Monday Meditation: Narcissus

 

Chapter Seven 

Seasonal Meditations: March 

Narcissus meditation 

Background

 The narcissus is a member of the daffodil family and has been bred to produce some spectacularly pretty spring flowers. The usual colours are shades of yellow, and cream, though others have been produced in other combinations. They usually bloom throughout the early spring and are often on sale in pots having been ‘forced’ to bloom a little earlier than they do naturally.

 

The scent of the narcissus is very sweet and almost hypnotic. It is available as an absolute, but is very expensive and aromatherapy books advise caution when using it as it is considered somewhat narcotic in effect and can be toxic.

The flower is named after a handsome youth in Greek myth who fell in love with his own reflection in a forest pool. Unable to reach the beautiful image, he pined away and died, and the flower sprang up where his body lay. The various different versions of the story all reflect a moral of avoiding self-obsession, though the details of both the events and the outcome change from one version to another. This meditation is aimed at promoting both understanding and love for the inner self.

To do the meditation I would suggest buying some ready prepared bulbs in advance and waiting till they are in full bloom. You may also like to buy them as cut flowers, but buying them as bulbs means that you may plant them later and have a reminder as the bulbs grow and spread and flower every year thereafter. If you are unable to obtain the flower, you may use the absolute, placing a single drop on a strip of blotting paper.

If you can manage it, performing this meditation outdoors on a sunny day enhances the effect; sitting by a sunny window works well too, with the pot or vase of narcissus flowers in front of you. Go through your usual preparations of grounding and relaxing; breathe the sweet, intoxicating aroma of the flowers, letting the petals brush your face. 

Meditation

 

Let the sweet scent fill your mind and feel the soft brush of the flowers against your skin.

The soft breeze touches your face and brings a fragrance of fresh leaves as well as that of the flowers. Sunlight dances through the newly opened leaves above you; each leaf is still soft and crumpled from the bud. You are in a grove of trees, widely spaced and the grass below them is finely grown and neatly trimmed as if this were parkland and not wild meadows.

Spring flowers grow here and there but the strongest scent of all is coming from a short distance away. You can see an ornamental pool, perfectly round and encircled by smooth stone, coated with a soft layer of the deepest moss. At the four points of the compass there is a stone urn, fixed securely to the stone surround of the pool, and each of these is filled with narcissi in fullest bloom. Today they are at their very best; you have come at the perfect moment to see them and smell them.

Go over to the pool and walk around it, clockwise. It’s a surprisingly large pool and it seems quite deep. A few deep green leaves from a water lily float on the dark surface of the water but it’s far too early for the flowers. The fragrance of the narcissi floats on the mild spring air and bird song begins. A single flower head floats on the water.

 

It’s very peaceful here and you sit down on the stone encircling the pool. The moss acts as a cushion, softening the stone for you. In the centre of the pool there is a statue that might well be a fountain, but the water is still today and the statue does not seem to cast a reflection. Then you notice that the water does not seem to be reflecting anything, not even the sky.

Lean out a little way and look into the water. What do you see in the water? Do you see yourself looking back? Do you like what you see? What would you change if you could? Let yourself have some time contemplating this.

A brisk wind rises and shakes the surface of the water and disperses the images you saw there, as if they were being wiped away by magic. You glimpse the bottom of the pool and maybe a goldfish or two before the breeze drops entirely and the surface of the water is completely still, and becomes mirror like. As you sit there, inhaling the sweet fragrance, let yourself gaze into the water. Who or what will appear there for you, now? I will let you spend as long as you need here.

*

You come back to yourself and see that the short spring day is drawing to a close, and the pool is now reflecting the sky as you would expect. The evening star has appeared, and shines as brightly in the water as in the sky and you know it is time to go back. As you look, the flowers seem to have faded already, past their best now though the scent is as sweet as ever.

As the daylight fades too and the evening sky turns to deep blue, walk back to where you started, leaving the lovely pool behind and when you are ready take a few deep breaths and open your eyes. You are now back.

Meditating with aromatics

The following is a table of contents for the book I have slowly been working on. I’d be interested in any suggestions for things that you’d like included, any special scents you feel I have missed out, or that have significance for you.

This is one of my winter season projects and I need a bit of a kick in the pants to get going.

Provisional List of Contents

Introduction: About this book

Who it is aimed at and why has it been written. How to use the book

 

Chapter One: Introduction to meditation

History, cultures, benefits, spirituality etc

Chapter Two: Introduction to aromatics

What are aromatics, history of the use of aromatics through time, science of aromatherapy, limbic system etc, benefits of using aroma in daily life etc

Methods of use (incense, vaporisation, smelling strips etc)

Chapter Three: Basics of meditation:

Posture, setting, timing, breathing, music etc

How to use the guided meditations

Preparations, relaxation, grounding, recording of experiences

 Chapter Four: Everyday Aromatics

Using ordinary and familiar scents to deepen meditation

May include:

Orange, chocolate, coffee, bread, mint, lavender, vanilla, rosemary, apple, honey, aniseed, strawberries, pine cones, freesia, hyacinth, honeysuckle 

Chapter Five: Less Ordinary aromatics

Exploring less familiar but readily available scents

May include:

All spice, patchouli, white sage, rose, lemon balm, eucalyptus, seaweed, cloves, cinnamon, cedar wood and sandalwood

 Chapter Six: Exotics

Using exotic substances (but all available through mail order or from specialist shops)

May include:

Frankincense, benzoin, amber, myrrh, storax, labdanum, spikenard, sandarac, dragon’s blood, elemi, jasmine, neroli, opoponax, colophony  

Chapter Seven: Seasonal Scents

Using seasonally available scented substances to enhance meditation through the year

May include:

Snow and ice for January, snowdrops or hyacinth for February, narcissi or daffodils for March, lilac or violets for April, may blossom for May, roses or elder for June, elder or linden for July, strawberries or honeysuckle for August, hay or pencils and paper (back to school!) for September, apples or pumpkin for October, bonfire or toffee apples for November and clove-orange, mulled wine spices or pine for December

Chapter Eight: Scents for sleep meditations

Specially selected soporific scents and words for meditations to aid sleep and dreaming

May include:

Lavender, hops, chamomile, clary sage

 

Chapter Nine: Where to go from here

Suggestions for own explorations

Feedback reports from “guinea pigs”

I aim to have a small selection of friends write a little about their experiences using the meditations

Chapter Ten: Sources

Bibliography, suggested reading, useful sources for materials, helpful websites

Afterword: About the author

Short bio and thanks

Stress Soother

So many remedies to deal with anxiety and stress have ingredients in that are totally unsuitable for those who are suffering also from depression. Many herbal remedies for anxiety and for sleep problems contain both valerian and hops, which are superb remedies but are not helpful if you are also depressed. In fact they can both increase depression as they both act on the central nervous system to slow it down.

It’s partly down to the fact that there is a perception that people with stress need to CALM DOWN. Well, this is true but it doesn’t mean they need to be put to sleep or made dopey.

As a teenager suffering from both stress, anxiety and depression I was prescribed some pretty heavy duty medicines which did nothing for any of the conditions I was afflicted by but simply made me very, very sleepy indeed. After falling asleep in class I got sent home from school a few times. I then spent the next few days sleeping off the medication and was back at school, still stressed, still depressed and with no further help available.

I’ve had various anti-depressants since and have the same reaction with certain ones that are designed to calm you down- I sleep. For days, sometimes. It’s a long way from an ideal solution and I did find the SSRIs rather helpful.

Day-to-day stress is another issue. I’ve worked my way through a lot of remedies, but these days I tend to read labels carefull. If I spot certain items on a list then I don’t buy. I have found my own ways of dealing with the anxiety and stress I get overwhelmed by, and Badger Stress Soother is a part of my armoury.

In its base of beeswax and extra virgin olive oil, it also contains a veritable garden of essential oils that are well known to deal with stress, anxiety and depression all at the same time. Oils of tangerine, lavender, rosemary, cedarwood, spearmint, chamomile and even damask rose give this useful balm its de-stressing properties without knocking you out, over-exciting you or making you feel miserable(but calm). It has a pleasant fragrance, not either flowery or fruity but a mixture of the two and is as suitable for a man as it is for a woman. It can be used as a lipbalm too, which is why I carry it around in a little tin and is also useful smeared around the nostrils as a preventative for hayfever(you can buy a balm somewhere else that also does this. Apparently the pollen is attracted to the balm because it gives off ions of some sort that act like a magnet; this hayfever balm is a LOT more expensive than Badger and if you use a Badger, you kill two bird, so to speak with one stone!)

Badger Stress Soother won’t make your troubles go away; that’s far too much to ask. But it might help you cope a little better with them and the bonus is it’s good for the skin.

Check it out at www.badgerbalm.com . They have a lot of lovely, honest products and the art work on the tins is very cute too. They don’t cost the earth and they might help. They’ve helped me, certainly.

“Now is the winter of our discontent..”

Winter….

Don’t you just love it? The sparkling snow, the cosy nights in front of a roaring log fire, the sharp smell of frost and the icing sugar look on the trees? Love snuggling up in your favourite Araan wool jumper and settling down to a good book?

No?

Me too. Of course, those are all the pluses of winter, which I do like but they’re smal compensation for the misery of the winter blues. S.A.D (seasonally affective disorder) is becoming much more recognised these days and in some Scandinavian countries, where the winter suicide rate soars, you can check yourself into special SAD wards in hospitals if it all gets too much, for some light treatment.

It’s the lack of light that does it. I’m not precisely immune to cold but it doesn’t really bother me. Remember the Arran jumper? It’s the lack of light and those long cold days of grey skies just make my depression so much worse. I’ve got a permanent battle with the old Black Dog of Depression anyway but the winter really bites deep. Once I get to the Winter Solstice, I start feeling a tiny bit of hope as the year slowly, very slowly begins to turn.

Now in late January I can see a few more minutes of daylight every day and the birds have begun to warm up their preliminary pre-Spring territory-defending songs. But it’s still dark and cold and miserable and I don’t feel much like going out when it’s blowing a gale, raining or hurling sleet at me.

My armoury against the winter blues? I have a special light box that sits next to my computer screen so as I work here, I get some of the light I need. I didn’t use it last winter and it was much worse for me. And another valuable weapon is Badger Balm’s Cheerful Mind balm. This is a balm from the very special Badger Mines www.badgerbalm.com , almost all of which I have tried and loved, but this one works very well as an anti-depressant. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a magic pill to take it all away and medicate you into a smiling zombie. It’s a simple balm made from extra virgin olive oil, pure beeswax and essential oils of: sweet orange, lemon, rosemary, spearmint, neroli, ylang-ylang, and cinnamon plus CO2 extracts of Calendula and Rosehip. It smells glorious and used on the skin as a skin cream is lovely. But as a mood balm it comes into its own. I use a little on the backs of my hands before I start typing, a little under my nose and some on my lips and temples. I carry a smal pot of it in my handbag and when I feel my mood flag, out it comes.

Not strong enough to affect those around you (good news for those with close associates who object to perfume) it lifts the mood gently but firmly. Applied regularly through the day, it’s a little lift when you need it.

Now for those who are unsure and who think aromatherapy is for the girls, bear in mind that essential oils work in a number of ways. The smell alone is one, affecting us in deep and sometimes unpredictable ways, but also the naturally occuring chemicals in essential oils have powerful effects whether we smell them or not. Some essential oils are known as anti bacterial agents more powerful than their synthentic counterparts. Some like tea tree are anti-viral. And some are known as anti-depressants. All the oils in the cheerful mind balm are recognised as anti-depressants. The most powerful of them in my opinion is neroli. Neroli is the essential oil taken from the orange flower, and is sweet but not oppressively so. I believe it to be one of the most uplifting fragrances going.

But the blend of oils used in this balm is so cheering and lively that each of the oils is perfectly in balance with the others and none dominates the overall fragrance. It’s not a girly fragrance, it’s basically a citrus and mint aroma.

If you’ve been struggling with the winter blues, try it.  It’s not expensive and it might be the  boost you may need.