Meditation and essential oils to enhance your practice

As rates of stress, depression and anxiety continue to rise, meditation and mindfulness meditation in particular, is becoming more popular than ever before for supporting our mental and physical wellbeing. Our blog explores what meditation is, the benefits it can bring, the different forms it can take and how aromatherapy oils can be used to support and enhance our practice.

What is meditation

In very simple terms, meditation can be defined as an habitual process of training our mind to focus on the present moment and redirect our thoughts.

In the Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, the Dalai Lama says that meditation is about seeing our “natural state of consciousness – a neutral state in which our consciousness is not afflicted by thoughts of the past thoughts, the things that have happened, our memories and remembrances; nor is it afflicted by thoughts of the future, like our future plans, anticipations, fears, and hopes.

He likens it to a river that is flowing so strongly that we can’t see the riverbed, but then we find a way of stopping that flow and keeping the water still so that we can clearly see what lies beneath. 

During meditation, we focus our attention and eliminate the stream of turbulent thoughts that can crowd our mind and cause stress, in order to discover the underlying stillness, clarity and calm that represents our true nature.

Benefits of meditation

Meditation is a serious practice that, for the best results, requires commitment, determination, and patience. However, the act of stopping the ‘mental chatter’ that we habitually allow to dominate our brains, can have many benefits for our physical and emotional wellbeing. These include

  • Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Reducing muscle tension and pain including tension headaches
  • Reducing blood pressure, lowering risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Improving sleep / reducing fatigue
  • Enhancing immunity
  • Helping manage symptoms of stress-triggered health conditions (e.g. IBS, PTSD, fibromyalgia)
  • Improving focus, concentration, memory, mental agility, creativity, and problem- solving
  • Reducing age-related memory loss
  • Improving self-awareness, resilience, self-efficacy, and self-esteem
  • Encouraging a more positive outlook on life
  • Increasing our ability to deal with life’s challenges and frustrations
  • Fostering thoughtfulness, kindness and compassion to yourself and others
  • Improving self-control and mental discipline that may help with addictions / cravings

Styles of meditation

There are two main styles of meditation: focused attention and open awareness.

Focused attention meditation

This is also called concentrative meditation and involves focusing your attention on a single thing. The object of focus could be a mantra, a visualisation, a body part or sensations in the body, a candle, mala beads, or sound (we explore these in more detail below).

A subset of focus attention meditation is Samatha meditation. This is based on mindfulness of the breath, focusing the attention on the sensations of inhalation and exhalation.

Open awareness meditation

This is also called open monitoring or non-directive meditation. In contrast to focused attention meditation, this style encourages broadened, open awareness of everything that is happening, with the goal of remaining non-judgemental to yourself. This may include being aware of sounds, smells, thoughts, feelings, memories, and bodily sensations. The aim is to simply witness everything and be present in the moment, without getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings.

Meditation techniques

A number of meditation techniques have been used over time by different cultures around the world and different techniques appeal to different people. It is important to research and choose the one that suits you best and that will help you achieve the results you are looking for. Popular practices to try at home include:

Mindfulness meditation 

This technique originates from Buddhist teachings and is the most popular and researched form of meditation in the West. Mindfulness meditation is a unique blend of focused attention and open monitoring meditation. In this practice you choose something to focus on (e.g., your breath) while remaining aware of your surroundings; observing thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judging them or becoming involved in them. If you find your thoughts wandering, you simply note them and bring your attention gently back to your breath (or whatever you are focusing on).

Focused meditation

This technique is ideal if you wish to improve your focus and attention. It involves focusing on something using any of the five senses. It may be gazing at candle, counting mala beads or your breaths or listening to a gong! Although it sounds easy it can be hard to maintain your focus when you first start practicing. If you notice your thoughts wandering, gently bring your mind back to your practice and refocus.

Mantra meditation

This form of meditation uses a repetitive word, phrase, or sound (e.g., ‘om’ or ‘shanti’ – Sanskrit word for peace) to clear the mind. You can also use mantras that double as affirmations (e.g., ‘I am calm’). A mantra can help you find a natural breathing rhythm, occupy your awareness and prevent wandering thoughts, so is good if you find it difficult to maintain focus. Some experts also believe that chanting certain syllables produces vibrations and a harmony that encourages a deeper meditative state.

Movement meditation

This is an active form of meditation where calm and purposeful breathing and movement guides you into a deeper connection with your body and the present moment. Yoga is the most common practice, but others include walking, tai chi, and qigong. 

Visualisation meditation

This technique involves visualising positive images, scenes, or figures, using all five senses to make the scene as vivid as possible. Examples may include, visualising lying on beach to encourage calm and relaxation, visualising a person you admire with the intention of embodying their qualities, or visualising yourself achieving your goals to help increase your focus and motivation.

Body scan meditation

Body scan meditation can help you release physical tension and bring awareness to aches and pains that you may not have even been aware of! It involves mentally scanning yourself and paying attention to body parts and bodily sensations, working in a gradual sequence from the feet upwards. The aim is not to relieve pain entirely, but to become aware and learn from it so you can manage it more effectively.

Progressive muscle relaxation meditation

This is similar to a body scan but involves slowly tensing and relaxing of all of the major muscles in your body from top to toe. It is thought that tensing the muscles helps to relax them more thoroughly when they are released, meaning you dispel physical tension more effectively.

Loving kindness meditation

Loving kindness meditation also known as metta meditation is focused on cultivating love and compassion for oneself and then extending those feelings to others. It involves mindfully reciting positive phrases toward yourself and other beings. This technique is especially useful for countering negative emotions.

Meditation tips

The foundation of all meditation is the ability to focus the mind on a particular stimulus without becoming distracted by thoughts, feelings or minor discomforts. Beginners can initially find it hard to control their minds and it can take a lot of patience, practice and commitment to successfully meditate. 

Here are our top tips to help you on your meditative journey.

The setting

Although you can meditate anywhere it is important to have regular 'sitting' meditation sessions as it is these that strengthen your practice to the point that you can achieve a meditative state whenever you wish. For these sessions try to choose a peaceful room with calming decor and few distractions, turn off your phone and ask others not to disturb you.

Time and duration

If possible, it is best to meditate in the morning and evening. In the morning your mind is often at its calmest and in the evening, it helps you to relax and re-balance. Some people also meditate at midday for a short period of recuperation. Ultimately you have to choose what suits you best, but it is good to meditate at the same time each day, as you will find that your mind will start to turn of its own accord to the practice. Ten minutes (or even five) is a good starting point, working up to thirty minutes a day if you can (this can be split into two 15-minute sessions). 

There is an old Zen saying that suggests, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

In all seriousness, if life does get too busy try to do at least a few minutes a day to maintain your practice, as it can be hard to re-establish if you break your rhythm. 


Having a simple ritual can help settle your mind and increase your motivation to practice. It can also help develop habits that will sustain the regularity of your practice and help your mind turn automatically toward a meditative state. Various things can be used to support your ritual. These might include wearing certain clothes, playing music before you start (not while meditating though), sounding a bell at the beginning and end, lighting a candle, burning incense, or diffusing essential oils. Including essential oils in your ritual will not only help the atmosphere and set the scene but can also help support your meditation aims. We will discuss this in more detail below.


Most teachers agree that sitting up is the best position for non-moving meditation as this provides the optimal balance of focus and relaxation. You can lie down of course if sitting is uncomfortable, or where it suits your practice e.g., the savasana (corpse) pose in yoga is performed while lying down.

The most popular seated posture is the 'lotus', in which you sit cross-legged with your feet up on your thighs. This can be a little tricky if you’re not very flexible, so simpler options are the 'perfect posture' or 'half-lotus':

Sit cross-legged on a cushion (one that ideally raises your bottom at least 10cm from the floor). Ease forward a little and bring your left heel as close to your body as possible, then lift your right foot and place it on the calf of your left leg (perfect posture). For the half-lotus do the same but place your right foot on your left thigh. Relax the legs as much as possible.

If sitting cross-legged is uncomfortable, sit on an upright chair with both feet flat on the ground.

However you sit, you should keep your spine straight and keep as still as possible.

The breath

In regular meditation practice the breath is typically used as the point upon which to remain focused while our minds are busy trying to distract us. Even with different techniques it is usual to spend the first few minutes of practice watching the breath in order to still the mind. Using the breath has many advantages. It is always there, so you can turn to it whenever you wish to calm yourself during the day. It follows a gentle rhythm which encourages peaceful awareness and by deepening it and slowing it down it helps to ground and relax you. The breath can be watched either via the sensation in the nostrils or at the rise and fall of the abdomen and it can be counted to aid concentration.

Essential oils for aiding meditation

As well as contributing to the ritualistic element of meditation, therapeutic essential oils can be valuable tools for calming and focusing the mind.

Benefits of using essential oils for meditation

  • Their aroma can be the actual thing you concentrate on to prevent your mind wandering
  • They can help clear the mind and aid focus and concentration
  • They can encourage calmer, deeper breathing
  • They can help ground you and encourage relaxation
  • They can help cleanse negative energy
  • They can encourage optimism and positivity
  • They can help boost confidence and self-esteem

Popular essential oils for meditation

You should select the oils that you are drawn to and that will support your meditation aims. You can read more about these oils and their individual properties on our website.

If you’d prefer to use a pre-blended oil you could try our Mindful essential oil which has been blended with Frankincense, Lavender Sage, Spike Lavender, Clary Sage, Sage Dalmation, Patchouli and Petitgrain. This wonderfully calming oil, blended specifically to support mindfulness and meditation, will help to calm the nervous system, aid clarity and self-awareness and encourage a deeper practice. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a more stimulating blend to revitalise your senses and aid concentration, try our Focus essential oil with May Chang, Basil, Sweet Marjoram and Sage.

When using your oils, the room method is recommended. Add up to 12 drops of oil to an aromatherapy burner or diffuser or mix 30 drops into 100ml of water or hydrolat to create your own meditation mist, that can also be used throughout the day whenever you feel the need for calm.

Sharon Lovett
Marketing Manager

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