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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Reconnect Using Aromatherapy

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to you.

It’s very easy to take for granted something you buy off a supermarket shelf. You usually have no contact with the item’s makers or the original form of the product. Often we don’t even live in the same country of origin as the items in our stores.

Until taking the aromatherapy certification course at Heal Center Atlanta, I never thought too deeply about the effort and resources that went into producing those little brown bottles of essential oils I’ve so blithely bought at local health food stores. But pure essential oils very likely will, and should, command your respect as you learn more about them and understand their true value.

Heal Center teacher Roz Zollinger warned students on the first day about the strength of essential oils, including some of their inherent dangers. She shared several cautionary tales, including stories of second-degree sunburned skin, use on a baby that resulted in seizures, and a woman’s burned corneas. While very real, those dangers were not the focus of the class.

Of course pure essential oils, which are high concentrations of a plant, can cause harm, Roz said, but students should work with essential oils from a base of knowledge rather than fear. I’ve found that as we gain that knowledge in class, so much can factor into our appreciation of essential oils.

Take, for instance, lavender. It is commonly found in chain grocery stores, and is a relatively affordable oil, at an average $10 a half ounce. Lavender plants can be harvested by machine rather than by hand. Less plant mass is needed to make lavender, than for some other oils.

But according to the movie “Precious Essence, an Inspirational Journey with Kendra Grace,” there are only three weeks out of the year during which it is best to harvest France’s lavender fields, and extract the oil. Think about it: Three weeks upon which to build an entire regional business. Then take into account the vagaries of weather during any given growing season, and the precious nature of the oil becomes clearer.

Or, going to the extreme, what about rose otto? Its $400 an ounce price dictates that you aren’t likely to take it for granted. But did you know that it takes an average of 60,000 roses to produce that one ounce of rose otto oil? Can you picture 60,000 roses? Or visualize 60 roses, the number needed to produce just one drop of oil?

If you have rose otto, go grab the bottle and squeeze out one drop and contemplate the life essence of 60 roses held in that one golden globule. I almost guarantee you will feel reason to pause.

Add to the shear mass needed, the fact that roses for rose oil must be hand picked, and the oil extracted the same day. The valuable price starts to make a little more sense.

“Precious Essence” also visited Tunisia for the harvest of bitter orange flowers, from which neroli oil is made. The movie cameras recorded as sun-browned women in patterned blouses, long skirts and head kerchiefs perched on ladders and picked the orange flowers. These women then spread the thousands of flowers on a burlap sack on the ground. They sat, smiled and laughed with each other as they separated the 1.5 inch flowers from the leaves. There are whole lives and real community behind these oils which require a human touch.

When I think of how I’ve slathered on rose oil, or dumped deluges of lavender and tea tree oils into buckets for cleaning, I now cringe. I had been dabbling in oils and working from a lack of respect, a near carelessness. Some yoga practitioners call it “mindfulness,” simply being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. Though I’m not likely to be buying loads of neroli at $175 per ounce anytime soon, I know I’ll be mindful, thinking about even the tea tree and lavender oils I use on my floors. I’ll be using respect as I reconnect with nature and admire its gift.

I will leave you with a recipe from Zollinger for cleansing energy in the work environment. It contains two of the oils mentioned above.

In a two ounce non-reactive spray bottle combine:

  • Bergamot – 6 drops
  • Orange – 6 drops
  • Frankincense – 4 drops
  • Rose – 4 drops
  • Neroli – 4 drops
  • White sage – 2 drops
Fill with distilled water. Shake the bottle before each use.

Tip: You may also start with a few drops of vodka before the oils to help them mix with the water.

For more information on joining the next Heal Center Atlanta Aromatherapy Certification course, call (404) 303- 0007

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