What are Essential Oils and how are they used?


What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are oils from the plants and minerals found in nature. These oils, created by Mother Nature, are collected in traditional methods. They offer an alternative to synthetic products which have become the predominant, man-made oils used in modern, commercial products. Essential oils are more than just natural products. Each essential oil has a unique chemical makeup. And these oils have dozens of benefits for the body and mind whose benefits are determined by the chemistry of the plants that created the oil. When these natural chemicals are properly extracted, they can be used to help you physically, mentally, and emotionally, for health and balance.


Essential oils were used traditionally throughout the world in various cultural practices and traditions. However, we now also have the scientific research showing that essential oils can be effectively and safely used and for natural health benefits. Essential oils are used by people for cooking, household cleaning, personal hygiene, sleep, boosting immunity, emotional health, body management, and spiritual practices.

Traditional uses included:

  • Aromatherapy

  • Personal care

  • Healthcare practices

  • Religious ceremonies

  • Beauty treatments

  • Food preparation

  • Ayurvedic diet

Today, we might add to this list uses including:

  • Oral hygiene

  • Skin care

  • Healthy digestion

  • Cleanse and purify the air

  • Healthy respiratory system

The versatility of essential oils is also part of what has made them so useful.. You can use essential oils for a variety of tasks, without having to buy multiple products. Essential oils are obtained through distillation (via steam and/or water) or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing. The finished product is the highly concentrated essential oil, which has the same properties and scent characteristics as the original plant. That does include the smell, but it also includes other elements such as the plant’s healing and other abilities.


The way the oils are made is important, as essential oils obtained through chemical processes are not considered true essential oils. Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they may be combined with a carrier oil to create an oil ready and safe for use.


What constitutes an essential oil?

Essential oils are derived from the plants of nature. These oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and chemistry of their source.The oils may be taken from the flowers, stocks, sap or roots. Each oil is unique as the source for each oil is unique. The oil is not chemically made or artificially scented. It therefore carries the DNA and life force of its plant source. The quality of an oil depends on the purity, quality and reputation.

  • Purity: Find an oil that contains only aromatic plant compounds, without additives or synthetic oils.

  • Quality: True essential oils are the ones that have been changed the least by the extraction process. Choose a chemical-free essential oil that has been extracted through distillation or mechanical cold pressing.

  • Reputation: Purchase a brand with a reputation for producing high-quality products.


There are more than 90 types of essential oils, each with its own unique smell and potential health benefits.

The 10 most popular essential oils and the benefits associated with them are:

  • Peppermint: used to boost energy and aid digestion

  • Lavender: used to relieve stress

  • Sandalwood: used to calm nerves and help with focus

  • Bergamot: used to reduce stress and improve skin conditions like eczema

  • Rose: used to improve mood and reduce anxiety

  • Chamomile: used to improve mood and relaxation

  • Ylang-Ylang: used to treat headaches, nausea, and skin conditions

  • Tea Tree: used to fight infections and boost immunity

  • Jasmine: used to help with depression, childbirth, and libido

  • Lemon: used to aid digestion, mood, headaches, and more

For the best essential oil use and experience, it is important to use oils that are pure, potent, and safe.


How are Essential Oils used?

There are three main ways to use essential oils; aromatically, topically, or internally.


1. Through smell. We call this “aromatic” use of essential oils. This includes any application method that puts the aroma of the oil into the air. You can use essential oils aromatically by diffusing in an essential oil diffuser, applying a drop to your hands and inhaling, or wearing the oil as a personal fragrance.


2. On your skin. “Topical” application of essential oils allows the oil to absorb into the skin.This could be through massage, directy rubbing onto the skin, or through lotions or moisturizers containing the oils.


3. Ingesting, or “internal” use of essential oils allows the oil to be transported throughout your body, such as when oils are used to balance the body through Ayurvedic diet. It is critical to be sure the essential oil being consumed is safe for internal use first. Internal oils may be taken added to a glass of water, in a veggie capsule, or a drop under the tongue.


Some of the most popular essential oils are those with multiple benefits and application methods. These oils tend to become household favorites. Each oil is unique, making it easy to find a natural solution for your specific health concerns.


Two recent studies found that dabbing a peppermint oil and ethanol mixture on participants' foreheads and temples relieve headache pain. The traditional Persian headache remedy for migraines is applying a mixture of chamomile and sesame oil to the temples. Of the many studies on sleep, the majority of studies showed that smelling the oils, particularly lavender oil, had positive effects on sleep habits.


Studies have investigated essential oils, such as peppermint and tea tree oil, extensively for their antimicrobial effects. Other studies have found that ingesting a combination of thyme and oregano essential oils helped induce the remission of colitis. And studies on caraway and rosemary oils found they were effective for treating inflammation.


What’s the Difference between Essential and Aroma Oils?

A good quality, natural aroma oil is simply an essential oil blended with other natural ingredients such as carrier oils and other essential oils to create a balanced, scented oil that can be used in a diffuser. Blending essential oils with carrier and other aroma oils can result in a much more pleasant, subtle scent particularly suited for oil diffusers.



How does one safely test Essential Oils?

The Patch Test is one of the safest ways to initially try an essential oil. It allows you to insure you do not have an allergic reaction or rash from the oil. It is important when first using an essential oil to see how your skin reacts to a particular oil before you perform a full application.


Here are the steps for conducting a patch test:

  1. Wash your forearm with unscented soap.

  2. Pat dry.

  3. Rub a few drops of diluted essential oil into a small patch of your forearm.

  4. Wait 24 hours.

  5. Remove the gauze.


If the skin patch is red, itchy, blistering, or swollen, then you have an adverse reaction to the oil and should discontinue use. If you experience discomfort before the 24-hour period ends, immediately wash the area with soap and warm water.


(paraphrased and based on Yogananda’s (bless his soul) “Autobiography of a Yogi”.



Paramhansa Yogananda is one of the best known yogis in the west, the first yoga master to bring the tradition in person to the West. He was born January 5, 1893 in Gorakhpur, India, the fourth of eight children. His mother passed away when he was about 11 years old, and soon after he had a vision of the Divine Mother, who said, “It is I who have watched over thee, life after life, in the tenderness of many mothers!” The Divine Mother became the center of Yogananda’s devotion for the remainder of his life.


After finishing high school, Yogananda formally left home and joined a Mahamandal Hermitage in Varanasi; however, he soon became dissatisfied with its insistence on organizational work instead of meditation and God-perception. He began praying for guidance; in 1910, his seeking after various teachers mostly ended when, at the age of 17, he met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. In his autobiography, he describes his first meeting with Sri Yukteswar as a rekindling of a relationship that had lasted for many lifetimes. He would go on to train under Sri Yukteswar as his disciple for the next ten years (1910–1920), at his hermitages in Serampore and Puri. Later on Sri Yukteswar informed Yogananda that he had been sent to him by the great guru of their lineage, Mahavatar Babaji, for a special world purpose of yoga dissemination.


During his study with Sir Yukteswar he attended and graduated from Calcutta University. July 1914, several weeks after graduating from college, he took formal vows into the monastic Swami order; Sri Yukteswar allowed him to choose his own name: Swami Yogananda Giri. He learned the physical and spiritual practice of yoga, teaching and then establishing a high school with yoga training at Dihika, West Bengal, that combined modern educational techniques with yoga training and spiritual ideals. A year later, the school relocated to Ranchi. One of the school's first batch of pupils was his youngest brother, Bishnu Charan Ghosh, who learnt yoga asanas there and in turn taught asanas to the future yogi Bikram Choudhury. This school would later become the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (the Indian branch of Yogananda's American organization, Self-Realization Fellowship).



In 1920 he came to the United States as the Indian delegate for the International Congress of Religious Liberals. He stayed and traveled extensively on the East and West coasts lecturing on yoga. He spoke at the International Congress in early October, and was well received. IN 1920 he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) to disseminate worldwide his teachings on India's ancient practices and philosophy of Yoga and its tradition of meditation. Yogananda spent the next four years in Boston; in the interim, he lectured and taught on the East Coast and in 1924 embarked on a cross-continental speaking tour. Thousands came to his lectures. During this time he attracted a number of celebrity followers, including soprano Amelita Galli-Curci, tenor Vladimir Rosing and Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, the daughter of Mark Twain. He settled in California, founding the Yoga Institute at Encinitas, California. He introduced millions to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India. He lived his last 32 years in America. His last four years of this life were spent primarily in seclusion at his desert retreat in Twentynine Palms, California. He continued to write, to finish revising books, articles and lessons on yoga. During this period he gave few interviews or lectures. He told his close disciples, "I can do much more now to reach others with my pen."


On March 7, 1952, Yogananda attended a dinner for the visiting Indian Ambassador to the US, Binay Ranjan Sen, and his wife at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. At the conclusion of the banquet, Yogananda spoke of India and America, their contributions to world peace and human progress, expressing his hope for a "United World" that would combine the best qualities of "efficient America" and "spiritual India." According to an eyewitness – Daya Mata, a direct disciple of Yogananda, who was head of the Self-Realization Fellowship – as Yogananda ended his speech, he read from his poem “My India”, concluding with the words "Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God—I am hallowed; my body touched that sod." As he uttered these words, he lifted his eyes to the Kutastha center (the Ajna Chakra or "spiritual eye"), and his body slumped to the floor." Followers and others say that he entered mahasamadhi: the medical cause of death was heart failure. His funeral service, with hundreds attending, was held at the SRF headquarters atop Mt. Washington in Los Angeles.


In 1946, Yogananda published his life story, “Autobiography of a Yogi”, the first hand account of the life experiences of Paramhansa Yogananda. It describes Yogananda's spiritual search for enlightenment, in addition to encounters with notable spiritual figures such as Therese Neumann, Anandamayi Ma, Vishuddhananda Paramahansa, Mohandas Gandhi. The book has since been translated into 45 languages. In 1999, it was designated one of the "100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century" by a panel of spiritual authors convened by Philip Zaleski and HarperCollins publishers. “Autobiography of a Yogi” is the most popular among Yogananda's books, read by millions of people all over the world, classic reading for teachers and practitioners of yoga, and recognized universally by varying religious traditions as a beautiful depiction of his spiritual path.


Yogananda wrote the “Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You and God Talks With Arjuna – The Bhagavad Gita” to show the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna. In the book he also presents that the principles of truth are the common, scientific foundation of all true religions.


In his work, “The Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons”, Yogananda gives his in-depth instruction in the practice of the highest yoga science of God-realization. That ancient science is embodied in the specific principles and meditation techniques known as Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is a meditation technique that quickly accelerates one’s spiritual growth — though ancient, it was first made widely known by Yogananda in his autobiography.

Kriya,” Yogananda wrote, “is the easiest, most effective, and most scientific avenue of approach to the Infinite. In contrast to the slow, uncertain ‘bullock cart’ theological path to God, Kriya may justly be called the ‘airplane’ route.

Kriya Yoga is more than a simple technique; it is an entire way of life. With Kriya Yoga, Paramhansa Yogananda taught three other techniques of yoga and meditation: Energization Exercises, Hong-Sau, and Aum Technique.



What are Pendulums and how are they used?

If we look at ancient art, such as Greek and Egyptian paintings, we will find images of pendulums. They have been a tool of humanity since ancient times, probably before the recording of history and were considered one of the fundamental tools in Greek science. And the power of pendulums are still available for us today. The East teaches us that the goal of life is finding balance within the oscillation of life, and this is the same energy that guides the pendulum, its oscillating balance.


There are many ways to use your pendulum. Asking and receiving answers to yes/no questions is the most basic tool of a pendulum. But this is not its only use. In fact, the oscillation of a pendulum is a 180 degree possible swing, with allows for far more complex questions and answers than just yes or no. It is easiest to start with yes/no questions and then as you get comfortable with the subtle messages of the pendulum and how to phrase questions, you may move to more complex questions and answers.


It is best not to share your pendulum. You want to keep it’s energy clear and programmed for you. (Step 3 below will present Programming your pendulum). The choice of material (traditionally crystal, metal or wood) is of personal choice. It is best to hold and try a variety of materials and shapes to see what resonates and feels comfortable to you. Choice of materials might be considered in the type of help being sought of the pendulum. For instance working on opening a particular chakra would suggest a crystal pendulum that resonates with that pendulum. Help with health (life force) questions would suggest a wood or carnelian pendulum. But for most pendulum practitioners, they develop a relationship with a particular pendulum and continue to use it regardless of the type of questions being asked. A pendulum can also be used in place of muscle testing.


How to Use a Pendulum to Answer Yes/No Questions

1. Relax and bring your mind to a calm and focused state with your thoughts releasing any worries and distractions. Free yourself of internal chatter and noise. Do not multi-task, but be present to the pendulum. Relax and focus. Quiet music may help, along with other meditational aids like candles, incense, or crystals. But these things are not required. You can use your pendulum anywhere, at any time, with or without these extra items.


2. Position yourself and your pendulum. Ideally, you want to sit up straight or stand straight. Grasp the pendulum's fob ( the end of the chain opposite the pendulum) between your thumb and forefinger, or the end of the chain just blow the fob. Arch your wrist slightly, steady your forearm (but not your hand). You can use something solid, like the edge of a table to steady your arm, but in time you get used to just holding your arm steady and at rest. Let the pendulum just dangle, but hold it still. Your hand may shake but it won’t matter to the pendulum. but don’t worry if your hand shakes a little bit.


3. You should now Program your pendulum’s signals if you haven’t before. You only need to do this step once, unless you decide to make changes afterward. The purpose of programming is to establish signals for each of these answers:

- Yes

- No

- Maybe (which can also be interpreted as "I don't want to say")


Here are some common, easy-to-read signals that your pendulum may use:

- front to back (like a head nod - common for “yes”)

- side to side (like a head shake - common for “no”)

- clockwise circle

- counterclockwise circle


To begin Programming, first ask your pendulum “What is your yes?” Then be patient for this beginning use of the pendulum. Again stay focused and mindful. Give the pendulum space to answer. Then ask the opposite, “what is your no?” And finally ask about “maybe”. You might ask if here is a different response for “don’t know” or “can’t say”, etc.


Now verify the answers. You can test out the different answers by asking a couple of test questions, such as “Is my name ____?” Or, "Is today Monday?" Basically, you want to verify that yes is yes and no is no. If the signals are consistent, go back to the beginning of step 3and reprogram the pendulum. Once your signals are verified, you skip this step.


4. Then you will Program your pendulum’s Source. Unlike steps 3, you'll want to include this step every time you prepare to use your pendulum. The purpose is to establish where the pendulum will get its answers. The goal is to tap into your higher self. Skipping this step may cause your pendulum to restrict itself to the subconscious mind or Ego.


Begin each session by saying something like, “I call upon the higher self to answer these questions. I seek only truthful answers, which are aligned with the highest and greatest good for all concerned.” Or, “ I ask that the Source of all that is Good and True guide my pendulum….” this can be said silently or aloud. Do what you are comfortable with, and of course, feel free to tailor this language to words that reflect Source for you and so that it matches your own terminology.


5. Ask your question. Ask questions that can be answered by YES or NO. Be as specific and clear as you can in your phrasing. Avoid asking for opinions or using the words “should” or “supposed to” in your questions. You might want to initially first write out questions so you can more easily see any ambiguity in your questions. Be specific with dates, times, names, places. (“Will my appointment tomorrow at 10am with ___ provide solution to ____?”) Be objective in the question not biasing towards the answer. (“Will John, that jerk, ever ask me out?”)


6. Wait for the answer. Be patient. Give the pendulum as much time as needed. The speed of answers will probably change over time as your relationship develops. Concentrate on your question but do not concentrate on what you think the answer should or will be. And try not to become anxious. Remember to breath! If it is difficult to focus you might try Clearing your thoughts by closing your eyes. Keep them closed and look up. This little muscle exercise will temporarily short-circuit the conscious mind's involvement and bring you back to a neutral, unbiased state. Remain detached about the answer and focus only on receiving a correct, unbiased answer.


When the pendulum swings, look at it - observe its direction. This is your answer. If it doesn’t move immediately, give it time, or if it’s unclear what the signal is, try rephrasing the question and do it again. When the pendulum swings with great force, it’s answering loudly. If it swings with only light force, you can interpret this as a quiet, perhaps less committed response.


8. Clear the pendulum at the end of each question by touching its weight to the palm of your free hand or on another surface. This signals that your question has been answered and you are ready to move on to the next question.


9. Protect and cherish your pendulum when not in use. You might wear it on a neck chain or in a little bag with a cord. That way it will receive your energy all day long, and will be readily attuned to your body's energy and vibrational level. And it will be easily accessed when you have a question to ask. Or you can keep it in a pouch or a keepsake box.


If worn or used much, the metal of the pendulum will eventually oxidize and develop a patina; a warm glow accentuated by darkened areas. And crystals may develop a skin, which is natural for crystals. You can either leave it this way, or if you prefer a bright and shiny surface, gently polish with a soft cloth to remove the oxidation. Never use abrasive cleansers or expose to salts. Ideally store in a cool dry place when not worn.


Pendulum Charts

Pendulum charts expand the power of your pendulum far beyond the simple yes/no/maybe question method. Pendulum charts are available individually or in booklets.


There are lots of different types of charts. Some are complicated and others, quite simple, but the principle is the same in all. Instead of using pre-programmed signals (as you would when asking yes/no questions), your pendulum uses the reference points on the chart to show you answers. Usually the charts are a half-sphere with subdivisions, each division labeled with a different possible answer. For example, a chart for nutrition might have divisions with different vitamins or herbs to answer which would be beneficial for your diet. Or for Chakra energy work the divisions would have the major Chakra names.


Chart work is usually done standing or sitting at a table. The charts may be opened from a booklet or created at the time to address the possibilities of the questions that are going to be asked. Remember to Program the Source even when using charts.


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