Episode 106: Using Meditation to Overcome Toxic Thoughts

doTERRA: Did you know that the number of people practicing meditation has more than tripled since 2012?Regular meditation has been shown to have many benefits and has been gaining popularity around the world. And today, we're going to talk about how simple it can be to start incorporating meditation into your 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 Amelia Adrian about how you can start meditating or improve your meditation routine. Amelia, thank you so much for being here to talk with us today.

Amelia Adrian: You're so welcome. I'm really happy to be here.

doTERRA: So this is a topic that I think can be intimidating for some people. So how can I approach meditation as a beginner?

Amelia: Yeah, I agree. I think it can feel like it's something that is for other people or that other people do really well. And maybe we can feel that we don't do it so well. But really, the best thing to know is that you can't really get it right; you can't really get it wrong.

So if you were just to take one long inhale and exhale with me right now, focusing your attention on that breath as it comes in through your nostrils and out again. In that moment, in that one breath, you're meditating. You've reset your body, your brain, your nervous system.

What is Meditation?

So meditation really, it's simply focusing your mind on one thing. And you can meditate on anything. It can be positive or negative. And I was looking at the definition of meditation, and it's shown to be the act of giving your attention to one thing.

And we associate it with being calm and relaxed, but actually, you can meditate on absolutely anything. It could be that you meditate on your breath. It could be that you have more of an active meditation, and you meditate on nature as you're going for a walk. It could be that you sit quietly and meditate on the beauty of a flower. So it's a thought or a study on one object.

How Do I Start Practicing Meditation?

And really one of the simplest things that you can do as a beginner, one of the simplest types of meditation that you can do, is a calm abiding meditation. And this is really where you just watch the breath, just like we did right at the beginning. So you become aware of the sensation of the breath as it comes in through the nose, in through the nostrils, and then down into the belly on the inhale. And then on the exhale, the breath travels up and out through the nostrils.

And you just watch the breath. The sensation of the breath as it comes into the body and then as it comes out of the body. And you can do this for three breaths. You could do it for three minutes. You could do it for 10 minutes. You can do it for 60 minutes. It's really just—you know—it's really, how long is a piece of string?

How Do I Make Meditation a Habit?

But what I suggest for people who are just starting out is that you create a little habit of meditation practice so you make maybe a little promise to yourself that you're going to do it for seven days, say, and see how that goes. And then if that goes okay, then maybe you up it to 11 days, then maybe up it to 21 days. And you just see how you go, rather than say, “I'm going to now be a meditator for the rest of my life.” You set yourself something that's achievable, something that feels that you can do right?

The way to really make it part of a routine, I find is to do it at the same time every day. So then when that time of day comes around, you're like, “Oh, this is my meditation time.” And so then you kind of—it almost then becomes automatic. So for me, the best time for me to do it is in the morning. So it's literally get up, go to the loo, and then sit on my meditation cushion and start.

Don't turn on your phone. Don't make a cup of tea. Definitely don't go downstairs and start unloading the dishwasher. You know, the world will start to come at you with many, many different things for you to do that will tell you a more important than taking time with yourself, than just taking time with your own—with your own being. So prioritize that.

And for me the way that that works is if I do it first thing in the morning. Now I know if you've got like little kids, that can be really hard to do. The kids will get up probably before you, and they'll be asking and demanding your attention. So if that's the case, then you just locate it in a different part of your day. But choosing a time, I think, so that when that time comes around, you're like okay, that's your trigger. So then it becomes more habitual.

doTERRA: And I love how simple and how really customizable you make that. I think that's beautiful because I think in my mind meditation has to be this very strict, long thing that I'm always doing. But I think it really is what fits your life, and I think that's a beautiful sentiment.

Amelia: Yeah, for sure.

doTERRA: So what are the benefits that I can gain from meditation?

Benefits of Meditation

Amelia: So for me, really, it gives me a greater understanding of who I am. It helps me understand who I am away from the different roles that I play in my life: mother, daughter, wife, friend, business owner. It helps me move away from all of these other roles, and it helps me connect to that truer, quieter nature actually within me. There's a quote that I really love from Carl Jung which says, “The world will ask you who you are, and if you don't know, the world will tell you.”

So in this way what I love about meditation is that it's not something spaced out. It's not something dreamy. It's something very centralizing and very clarifying. And in identifying and locating and understanding more about who you really are, you're able to own your position in the world. You're able to take it in an empowered way, your position in the world. And that feels really positive.

And that doesn't come with your first meditation or your second or your third or even your fiftieth. It's something that's maybe cumulative. So you might experience that in the first few times, and that's wonderful. But it's something that you become familiar with like, “Oh yeah, I remember. This is the calmer version of me. This is who I really can be.”

There's numerous scientific studies on the benefits of meditation, and these all have great value. But I've kind of had a look, and there seem to be five main benefits that we can get from meditation.

A Calming and Stabilizing Influence

The first one is it calms and it stabilizes us. So one of the main benefits that it can bring us is this sense of stability and calm. It can help center us, stable us into this present moment rather than projecting into the future or ruminating over the past. So it keeps us keeps us present moment aware, which then helps to calm and stabilize us. That's kind of one of the fundamental benefits really of meditation.

Improves Focus

So the second thing is it improves focus. The practice really is helping us focus our attention on one thing so we can then translate that through to many different aspects of our life.

Increases Resilience

The third thing that it seems to do is it increases our resilience to stress. So it's shown that meditation lessens the inflammatory responses to those who are exposed to psychological stress. What it actually has been shown to do in studies is that it dampens neural activity in the amygdala, and it increases connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. So both of those parts of the brain help us to be less reactive to stresses. And, significantly I think, they help us to recover better from stress when we experience it. You know, stress is part of life. It's not something that we can eradicate or eliminate. But what we can do is train ourself through meditation to recover quicker from it. This becomes our baseline. This becomes more who we are throughout the day not just in particular moments after a meditation.

Strengthens Compassion

It also has been shown to help us be more compassionate, and also, notably, to be more effective in our compassion. So it helps our relationships. It's shown that it can improve empathy, that fundamental ability to understand another person's suffering and then also to wish to help change that.

So I think that's really just one of the most powerful motivation. I think motivation factors for doing meditation is to think that it's going to improve your relationships, improve your relationship with your friends, perhaps with your kids, perhaps with your partner. Really, it's a beautiful practice to bring that in.

Supports Physical Health

And then it's also shown that it can improve physical health. There's good evidence that meditation has an effect, a physiological effect, on health. So I already mentioned that those who have a meditation practice seem to be able to buffer more from the inflammatory response to stress. And we do know that there's a connection between inflammation and disease within the body, so it seems that it's also going to be supporting the body in a healthy way.

And then there’s a final one, which I think is really exciting. I think this is more newer kind of discovery, but it's shown that meditators seem to have an increased activity of the telomerase, which is an enzyme implicated in the longest cell life. So therefore, it's actually helping us live longer.

doTERRA: Those are all such incredible benefits. And when you put it out like a list, who wouldn't want those benefits? Who wouldn't want to be able to have that in their lives?

Amelia: Yeah, and I think that it's important to have that as a motivator because, you know, sometimes we don't want to sit down and be quiet. Sometimes we want to get on with the day and get on with the things that we want to do. So I think to understand that there are longer term benefits from sitting there and doing your practice for a certain amount of time, they're going to give you that longer-lasting benefit.

doTERRA: Absolutely. Amelia, how can I use meditation to help me overcome toxic thoughts that are in my life?

Amelia: Yeah, so this is really fundamental to the practice. And what we're doing when we're meditating is we're not eliminating the thoughts. I think it's important to understand that we can't really, until we become enlightened, you know, we can't really eliminate those toxic thoughts. But what it gives us, what the practice gives us is we're able to witness those thoughts from a detached position, from a more detached position. So we have more awareness. We become more aware of those pattern of thoughts. And actually, what can happen when we first start is that we can actually feel more stressful. It can feel more concerning because we're more aware of all of the barrage of thoughts that are there.

Detaching from Passing Emotions

Even experienced meditators, when you sit down for the first few minutes and even throughout the practice, it can—sometimes it can feel like a very busy place to be. I remember when I first started meditating, and I sat down, and I would listen to my breath. And I'd be like, “It's so noisy. It's so noisy in my head.” But to just continually observe those, rather than to engage in that noise, rather than to participate in that noise, rather than to believe that noise, but to actually almost pull yourself back as if you were watching yourself through a lens. So almost as if you were watching the thoughts as if they were like a film, a film of your life.

And then what can then happen is when you're watching from that more detached position is you see the thoughts not necessarily as real, as definitions, as things to even be believed, but you see them as they are, which is basically passing emotions, passing feelings, passing thoughts. It helps you to not engage so much of them, not to give them so much energy and so much potency.

Improving Your Awareness

I think really, it's the awareness that allows you to become less attached or associated with those toxic thoughts. So it's not necessarily that you have less, but it's just that they're less harmful because your habit of believing them your habit of reacting to them and reinforcing them becomes lessened by your knowledge and understanding of the truth of who you really are. You know, we're really not our thoughts. And the latest understanding of thoughts and emotions is that they are actually simply guesses from our previous experiences, and yet we believe them as if they're truth.

doTERRA: I think that's so powerful and such a key thing to remember that sometimes our thoughts are not right, and we need to be able to recognize that.

Amelia: Yeah!

doTERRA: My final question for you is how can I incorporate aromatherapy into my meditation routine?

Creating the Right Environment

Amelia: Yeah, so it's so helpful to use essential oils when you're meditating. The first thing that they can bring to your meditation practice is that they can create the right environment so you can use the oils aromatically to create a calm and stable environment. So either diffusing an essential oil or even just breathing it in from the palms of your hand as you sit down before you start to do your practice.

An oil like Frankincense, for example, can be so supportive because it's basically helping to create that calm and stable atmosphere. So it's giving your meditation a grounded intention to start off with. The grounded intention as you use that oil is, “Okay, I want to be stable. I want to be calm,” because you've chosen an oil that complements that. And really, within our meditation practice, intention is everything.

You know, my teacher—one of my teachers—he says you can't have a bad meditation because if you have a bad meditation, it's just you know, so to speak, in inverted commas, a “bad meditation,” it's just showing you where the work is to be done or that perhaps you’re particularly scattered today. So if you have a really good meditation, then that's great. But if you have one that feels very interrupted and hard to concentrate, hard to focus, it's actually—that's actually a positive in a way. And when you're using an oil at the beginning like that, it's really creating the positive intention and really that's all that matters: your intention.

Ritualizing Your Practice

The second way that aromatherapy can enhance your meditation is it ritualizes the practice. And this can help in two ways, for me. Firstly, it creates a very special time. So it helps to make the meditation practice slightly separate from the rest of your day. And in that way, it elevates the process. You're using a particularly precious oil that you have selected, and that is giving your brain a message that this is a very special time. And then again, that can help you return to the mat, return to the cushion, because you know that you're going to get that yummy smell when you get to sit down.

And then secondly, if you use that same oil that you used in your meditation practice, if you use it later on in the day, you're going to be reminded of that calm, stable sense that you created within your meditation. And you know, really that's what meditation is. It's a rehearsal for the rest of the day. The practices, the meditation, and the realization is what happens in the rest of the day. So the oil, the aroma, that can give you an anchoring to it.

Supporting Your Practice

You can use oils specifically to support your practice. For example, I like to use oils on specific acupoints on my on my body. So for example, if you place an oil topically at the center of your brow, this point is called yin tang, and it's known to induce calmness and to reduced stress. So if you combine that with an oil, I love to use Sandalwood on this point, you can support your practice that way. So when we're meditating, we want to yes become aware of the mental chatter, but really, we want to if we can calm it down. And placing an oil on your finger and then holding your finger on that point at the center of the forehead for maybe one to three minutes just helps to create and cultivate this quieting.

Another nice location to place the oils on the top of your head. A point right there, just kind of through your hair, just on the top of your head. And Frankincense is a perfect oil to use this way.

Amelia’s Favorite Essential Oils for Meditation

I have so many favorite oils and really you can't go wrong with using an oil because an oil is going to bring you into this present moment. When you breathe this oil in, you really can't be anywhere else when you're breathing in that beautiful aroma. You have to be here and now. You can't be projecting into the future. You can't be ruminating over the past. You’re here now, present moment where. So it's really absolutely supporting and amplifying the whole process of meditation.

Bergamot is a favorite of mine to use, and it brings in this quality of self-acceptance and helps to reset us. Breathe is a great one to use because it literally reminds you to breathe. Balance blend, beautiful blend to accompany your meditation practice because it has all those tree oils in there, so it’s very grounding, very centering. But really any oil, as I say, is going to help you with your meditation practice because it's going to connect you back to nature. It's going to remind you of your own innate, natural, peaceful, and calm state.

doTERRA: I love all of those recommendations, and there are quite a few I can't wait to try in my own practice. Amelia, thank you so much for sitting down with us today and making meditation a lot less intimidating.

Amelia: You're so welcome. Thank you for having me.

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.