Growing wellness. Healing with HeART.

Growing Wellness. Healing with HeART.
Exploring Aromatherapy, Earth Medicine, and the creative process of Art Journaling as paths to healing and wholeness.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Essential Oils for lung support

My province of British Columbia is currently in a state of emergency with thousands of hectares of forest burning across the province.  While this in itself is devastating to people and wildlife, the fires have also resulted in very poor air quality across the province, even in the normally clear Lower Mainland.  

Photo from NASA showing the smoke over BC

In an effort to help family members ease their breathing through this smoky air, I created a blend to support lung health.  It occurred to me that it would be helpful to share some general information on how essential oils can help to support our lungs and alleviate the damage that the smoke can cause to our bodies.  

We can see the smoke in the air and even feel it in our eyes, and we may not be aware of the damage that this air can have on our respiratory tract.  Inhaling smoke can damage the tissues of the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs.  Some of the components of the smoke could even be toxic to these tissues.  This damage is in addition to the smoke decreasing the efficiency of our respiratory system in bringing oxygen into the body. 

There are a number of essential oils that help to both clear and soothe our lungs, and provide support to the respiratory system. Combining a few of these into a personal inhaler to breathe in throughout the day is a great way to keep your lungs healthy and to help counteract any damage that inhaling smoke might do. 

In choosing essential oils for this, we want to look at those with anti-inflammatory (reduces swelling), antispasmodic (calms coughing spasms), decongestant (helps to open breathing passages), expectorant (aids in removing phlegm), mucolytic (thins mucus), and balsamic (heals and soothes, and loosens phlegm) properties, and we are fortunate to have many beautiful essential oils to choose from! 
Some to consider would include:
  • Eucalyptus - anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties
  • Helichrysum - anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, expectorant, mucolytic properties
  • Roman Chamomile - anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, calming properties
  • Cypress - antispasmodic, decongestant, mucolytic properties
  • Myrtle - decongestant, balsamic, expectorant properties
  • Cedarwood - expectorant and mucolytic properties
  • Frankincense - anti-inflammatory, expectorant properties; soothing and helps to deepen breathing
  • Myrrh - anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties; soothing
  • Lavender - antispasmodic properties; calming and soothing; helps ease stress  

As always, it is important to consider the contraindications of any and all essential oils used, taking into consideration allergies as well as any underlying medical conditions (particularly asthma in this case).  If you are uncertain which oils are safe for you to use, please consult with a professional aromatherapist (you can contact me here).

We are seeing a close to record-breaking level of devastation this fire season, and I am thinking of those directly affected and am grateful to those who are committed to fighting these massive wildfires. 

*With thanks to my instructor Bev Hawkins at West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy whose writing and teaching informed and supported my inspiration in writing this.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Enriching life through Ritual

Ritual is defined as "a set of actions or words performed in a certain way" by the Cambridge Dictionary, but I see it as more than that.  I see ritual as a way to make an ordinary day extra-ordinary; a way to bring a spiritual and sacred intention into everyday activities; and a way to surrender oneself to the magic of the Divine.
Ritual can be simple or complex, and can be personalized in many ways; all it takes is desire, intention, and regular practice.  
I have been working with ritual more regularly, and have found that these three practices in particular have brought me a sense of increased passion and productivity:

Begin and end the day with stillness
How often do you reach for your phone as soon as you wake up?  Is this necessary, or more of an automatic habit?  What if you could create a mindful habit and set your intention for how you would like to progress through your day?  Simply begin your day with stillness.  For me this means sitting with my morning tea, lighting a candle, focussing on my breathing, and journaling.  You may choose any of these or include mediation and/or yoga; any activity that brings you into an awareness of your body.  I have found that doing this every morning creates a sacred space where I can acknowledge how I am feeling and any thoughts that may be emerging, and also helps me to consciously set my intention for my day. 
The end of day is similar; I end with quiet time which includes a 'bullet-style' journal of gratitude and joy experienced and celebrated in the day, as well as a spray of one of my Aromatherapy blends. You could even set the intention of having a restful and restorative sleep at this time!

Connect with Nature

I believe that Nature is a powerful healer, and that when we take even a few minutes to go outside and be in her presence, we are connecting to a strong and infinite source of energy.  We all have our favourite places in Nature that fill us with peace, wonder, and joy; for some it is by the ocean, for some in the mountains; for me it is in trees. So often we say that we are too busy, but it is precisely those times that we can most benefit from breathing and finding our centre in Nature.  Try this the next time you are feeling stressed or uncertain...take a few minutes and go outside.  Breathe deeply, push down and feel your feet in contact with the Earth, look around and see what is all around you, smell, listen...engage your senses.  I bet you will find that you feel a renewed sense of calm and energy within you when you return to your activities.  Taking time each day to mindfully connect with Nature can greatly improve your mood and your day. 

Create a Sacred Space for working
While you may not have control over every aspect of your workspace, being intentional about how you want to feel while you are working, and arranging your space to support that, can make a big difference to your day and your productivity. 
I once fell into the trap of having a nice space for playing and creating, but a cluttered and disorganized work space which  did not support me with my work and was actually sabotaging my desire to move forward with my business.  I realized that while I regularly create a sacred container and set an intention for my creative processes, doing this for my business tasks was just as important!  What if I could set an intention for working through my bookkeeping with ease or even joy?  What if by something as simple as lighting a candle (of course keeping it away from my papers!), I could create a feeling of sacredness and magic that would make me more likely to do this task (one that I really dislike) and complete it in a timely way?  Who would have known that even bookkeeping could become a sacred ritual for me!

Of course, there are days when life happens and when I don't manage to practice these rituals, and while not ideal, it is okay.  I have learned that it is important to give myself the grace to know that I did enough and that tomorrow is a new day.  
Will inviting ritual into your day enrich your life as it has done mine?  I invite you to try it and see, and let me know how ritual changes your life!