How to Use Essential Oils to Meditate

The Uk released terrifying new data from the Office for National Statistics last week, which revealed that the number of people suffering from depression has doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Presumably, that will be a global phenomenon and speaks to a growing mental health crisis in the UK and the rest of the western world. Of anything else I believe aromatherapy can do, it helps mental health. Meditation, in particular, can be an enormous help, so the two together can be a potent mix. Since this is a core part of my work with people, I thought I would share a little about using essential oils to meditate.

Why Learning How to Work with Essential Oils can be Powerful

First, let’s talk about what meditation isn’t, at least what it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t need to be boring, painful, or complex. Sure, there are many different disciplines of meditation, from transcendental meditation to mindfulness, and I’ll agree many of them are tremendously hard to master. For example, when I was taught to meditate, I was told to picture a red triangle and keep it still. Thirty years on, it’s turned red, spun round, moved up and down…but it’s not stood still for a second. Consequently, I never learned how to use essential oils to meditate. I was too busy feeling like a failure.

But trends changed as it became more popular to tell people to focus on their breath. Eventually, I found a way to get calm and control my emotions. 

What are the Benefits of Learning How to Use Essential Oils to meditate

Meditation has many benefits, from helping you sleep better or focusing on helping you control pain. Still, for the most part, the main advantage is that you feel calmer and often happier, and then everything else slots into place. 

Got to be worth a try, hasn’t it?

Even better, essential oils can add to that calmness, but they can help take your mind deeper to things you want to meditate on. So in the calm, as our brain waves change from their chattery alpha waves and slow down to a theta state, it is almost like we can get under the crime scene investigation tapes on our mind and see what’s going on in there.

What are the things the mind is trying to hide from you? Maybe because it thinks you won’t like what you’ll see or perhaps worse, that you will. You know, mental breakthroughs aren’t always these lightbulb moments. After all, when you realize that you have been living an outdated script for years, you often find a ton of other life truths - or what you thought were truths - were riding on it. And sometimes, all that takes is to realize there might be a new way of doing things, and… poof… stuff you might have been doing for years is gone.

Recommended Reading: The Importance of Relaxation

How the Mind Processes Blocks

I spoke of my PTSD and the relationship that caused it a few weeks ago. I tried to leave him for eight years, but I was too frightened that he would come after me. That he would find the kids and me, so I stayed. Then one day, I read a newspaper article about a woman who was also living my reality, but she had snapped and stabbed her husband. This was twenty years ago now. She was on trial for manslaughter, and the news was full of women’s rights lawyers who insisted this killing was not her fault and would go on to prove diminished responsibility.

At that moment, sitting in the park, I knew I could be the next person on that dock. What would happen to my children? Where would they go? That was scarier than anything he could do, and I began to plan how to leave. Nothing grand happened there, except everything did. All of the scripts fell apart. A week later, I was gone.

No essential oils were involved in that story, but what if I told you that you could train your brain the same way? To find a theme you are battling with and just sit with your oil, spend time breathing, and simply allow it to wander and express itself calmly in ways it might not have the space to do so.

Recommended Reading: Essential oils for PTSD

The Importance of Breath

To my mind, the key is always to focus on your breathing.

I always say that the first conscious breath inwards is a breath back to yourself. The attention moves away from everything else happening inside into your inner world. After a while, you’ll look forward to that first breath when you know you have time to be more yourself than ever before. After all, what could be more powerfully liberating than twenty minutes allowing yourself to dream?

Does it need to be twenty minutes? Nope, even two minutes doing it is better than not taking time to breathe at all.

So, in terms of breathing, I find it most helpful to do - 

    • Breathe in - count for 4
    • Hold for 4 
    • Out for 4 
    • Hold for 4

I call it square breathing. But if you feel more comfortable just doing slow breaths in and out, do that. 

    • Concentrate on the experience the breath gives you. 
    • How does the air feel as it moves through your nose, then leaves your mouth?
    • What does it feel like in your body? 
    • Notice how your chest rises and your belly expands. 
    • Become very aware of your breath.

Simple as….except it’s not. It’s harder to keep your mind focused on your breathing, and that’s ok, as long as you try to keep it focused on the theme at hand. So, how do we think of a theme?

Recommended Reading: 10 Best Essential Oils for Relaxation

Some Examples of How to Use Essential Oils to Meditate to Feel Calm

The first thing I would say is to think positively, and by that, I mean try not to say, “I want to stop doing this; I don’t want that anymore.”

Frame it as what you do want, then try to see it as a picture if you can. So, it will often be “I want to feel calmer.” Then I tell myself I am calm and then picture what being relaxed looks like for me. For example, I might see myself writing happily or walking across the fields in the long grass. Other times, it will be lying on the grass in the garden. What that looks like might frame the choice of oils I have then.

So, vetiver is dried grass, so I might use that to create the dreamscape of walking in the field. If it were a garden, I’d probably go for rose. If I had pictured lying in the grass, then chamomile daisies might be my thing. This is an entirely personal thing. Even just a few minutes to smell the oils and think, “What does this make me think of?” “How does this make me feel?” It is helpful because it takes you back to yourself. 

Some Ideas of How to Use Essential Oils to Meditate

So, here are a few ideas for you to start with, and there are no right or wrong answers. It’s simply a way to explore yourself. Maybe use one oil - that’s what I always do - or a blend - like Nat does. But, again, there are no right or wrong ways.

Citrus Oil: I want to be happy. What would happiness look like for me? How would it feel? Where does joy live in my body?

Sandalwood, Frankincense, Palo Santo, and Myrrh: I’d like to be more spiritual. What would that look like for me? What makes me feel more connected to divinity? How can I access that more?

Jasmine: I’d like to feel more erotic. What does erotic mean for me? How does it feel in my imagination, and what do I feel tempted to explore?

Star Anise: I’m a bit bored, so I’d like to feel more exciting and exotic. If I could explore anything, what would it be?

Lavender, Chamomile, Geranium: I want to feel calmer. What would that look like for me? Being conscious of my body, where feels calm, where doesn’t it? How does my mood feel? If I slip underneath the apparent stuff, how do I think then? Can I feel where these emotions feel then?

Sweet Basil, Grapefruit, Rosemary: I’d like to feel more confident. What does confidence look like for me? What sort of things would I say? How would I move my body? Can I feel confident in my body? Where does it live? What would need to change for me to feel more confident? What steps could I make to achieve that?

Recommended Reading: What is Forest Bathing, and how can it help me de-stress?

The Advantages of Using Essential Oils in Meditation

Scientific evidence now proves that ritually smelling essential oils changes your body chemistry. This is because olfactory nerves express the body’s calming neurotransmitter GABA. We talked about this in my article about olfaction.

But more than that, the smell is the closest sense to the brain. As a result, it has fast access to parts of the mind that are otherwise very difficult to access.

Inhalation of essential oils - rather than using them topically, for example - also accesses the sodium ion channels. These are the gateways to the cells that control blood pressure and volume. So, for instance, scent instructs them to slow down.

To me, though, it’s tough to be miserable when citrus oils kick a can-can of fizz through my brain. The message to cheer up is louder than the disappointment initially getting me here.

Essential oils are hope, tranquility, or focus…whatever you want them to be. Because here’s the thing, you can read all the textbooks in the world, but in the end, your reaction to a fragrance will be uniquely yours, overlain with the mysteries of your life, your memories, the things you believe about yourself and things people have said before. The scent opens the doors to these places - to a vast open space.

My dad used to have a saying when I was a kid. It probably appealed to him because he, like Henry Ford, was a car salesman. He used to quote Ford, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” That’s always been influential to me. You might sometimes have to identify what needs to change to achieve, but you usually can. All that needs to be trained is your imagination. 

Where Should You Apply Essential Oils for Meditation

This is a great question. I don’t apply them at all. Instead, I use an aroma pendant and wear that around my neck. Sometimes I just inhale from the bottle, although that’s bad practice because it’s a long time for the top to be off the bottle. My favorite way is to put a couple of drops onto a tissue, then shove that like a napkin in my collar. I can relax my arms then but still have the oils under my nose.

If you read Natalie’s meditation blends, she talks about she puts them onto her pulse points. For example, if you are doing more spiritual work, it can be helpful to put a drop of something like frankincense into a teaspoon of carrier oil, then rub it onto your forehead. Some practices call this the third eye, associated with feelings and sensations of altered consciousness.

Remember that essential oils absorb through the bloodstream and circulate to the parts of the body that need them. Eventually, they will get to the brain, so it doesn’t matter where you are. Nat’s idea of pulse points gives the oils very fast access into the system because there is a good blood supply. I find inhalation is more helpful alone. 

Have an experiment. See what works best for you.

DIY Meditation Essential Oil Blends

DIY Meditation Essential Oil Blends


Safety: Not designed for topical use.

Retain Information and Concentrate

Safety: Not designed for topical use.


Safety: Not designed for topical use.

Happiness and Hope

Safety: Not designed for topical use.

Essential Oil Safety and Best Practices

The more we learn about inhalation and how the body responds, the more we realize that we also need to be careful. This is because their actions are way more wide-reaching than we could ever imagine.

While inhaling essential oils would be safe during pregnancy, I recommend avoiding the same ones you would do topically until you need them in labor. Those would be Rose, Jasmine, Myrrh, Clary Sage, and Fennel. Then, the same pregnancy safety guidelines apply. If it is contraindicated, then I would avoid inhaling it too. Oils generally safe during pregnancy would be safe right through the pregnancy—no need to worry about the 16 rule here.

Watch for oils that are neurotoxic, like tarragon or rosemary. These can be problematic for epilepsy and people with psychotic disorders.

Always check your safety on every oil - you can find them on our website or in my free book - before you begin serious inhalation work.

Final Thought

There are no cut-and-dried rules around how to use essential oils to meditate. Just enjoy it and have fun. Allow scent to teach you things about yourself. Dare to dream and allow your mind to slow down. The more you do, the better it is for your mind, body, spirit, relationships, work, and sex. Everything improves when you relax and have the tools at your fingertips.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published