I recently returned from an interesting and enjoyable International Seminar in Provence on Essential Oils, Ayurveda, and Marma Therapy hosted by my friend Malte Hozzel.
The 8-day course was a feast of knowledge and inspiration with a heady mix of lectures, excursions, garden walks, delicious food, fine company, experience of the local plants, treatments, and optional early morning yoga. (There are plans to hold a similar course next year, so see if you can make it.)
There’s one concept that came up on the course which I found particularly useful, and I’d like to share it with you.
Volatile Aromatic Compounds
Essential oils are, as we know, ‘volatile aromatic compounds’. But as Malte pointed out, if you look more carefully into this statement, it’s clear that the properties of being ‘volatile’ and ‘aromatic’ sit in some ways at opposite ends of a spectrum.
Ayurveda explains that each of the five senses corresponds to one of the elements in Nature, as follows:
- Hearing – Space
- Touch – Air
- Sight – Fire
- Taste – Water
- Smell – Earth
‘Volatile’ clearly belongs to the ‘space’ (Akasha) element, while the ‘aromatic’ aspect is Earth. These two are respectively the ‘first’ and ‘last’ of the senses, connecting we might say heaven and earth, the seventh chakra with the first, the infinite with the point, and importantly the concrete physical aspect of health with the ‘ethereal’ aspect of well-being.
‘Considerable physiological activity and energy’
Or, as the the French scientist René Gattefossé, founder of modern Aromatherapy, expressed it: ‘Volatility and fragrance are signals of considerable physiological activity and energy.’
We’ve talked before about the fact that we cannot really understand and improve the physical aspect of health / disease without paying full attention to imbalances in the more subtle aspects of our being (emotions, thoughts, sense of Self, etc).
So here is another clue to our understanding of why it is that essential oils impact us on all these levels and express a truly ‘holistic’ value. They are indeed our ‘helpers’ in our quest for balance and vitality.