Episode 109: Using Essential Oils in Your Mindfulness Routine Featuring Johanna Nichols


doTERRA: Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said, “Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” And today, we're going to show you how to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life.

Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA, the podcast where you'll hear exciting, useful, and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field. If you like what you hear today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen. We always appreciate hearing from you. 

Today, we're excited to talk to Johanna Nichols about the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how you can start practicing today. Johanna, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about this incredible topic.

Johanna Nichols: Hey, I'm so thankful to be here today.

doTERRA: My first question for you is one that I think a lot of people have, and that's what is mindfulness, and how do I start practicing?

Johanna: You know, that's a great question, because I think even all of us in the mindfulness arena are still asking that question. But in general, its awareness of one's breath, one’s state of mind. And even though there is a general definition out there, I really like to think of it as though we were referring to overall awareness.  

So when we are thinking about mindfulness, it can seem a little intimidating. I know a lot of us can have those pictures of a yogi sitting in bliss, you know, in this like mist in the morning. And I know for me, that mindfulness has really come into play in action, as I like to say, like in my daily life. 

And one of the ways I have really figured out a different approach to mindfulness is becoming aware of our senses, right? Our sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. A perfect example of this is if you've ever been on a walk with a toddler, right? They’re like, “Look at this,” “Do you hear the birds?,” “I'm going to put this in my mouth and taste it,” “Do you smell that? That smells funny,” “I'm going to touch this.” Right? They have all of this awareness, right? But would we call a toddler a mindfulness person? Maybe not, right? 

Proprioception

So I like to even go further to think that we really have like a sixth and a seventh sense. One is proprioception, and that's the body's ability to sense itself in space. You see when this isn't working when kids are growing, and then suddenly they're like missing a step or they're bumping into a table or they're kind of klutzy, right? We're so lucky because in the night you can kind of reach over and grab whatever you're looking for or you can feed yourself without thinking of it. 

Interoception

And then we have this thing called interoception. I know these words sound big, but they're really simple. It's really our body's ability to sense inside itself, right? And a lot of toddlers don't have this yet. It's like, am I cold? Am I hungry? Where's my breath? Even though we all have this ability, it's something that we kind of come into, and some of us forget how to come back to those senses. 

And for me, these senses really allow us to become into awareness in the present moment. And that's what mindfulness is really key with. As we improve our interoception, so that looking inward, we improve our sense of self, we can improve our sense of self, and we can get clearer about our meaning and our purpose of our life. 

So that's what mindfulness really on a big area is like, “Oh, that sounds great, but what does that mean for me?” And for me, that’s like in our daily life, like right now, in this moment. Do I need to sit for 30 minutes in the morning? Do I need to pull back from my daily life? And I think you can actually learn mindfulness in the present moment of wherever you are in your life. Do you want to hear how?

doTERRA: Mm hmm. 

Johanna: So I so for me, it's like we have to first practice before we practice, which seems silly, but it's important. When we're feeling happy, when we're feeling good, right? We're having a good day. We all have those days where we're like, “You know what? I got all my stuff done. Kitchen's clean, I’ve got dinner out.” Everything's feeling good. In that moment, I like to grab an oil and put it on and really smell that oil. So maybe I'm diffusing it. And I'm utilizing that oil to almost imprint or anchor that lovely feeling that we're holding right then, right? 

On Sundays, this tends to be our day in our house. It tends to just have a little more space. So on Sundays, I'm always running Adaptiv in my diffuser because then I want people to remember that because our bodies have memory, and I'm kind of putting that as a touchstone so we can come back to that when we need it. And this imprinting, this anchoring of the essential oils is what will probably go into a little bit more. 

But I think the first beginning baby, baby step is just to pause and to remember. We're just remembering to come back to the present moment and be aware and we can come back to the senses in that awareness, so it could be as simple as “What am I looking at right now? What am I tasting? Am I eating my lunch? Am I actually experiencing taste or am I kind of powering through it? Am I slowing down? What am I smelling? What am I hearing? What does my skin feel like? Is there a fan on in the room? Like what?” Those sensations.

And that's how I've really started with my kids because I have one child that has a lot of anxious feelings, and we have found that those heavy blankets really work great for him, that feeling of kind of being tightly held. And a lot of that comes when he's feeling good, going over and just kind of showing him, like giving him a firm hug and teaching him how he can even press on his joints a little bit and make himself feel that held feeling. 

Beginning to Practice Mindfulness

I was talking with someone today, and I was telling them when I first started practicing being aware, being mindful in the moment, I had to set an alarm. So it's not like it just comes naturally, right? It had to first be something I trained myself to do. And I set an alarm for every half hour. And it got to the point where my husband would actually deeply exhale every time my alarm went off here. He could hear me just exhale. That little half hours—I did that for two years. Is that annoying? I'm sure that's so, so annoying to spouses everywhere. 

And I really got a chance to realize how far away I would get from myself. That timer would come up, just a little chime. And I would realize I was far, far deep in my mind. I wasn't in my body at all, right? Or I was deep in my phone. And it was just that little simple reminder: right, come back into my body. Can I put my feet on the floor? And what does that feel like? What is this present moment? And again, just the senses coming back in. 

Reminding Yourself to Be Mindful

And I actually still use a chime. Yes, during the hard transitions. So I have one at 7:45 a.m., which seems to be a meltdown point for us in our house, especially when some of my kids were going to school, right? Because that's like the push out the door, you know, a reminder like, “Hey, how do you want to show up?” Right? How do you want to show up? I want to show up here and present and with them. 

And I have one at that three hour and then again at 4:15, because a lot of moms know this as the unhappy hour. And that one actually reminds me to put oils in the diffuser. And that's when I work with Adaptiv again. And perhaps it might be seasonal. I might utilize something else. But Adaptive has been a rock in our house for helping imprint and transition these harder moments over this kind of bridge. 

I like to think of it like this little rainbow bridge that brings us back. And it doesn't make the situation necessarily better. And I want to make sure people know that. There is suffering. We can do hard things, but we can do them differently, right? We can really choose to see different possibilities and to make different decisions. And the only way we can do that is actually to refine how we seeing and how our hearts are kind of touching in to that moment.

For me, you know, it could be a chime, but it could just be those exhales, you know, whenever you remember, and you will remember, we come back and we pause. And if you know how you feel, you know who you are. And if you know who you are, you know what to do, right? We can act out of a grounded place instead of a place that's distant. And to me, that's mindfulness. And that's how I started. And yes, I do—I love great meditation practice, but I don't get to do one every day. But I do practice mindfulness all day long.

And especially like in this current time, this current environment that we're working in, we get so much practice. It's like the universe got to set us up to practice our practice to come out even stronger, right?

doTERRA: I think that's wonderful. And I love the way you put all of that. And I think that makes it much more simple for people starting to look out. It's not starting to practice. It's doesn't have to be this big forty-five-minute procedure every day. It's when you have the time, when you need it, in the moment. And I think that's beautiful. And you touched on a couple of little things talking through that. But what are the benefits that I would be able to see from practicing mindfulness consistently?

Johanna: So remember how we were talking about that interoceptive sense? It's like the ability to feel our breath. So when we start working with those sensations inside of our body, we really can learn how to shift those feelings. What a cool idea, right? 

I keep referring to my kids because they're really my greatest teachers. And I've had so many wonderful, wonderful teachers in my life, but my kids really taught me that they were perceiving the sensations they were having as permanent, right? They were feeling anxious feelings, and they thought that that would be forever. They were feeling scared or fearful feelings or angry feelings. And they thought that that was—that's who they are. That was it, right? 

And imagine how—that doesn't sound very hopeful, right? That's not hope-filled at all. So bringing them back into their bodies, right? With like, where are you in space? What is your feeling in your body? Or maybe it’s even more general. What at this moment are you hearing? What is the ground feel like to your touch? And when they started doing this, when I started doing this, I actually was able to make different decisions. I was able to recognize and name my feeling, which is really a cool thing to do because it allows separation of that feeling and our identity, right? And as a little person that feels really good and has a big person, I think that feels even better. 

doTERRA: Right. 

Johanna: And then you get to learn that all your feelings are okay to have. Oh, wait, really? I know that I have found myself shaming children for bringing their crankiness down in the morning, right? 

doTERRA: Right. 

Johanna: And it's like, no, that's—you are allowed to feel that feeling. Do you want a tool to shift it? And I think basically nine out of ten times that child or that adult wants a tool. They want something to be able to shift out of that uncomfortable space. And here's the truth. If we're not choosing consciously, we're choosing unconsciously. And that's, I don't know, I have this awful habit of picking up my phone when I'm feeling uncomfortable, when the kids are screaming, there's fighting. I know that I suddenly have to check on something. I’ll just be a second. 

And so our body helps us and supports us and it's really doing its best. It thinks, “Oh, I'm going to protect this person.” And it will always go with the easiest route or the route that we've trained it to go in. So the great thing about being aware and being mindful is that we're actually retraining our brains how to respond in a hard moment. 

And I've had a lot of them lately. I don't know about you. There's been a lot of hard moments. And that mantra, “We can do hard things. We have the tools to do this,” has been really transforming my relationship with my marriage, with my kids, with my friends, with my parents, because I can be responsible for how I feel. I like that. I like being able to show up and say, “This is how I am feeling.” Right? Because then, as I said before, if we know how we feel, we know who we are, and if we know who we are, we know what to do.

doTERRA: I love all of that. And it sounds like such simple things that are able to create such amazing benefit for us in our lives. So you mentioned a couple essential oil tricks earlier. How can I incorporate essential oils into my mindfulness routine to help improve my mindfulness?

Johanna: Oh, this is my favorite question. I love it so much, because this is actually why I am here. This is why I am someone who is a Wellness Advocate with doTERRA. You know what the best thing was that year they came out with the Kids Collection. With my kids, we work with the same imprinting, right? So we have to practice before practice. And so we want to practice before we practice. So then it seems relevant. And so we started imprinting and anchoring with these oils when we're feeling great, like we're going out for a bike ride, and it feels good. And my kids love Steady and Rescuer, those are our favorites, and they're on these great carabiners, right? So like, yes. Who doesn't want that? And they're putting this on when we're feeling great, and we're happy, and we're laughing. And it's this great thing. 

I even started doing it on our Friday movie night, right? If we’re going to be watching this good show, I put on those oils or I diffuse them in our diffuser. So they're just connecting that good feeling with that oil. And then it's actually a lot easier to then transition those transitions. You can just pull it out and they know what to do.

doTERRA: Right. 

Johanna: And they have that moment's pause where they get to remember. And it's that precise moment of disconnect. It's the same exact moment of opportunity for connection, which is kind of an interesting thing. It's almost like this little portal, right? And that's the good news. The good news is we can help ourselves, our kids, our communities, by teaching them how to bridge the gap when things get hard. 

Peppermint

And these oils are really great for this because it brings us into our awareness, into our present moment ability. And that's where action is possible. And it makes me excited. For me, it's like, today I wanted to be sharp for you. I wanted to really be here and speak clearly. So I grabbed Peppermint, and I just roll it on my temples, and across, and up my hairline, and down on the back of my neck. And I just felt alive. I felt crisp. It creates this, for me, a sensation of uplift. And because I always work with the Peppermint before I work out, right? When I got all those good endorphins going. My body now is saying like, “Oh, hey great, Peppermint! Let's get those endorphins ready.” Right? It's like, I love this. It's just a great tool for connection. 

Copaiba

And one other one that I wanted to say that we utilize every day is Copaiba. And even my son, actually, both of my sons love this. My daughter doesn't like to take it internally, but she really loves it rubbed into her neck at night, if she's been slouching. And the Copaiba, I feel like, is a great bridge for me to kind of move on, so when I'm getting stuck in those transitional times. And when you've had a toddler or a cranky one, sometimes these are big, people, and it's really feeling exhausting, it's wearing on me. I go for that Copaiba, and I either take some internally or I'm rubbing it right there on the back of my neck and I might run my hands under cold water and really kind of symbolically become into my body, right? That touch. That cold water. I have that scent, and I'm just feeling my feet. I'm feeling how I am inside, and I'm finding my breath. And I'm slowly teaching my kids to do that, right?
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But in the beginning, it's just simple awareness of our senses. And then it can be, where's my breath? And you suddenly find like, oh, I'm holding it in my throat or I'm holding it my belly. And it's tight. Okay, and it's just an observation, right? There's no judgment. I'm not a bad person because it's there. It just—it is, right? Just like the sky is blue. It is what it is. And just realizing it, working with one of those imprints, those anchors. And it helps us kind of cross the road to the other side. And so that's how I'm working with them every day. 

And I will tell you that anyone listening to this call can do this. My three-year-old is awesome at this. You know, she knows. She knows that they work. She has watched us, right? So we put that imprint in her, and she feels like she's got the power to help someone else. That to me is pretty cool.

doTERRA: I think all of those recommendations are incredible, and there are quite a few that I can't wait to try for myself. Johanna, my final question is how do I go about incorporating mindfulness into my everyday routine? How do I find the time?

Johanna: You know, I think first off, we have to lose our ideal, right? We kind of have to not view it as something that we go and do, but something that we can be. Oh, that's kind of cool, right? 

Start Small

It's like maybe it is setting the timer, and pretty much everyone's phone has a timer right now. And it could just be a practice of like, “Ok, I'm going to set it just for noon. I'm going to just practice one time this week.” And at that noon, seeing where your brain is, seeing where your thoughts are, seeing how you feel in your body, how we've been slouching all day over the computer or our phones, right? Can we bring ourselves back into our bodies, maybe straighten up and just expand, come back into that breath that we have.
 
And it's amazing what that one breath can do and just placing, I like to place one of my hands just either over my heart or kind of tapping on my heart with my fingertips. Elena Brower taught me this one. And just, kind of, talking to myself like, “You're doing great, girl. You're doing good.” You know, or maybe it's just, “We can do hard things.” 

Anyone Can Practice Mindfulness

You know, because I think the most important thing to know is that there doesn't have to be an ideal world for you to begin practicing mindfulness and practicing awareness. And you don't have to look a certain way or be a certain person to do it. It's accessible to all of us, all ages, all bodies, right? And that really feels wonderful to me, you know? It's like we know movement is good. We know paying attention is good. So when we become aware of our senses, and we get to anchor them or bridge them with our wonderful essential oils, they can give us these tools to transform our lives. 

So we actually get to develop and fine tune our embodiment of ourselves, which is really cool. And there's no end. There's no place to go. We just get to be here. It's being, not doing, right? And whenever we remember, that's—and you will remember—that is it. And we just try to begin remembering more often, right? But we might just begin with one today, right. That once a day touching in. Or when we wake up, like consciously coming into a state of, “Okay, how is my body feeling? Where is my mind?” And as I like to do, “What am I grateful for?” 

Just those simple acts of touching in can become a great habit that we imprint and anchor until suddenly we're doing that more and more. To me, that's what life's all about. It's being present, even when things are hard, and just continuing to come back to that present moment and be aware and remember.

doTERRA: I think all of that is beautiful, and I think if I have learned one thing from sitting and talking with you today, it's that mindfulness is powerful and has the power to really affect change in our lives. Johanna, thank you so much for joining us today to teach us a little bit more about how everyone can incorporate mindfulness into their lives.

Johanna: What a gift. Thank you so much for having me. I really hope that this touches you and sparks a little fire inside, just knowing that we have everything we need. There's nothing outside of ourself that we need to do this practice.
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doTERRA: Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you liked what you heard today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen. Also, if you want to try any of the products you learned about, go to doterra.com or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today.