey.
Some of these books have been around for years so you may be able to find them for a fraction of the price second-hand, download them as an audio book or Amazon has them. If you have any questions about getting started, we'd love to hear from you! We also run an 8-week 1-2-1 mindfulness programme which is fantastic for beginners.
By Jess Vant
Digital creator and blog writer for Tranceform
The New Year is here and many of you will be setting your New Year's resolutions soon and probably wondering how you can do so in a mindful way. In mindfulness we are taught to experience life as it happens, in any given moment. But how do we create reachable and flexible targets, that also take care of the mind? In this post I want to explore with you how practicing your intentions will free you from your own pressure AND you'll still see the results you're after.
The first step is to take away the word "goal" from your vocabulary. That word is what we call a 'sticky' word in mindfulness. Most of us set ourselves overly ambitious goals that we struggle to reach and often end in negative consequences. Instead, we want to focus on setting our intentions and creating positive habits, that ultimately lead to working on some of our goals. But what is the difference between intentions and goals? Where goals are usually how you wish to get from point A to point B, an intention is a direction you wish to pursue. When you start shifting your mindset from achieving something to working towards it and understanding the intention behind it; you'll start to feel less weight on your shoulders, less pressure on what you think you need to have in order to be happy, and you'll feel more comfortable with where you're at now.
Now we have set an achievable intention with some small steps to practice towards it. In life we're always learning and practicing, and despite what we're often taught, there's no linear path that we can all follow. So when you're ready to set some resolutions, really think about your intentions behind it and how you're going to break it down, or whether you think it's something you must do in order to be happier.
Mindfulness can be taught at any age, so maybe think about sharing your practice with your wee ones. Proven to improve focus and classroom participation; teach life skills such as compassion and kindness; and help guide them through dealing with difficult emotions, starting mindfulness at an early age can be pivotal to how your kids grow as little people. We all know how difficult adding in new habits to our kids routines can be (hello tantrums!), so let’s explore some fun ways to sprinkle some mindful habits into their days:
Happy practicing 🧘...
Do you often feel drained by the end of the day but still struggle to get a restful night's sleep? Do you often feel like life is a constant struggle and you do not have enough time for activities you enjoy? Then your energy ratio might be unbalanced. In mindfulness when we talk about nurturing and depleting activities, we simply mean activities that give you energy (nurturing) and activities that take your energy (depleting). Now, we can't pretend we live in a paradise land where we only engage in nurturing activities. Unfortunately we all need to partake in depleting activities. But with a little bit of adjustment, we can get the balance right and leave the day feeling fulfilled. So, what are we waiting for?!
Regularly checking in on your energy ratio is a great way to get a better picture of what you spend your time on and brings a lot more awareness to your day-to-day. It will also encourage you to prioritise those wonderful nourishing activities that leave you feeling a boost in energy. Self-care is really important so make sure you find some time for yourself.
If you need some help finding nurturing techniques to practice throughout your day, I'd love to help! Get in touch directly on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more on what I can offer.
If you've ever caught yourself rerunning the same unwanted scenario over and over again in your brain like a stuck record - wishing only that it never happened in the first place - you're not alone. Known as 'sticky' thoughts for their ability to stay put no matter how much you try to move on from them, it sometimes can feel like we spend way too much time in our own heads.
Whether you want to be free of the constraints of your mind or just want to practice more awareness, I want to share with you a simple practice of observation. With a little practice and some compassion, we can free up more space in our heads and break our minds addiction to the story.
This simple meditation technique is a really effective way of practicing your own mental awareness and can help you build more resilience against unwanted distractions. Remember, we are not our thoughts and we do not always need to know their story.
If you'd like to practice a longer, more advanced version of this observation meditation then get in touch with me at email@example.com to arrange 1-2-1 sessions in person or online.
Most adults experience insomnia at some point in their life and, in this day and age of technology and increasing pressures, it can feel impossible to shake. Sleep thrives on a regular routine, so how do we get our routine down so that we can hit the pillow and our brain stops? The secret is in those few hours before bed. I'm going to share my top tips for creating an easy and relaxing wind-down routine that will have you asleep in no time.
Dim the lights
Before the invention of lights and set routines, people used to stay wake when the sun came up and sleep when it was dark. Simple, right? Unfortunately we still have to get up at 6am and get ready for work whether it's sunny or pitch black. But, we can still use light to our advantage. Our brains still react in the same way, so try dimming the lights about 2 hours before bed to start the wind down process.
Turn off the screens
This goes for your technology too. All of our technology uses LED screens and can trick our brain into thinking it's daylight, especially if they emit a blue light. Although many modern devices boast of their 'warm screen filter', we still recommend you switch the devices off at least 2 hours before bed. Whether the warm filter works or not, our phones and TVs are filled with distractions and are designed to engage you.
Cut the caffeine
Coffee is great right? But you really shouldn't have it before bed. Even if your bedtime choice is milder such as a cup of tea, any stimulant isn't good to have before bed. Why not opt for a milky hot choc or a cup of peppermint tea? Both are naturally free of caffeine and relaxing. Some people may be very sensitive to caffeine so you may need to cut the caffeine in the early afternoon to get it out of your system.
Try a relaxing exercise
There's such thing as a relaxing exercise you ask? Of course! Activities such as evening specific yoga or a wind down meditation are a great way to start slowing your central nervous system down. Spending some time on exercises that focus on stretching and working with your breathe will quieten your mind and body quite rapidly. They will also bring your awareness to the present moment and stop your mind wandering off. There are lots of free resources on YouTube and in apps to get you started.
My final tip is to approach your routine in a "non-striving" attitude. It's all good and well planning these relaxing activities into your evening but, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed to complete them or disappointed if you don't, this will impact on their effectiveness. Why not try just one of them for a few weeks and see how it impacts your sleep?
Something I’m often asked by clients in our sessions is “how do I incorporate mindfulness into my everyday life?”. We often have plenty to fit into a day as it is, and the thought of cramming in another task for the to-do list can feel overwhelming. Mindfulness isn’t about committing to an hours meditation everyday, but how we bring intention and presence to each activity. I teach my clients techniques and tools to use throughout their day, so that they’re always being mindful. Whether it’s taking 5 minutes to set your intentions, using breath work to keep us grounded or bringing our concentration to individual tasks - let’s talk about how we can bring more awareness to our daily routine.
1. Set your intentions
There’s a lot to be said about starting your day with intention. As the unconscious part of our mind does a lot of the steering, we can bring a richer experience of fulfilment if we set intentions for our day. Whether our intention is to eat healthier or simply to take our full lunch break, you will already be starting your day off with more focus as you work towards actioning it. Sometimes our intentions can just be to be kind to ourselves when we have a busy day ahead. Remember, intentions are not goals and are there to bring us more clarity, not to be punishable if they’re not achieved.
2. Mindful eating
One of the most pleasurable experiences for us as human beings is eating food and hydrating ourselves. But how many of us gulp our coffee down and scarf our morning toast on a regular basis? One way to bring mindfulness into our day is to practice eating mindfully. Take some time out to enjoy your hot beverage. Feel the warmth in your hands as you hold the cup and how the liquid warms you up as you drink it. Turn your devices off at lunchtime and focus on identifying each flavour as you enjoy mouthfuls of your food. Sometimes it feels like we do not have time to be with our food, and sometimes that may be the case; but when you can find the time, take a moment to awaken your senses as you have your morning porridge.
3. One thing at a time
It’s estimated that 95% of our brain runs on autopilot. Living in a fast-paced world, we’re taught to be successful multi-taskers and the more you do - the better you are! But I’m here to tell you, being the multi-tasking wizard you strive to be, isn’t all it. Like the tabs open on your computer browser, all of this distraction is cluttering your mind and you will not be giving each task the full attention it deserves. So close down all of the tabs on your computer (or the metaphorical ones in your mind) and bring your focus to one task at a time. You’ll find you’ll awaken some creativity, your memory will improve and you’ll feel less overwhelmed. Win win!
4. Pause and reset
Our brains are magnificent machines that keep on running even while we’re asleep. But they need a rest too! Whether you need to bring a refreshed perspective to an old problem or struggling to get yourself into the right mindset - try taking a mindful pause or take 5 minutes to walk away and enjoy a cup of tea. I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro method which is a popular time management technique and widely used to boost productivity. Simply pick a single task, remove all other distractions, set yourself a timer for 25 minutes and work away on that task until your time is up. Once the timer goes off you should take a short break to ‘reset’ your mind. I often use it to break down big tasks and have found it really effective.
5. Exercise awareness
Whether it’s on your lunchtime walk, daily run or your Zumba class in the evening - try bringing your awareness to physical activity. How does your body feel as you take each step? As you lift and place your feet on the ground. Can you notice how each individual muscle contracts and relaxes as you shift your weight around? What smells and sensations can you notice? Try making a mental note of the colours you see on your walk or how your heart rate shifts as you speed up and down. You may even notice you feel more invigorated!
Mindfulness doesn’t need to feel like a chore and should be used to bring you fulfilment. It’s different for each individual and should be made personal to you. Maybe try sitting down and thinking about your typical day to see what little mindful habits you could drop in to your regular activities. If you have any questions or need some guidance, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d be happy to help!