Emotions can be a powerful force in our lives, both for the positive and the negative. In this podcast, we'll explore the physical affect that emotions can have on our bodies, as well as how to essential oils can help us process and release emotions. I'll cover four BIG emotions--anger, fear, sadness, and joy--and how to use essential oils to process these in our hearts, minds, and bodies.
If you're looking for the list of resources, here ya go!
Releasing Emotional Patterns with Essential Oils by Carolyn L. Mein, D.C.
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
The Heart Code by Paul P. Pearsall
Molecules of Emotion by Candace B. Peri, Ph.D.
The Emotion Code by Dr. Bradley Nelson
The Aroma Freedom Technique by Dr. Benjamin Perkus
Switch on Your Brain Every Day by Dr. Caroline Leaf
Heal Your Body by Louise Hays
Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol K. Truman
The Bible - 66 books by 40 authors over the span of approximately 1,600 years with (by some estimates) over 2,500 prophecies, 2,000 of which have been fulfilled, and all of which has the same amazing and cohesive message--God loves you.
Hi! And welcome to the Cultivating Abundant Life Podcast! I’m Kait Palmer, and I am passionate about helping women cultivate better lives physically, mentally, and emotionally.
For this next series we’re going to be focusing on that last aspect – emotions. You might feel emotions control your life, or you might put the thought of them over in a dusty corner as some mushy stuff that you don’t really deal with. But regardless of your attitude towards emotions, they color our lives–what would a wedding be without love, a birth without joy, or being helped without feeling gratitude? We’re going to talk about how emotions affect your body, and four emotions–anger, fear, sadness, and joy–that you can release with essential oils. You don’t need to be a certified aromatherapist or psychologist to do this–you can literally grab an oil today and work on releasing emotions!
I began writing this podcast more than three weeks ago and since then my dog–my faithful Roy Boy we’d had for 13 years and was 16 years old–crossed the rainbow bridge. He was my dog soulmate–there in a new city forcing me to get outside and move my body, there during a move to a new state, during 2 am feedings and early morning diaper changes, there as a furry playmate for my kids, and there for adventures as we moved to Oregon and traveled all over. This dog and I could have conversations with our eyebrows! I can’t tell you the number of times I’d hear him woof or huff from another room and yell to my husband he needed to go outside or was hungry and be right–we just had a strong connection! So needless to say that despite him being the equivalent of 120 years old, I’m still heartbroken. So the oils I have relied on heavily these past few weeks are Joy, Frankincense, and Acceptance. I’ll use either over my heart, or apply Frankincense to my face at night before bedtime.
Back to emotions! Time to open up your notes app or grab a notepad and pen if you’re old school like me, and let’s start learning! I’ll also include links for all studies and books I reference in this podcast in the transcript–you can find that on CultivatingAbundantLife.com.
Just a reminder, I am not a doctor, and information provided in this podcast has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided here is in no way intended to replace medical care. Consult with the healthcare authority of your choice and remember–you always have a choice!
The truth is that emotions are far more powerful than you may realize, and can affect our mental state and physical state directly. There is so much to this and I’m just going to skim the surface, and at the advice of a friend I’ll be making this into a series of bite-sized chunks to help you understand why and how emotions are so important. My hope is that each of these episodes will pique your interest to dig deeper into these topics and give you action steps to take and use today! This first episode is going to talk about real ways they affect your physical body.
Emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. According to statistics from Meridian Stress Management Consultancy in the U.K, almost 180,000 people in the U.K die each year from some form of stress-related illness (7). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States estimates that stress accounts for about 75% of all doctors visit (7). This involves an extremely wide span of physical complaints including, but not limited to headache, back pain, heart problems, upset stomach, stomach ulcer, sleep problems, tiredness and accidents. According to Occupational Health and Safety news and the National Council on compensation of insurance, up to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints.
Aaaaughh, right? On the other hand though, being able to acknowledge, process, and release negative emotions frees your mind (and body) up for more positive emotions. Research shows that DNA actually changes shape according to our thoughts. We’ll dive deeper into the study of epigenetics in the next episode, as it’s fascinating and a lot to bite off at once! Experiencing and releasing emotions in a healthy way leads to a balanced mind, contributing to a healthier body and happier mind.
A happier mind carries more advantages than just...well...being happy. According to a study done by Shawn Achor, who wrote The Happiness Advantage, they found that people with a positive mindset:
Had 37% greater sales
Were 3x more creative
31% more productive
40% more likely to receive a promotion
Had 23% fewer fatigue symptoms
Were up to 10x more engaged
39% more likely to live to age 94
Obviously carrying around trapped or negative emotions, or having a mind that you’ve unwittingly trained towards negative thoughts can have a direct impact on your physical health.
So, what are emotions? Emotions are what we feel–joy when our kid brings us a flower, frustration when we have to unball stinky, sweaty socks for literally the 10,000th time (two years into my marriage I actually did the math on approximately how many socks I had unballed and it was well over 1,000…we’ve been married for 14 years now and I don’t even want to think about how high that number it), anger when we are accused of something untrue, relief when we find something that was lost.
As Dr. Bradley Nelson writes in the book The Emotion Code, “They are what we experience in the moment, and information stored in our bodies and minds from past experiences.” They are powerful, even if they seem silly (like balled up socks), and can galvanize one to action.
Dr. Benjamin Perkus, the psychologist who wrote The Aroma Freedom Technique, writes, “In the most basic sense, the purpose of emotions is to express our state of being so that we can get our needs met. So-called negative emotions especially should be seen as a way to communicate something that needs attention.”
He goes on to give a simple example. Say that an acquaintance of mine stands too close while talking and is stepping on my toe. I might feel frustration and could say, “Ouch! You’re on my toe!” The acquaintance would most likely step back and apologize. I’d say it’s no big deal, and we’d move on with the conversation. I had an emotion, expressed it, and it was attended to in a very basic sense. The anger or frustration wasn’t a bad emotion, it was just an expression of something that needed to be fixed.
Now let’s say I don’t say anything. I think they might think I’m rude if I say something, or maybe I grew up in a house where I wasn’t allowed to express anger and so I just grimace and finish the conversation. By the end of the exchange my initial feeling of anger or frustration might turn into thoughts of, “how could she not see what she’s doing? Isn’t she aware of how close she is? People like this are so aggravating! I can’t wait to get out of here!” Now I’m feeling not just angry but resentful.
This is where the cycle of emotional imbalance starts–you carry around unresolved emotions, and the next time I see this acquaintance I might notice she bumps something over and think, “my goodness she’s clumsy!” Or I make a catty or snide remark that leaves the acquaintance wondering what in the world went wrong!
We’ve all been in a scenario where someone (maybe us) reacted in a way that was completely disproportionate to the situation. You probably realized that they weren’t really that upset about the situation, but about something else.
Dr. Perkus writes, “This type of scenario is all too common in some relationships. It is the result of failing to allow a natural emotional expression to accomplish what it was designed to do – meet a need.”
Expressive emotion is that rush in the moment–someone stepping on my toe and I react and express frustration or anger because I have a need to be met. “Reactive emotion,” writes Dr. Perkus, “ is when an unfulfilled need from the past gets triggered by a present situation that is similar in some way. It is fundamentally a distortion of reality.”
When we don’t express those emotions, those negative emotions can get trapped in our physical bodies.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Emotions are stored in your cellular memory in your physical body. They have been found to be encoded within the DNA of the cells and passed on from generation to generation. Do you have a temper similar to your grandfather’s temper? That’s not just chance--it’s a genetic emotion code passed down. Not only this, but individuals have the opportunity to change their DNA not only by diet and lifestyle choices, but emotions as well. This is the study of epigenetics and it is fascinating–we will dive more into this next time!
Events, scent memories, and even visual memories are stored in areas of your body, like vital organs. An obvious example of this is recipients of an organ transplant. Recipients report memories, taste preferences, vocabulary, desires, and emotions that were those of the donor.
Ready for some goosebumps?
In one case, an 8-year-old girl was the recipient of a heart from a 10-year-old that was murdered. The recipient began having such vivid nightmares the parents took her to a psychiatrist who after several sessions concluded that she was witnessing actual physical incidents. They decided to call the police who used the detailed descriptions of the murder (the time, the weapon, the place, the clothes he wore, what the little girl he killed had said to him) given by the little girl to find and convict the man in question.
For further reading, look into “The Heart Code” by Paul P. Pearsall and “Molecules of Emotion” by Candace B. Peri, Ph.D.
Oftentimes, major emotions get stored in specific organs. Some examples are depression or grief being stored in the lungs, fear and self-criticism can be stored in the head, the liver stores anger and primitive emotions, the heart–your center of love and security– is the place of long-standing emotional problems, the stomach holds dread and fear, and your skin–which protects your individuality–projects your anxiety and fear. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it may help to give you a beginning understanding of where common emotions are stored. You can go to the transcript on cultivatingabundantlife.com for a graphic of these areas.
To get more in-depth, looking not just at body parts but various diseases, I HIGHLY recommend the books Heal Your Body by Louise Hays and Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol K. Truman.
Have you ever noticed that a smell can trigger a memory or feeling? Like brownies baking in your grandma’s house, or the cologne your high school boyfriend way overused? This is known as the Proust Phenomenon, after the literary example given by Marcel Proust in Remembrances of Things Past.
A fascinating example of how powerful our sense of smell is is from a study done where patients who lost their sense of smell were frequently depressed. The opposite has also proven true, in one study patients who were diagnosed with clinical depression had a reduced sense of smell, and that their sense of smell improves when the depression was properly treated.
Scent accesses the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system is a system of nerves and networks in the brain that controls basic emotions and drives. It is the emotional brain. It supports five major functions: emotions, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and sense of smell.
Essential oils can be used to tap directly into the limbic system to stimulate memories and emotions. As you inhale essential oils, the tiny molecules enter the nasal cavity and pass by the olfactory bulb. Your olfactory bulb is a part of your limbic system and therefore your response to an aroma is going to be emotional before it can be rational.
Also, a study at New York University proved the amygdala gland (the gland in the limbic system that stores and releases trauma) does not respond to sight or touch but ONLY releases trauma through the sense of smell!
Not only this, but did you know they are discovering smell receptors all over your body? Your skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, testes, colon--all of these are found to have smell receptors as well! Essentially, they are specialized chemical receptors. These are stimulated by certain chemicals (like...you guessed it! Essential oils!) to transmit messages to the organ.
Essential oil molecules are so microscopic that one drop has approximately 40 million trillion molecules! That’s enough to cover every single cell in your body with 4,000 molecules! They are so tiny they permeate every tissue in your body--including the blood-brain barrier. This is a powerful tool when it comes to unlocking emotions on the cellular level.
This is great news! That means you can use essential oils to recall memories, both good and bad. If they are bad, you can use the oils to help you release cellular memories stored in the body, allowing you to process and move past them.
So the oils I’m going to talk about here are in no means exhaustive! If you get only one book on emotions, get Carolyn L. Mein’s book Releasing Emotional Patterns with Essential Oils. Not only will it give you more in depth ways to release those trapped emotions (we’ll cover more on this later), but it includes fantastic lists of essential oils and the emotion and alarm point on the body they correspond to. You can look up by oil, or by emotion. Often when doing zyto scans the results and this book are so accurate people think that the software analyzes them on social media to pull results–I promise you it does not!
In past episodes we’ve covered what essential oils are and how to use them. When using them to help with emotions, the best ways are aromatically and topically…and really the topically is because you are still smelling them! (I will say there are studies done that taking a capsule of lavender vitality oil has the same effect as taking a certain medication to help you feel relaxed! Look that one up!)
The first step in all of this is identifying the emotion. Sometimes you know exactly what you’re dealing with and that makes it easy! Other times you may need to do a little digging. That’s where things like muscle testing or the zyto scan can really come in handy.
Robert Plutchik created a wheel of eight basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust.
Some psychologists boil all feelings down to love or fear.
I’ve read (and tend to agree) that anger is usually a secondary emotion--you are angry because...someone betrayed you and you are hurt, you are fearful of losing your job, you are sad about an event and portraying it through anger.
So how exactly do you use essential oils to help process and release emotions? I’m going to give you the most basic way that you can use right now, and in later episodes we’ll cover other ways to help identify and release those emotions.
So you identify the emotion. Let’s go with anger. Notice where you might feel it in your body. Close your eyes and find a snapshot of the time that instigated that anger. Allow your body to focus on that, and then smell an oil.
One of the best oils for anger is Purification. Open a bottle up and take some deep breaths. Allow whatever feelings surface to just pass through you as you smell the oil. Give yourself permission to ride that wave of emotion and let it pass.
Notice any new emotions beginning to emerge.
Think about releasing that emotion, and what the other side of that emotion might be. In this case, the other side is laughter.
There’s even an affirmation phrase associated with this emotion–My Direction is clear.
You can go a step further and apply the oil to the corresponding alarm points found in Mein’s book like the fleshy part of your hand on the pinkie side, or just under your left chest.
Repeat this as often as you like. In Mein’s book she suggests anywhere between once a day for a week to 18 times a day for 7 weeks for deep seated emotions! The point is, you can’t do it too often. And don’t get hung up on the exactitude of this! I like to put the oil I’m using out on my kitchen counter or by my bathroom sink to remember to use it. I’ve even made an alarm in my phone to help me remember to oil up! If you want to work on a certain emotion and forget for a day…don’t beat yourself up! Just crack that bottle open, inhale, and pick up where you left off.
Today I’m going to cover four BIG emotions and essential oils that can help release those feelings. We’re going to talk about Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Joy.
We’ve already talked about Anger–Purification is a great one for that. Other oils I’ve found that can help with that secondary emotion of anger are Stress Away, Release, Peace & Calming, Frankincense, and even good old Lemon.
What’s great is you can use these on kids! When you’ve got angry or frustrated kids, open up a bottle to pass around and see if they’ll take a deep inhale. Then try (calmly) talking about the issue. I’ve done this personally for myself and my kids–for some reason being in the car is conducive to talking. You’re not directly facing each other, you can take a pause and play some relaxing music and give everyone a break from talking. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve used oils to calm down or elicit healthy conversations while on a drive.
And remember, emotions are a signal that something needs to change, to communicate something needs attention. Maybe you’re angry over injustices in the world. Even Jesus was mad at people who were charging exorbitant prices so average people could worship at the temple. He overturned some tables over that one! So anger itself isn’t bad if it's impetus for change. The Bible even says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”(Ephesians 4:23) Let the anger transform into a positive emotion–determination, resilience, resolve–and let the negative aspect pass through your body like a wave. It’s the hanging onto anger that is detrimental to your mental and physical health.
Next up is fear. So many emotions have fear as their underlying emotion. Situations that cause emotions like fear or terror make a profound impact on our body (remember the little girl with the heart transplant?), so while they are important to recognize and act upon for survival, we also need to process them so that we can release them.
Often when we experience a traumatic event, other--less dramatic–events can trigger the same emotions as the traumatic one. For instance, fireworks can be a trigger for our veterans. It’s that reactive emotion versus expressive emotion.
Let me give you a (slightly humorous) personal example. I grew up camping every summer and we often would camp in Yosemite Valley. That area sees a lot of bears, and one year after we’d gone to bed in our tent we heard snuffling and snorting in our campsite. My mom woke up my dad, who proceeded to stick his head out of the tent, look around, and loudly proclaim, “Nope! No bears here!” At that exact moment, the giant shadow of a bear lumbered across the wall of our tent. Without hesitation my mom, brother, and I let out blood curdling screams which proceeded to scare the bear off. From then on we slept with pots and wooden spoons and banging on them and screaming to scare away our nightly visitors became a regular thing.
Now, I love camping, but for years afterwards when the lanterns would go out I would lie awake for hours…just waiting for the bears. Even later in Oklahoma and Oregon where the bear activity was not nearly so high it would take a long time for me to be able to relax and fall asleep–those feelings of terror so tied with nights sleeping in a tent and being woken up by bears (or a bear and a raccoon in a battle in one case!).
So–did the expressive emotion of fear and terror turn into action (making noise) that kept us safe? Yes. But does lying awake in the tent with those same reactive emotions benefit me at all? Nope! I would just wake up feeling tired and worn out! I feel like this past summer I was finally able to release those emotions and go to sleep much easier in a tent than before. We’ve got 3 camping trips scheduled from summer and I’ll let you know how those go!
When those feelings of fear or terror are triggered or you are remembering those events or feelings, try deeply inhaling one of these oils…and remember this is not prescriptive! If you only have one oil–use that one! As Gary Young said, there’s no wrong way to oil.
For Fear, Sandalwood or sacred sandalwood in the middle of your forehead with the affirmation I face the unknown.
For feelings of being scared, Peace & Calming over your throat with the affirmation I am still.
For terror, again use Sandalwood about 5ish inches below your belly button with the affirmation I surrender.
For fear of the past repeating, the blend Forgiveness is so effective, as there can be so much to forgive. Yourself and others. Apply this oil under your right chest with the affirmation I learn from all of life’s experiences.
Lastly if you are apprehensive about going into a situation, Valor on your spine or the back of your neck is amazing.
What does the Bible say about fear? It says “Fear not.” A LOT. Fear not, be strong and of good courage. Fear not, you’re of more value than many sparrows. Fear not, perfect love casts out fear. Fear not, there’s good news! Fear not, God is on your side, He is your shield, your fortress, the One who helps you. As opposed to anger and as we’ll see next, sadness, which we are to feel, Scripture tells us repeatedly to cast our cares on the God of the Universe and fear not.
Let’s move on to sadness. Sadness or grief touch everyone at some point. Whether it’s losing a loved one, seeing the plight of those in need, leaving friends and family for a long distance move, or even losing a pet, your body will feel that sadness. And that’s ok. It’s ok to cry. To mourn. Jesus cried, and even said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” He didn’t say, “Stiff upper lip, you’ll get through it!” Our Creator repeatedly acknowledges the need to name, feel, and express big emotions. Go read the book of Psalms to see the high highs and low lows that King David felt and expressed.
Much like playing the video game Tetris while recovering from emotional trauma can help you sort those memories into the proper “places” in your brain, smelling an essential oil can help you process and release grief or sadness. Try using these on the alarm points on the bridge of your nose or on your neck where your chin and neck meet. Personally I also feel that over the heart helps so much with sadness as well.
Lemon or Orange are good oils for sadness. The Affirmation is I see the humor in the situation. Now, this is just my perspective and I’m not the doctor or psychologist here, but often there are situations where there is just no humor. In this case I find the affirmation for grief to be more appropriate–Change brings growth.
Joy is the best oil for grief, and coupled with that affirmation can be very soothing.
For the feeling of depression, use Peace & Calming behind your ears with the affirmation I am glad that I’m alive.
For feelings of sorrow, try the blend Acceptance right in the center of your chest and the affirmation I am in balance. As I navigate grief over losing my Roy Boy I find this oil very comforting.
The opposite of Sadness is Joy. Joy is often is so, well--happy--that you may think you don’t need an oil to support a positive emotion. But smelling an oil like Magnify Your Purpose or Awaken or…surprise…JOY! can open your brain up to more creative activity (remember the Happiness Advantage?) and range of emotion while experiencing joy.
Also, linking a positive experience with a smell can be beneficial in the future. Similar to Pavlov’s dog salivating at the dinner bell, when you associate a smell with a happy event, in future times just smelling those scents will fire your brain to experience those joyful emotions again. For me, I have very positive emotions tied to using Gentle Baby while snuggling my sweet little ones. Every time I smell that oil it takes me back to a sweet, tender time in my life.
So try Magnify Your Purpose, Awaken, Peace & Calming, or any oil that gives you that positive emotion and work on storing up good emotions associated with that scent.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4). We are to express all of these emotions–repressing them will only hurt our mental and physical health. Dr. Caroline Leaf writes in her devotional Switch on Your Brain Every Day, “When you express your emotions in a healthy way, including allowing yourself to feel pain when someone hurts you and forgiving your enemies, you allow the free flow of neuropeptides and energy, which in turn allows all bodily systems to function as a healthy whole. However, when you repress and deny your emotions, whatever they may be, you block the network of quantum and chemical pathways, stopping the flow of good chemicals that run your biology and behavior.” Basically you can train your body to not feel these emotions, which can dramatically affect your physical and mental health.
So to sum up, emotions are good when processed effectively, and they affect your body. Your physical organs and tissue body. Essential oils are amazing because they can help you process and release emotions.
First identify the emotion. Let yourself feel it in your body.
Smell an oil. Use the book by Carolyn Mein or just grab an oil!
Think about or look up the “way out.” The other side of that emotion and maybe an affirmation to go along with it.
Inhale the oil and maybe apply to the alarm point on your body like we talked about. If you don’t know where, you can’t go wrong with over your heart.
If you ever feel the emotions are surfacing quickly or too intensely, take a break and process the emotions in a time frame that is more comfortable with you. When you are ready to continue, pick up where you left off. Overwhelming emotions generally indicate underlying emotions that also need to be cleared. As memories and emotions surface, it can be helpful to journal, go for walk, meditate, talk with a close friend or therapist, or exercise as you process and release.
To recap, the oils we talked about today are Purification, Stress Away, Release, Peace & Calming, Frankincense, Lemon, Sandalwood, Forgiveness, Valor, Joy, Acceptance, Magnify Your Purpose, and Awaken.
Next week we’re going to dive into the fascinating world of emotions and genes and epigenetics, as well as take a look at the Aroma Freedom Technique and how to use that to release emotions.
Thanks for taking this time with me. I feel honored to share this information with you and I hope you grab an oil right now and take some deep inhales!
If you’re new to oils and don’t really know how to order them or use them, head to cultivatingabundantlife.com and browse through my free classes, or if you’re ready click that “Get Started” button in the upper right hand corner!
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Until next time, continue cultivating your abundant life! Bye!