Aromatherapy as a Meditation Tool

by Camellia Lee

Winter is upon us in the northern hemisphere, the days are shorter and the nights are longer leading up to the solstice on December 21st, marking the longest night of the year.

Astronomically, this is explained by the fact that the Earth’s magnetic pole is at its maximum tilt away from the Sun. There is a stillness that permeates in this ratio of light to dark. In nature, flora and fauna prepare for hibernation, dormancy and quiet.

For us humans, the season harkens desire for increased warmth, comfort food, inner reflection. In this time, resources like a self care practice are crucial to continue to support the balance of the heart, mind and spirit, particularly since the shadow aspect of the winter season may lend to feelings of isolation.

The shortness of daylight may trigger symptoms of sadness, levels of depression, anxiety, despair, loneliness, and of course, the rippling effects of the widespread pandemic of COVID19.

A daily meditation practice complemented by the use of aromatherapy has been instrumental to support my own peace of mind, groundedness and endurance during this time. While there are numerous systems and types of meditation, the use of essential oils may serve as a wonderful adjunct to any practice. Essential oils may be diffused into the atmosphere through different types of diffusers (refer to the article or through palm inhalation by placing a couple of drops of essential oils into the palm of hands, cupping over the face and breathing in deeply. The shift and benefits are simply immediate and based on the essential oil of choice and its therapeutic property, the aroma may elicit different sensation and mood. (I will share a list of recommended essential oils and their properties below).

There are a wide range of proven benefits to meditation, such as reducing stress and anxiety, supporting better sleep, increasing serotonin levels responsible for mood balance, down regulating the limbic system responsible for our sense of safety, and activating the parasympathetic branch of our nervous system responsible for rest and calm, to name a few.

Aromatherapy supports the benefits similar to meditation in its relationship to the limbic system. When you breathe in an essential oil, the oil molecules travel in through the nostrils up the nasal cavity, and through the olfactory bulbs which are directly connected to the limbic system and the emotional control centers of our brain. Of our five senses, our sense of smell is the one sensory organ that corresponds directly to the brain center. Inhaling essential oils provides a powerful resource to lend to our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Lately, when I am triggered by anxious feelings, an agitated mind or feeling ungrounded in my body, I reach for my meditation cushion and my essential oils.

Seated comfortably, I first clear my space around me with my Root and Resin Opening Ritual Mist, then ground in with Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) essential oil, and breathe it in deeply. The aromatic profile of Vetiver’s rich base note anchors my senses and body with greater depth and presence just as the deep roots of the plant extends into the earth.

As I move into my meditation, I start with two to three conscious inhalations and exhalations to bring full breaths into my lungs , then move into my normal effortless breathing pattern and simply observe in quiet. If any thoughts arise, I say “thinking” and without judgment, let it go. I close my practice by offering gratitude for my meditation ritual. For 10-20 minutes a day, this engaged practice sets my tone, mood, and outlook and shifts any unsettled behavior in my body.

Any essential oil may be effective to assist with a meditation practice, it is a personal preference after all. Here are my top 8 essential oils to recommend:

  • Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) – aroma profile is a sweet, crisp green resin texture with a hint of orange; benefits are calming, grounding and peaceful, offering awareness to the moment.
  • Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) – aroma profile is freshly crisp sweet citrus with a slight herbaceous undertone; benefits are uplifting and brightening supporting presence and focus in the moment.
  • Pinon pine (Pinus edulis) – aroma profile is a smooth, bright woodsy piney note with slight citrus sweet undertone; benefits are refreshing, supportive to the breath.
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis) – aroma profile is smooth, green, spicy peppery aroma with camphor undertone; benefits are rid negative, stagnant energy and thought patterns.
  • Sandalwood (Santalum Spicatum) – aroma profile is sweet, smooth, creamy, woodsy with refreshing light undertones; benefits are focus, while supporting relaxation and nurturance along with supporting psychic centers and third eye chakra at center of forehead.
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon Cablin) – aroma profile is musky and earthy with a smooth, deep herbaceous undertone; benefits are grounding, sedating, and mood harmonizing.
  • Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) – aroma profile is deeply rich, root-like, resinous notes, green grassy-like depth with smoky undertones; benefits are grounding, calming and centering, rooting us into the moment.
  • Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) – aroma profile is richly sweet, candy-like floral tones; benefits are uplift and joy for the spirit.

If you are interested in my products for ritual use and meditation or customized synergy work, visit me at or email me at