When we hear the word creativity, what are the associations that spring most readily to mind? Typically, our response is anything to do with the arts: musicians, artists, writers. However, creativity is not just about being artistic.
Creativity is expressed in a multitude of other ways: being inventive with ingredients in cooking, starting a business, renovating that old barn, creating fun play time for your kids, laying the table for dinner, putting together an outfit for a special event – the list is endless. Essentially creativity is our countless forms of self expression – it allows us to come up with new or different ways of being and doing. As humans we were born to create. For some reaching the part of the brain that facilitates the flow of ideas is easier than for others. Following those creative impulses takes a certain amount of bravery, confidence in one’s self and a certain amount of vulnerability.
Sometimes we need to make a space, to set a scene for our creative endeavours or ‘production’ that allows us to get into that creative ‘flow’. This space needs to have an atmosphere that is conducive to our particular expression of creativity. Maybe working in a room with the right amount of light – the right kind of light, in silence or maybe with some classical music playing in the background. Or in the garden with the birds singing in the trees. The atmosphere has got to be right.
Essential oils with their lovely aromas and positive impact on the body and the mind can really lend a hand in the setting up of your creative working environment. The French writer, Baudelaire was reputed to be very fond of his essential oils. And it is said that da Vinci liked having ‘perfumes’ around while he worked, with claims that Neroli was a favourite of his.
We offer some aromatic suggestions below. However it is important to remember that the choice of an oil or a blend of oils needs to one that appeals to you. Perceptions of and responses to aromas will vary from one individual to another. Only you will truly know the type of scents that suit your needs.
A word about olfaction – our sense of smell…
The olfactory nerves are directly connected to the limbic system. This is a complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the edge of the cortex that is responsible for processing sensory information to do with instinct and mood.
The limbic system controls our basic instinctual emotions (fear, pleasure, anger) and drives (hunger, sex, dominance, protection and care of our children). It’s the most primitive part of the brain and the seat of our survival reflexes, for example, the fight or flight response. Our sense of smell acts on this instinctual, subconscious level. The olfactory nerve is basically an extension of the brain itself, which can be reached directly through the nose and, as such, is the only open gate to the brain. This open gateway makes the brain is directly reachable via the nose, making inhalation is the fastest way for the effects of your essential oil blend to reach the brain.
A significant amount of research into the effects of odour on the psyche has been carried out in Europe and the United States. Peter Holmes (1997) developed a concept, Fragrance Energetics, a system which demonstrates the impact of essential oil aromas on the psyche. Gabriel Mojay, in his book Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit (1996), uses these links between fragrance and mood as platform to further explore the fragrance energies of essential oils within the Oriental medicine and Chinese Five Element theory frameworks. Valerie Ann Worwood’s The Fragrant Mind (1995) is another wonderful book on the effects and benefits of essential oils on the mind and emotions.
A few ideas…
When studying or working on something such as a detailed report, that requires clarity and focus, using a combination of Lemon and Frankincense oils can help enhance focus and bring clarity to the mind. Adding Rosemary or Basil to this mix can help sharpen focus as well as improve concentration and memory.
Cedarwood, Lavender and German Chamomile together can help release mental blocks and increase openness and receptivity to ideas.
Juniper Berry is useful for releasing negative self concepts that inhibit creative self expression. Blend with Sandalwood, Geranium and Jasmine to encourage good self esteem.
Cypress, with its sweet, balsamic citrusy aroma, works beautifully with nourishing, floral Jasmine and the sweet joyous citrus of Grapefruit as a confidence booster. You can also combine Cypress with Lavender, Sandalwood and Sweet Orange to bring a sense of contentment and ease.
To get in the creative ‘zone’ combine Neroli and Rose with Frankincense or try a blend of Jasmine, Frankincense and Bergamot.
For maintaining positivity, use Geranium combined with Frankincense and Grapefruit or with Myrrh and Lemon for a zesty boost.
These are just guidelines. Aroma and our response to the different types of scents is a deeply personal thing and your own intuition will play a key part in your ultimate choice of scents for your blend.
Add the essential oils to a burner (containing water) or a diffuser. (Neal’s Yard Remedies stock some lovely ones.) If you have neither, a dish of water that can be safely warmed will suffice. Add between 5 and 20 drops of oils, depending on the size of your water container. Do bear in mind that with aromatherapy less is often more!
Inhale and enjoy!