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

Imbolc/Candlemas Meditation

Chapter Seven

Seasonal Meditations:

February

 Snowdrop Meditation

 Background

For many people the snowdrop is the bringer of spring, the first of the true flowers of springtime. Blooming often when the snow is still on the ground, being blasted by gales, frozen by frosts and battered by rain, it is a witness to the unconquerable strength of nature. The tiny flowers hang like little white bells, their petals so fragile and yet they endure everything that the tail end of winter can throw at them. Few people ever kneel down to inhale their sweet, lily-like scent and so it remains a secret known only to a few. The scent of the snowdrop is subtle and not easy to catch; outdoors the scent may rise on a still day in February, but days when the wind doesn’t blow are few in that cold month.

For this meditation I suggest planning ahead and buying or planting some snowdrop bulbs in pot, or if you have them growing in your garden, pick a handful and place them in a small vase with water and watch for them beginning to open their flowers properly. The scent will not emerge from unopened buds and so this is a seasonal meditation where you may have only a few short days or hours where it is possible to do it. If you are lucky and have the unusual combination of a sunny and still day, a location with plentiful snowdrops and sufficient privacy to meditate, then the meditation may be done outdoors. There is no essential oil of snowdrop, to my knowledge, and they do now retain much, if any scent when dried.

The arrival of the snowdrops is for me the turning point of the winter, when however much bad weather arrives after that, I have seen the spring starting. If you suffer from Seasonally Affective Disorder (SAD), the return of the light is very important both physically and psychologically. There is a flower essence available that may help with this, and may be useful taken before this meditation, if you find that Energy Medicine is helpful to you.

Follow the usual grounding and relaxing processes and then place your pot or vase of snowdrops close to your chosen seat, and for a few moments gaze at the flowers. Lift the flowers close to your face; feel the petals brush your skin as if the breeze were shaking them and inhale slowly and deeply. The fragrance will rise softly as the flowers warm; it comes in waves, sometimes barely there, other times quite strong. Wait until you have smelled the fragrance a few times and then begin.

 Meditation

The pale yellow sun of earliest spring is pouring through the bare twigs and branches of ancient woodland. You are standing on the edge of a clearing; hazel and birch trees surround you and beyond them larger and older trees stand as sentinels. The clearing is filled with snowdrops among the rough clumps of grass, and they are at the very peak of their blooming. There is hardly any breeze, but every so often a tiny hint of wind shakes the tiny flower heads like a thousand miniature bells; you might almost hear them ring with a faint silvery tone. Their scent rises to greet you in waves, a little like that of lilies but not cloying and very fresh and exhilarating, like the spring breeze that shakes the flowers from time to time.

Watch the flowers quiver and dance when the wind gusts through the clearing; see how their petals gleam brilliantly white in the new sunshine. There is still frost on the ground here and there; some of the grasses are dusted with crystals of ice, but as you watch, these are melting and the bright drops of moisture glitter in the light.

Walk further into the clearing and you will see that the trees make and almost perfect circle around you. Somewhere in the bushes a wren is singing her spring song; a blackbird tunes up and then breaks into song too. You can hear the chuckle of running water too, but right now you can’t see where it is coming from. Stand for a moment in the middle of the clearing and very slowly turn round and look at what surrounds you. The trees are still bare of leaves but even from this distance you can see the swelling of the buds. It will be a while yet before the buds break and burst forth into full leaf, but the signs are there. Birds move from branch to branch, and you can hear them squabble as well as sing. Some even seem to be carrying nesting materials, though this seems far too early and far too cold to be egg- laying time yet.

 At the edge of the clearing, you catch a glimpse of something that interests you. A low wall of ancient lichen-covered stones surrounds a small pool, from which emerges a narrow channel. The water flows from the pool and into the channel and then becomes a little stream, the bottom lined with shining pebbles. The snowdrops are so densely packed near this pool that it is hard to walk among them without stepping on them. When you get to the pool you can see that it is a spring, and the water is as pure and clear as you could wish for. Taste some; it is icy cold but very good. Around the low wall around the spring, someone has laid snowdrops, making a pattern of them. Look closely and see what the pattern seems to tell you. I will leave you here for a while to enjoy the scent of the flowers, the sunlight and the song of the spring.

* A shadow seems to pass across the face of the sun; a wisp of cloud has been blown across it, bringing you back to the here and now. The wind is gathering strength, and there is moisture in the air as if rain is on its way, and it feels colder suddenly, reminding you that spring is still barely here. You feel it is time to go home.

Inhale the scent of the snowdrops and feel them fill you with the energy to endure the rest of the time before the year turns more steadily to the sun. The quiet laughter of the spring beside you fills your heart with joy and as you pass from the flower filled glade and back into the room where you began, keep with you the feelings and thoughts the snowdrops gave you and keep them safe in your heart as the year warms. You are now back.

A meditation

Crystal Cave Meditation

 For this meditation you may like to have a crystal to focus on; a geode works especially well. Remember to turn the phone off and make sure you are not going to be interrupted. Using either soft music or a natural sounds tape of perhaps a stream will enhance the experience but is not essential as long as you have reasonable quiet around you.

 

Breathe slowly but without forcing it. Allow yourself to relax and become calm but alert. Let your eyes close naturally and become still.

 

You walking along in the cool air of an underground passage; the tunnel is lit with softly flickering candles in niches along the walls. The sweet smell of beeswax reaches you every time you pass a niche and your movement causes the candlelight to flicker. It’s very peaceful here and you sense that many people have come along here before; it’s totally safe. The carefully smoothed walls of the tunnel glisten and gleam in the candlelight; when you touch them they are slightly damp and slippery to the touch.

 

Continue along; the floor slopes steadily but not alarmingly and after a while you come to an opening ahead of you where a light gleams. Go through the opening. You are in a large cave, lit only by candlelight. A single candle floats in a pool of very clear water in the centre of the cave. It seems far lighter in here than you might expect from just one candle and you look round for the reason.

 

The whole cave is lined with the finest and most lovely crystals you can imagine. You are inside a living geode, a bubble of earth where crystals have grown for centuries. The light from the single candle is reflected from each facet of the tens of thousands of crystals that cover every inch of the walls and ceiling of the cave.

 

It’s simply breathtaking.

 

You sit down near the pool of water, there is a low stool carved from oak and you find it very comfortable. As you sit and marvel and the cave, you notice something else. The pool of water is not still; bubbles rise steadily from the centre and you see now that water softly spills over one end of the natural stone bowl, and into a groove in the floor where it trickles away with a lovely sound like living music.

 

Sit quietly and enjoy the radiance of the earth-born crystals and the music of the earth-born waters. The air is cool and fresh and moist and any difficulties you may have had with breathing vanish in this pure healing air. You feel deeply peaceful and at one with the earth. Touch the water and scoop a little in your hand and bathe your face with it; feel the worries and cares melt away.

 

Stay as long as you wish, feeling the deep healing this place gives to any who visit, and when you feel it is time to return to the outer world, whisper your prayers to the cave. They will be heard.

 

As you leave, your movement sets the candle flickering and the light dances and casts rainbows across your face. 

Return up the stone passage way and find yourself back where you began. Breathe deeply and when you are ready open your eyes. You are home.   

 

         I wrote this after I found a geode on the beach today;  I was sorely in need of some peace and I hope that you will find some reading this as I did writing it.