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The Aromatic Bath – a Soul Satisfying Subtle Aromatherapy Technique
by Shellie Enteen, RA, BA, LMT
Editor’s Note: Shellie has her own line of essential oils and blends available at her website Astralessence. Shellie is currently Vice President and has also served as Director Coordinator and Secretary on the NAHA Board of Directors. Shellie is a contributing editor for the ‘Aromatherapy Journal.’ NOTE: This article was originally published in the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.
With all the tools I have gathered in my 30 year practice and study of holistic health, when I feel the need for an immediate, potent, lasting change in body, mind, spirit I choose to soak for at least 10 minutes, undisturbed, in a hot bath containing (diluted) essential oils. There are several reasons why this method is so powerful: Water conducts energy and easily absorbs vibrations so by introducing the vibration of the essential oil blend, it is possible to soak in a specific frequency to the benefit of both physical and subtle energy bodies. The heat of the water also increases the volatility rate of the essences, speeding them into the body in a manner similar to steam inhalation. And while there is continuing study and debate about whether essential oils penetrate the skin and enter the body in a purely topical way, it is recognized that the application of hot water, increases circulation in the upper layers of the skin and opens the pores, creating greater absorption. This combined physical and energetic ‘dose’ of aromatic oils is further enhanced by the general relaxation, increased metabolism, detoxification and circulatory stimulation provided by hot water. Whatever dilution method is chosen for safe use of the essential oils, such as using different types of salts, seaweed, oils or clays as carriers, introduces other specific beneficial properties to the bath.*
An Aromatic Bath with true essential oils is not for cleansing the body. You might want to take a regular shower with soap prior to the bath if you feel the need. A most effective method for taking an Aromatic Bath is the following: Create the environment for maximum relaxation and openness by removing distractions. Silence the phone, ask family members to consider you ‘off limits till further notice,’ bring your robe and some candles or other soft light into the bathroom and if you wish, play relaxing, harmonious music. Select your essential oils. Remember that safe use of essential oils requires dilution and since essences do not dissolve in water, chose your dilution carrier. A tablespoon of honey is easy, works well and is good for the skin. You might also choose ½ cup of high fat content milk for the same reason. 2 cups of Epsom salts is good if you also desire a detoxifying effect. Or choose from other carriers like those mentioned above. Depending on the essential oils chosen, you can use up to 15 or 20 drops of essential oils for a bath blend, but fewer drops will also work well. Start running a hot bath and then create your blend in a small cup or bowl or, in the case of Epsom salts, a measuring cup. When you have done this, making sure to work the essences well into the carrier, check the bath water temperature. It should be hot enough to soak for at least 10 minutes, but not so hot that you will perspire profusely (unless you are doing a specific bath for detoxification or cold/flu relief). When the bath is ready, once you are comfortably seated in the tub, introduce the bath blend into the water, swirling to accelerate absorption. The moment the blend hits the hot water is the most potent moment for inhalation so be sure to focus on some deep breathing at that time. Then lie back and relax, allowing yourself to experience the unique gift of this bath. When the water begins to cool, you can choose to add more hot water and continue your soak for up to 30 minutes. When the bath is over, you can simply towel dry or if you chose, rinse off in a quick shower but do not soap the skin or use other fragranced products.
When it comes to the Aromatic Bath, while it may be an ecologically sound practice, it is a great shame that builders of today discount the old large size bathtub in favor of small garden tubs or very small tubs with showers. In order to stretch out and fully submerge in my garden tub you would have to be about three years old, and a small three year old at that. I have read that, ideally, if you can submerge your entire body with only your nose and mouth in the air, you can not only address all the chakras but you can also clear and heal the ‘light body’ and/or the subtle energy bodies all the way out to the Monadic. (This level is considered the generator of the principle of Consciousness from which we draw Will, Love and Intelligence. More info on energy bodies can be found at www.energyreality.com.) Perhaps this ability to profoundly affect the energy bodies is another reason the Aromatic bath is such a powerful modality.
I recommend the Aromatic bath be taken when you can have a period of quiet rest and reflection directly afterward. Some baths work well before bed; some baths produce profound insights which require a period of assimilation. Certainly, it is good to allow time to experience whatever change the bath has produced before going on to other activities.
Of course, it is important to know what you want to get out of the bath and to choose your essences accordingly. Unless you are doing a bath that requires specific pain relief or detoxification, you may rely heavily on your pull toward the energies of the oils themselves rather than their known physical properties. These energies and effects of the essential oils on mind, emotions and spirit can be found in books such as Gabriel Mojay’s “Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit,” Valerie Worwood’s “Fragrant Heavens,” and Patricia Davis’ “Subtle Aromatherapy.” But if you are familiar with their fragrance, the essences may also suggest themselves. Simply following my feelings about which oils to choose has led to some memorable experiences.
Some 15 years ago, when my favorite aunt was in critical care, about to transition in a hospital far away, I chose to take a bath to connect with her spiritually and to ease my own grief. I felt drawn to use frankincense (Boswellia carteri)*, helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum), rose (Rosa damascena) and neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara), which I diluted into honey. The effect was remarkable. First, I saw violet light all around me (not my usual perception!) and I was able to open up my grief and had ‘a good cry.’ Then I had the distinct impression that I could ‘talk’ to my aunt and there followed a great communion between us. When the bath was finished, I not only felt more peaceful and grounded, but I knew exactly what I personally could do from a distance to help her and her family get through this experience.
Another bath, taken during winter holiday stress, particularly cold weather and some uncomfortable relationship issues, called for fir (Abies siberica), petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara), orange (Citrus sinensis var. dulce), rose (Rosa damascena) and ginger (Zingiber officinalis). Apart from the beautiful fragrance, this was a very uplifting, warming and centering bath which gave me a peaceful feeling that noticeably lasted for more than a week.
I hope that you will be inspired to use the Aromatic Bath and create some wonderful experiences of your own.
Subtle Properties of Essential Oils
(Adapted from Patricia Davis and Gabriel Mojay’s works listed above.)
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) For agitation, grief, an inability to give or receive love, to open the heart chakra, to relieve unexpressed anger and depression from frustration. (Note: avoid photosensitivity by using a bergaptene free bergamot.)
Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) For feeling stuck in life with a need to move on, for enhanced alertness and focus, when there is a block between chakras.
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis, and Matricaria recutita) For soothing emotions, especially anger, for strengthening the throat chakra (esp. Matricaria recutita, which is blue as is the color of the throat chakra), for the need to speak truth without anger or bitterness, to assist channeling, to counteract over active chakra activity in any chakra. For the need to control, the need to nurture (related to solar plexus.)
Carrot Seed (Daucus carota) To strengthen inner perception of truth in times of doubt and confusion, for free flow of energy between (especially) the solar plexus and the heart chakras.
Cedarwood (Cedrus atlanticus) To enhance spirituality and cut through clouded mental states, to develop and maintain a sense of balance and control. As a tree oil, in times where strength and the ability to stand firm is needed…immovable strength in times of crisis, transforming negative situations into wisdom.
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) To encourage vivid dreams and dream recall, to strengthen the Third Eye, to release tightly coiled or obsessive emotions and states of mind. For reassurance. To restore a clear sense of our life’s purpose.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) For both worldly and spiritual transitions, bereavement and ending of relationships. To unearth fears that block needed change.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) To clear energy from arguing, physical conflict, negative energy of any kind. For feelings of being constricted in any part of life.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Clears and purifies the auric field. For protection against psychic attack (the negative thoughts of others.) For over thinking, overanalyzing and to ease self expression and find productive outlets for the mind.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) When personal drive and rationality deny feelings and impressions, for overworking and when there is a need to stop and smell the roses. To reconnect to spontaneity, pleasure, and intimate communication.
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) For tension, frustration, moodiness and irritability, overeating (comfort eating) due to emotions. To balance expectations of self and others, easing feelings of angry disappointment and to perceive and set realistic goals.
Helichrysum, also called Everlasting, Immortelle (Helichrysum italicum) For increased intuition, visualization, meditation, personal growth work and creative arts, for deeply embedded resentment, old wounds and the need to forgive.
Jasmine (Jasminum officinalis) For vulnerability and lack of confidence, habitual self restraint and inhibition, for heightened spiritual experience during visualization, to call angelic presence. Fertility, of body and mind.
Juniper (Juniperus communis) To clear excessive emotion and energies that have attached to the personal energy field, either from known or unknown individuals and especially if there has been anger or unpleasantness, to clear energy in rooms especially prior to meditation and spiritual work, for feelings of regret, withdrawal due to feeling misunderstood and not supported, fear of failure.
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) For calming and soothing, to bring the higher and lower chakras into connection and harmony, for deep meditation, to bring a sense of the sacred into everyday life, to cleanse negative energies from a room. For over-sensitivity, self consciousness, self protective inhibition. To break habits.
Lemon (Citrus limon) To focus, clear and uplift consciousness. For emotional confusion and doubt and to encourage greater trust and security. To alleviate fears of emotional involvement and losing oneself in another. (Note: to avoid photosensitivity, use a steam distilled Lemon oil.)
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) To bring happiness, especially to children, and to connect with the inner child, to bring it peace and comfort and connection with the “Christ energy.”
Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) To decrease sexuality and when a period of celibacy is required. For feelings of isolation and deprivation. For obsessive thinking, emotional craving and to accept loss (grief.) For forgiveness without judgment.
Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) For inner peace and stillness, to ease sorrow and grief and wounds from loss and rejection. Bridging heaven (crown chakra) and earth (root chakra), to find a channel for the expression and manifestation of the soul’s dreams and visions. To ground the intellect and ease over thinking, worry and mental distraction.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) For purification, creativity, emotional harmony, union of body and soul and the release of suppressed emotions through reuniting the conscious and subconscious.
Orange (Citrus sinensis var. dulce) To bring joy to the soul, dispelling sadness. For hard workers who strive for perfection and have little tolerance for mistakes, planners who can’t delegate, tension from trying too hard. For encouragement, optimism and a skilful approach that brings good luck.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) To ground the mind that is over active and worried and for those who place too much focus on spiritual life, to the detriment of their physical experience, to bring focus back into the body and the senses.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) For feelings of inferiority. To bring mental clarity and as an aid to study. For digestion of new ideas and impressions. For prophetic dreams.
Pine (Pinus sylvestris) Like Juniper, for clearing spaces and energy body after exposure to crowds and negativity. For psychological fortification, self confidence and to eliminate self blame and remorse. To restore emotional positivity and healthy boundaries.
Rose (Rosa centifolia, Rosa damascena) Divine love: self, personal or universal. For healing the heart chakra, grief, feelings of unworthiness in terms of appearance, feeling rejected and separated from relationship. To spiritualize sexual union. To call angels and the Divine Mother.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Psychic protection, clear thought, clear-sightedness. To overcome apathy, gloom and lack of faith in potential. To renew enthusiasm, confidence and embolden the spirit, to remember our true path.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) For a return to everyday routine after an absence, for strengthening, courage, to boost morale by imbuing spiritual fortitude and bodily vigor.
Vetivert (Vetivera zizanoides) To ground and center energy and instill a sense of belonging. Protection of the solar plexus chakra, to protect from oversensitivity. For those who are lost in the pursuit of an ideal, forgetting to renew, replenish and experience the perfection that exits.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) When fear, anxiety and the urge to withdraw has subconsciously blocked sexuality. For isolation and depression. To soothe, entice, open and center.
*You may notice that Frankincense and Sandalwood have been omitted from this list. It is a great tragedy that these powerful, spiritual helpers are now endangered and so the NAHA policy calls for substituting other oils. We recognize that it is impossible to completely substitute for any oil, especially when considering subtle aromatherapy and particularly when this concerns Frankincense and Sandalwood which both have such a strong and well deserved history for their specific benefits, but while sustainability, purity and selling methods are at this time questionable, NAHA urges you to refrain from the purchase and use of these precious essences.
*One excellent resource for information on these properties is Sylla Sheppard-Hanger’s recent work “The Aromatic Spa Book,” published by the Atlantic Institute for Aromatherapy and available through them or through the NAHA bookstore.
NOTE: This article was originally published in the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.
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About the Author
Shellie Enteen, RA, BA, LMT, has been involved with the arts of Astrology, Aromatherapy and Holistic Healing for over 25 years. She is a Registered Aromatherapist, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Jin Shin Jyutsu Practitioner, EFT Practitioner, Educator, Author, Astrologer and Ordained (ADL) Reverend.
Shellie teaches the Professional Level Aromatherapy class at Greenville Technical College in Greenville, SC and Nationally approved continuing education classes in Aromatherapy, Jin Shin Jyutsu and Bodywork. (See www.ccmeseminars.com for information and registration for currently scheduled classes.) She is a practicing Astrologer and has published works on Astrology, Aromatherapy and Bach Flower Remedies in various trade publications, such as Massage Today Magazine (articles available at www.massagetoday.com) and the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal (available at www.naha.org).
Contact Shellie at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.astralessence.com Phone: (864) 877-8450