Tag Archives: lavender

The Power of Intention

Standard

Brains are funny things, and the psychology of how they work is utterly fascinating to me.  It is particularly interesting to me how we are able to harness the power of belief to create the circumstances of our life.

The study of psychology has come a long way since Freud first speculated on the nature of a cigar.  We still don’t have a predictable rule book for how the mind works, but we’ve learned about ways of thinking that do not serve us, and developed strategies for helping people find mental stability in an unpredictable world.  But as far as we’ve come, the mind and its operations are still the realm of mystery and speculation.  No two of us are alike, and it is our minds that make us unique.

Our beliefs power the operating system of our brains.  We tend to see what we expect to see, and not notice what we aren’t expecting.  People who have trained themselves to be especially observant to unexpected cues seem extraordinary to us, like Sherlock Holmes.  Our expectations create filters that help our brains sort and process the otherwise overwhelming flood of information that we are exposed to each day.  We make certain assumptions about how the world works and what will happen next, and our experiences generally conform to these expectations.

But expectations don’t just give us help in planning our days; expectations have the powerful ability to influence outcomes.  Expectations, and the filters that are formed by them, have the power to shape our experiences.  Expectations influence results, so it’s important to set our expectations with intention.

As an example, look up “Double-Slit Experiment” and prepare to be blown away.  If you haven’t already heard about this, it’s an experiment with results that confound current science.  In a nutshell, the experiment proves that particles behave differently if they are being observed.  The act of observation changes the outcome.  Think about that a moment.  The physical world – the part that can be observed and measured – changes depending on whether or not someone is watching.  So when I assert that expectations influence results, I’m talking about a measurable phenomenon.

Water treated with the word “Love”

There is a controversial set of experiments that I find utterly fascinating.  Conducted by Masaru Emoto of Japan, he made the startling assertion that the physical properties of water change visibly depending on the source of the water and the intention of the person handling the sample.  For example, clean water and polluted water display different crystalline structures when frozen and viewed under a high-powered microscope.  Well, that’s believable.  What begins to strain credulity is when he exposed clean water samples to words written on the containers.  Positive words such as “love” created beautiful crystalline structures, whereas negative words such as “hate” created distorted ice crystals.  Startling, eh?

Emoto has done many experiments with water, and while his results are controversial within the scientific community, he has concluded that water molecules store information and can respond to environmental stimuli.  In other words, if you speak loving thoughts to your glass of water before you drink it, the water you drink will be measurably different than if you said, “I hate water” before you gulped it down.  Expectations influence results.

So where am I going with all this?  I have come to believe that our intentions and expectations, shaped by our words, can have the power to influence outcomes.  Consequently, we should guard against persistently negative states of mind, because we will tend to create the negative circumstances we are dwelling on.  But conversely, there is great value in learning how to cultivate a more positive state of mind, for it will likewise tend to create a more positive environment for us.  Attitude is everything, and we have the power to choose our attitude.

Part science, part psychology, part magic, I use this principle when working with essential oils.  If water has the power to change and record our intentions, I believe that essential oils are likewise capable of being “programmed” with intention.  Furthermore, because they are complex chemical compounds already, each essential oil already has predetermined energetic properties that can be enhanced by our intentions.  For example, lavender has inherent sedative properties, but if I additionally add the word “peace” when handling the oil, then I believe I might be enhancing the properties and effects of this oil by the power of my intention.  So now when I use the enhanced lavender oil, it will be more likely inspire peaceful rest.

Can I prove it?  Well, only anecdotally.  I don’t have a lab nor the expertise to conduct an experiment that would satisfy a scientist, but I don’t need that for myself.  Expectations influence results, and *that* is a truth that is already well established.  If I expect an oil to help me in a specific psychological way, then it most assuredly will.

Potion makers and magic users seem to have grasped this truth long ago.  Each substance in nature has inherent properties that can be combined and then enhanced with words, ie, a spell.  While I don’t generally consider my essential oil blends to be potions, I have no problem with them being thought of as such.  You don’t need to believe in magic to believe in the psychological benefits of positive thinking.  If you expect an oil blend to have a particular psychological result (peace, confidence, clarity), then you are far more likely to get what you expect.  From what I can see, magic is all about harnessing the power of intention and expectation.

This is the principle that underlies most of the work I do with essential oils.  You start with a goal, shape it into an intention, and select oils whose properties can support that intention.  Then you hold that intention in mind while blending the oil, and revisit that expectation each time you use the oil.  We know that scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers around, so by linking an aroma to a well-rehearsed intention, our expectations have the ability to affect the world.  I don’t necessarily believe it is the chemical properties of an oil alone that makes it effective.  It is the interaction of the oils with the powers of the mind that creates the effect.  But go ahead and call it magic if you like.  Like the well-documented double-slit experiment, it certainly seems like magic.

Here’s an oil blend that I recently created based on the principles outlined above.  I wanted to blend an oil that would help my mind stay focused on prosperity and abundance, rather than on limitation and lack.  I selected four oils that already have the properties desired, and then I “charged” them with my intention using an affirmation.

Prosperity Blend
Sweet Orange Essential Oil – luck, money, joy, the sun
Pine Needle Essential Oil – prosperity, purification, confidence
Ginger Essential Oil – Success, money, power, confidence
Patchouli Essential Oil – prosperity, money, clears obstacles

I blended equal amounts of each oil into a carrier oil base of organic virgin olive oil that had been heated by the summer sun. Additionally, as an experiment in oil blending, I also collected fresh whole ingredients, dried them in the sun, ground them up, and infused them into the oil.  The result is delightful.

I rub a little bit of the oil between my palms each day while saying the affirmation, “My life is filled with prosperity and abundance.”  While I don’t believe the oil itself will help me win the lottery or anything quite as dramatic as that, I do believe that this oil is one more tool to help me refocus my thoughts on the positive outcomes I desire, rather than staying stuck in unproductive negative thinking.

In the past few weeks, I have already seen the benefits of this practice.  I am better able to recognize the blessings I have and the many ways abundance has manifested in my life.  It is easier for me to see the ways in which I prosper, and to be grateful for all I have.  It is a much happier and healthier frame of mind to be operating from, but I needed help to achieve it. This is the power and gift of intention.

UPDATE: Less than two weeks after writing this post, and after continuing to use the oil and affirmations, I got a job offer for a fantastic position at a great organization I’ve been trying to get into for the past several years.  I feel truly blessed by this process.

Advertisements

Heart’s Ease

Standard

From distress to destress

Where do we find our heart’s ease?  How do we cope with emotional distress?  What do we do to help ourselves when life gets challenging?  I find that when I can keep my heart open to joy, I have the emotional resiliency to carry me through life’s difficult transitions.

I interviewed for a job earlier this week, and it went well.  Nerves don’t bother me in such situations.  I’m friendly and open by default. I have spent much of my adult life trying to cultivate an attitude of emotional equilibrium which helps me keep my cool in stressful situations.  However, I’ve had to work hard to maintain that equilibrium in the post-interview waiting stage.  With so much riding on the outcome of an interview, the waiting can be excruciating.  These are the day to day opportunities for growth that I try to be grateful for.

I’ve always found waiting for important news difficult.  As a teenager in high school, I used to audition for solos in choir and for parts in the plays and musicals.  I was still developing emotional self-control at that age, so I was a bit more nervous during auditions, but it was nothing compared to the all-consuming distraction of waiting for the call back list to go up.  I had a hard time putting my mind on other things, and would be anxious and distracted for days until the outcome was known.  Once I got the news, good or bad, I was fine again.  It was the waiting that killed me.

So it is still for me today, even after decades of meditation and self-development under my belt.  I have gotten much better at being naturally confident in auditions or interviews, but I still am driven to distraction while waiting for the outcome.  But while my idle mind still returns again and again to the thought “Will I get it?”, I have at least learned of a few effective strategies to engage my mind in worthier directions.

Here’s what doesn’t work: sitting by a phone waiting for it to ring.  Now, I don’t have a cell phone that I use for business purposes, so if I get a professional call, it’s at home.  This makes it far easier for me to walk away  from the phone, both as an object and what that object symbolizes.  As long as I’m at home, every innocent ring makes my heart leap into my throat, and my mind buzz like a kicked hornet’s nest.  I can’t find peace in a state of hypervigilance.  But by getting away from the reminder of my discomfort, I’m better able to place my attention and my emotional energy on other things.

A very effective strategy is to find ways to be helpful or useful to the world.  I actively look for opportunities to do good deeds.  If you’ve ever volunteered your time, you likely have experienced the special kind of joy that comes from helping a worthy cause.  Selfless giving opens the heart and aligns it with a greater good. There are a million little pieces of unhappiness and suffering in the world.  Relieve a piece of that for another, big or small, and your own heart is rewarded with the very act of doing it.  It’s impossible to stay stuck in emotional distress while simultaneously experiencing the joy of selfless giving.  An open heart finds sympathetic ease when easing the distress of another.

So yesterday, to ease my distraction by a phone that didn’t ring, I looked for ways to be of use to the world.  I saw a friend in emotional distress over the grave illness of a loved one, so I offered to visit with her and help her create a custom essential oil blend that could support her emotionally in this difficult time.  I blend oils for myself to give me support in similar situations, so I was hoping to offer this friend a gesture of solace that might also provide her with a real tool to help her through this time of sadness and transition.

We chose six oils whose properties are associated with decreasing anxiety, fear, and stress: Patchouli, Cedarwood, Lavender, Melissa, Bergamot, and Cypress.  Patchouli is good for steadying the mind when overthinking and worry develop.  Cedarwood can give us strength in times of crisis, and support emotional resiliency. Lavender is rightly renowned for its ability to calm and sooth frayed nerves. Melissa can provide relief from anxious depression, while Bergamot clarifies and uplifts the mind.  Cypress helps convey a feeling of emotional cohesion, and supports our ability to cope with change, particularly with the transition of death.  When I was done with the blend, my friend was left with a custom perfume that can give her something to focus on when stress becomes overwhelming, and I was left with the heart’s ease that comes from supporting a friend in need.  And of course, I was also exposed to a therapeutic qualities of these oils as I was blending them, so it helped us both  find a bit of strength together.  That’s what friends are for.

It doesn’t do us any good to stay trapped in difficult emotional states.  Whether unhappy with some piece of our lives, or distressed about events outside of our control, staying stuck in those emotions isn’t healthy.  I think it’s important to find ways out of negative emotional states into more peaceful, joyful states of being.  This is an important part of my search for samadhi.  I seek liberation from the chains of emotional distress.   In those times when I am able to achieve emotional equilibrium, I find an infinite pool of joy waiting to offer its endless abundance.  I haven’t been able to achieve a perpetual state of bliss, and maybe I never will, but that is where I become a buddha.  No matter where I am, that is my destination, my heart’s ease.

“Better do a good deed near at home than go far away to burn incense.” – Chinese Proverb