You have been given an assignment to devise a new and unique solution to a problem. The deadline is approaching, and you haven’t come up with even the first clue. Your typically logical and analytical mind is stagnated by a thick fog of exhaustion, confusion, and anxiety over the situation. All you can seem to come up with is the same old same-old. What to do ? what to do ??
We often see a mental picture of a gifted artist as a frazzled, frustrated, unkempt, starving insomniac, suddenly smitten with a flash of brilliance and energized to create a masterpiece. Normally, nothing could be further from the truth. Dis-ease of body and mind will all but block any chance of creativity!
Rather than pouring yet another cup of coffee to stimulate your brain and keep you awake, open a bottle of pure lavender oil, and take several deep tummy-breaths of the minty-musky aroma to release the flow of creativity!
Lavender and the Perfect Mental Environment for Creativity
In order to create something new and unique, we must draw upon all the experiences and lessons of our past, and think clearly to know what doesnt work and how to rearrange or progress beyond where we left off.
Scents and Memories
Scents have an amazing effect on the human mind, and if you’re trying to focus your mind and to move quickly into the creative zone, a systematic use of scent can help. Who hasn’t opened a brand new box of crayons for a child and been instantly transported back to the classroom of your own favorite grade school teacher, happily creating a work of art depicting your summer vacation?
The olfactory system is uniquely and directly wired to the limbic system of our brain, allowing smells to stimulate the hypothalamus and the amygdala, a tiny gland in the deepest part of our brain, considered to be our emotional memory library. This stimulation causes a release of hormones and neurotransmitters, i.e. chemicals of emotion, sparking memories to arise, and altering our physiological state to that associated with the memories.
Lavender is second to none (except, perhaps, a new box of crayons!!) in stimulating the release of pleasant memories of days gone by, allowing your mind to hop and skip about, while being focused to explore all the colors and images of new possibilities, like a child set free for summer vacation!
Contemporary lifestyles expose us to many substances that can create brain fog. These include synthetic foods (such as highly processed simple carbohydrates, dangerously high levels of hormones and other chemicals, and sweeteners, both natural and synthetic), and petrochemicals in hair and skin products, as well as the air we breathe. These substances cannot be metabolized by our cells, but clog up the receptor sites and accumulate in our organs, preventing the absorption of any good nutrients we ingest. Without adequate nutrition, our brains cannot function at full potential, and creativity comes to a screeching halt in a soupy fog with zero visibility.
Of course, we should avoid these substances as best we can. Additionally, the cleansing compounds in lavender oil dissolves these petrochemicals and other gunk that have clogged up our organs and brains, and flushes them away, leaving healthy, vibrant tissue to operate at full capacity, freeing imagination, conceptualization, and creativity to run at full speed.
Lavender and the Perfect Physical Environment for Creativity
An internal environment in which we feel insecure, anxious, a sense of impending doom, or are utterly exhausted is hardly conducive to creativity!
We have learned in our previous LiveLiving issue how to breathe effectively to release a cascade of healing, relaxing chemicals by diaphragmatic breathing. Research conducted at the University of Japan revealed that inhaling lavender oil reduced mental stress and increased alertness1. Other studies also show lavender reduces depression and anxiety2. Lavender is an adaptogenic plant which can assist our body in adapting to stress or imbalances, whether the stress is physical or psychological, in the same way the plant protects itself from various unfriendly circumstances. One way it does this is to stimulate the pineal gland to release melatonin, which signals our bodies to relax. When we take in several deep tummy breaths of lavender, we combine the powerful healing effects of both the action and the substance, and a waterfall of relaxation rinses away inspiration-blocking anxiety and insecurity, leaving a crystal clear, balanced internal environment that allows the creativity to overflow!
In order to stimulate creativity, we must provide adequate, restorative rest to our body and mind. During a good nights sleep, your brain follows a predictable pattern, moving back and forth between deep sleep and more alert stages of dreaming (REM sleep). Together, the stages of REM and deep sleep form a complete sleep cycle. Each cycle typically lasts about 90 minutes and repeats four to six times over the course of a night.
Deep sleep is a time when the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead. It plays a major role in maintaining your health, stimulating growth and development, repairing muscles and tissues, and boosting your immune system. Quality deep sleep is key to waking up energized and refreshed.
Just as deep sleep renews the body, REM sleep renews the mind. REM sleep plays a key role in learning and memory. During REM sleep, your brain consolidates and processes the information youve learned during the day, forms neural connections that strengthen memory, and replenishes its supply of neurotransmitters including feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that boost your mood during the day.
Applying lavender oil to the soles of the feet or over the lungs has been shown to quickly absorb into the blood stream, cross the blood-brain barrier, and increase the beta brain waves that are required for the relaxation that allows the brain to slip into a natural and restorative deep and REM sleep.3 Unlike man-made sedatives and other chemicals, the sleep that lavender promotes is balanced and natural, allowing you to wake up freely, refreshed and alert.
A relaxed, rested, restored body, mind and soul are necessary to release the imagination, inspiration, and fantasy of our miraculous brain. Let the gift of lavender oil help you dance in the scent of creativity!
1. Motomura N, Sakurai A, Yotsuya Y. Reduction of mental stress with lavender odorant. Percept Mot Skills. 2001 Dec; 93(3): 713-8.
2. Guillemain J. et al: Neurodepressive effects of the essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Ann Pharm Fr. 1989; 47(6):337-43.
3. Morris N: The effects of lavendula angustifolium baths on psychological well-being, two exploratory randomized control trials. Complement Ther Med 2002 Dec; 10(4):223-8.
4. University of Miami, Diego et al; 1998. Guillemain J. et al: Neurodepressive effects of the essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Ann Pharm Fr. 1989;47(6):337-43.