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It’s been nearly 2 weeks since we began our Meditation Challenge (tomorrow is the last day!). We hope you’ve been following along and enjoying this challenge. We’ve highlighted some tips an effort to help you build a practice that feels attainable and rewarding. For me personally, using essential oils in my practice has made getting into the habit of meditating daily much easier.

Hope Gillerman, our Meditation Challenge sponsor, had some wonderful advice on incorporating essential oils into meditation earlier this week. I’d like to expand on that here and suggest that many of you may already have some common essential oils in your home that you can use for meditation. Essential oils have countless applications and last forever, so they are a great investment. I purchased my first bottles years ago to make my own cleaning supplies, and now I regularly blend perfumes, aromatherapy treatments, and bath soaks. I grew familiar with their meditative properties well before I ever considered actually meditating.

Lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary are three common essential oils that can be used for meditation. I chose them for this post because you may already have them on hand, or you can easily find them at your local natural health foods market. They aren’t traditionally thought of for meditation in the same way that frankincense or sandalwood is, but they work! Here are some reasons why…

Lavender essential oil is renowned for bringing calm and composure to stressed minds. The cooling and relaxing qualities of lavender benefit those who struggle with general unrest and irritability. It calms and stabilizes, and helps maintain overall mental-emotional equilibrium. If you feel agitated going into meditation, reach for the lavender essential oil. If you are dealing with strong emotions that threaten to pull you out of the moment during meditation, reach for lavender. If you’re looking for one big chill pill, yep — reach for lavender.

Eucalyptus essential oil works wonders for the respiratory system. With an unparalleled ability to decongest and clear the lungs, eucalyptus is both stimulating and soothing. It improves breathing and opens the chest in a way that makes your lungs feel as if they are twice as large. Want to breathe deeply or alleviate tightness of the chest? Eucalyptus oil is your new best friend. Eucalyptus oil also has an opening effect on the mind and spirit. It can help promote within oneself a wider perspective on life. Eucalyptus oil is penetrating and cleansing, and it helps to dispel any stagnant feelings that keep you bound up and limited.

Rosemary essential oil is energizing and increases the flow of the blood, especially to the brain, so you wouldn’t normally think of it for meditation. However, its ability to enhance concentration and focus plus alleviate mental fatigue go hand-in-hand with meditation. Rosemary is a strong, fortifying aromatic. It warms the spirit and helps boost the confidence of those who lack faith in their own potential. Feeling a lack of confidence in your meditation practice? Try adding rosemary essential oil to the mix. It will promote a presence of mind and a sense of identity that greatly aids meditation.

How to use essential oils for meditation…

Direct palm inhalation is the easiest way to incorporate essential oils into meditation, but diffusers are wonderful, too. At the beginning of your meditation practice, add one drop of essential oil to the palm of your hand. Rub your palms together and cup them over your nose. Breathe in and out slowly and intentionally for 10 breathes. As you breathe, count to five with each inhale and exhale or use your mantra to guide your breath. You can return your hands to your nose at any point during meditation, but if you sit with your palms facing up you will likely continue to smell the essential oils throughout your practice. Cautionary note: don’t use more than a drop or two, and avoid citrus oils or other essential oils that are irritating to the skin undiluted.

Do you use essential oils or perhaps incense during meditation? What are your favs?

 

We asked Hope Gillerman, founder of H. Gillerman Organics, to partner with us for the NMDL Meditation Challenge because of her powerful work with essential oils. Funny story — as we gathered around her table at A Night For Green Beauty last August, Hope let us smell a new blend she’d been working on. When Alexandra smelled it she said, “Whoa — that blend smells like meditation.” Then Hope showed her the label on the bottle… it was literally called MEDITATION. Naturally, we thought of H. Gillerman Organics when we started brainstorming this meditation challenge.

Hope’s experience as a bodyworker has focused on setting up new habits and bringing mindfulness and awareness to the body. We asked her to translate her technique into tips that will help build a seated meditation practice that is comfortable and enhances the experience. Here’s what she has to offer:

Hope’s Story…

I have always had a mindfulness practice as an Alexander Technique teacher, which includes a technique for a 15 minute healing back rest exercise that is done with an awareness meditation. Practicing Ashtanga Yoga taught me yoga is a meditation on the breathe. Now that I have a slower practice I still focus on breathe, but I have never created the habit of a seated meditation practice. I will be exploring this along with NMDL readers.

As a holistic healer, I draw upon my unending passion for aromatic healing and my 30 years experience of working with people in pain. I use a timeless mind/body method called The Alexander Technique—the best, proven, long-term relief for back pain. The AT is also known in the music/dance/theater community as a way to enhance performance by setting up better breathing, muscular, and postural habits. Since setting up a meditation practice is about creating new habits and sitting with a strong back, I thought I would share some insights.

3 Steps to Better Sitting Habits for Better Breathing and Better Meditation

  1. To begin – Sit tall on a meditation cushion and find your sit-bones – the two bones you sit on when you are sitting on a hard surface. Clasp your hands behind your back so your shoulders roll open and chest lifts. Keep hands behind your back so you roll back off your sit bones and then back up to perching right on the top of the them. Repeating this 6-10 times gets your core muscle going and opens my chest so I can sit longer.
  2. To sit comfortably — first, you must relax and stretch the back of the neck so the head doesn’t sit heavily on your spine. Here’s how: Put your cushion or seat against a wall or sit fully back in your chair. Lean forward and scoot your sitting bones all the way back in the chair seat. Lean your back onto the chair back or wall and imagine you can lift the wall up by lifting your back up. Then drop your chin, your nose and your forehead, letting go the back of your neck. Stretch the neck by pulling your chin back to your collarbone and dropping your shoulders. Keeping your collarbone where it is, lift your forehead until you are looking forward and down about three feet in front of you on the floor.
  3. Your back is where your support is. Your back is where your lungs are. Your back is a wall of support for you when you are sitting in meditation. Imagine, as you sit that the whole back of your torso is lengthening and widening.

On Changing Habits of the Mind…

Modern neuroscience has shown that to set up a new health habits you need to have…

  1. A true desire or need to create new habits and a cue that gets you going – like sitting daily for 5 minutes after your cup of coffee.
  2. A true enjoyment of the feeling of doing the new activity. Getting comfortable helps make this happen.
  3. A reward when you are done – like breakfast!

Anything that increases awareness gives you the opportunity to change. Meditation is a way to observe the mind, thus paving the way for more ways to change habits or set up new ones. If meditation is about focusing the mind and creating new neuropathways in the thinking, essential oils are a great way of aiding that. They help redirect the brain in ways it isn’t used to. Essential oils help get your brain on a different track. It’s a great sensory companion to meditation.

Inhale or anoint or diffuse an essential oil blend that you only use for meditation — something you love so much that you look forward to smelling it. Something that is completely unique and exactly what you love. I suggest making your own blend or buying your favorite oil. Some traditional mediation oils include: Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Palo Santo and Rosewood. Use whatever helps you feel transported to a more peaceful, uplifted place. Try inhaling from palms: put a drop on center of palm, rub palms together, cup hands over your face and do 5-10 slow inhalations. While slowly inhaling, try and relax your belly to give room for your breathing muscles to move freely.

Don’t you love getting such concrete advice? We are super excited about our H. Gillerman Organics Meditation Challenge giveaway, and we also have a sweet offer for everyone this Friday. Stay tuned for more meditation discussion!

Join us at A Night For Green Beauty in L.A. on August 7th. You’ll get to try the products mentioned below and more!

Africa Botanics Neroli Infused Marula Oil — This oil feels rich on contact, but it absorbs quickly and leaves a gorgeous glow in its wake. You know that soft sheen you see on models’ legs or clavicles in the fashion magazines? I’m pretty sure African Botanics Marula Oil is how you get that look. I love applying it to the neck, shoulders, and chest in this summer weather because the finish perfectly accentuates bare skin and provides a natural, uplifting aroma that stays close to your body. Marula oil is fragrant and sweet on its own, but infused with neroli it becomes soothing and lilting. Imagine an orange blossom creamsicle, floral and green but sugary, too. The Neroli Infused Marula Oil is versatile facial oil. It’s perfect for layering under sunscreen during the day or as a nighttime moisturizer. African Botanics branding and packaging gets an A+, don’t you think?

 

 

Osmia Organics Water Lily Body Oil  — Quite simply, every Osmia Organics body oil I’ve tried is a knockout, and the oil base is perfect for year-round application. As you’ve probably heard before, it’s best to apply body oils to damp—if not wet—skin so that it spreads effortlessly and absorbs better. If you want to apply an oil and haven’t just emerged from a bath, spritz a floral hydrosol on and then apply the oil. Works pretty well! Why am I telling you this? Because when you smell my favorite Osmia Organics body oil — Water Lily — you won’t want to limit its use to post-shower, trust me. Vetiver, juniper, and ginger lily make this a deeply grounding scent with a gentle spicy woods note that is sensual, empowering, and addictive. The scent has amazing staying power for a body oil, and the formula includes some of the great healing oils — borage, sea buckthorn berry, evening primrose, and rosehip seed.

 

RSW0051LURK  RSW005 — LURK perfume oils really do it for me. From the elegant, minimalist and oh so portable packaging to the incredible scents, I’m collecting them all. These are personal scents that stay close to the body and don’t interfere with others in public. Lucky is the person who nuzzles close to you while you’re wearing LURK RSW005, or the friend who leans in for a hug. The perfume opens with a hint of pepper and a gust of rose. This is not that super antique rose but the soapy, green rose that smells clean and just clipped from the bush. Rose stays present throughout the opening but softens and opens up before settling into sandalwood, romantic as hell, with a little citrus edge. RSW005 is such a turn-on I don’t know if I should apply it to my husband or myself. It makes my heart feel open and sensuous every time.

 

 

 

Zoe Organics Mama’s Ritual — First thing’s first—I’m not a mom, but I’m here to tell you that Mama’s Ritual is for anyone who needs a little TLC. Taking an aromatherapy time out is the perfect way to administer a healthy dose of love to yourself. It’s one of those simple self-care habits that really pays off, and it takes less than two minutes. Here’s how: apply Mama’s Ritual to your pulse points on the inside of your wrists and on the palms of your hands. Cup your hands over your face and breath deeply and slowly in and out for at least ten breathes.  Lavender, bergamot, petitgrain, sandalwood, and chamomile elevate your mood and calm your senses. While chamomile and lavender are standards, you don’t often see sandalwood in aromatherapy oils for stress and anxiety, and the inclusion of it here really makes the blend special. It adds rich, woody warmth that balances the sweetness of the chamomile and the herbaceous tenacity of lavender. Inhale. Relax.

 

What have you tried from these ANFGB brands in the smells-divine category? Tell us how you incorporate scent into your rituals!

 

 

8

Product Review: Tata Harper Love Potion

Early last fall Siobhan and I went to an event hosted by Tata Harper. At some point Siobhan turned to Tata and whispered, “Is it true that you’ve developed a love potion?”. My heart skipped a beat and all the other chatter faded away as I learned that come February, my pulse points would revel in a new Tata Harper blend.

The creation story behind the Love Potion is quite sweet. As told by Tata that evening in November, the Love Potion was inspired by a very pretty young lady who works at her laboratory. Despite all she had going for her, guys weren’t asking her out, so one of Tata’s chemists had an idea to create an aromatherapy blend that would help his colleague out in the love department. The seed was planted and the blend went into full development. Tata figured, what woman wouldn’t want a Love Potion? I have to agree.

Don’t let me mislead you. The Love Potion was created to do more than simply reel in the suitors. Its true purpose is to help you feel positive and radiant because as Tata knows, we’re most attractive to others when we are confident in our own unique beauty. The Love Potion was formulated with 10 aphrodisiac essential oils that are supposed to heighten sensuality, inspire an inner sense of beauty, and help you focus your body and mind on feelings of love and warmth. Judging by the essential oils included in the blend, I knew the Love Potion would do as promised as long as the composition of the fragrance was right.

I am an ardent fan of every Tata Harper aromatherapy treatment, but this new scent is more complex than the others. There are layers to discover, and they are well structured and balanced. Both sensual and energizing, the opening notes of jasmine, orange peel, grapefruit, and ylang ylang create a first impression that feels flirtatious, even tender, to my nose. The first moments are rich and sweet, though not cloying. It’s the headiness of the jasmine, the sugary ylang ylang, and enlivening spritz of the citrus at play. Then comes an undercurrent of a unique herbaceous aroma that again is rich and inviting — possibly the davana and cedarwood. This gives way to hints of soft dried grass and rose that get tangled in the timeless scent of sandalwood and frankincense, both of which dry down to a powdery puff of warmth with a faint floral finish.

To top it all off, the Love Potion is offered in two sizes: the standard 5ml green bottle with the roller ball top that can slip into the tiniest pocket or purse, and an ultra-feminine 10ml perfume bottle with a pink puffer that atomizes the blend with a glamorous flourish. Chic yet playful, the 10ml bottle comes with a tiny booklet that offers ideas on how to “inspire love every day” and includes a diagram that illustrates where you should apply the potion during moments of intimacy, ooh la la. If you really want to splurge, Tata Harper is offering a limited edition Love Potion gift set to celebrate Valentine’s Day. If you live in New York City, lucky you, ABC Carpet and Home carries it, too. Remember, Tata’s fragrance comes from flowers, not chemicals, and that alone inspires love in my book. The Love Potion is a beautiful addition to the Tata Harper aromatherapy line.

10

Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts Galore

It’s December, people. And though some of us maybe finished our holiday shopping over the long, sale-filled holiday weekend, others of us may not be that on top of things. Enter this gift guide.

I love gift-giving. I have an entire secret Pinterest board dedicated to gifts for others so when my husband or sister or best friend mentions something they’ve been coveting, I have a safe place to stash the idea for later. This year, I’m doing beauty-related gifts for many friends, so I wanted to share a few of my fave pressies. Check them out below (for all budgets, for all kinds of beauty gals).

For the clean beauty skeptic: Since swapping clean products into my whole beauty caboodle, I’ve tried to convert as many friends as possible to the clean beauty movement. Some are more hesitant than others, and the ones who I have the hardest time convincing are the ones most concerned about cost. So I point them to a multi-tasker that usually woos them to trying more clean products: Acure Organics’ Argan Oil. It’s a hair-smoother, a cuticle oil, a face moisturizer. And it has a friendly price point if they want to repurchase for themselves.

For the beauty aficionado: The Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Winter Glow Gift Set. I’ve talked before about how much I love the Vitamin D Mist, and this set boasts that toner, plus a yummy Vitamin C serum that even my mom loves (and she used to use only Vaseline to moisturize her face). Top those off with a colorless face powder and angled kabuki brush help you hit this season’s matte face look and you’ve got a great combo for a girlfriend who’s a tad more in-the-know.

Me Encanta in practice.

Me, wearing the Me Encanta, no filter.

For the makeup maven: I can’t say enough about loving Alima Pure’s wide range of mineral foundations, but now I love their eyeshadows and mascara as well. Their holiday set, Me Encanta, comes from a collaboration with green makeup artist Kristen Arnett. I love love love the navy shadow included in the kit (I used it as a liner) and the blush is my all-time favorite color (I wore it for my wedding, for Pete’s sake). There’s even a how-to video on creating a subtle look with the liner, contour powder and blush. Fool proof. And a perfectly well-rounded present.

For the jet-setter: This Travel Therapy Botanical Mood Booster from La Bella Figura Beauty is one of those things I’m not sure how to make it through the day without. It smells like sunshine, it sticks around for a looooong time and I’ve gotten dozens (not exaggerating) compliments on how I smell, even after not showering for four days, when I’m wearing this puppy. It calms me—and anyone who smells me—down and makes every hurried day, full of airplane travel or just regular old commuting, better.

If you’re on a budget: Much like I am. Alexandra once blogged about why she loves gifting aromatherapy, but let me add to her points by saying it’s a super easy way to customize gifts and to not have to pick out makeup colors. You know your best friends; you know what’s bugging them. Therefore, you know what aromatherapy might benefit them. (Plus, we have a kick-ass deal going on with Essence of Vali until the end of the year. Save your dollar bills and give gifts your peeps will love.)

Or, do a little DIY for the holidays. Get some cute plastic bottles and fill them with a DIY dry shampoo. Or a body scrub. Or a lip balm. The thought goes a long way (and if your friends are like mine, they’ll be thrilled you took time to make them something, not just swipe your credit card.)

For the boy: Olie Biologique JUST released a Whisker Oil for before and after shaving. It smells manly and helps reduce redness and irritation. Or check out the body soaps from Osmia Organics. I only got my husband to switch from Dove when he smelled these babies. (Get a body oil for yourself while you’re at it—Water Lily is my fave and I started wearing it as a perfume.)

What did I miss? What are you snagging for friends, family or S.O.s?