Keeping the Beginner’s Mind

Keeping the Beginner’s Mind

At the heart of a mindfulness practice is the idea of a “beginner’s mind.” This means that no matter how long you have been practicing you are encouraged to approach your experience with the mind of a beginner, letting go of preconceived notions, of past experiences, of comparing this to last time and just be in your experience right now.

I like to apply this to my practice of working with essential oils. Sure, I’ve used lavender a million times but can I take a moment right here to sit with it as if it was my first time? What does she want to say to me today? It is amazing to me how much I learn from going back to simple practices. Sometimes it is more than I read about in book or learn in classes. Knowing how to trust one’s inner wisdom is one of my favorite things to teach to students.

You have to keep learning until you get past the point of feeling like you know it all and return back to being open to the wisdom right in front of you.

As we have expanded our advanced training offering for practitioners in the Aromatherapy Practitioner Training Program, I began to feel that some of our students could benefit from a course that was more geared to beginner’s and provided a strong foundation for practicing at home and making products with essential oils.

For the past year, we’ve been working on a brand new course that will be offered starting in March and run through August of 2017.

The Aromatherapy Beginner’s Course is an in-depth introduction to the art and science of aromatherapy. The course consists of 4 weekend workshops (totaling 50 hours of live training) and another 50 hours of independent study projects, totaling 100 hours of guided training. The focus of this curriculum is not only on how we use essential oils but also how we support our bodies natural healing mechanisms.

The first weekend is April 22/23 and space is very limited. Register now to reserve your space in this first offering of the Aromatherapy Beginner’s Course.

No Double Takes!

No Double Takes!

Sylla and Nyssa just recorded their interviews for the Essential Oil Roundtable, beginning May 2. This one-of-a-kind online event features a variety of essential oil educators, experts, and enthusiasts sharing about their passion. We are particularly excited to see Penny Price in the line up, among so many others.

We had a really fun time recording our interviews and imagined we were the hosts of one of our favorite radio program and podcasts, Radiolab. You all know how we like to have a good laugh, so listen to our short promo below to hear about the funny things we talk about.

Though we say some funny things and there might be a few parts we’d edit and refine, the talks are supposed to be natural and in one take. So we just went with what we got and we think you’ll like this personal style. Let us know!

Down to Earth with Vetiver and Angelica

Down to Earth with Vetiver and Angelica

As the earth begins its slow movement towards Spring, we can feel the stirrings of the earth in this time of new root growth. We are contemplating how to nurture the seeds that are sprouting in our lives. Lately, we are turning to earthy roots of Vetiver and Angelica for inspiration in our process of growth.

Botanical drawing of an Angelica plant with a Vetiver root basket and scented balls. Botanical drawing of an Angelica plant with a Vetiver root basket and scented balls.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) is a grass that grows in the tropical climates yet instead of spreading throughout the ground below as many grasses do, Vetiver roots grow straight downward. It is from this part of the plant that we obtain its medical and aromatic properties, as well as the volatile oil. The roots are dug, dried, then chopped and soaked in water to create the oil which may take up to 24 hours!  For us, it is a superior oil for pulling us back to earth, or maybe as the root growth suggests, help us dig deeper into the nutritious soil of our lives.

Angelica Root (Angelica archangelica) oil, is also grounding but in a different way. The Angelica plant’s most distinguishing feature is its burst of flowers that grows out of its leaves and creates a majestic canopy above the plant. In its first year it produces only leaves and the stem can reach six feet high. The second year sees the umbrella shaped burst of flowers in the summer which yield seeds that also create an oil.

The scent of the root oil is also deep like vetiver but also contains a sweetness that propels us to venture forth on the next expansion of our journey.

Together in equal proportions they make a light and airy scent as the tenacious vetiver holds back the etherial angelica. Use for meditation, wear in a necklace, or use in inhalers. Caution as Angelica is phototoxic so avoid skin use if you will be going out in the sun. 

As you move into new projects this year, use these oils to help keep you planted on the earth while still reaching towards the sky.

Tidbits from Tony Burfield’s Second Edition Natural Aromatic Materials – Odours and Origins:

Vetiver (java type) – Red-brown to deep brown viscous liquid. Odour is heavy sweet woody earthy­ reminiscent of roots and wet soil with a rich undertone of precious wood. Long-lasting.  Dry-out is woody-earthy and creamy with a slight smoky aspect.

Angelica Root – It is a pale yellow to brown oil, usually darker than the seed oil, with a­ pungent, heady, fatty, liqueur odour with some fruitiness, and peppery aspect. Dry-out is tobacco, fatty, spicy/cumin-like.

Natural Aromatic Materials, Second Edition

Sharing Uncommon Scents

Sharing Uncommon Scents

Gabriel Mojay, Marge Clark, Mark Webb, and Sylla Hanger with the Executive Producers of the film, Uncommon Scents, Angela Ehmke and Kristina Bauer. Gabriel Mojay, Marge Clark, Mark Webb, and Sylla Hanger with the Executive Producers of the film, Uncommon Scents, Angela Ehmke and Kristina Bauer.

One might think that aromatherapists share some of the same sensibilities. Most of us are in this field because we want to help other people. We believe that plants have the ability to help us heal and we are dedicating ourselves to a lifetime of learning this art and science of working with essential oils. However, many who have encountered our field for some time may also notice great disparities in how we use our tools, what we teach, and how we practice. Thankfully, there is something brewing that has the potential to bring our community together even more and expose our field to a much wider audience.

At the Alliance of International Aromatherapists Conference in Denver last September, we got to meet and befriend two passionate women who are spearheading the first documentary about our industry. Angela Ehmke and Kristina Bauer have begun the tremendous task of putting together Uncommon Scents, and debuted their intention at the conference last fall.

Another passionate aromatherapist, Leslie Moldenauer, has recently published an interview with these women. 


Kristina also attended the enlightening class last October in Atlanta with Mark Webb on Aromatic Medicine. Our Instructor, Mark Webb, was completely in support of a project like this and brought the community together even more.

Before we met for the class in Atlanta, Kristina and Mark decided to take advantage of the opportunity of having several well-known aromatherapists in the same room. They arranged for a panel to take place with Mark, Gabriel Mojay, Marge Clark, and our very own Sylla Hanger. Kristina and Angela arranged for a film crew to come and video this discussion as well as some individual interviews with the speakers. Though many of the students had already had three days of intense learning with one more ahead of them, practically the entire class returned for the panel that evening. So many of us were in awe to get to witness aromatherapy history in the making and gained so much wisdom by hearing our industry leaders speak about the state of aromatherapy and where we are going. There was a strong sense of solidarity and hope despite the “good fight” against bad marketing claims, over simplification and commercialization that we all constantly face.

The thing is, to produce the film these women are going to need to raise a lot of money. Luckily, in our digital world of crowdfunding and close social media circles meeting their goal for production can be a reality. The intention for the panel discussion and the interviews was to have initial footage for the film and also a crowdfunding pitch video to begin their major fundraising this year.

But we wanted to give them more than that. 

Mark suggested that we also have a silent auction as a part of the class to help pay for the cost of the film crew. He donated several essential oil kits that he had brought and Marge Clark also offered up several of her oils to be added to the auction. We were inspired to offer several books as well. Everyone got so excited and bids went through the roof! By the end of the weekend, we were giving back to Kristina and Angela enough to cover their costs for this part of production. They were humbled by their gratitude, not expecting such a flood of support. They thought our gift was to create the opportunity for the panel. We showed them that we believe in them so much we weren’t going to wait for their campaign to begin to help with funding.

It felt so good to support them, that we couldn’t stop.

The following weekend, we were hosting Gabriel Mojay in Tampa for his workshop “Harmonizing the Spirit.” Kristina would be in attendance and we couldn’t help but prepare a silent auction for this class too. Gabriel Mojay donated three of his aromatic sonnets with original photographs of the plants. He also contacted Rhiannon Lewis and together they donated a complete set of all the back issues for the International Journal for Clinical Aromatherapy and recordings from the Botanical Conferences. With these and several other donations, we were able to raise another several thousand dollars.

Upon our first introduction to both Angie and Kristina, we knew they were our tribe. We have a special place in our hearts for people who have a vision and pursue it, especially when it is a way to bring our sometimes disjointed aromatherapy community together. 

As someone who has grown up with a finger on the pulse of the aromatherapy industry through my mom, Sylla, I am aware of the tendency for passion to build walls in this small community. But last Fall I felt that there is a new generation emerging in our field. All due respect to those who’ve come before, it seems we are learning to come together like never before and this film is just one example. Let it be known that our “elders” are leading by example.

Through these experiences, I see that we all share the common sense of coming together to support one another. It looks like this sentiment is not so uncommon after all.

It doesn’t stop here. We’ve decided that we will hold another silent auction at our Chemistry of Essential Oils class with Robert Pappas next February in New Jersey. Bontoux will be adding to our list of auction items and Robert Pappas has also agreed to donate something special from his personal collection.

But more importantly, we urge all of you to consider supporting this movie. Click below to see their crowdfunding page and choose your perk!

This post was written by Nyssa Hanger, Assistant Director of the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy.

Lyrical Aromatherapy ~ A Poem on Rosemary

Lyrical Aromatherapy ~ A Poem on Rosemary

We are so pleased to host the wonderful Gabriel Mojay this October in our beautiful city of Tampa, FL. Partly because we are excited to learn how to help heal emotional imbalances using essential oils and acupressure, but also because Gabriel is just so cool.

Let me demonstrate. This incredible teacher is also a bit of a renaissance man. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable about the intersections of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the practice of aromatherapy, he also is a brilliant photographer and poet!

Here is a beautiful poem about the Rosemary plant along with a close-up picture of a rosemary flower.

Doesn’t make you want to just curl up with a cup of tea and pause to take a closer look at our magnificent world? We are so thrilled to to bring you teachers that bring us closer to what’s really important.

Early-bird special ends this Saturday! Learn more about this exciting class here.

50 Shades of Rose (otto) or 7 Ways to Use Rose This Valentine’s Day

50 Shades of Rose (otto) or 7 Ways to Use Rose This Valentine’s Day

For a lot of people, roses are the epitome of love. As Valentine’s Day swoops closer, lovers rush to buy bundles of these beautiful flowers. But did you know that most roses are bred for beauty, and don’t give off the aroma that they should?

It’s true! There are over 250 species of rose, and over 10,000 different hybrid varieties. Of these, only three are commonly used for oil extraction. But lucky for us, we get several varieties in the form of  essential oils and rose absolute! Here are some ways you can use rose this Valentine’s day, besides buying the bouquet.

1. Check out rose essential oil, or otto. It’s heavenly and quite complex. Many of its components are also undefined, which means it’s impossible to replicate. Rose essential oil is light yellow to green in color and can solidify at cooler temperatures due to the natural waxes. It’s a costly essential oil because it takes 4 tons of petals to make a kilo of oil or 60 roses to make one drop! But it’s also one of the most beloved essential oils in the aromatherapy world.

2. You can also look into rose absolute. It’s an extract that holds even more of the true rose scent than the otto. Absolute also offers unique chemical constituents and is more reddish in color and thicker than the otto. It’s less expensive than rose essential oil, as well. And you can blend otto and rose absolute together for the full effect!

3 Make a rose facial cream or serum. Use your favorite carrier oil, like organic coconut oil. Then choose additives that work for your skin type, like evening primrose oil, rosehip seed and others (our Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual or the Aromatic Spa Book are great guides for which oils to use and why). Once your base is ready, add the rose oil, absolute or both. A good safe dilution for skin is usually 2%, and a bit more for perfume use. But due to its potency 1 or 2 drops of rose otto to one ounce of carrier or cream/lotion makes a nice face blend. Use less if you have sensitive skin or want less of a scent.

4. Fall in love with a spritz of rose hydrosol. Hydrosols are made of the hydrolate water from the distillation process. They are excellent for the skin, and soothing to inflamed tissue. Hydrosols are useful for most skin types and make for a refreshing body spray. You can buy them fresh or make your own through home distillation.

5. For a tasty Valentine treat, add an ounce of pure rose hydrolate or a drop of rose absolute to your champagne bottle. We tried this with otto, and to our surprise, the rose oil made tiny wax balls in the cold champagne. We’ll go more into detail about why this happened in our next blog, but for now, our suggestion is to add absolute or the hydrolate instead! It’s delicious and romantic–just like Valentine’s Day champagne should be.

6. Add a few drops of rose oil to local raw honey for a tasty treat. It’s delicious! And combined with Damiana oil and its reputed properties (see link below), this honey could be multipurpose, in tea or on the skin!

7. Our friend Marge Clark at Natures Gift suggests a drop of rose in chilled heavy cream before whipping it! Her site has more rose talk, and rose oils. Thanks Marge, what a wonderful romantic and tasty idea!

Enjoy these suggestions, and have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Here’s a fun read: Mooning Over Love: Fragrances, foods, and flavors to excite and celebrate your beloved

Aromatherapy Beginner's Training begins Feb. 17 - CLICK HERE to reserve your spot! Dismiss