p20140429-180557When I joined the University of East Anglia, on a master of science in international development and water security, I had left behind me, three years of studying to become a psychotherapist. My psychological interest in the earth, led me there. I wanted to understand humans geopolitical and economic relationship with our planet. After a year of studying, my mind felt more confused and left university not really knowing how I could apply all the knowledge I had gained.

The one certainty I left with was the integral relationship between our psyche and capitalism and the environment and our economy. Ecotherapy is a tool that has the potential to develop a new relationship which can bring together our psyche and our environment and reject aspects of capitalism and the economy. I am not an anti-capitalist, I do however take a political ecology approach to the environment and believe there are many unnecessary inequalities that exist globally. These inequalities need to be acknowledged and understood if we are to resolve the issue of climate change. A political ecologist will question everything and believe nothing. For example, I recently highlighted on Twitter the relationship between the luxury leather business and deforestation in the Amazon. Greenpeace ensured me they were happy to speak about their climate and agriculture campaigns and confirmed they receive no corporate donations. Another contentious issue is the chocolate industry and the inequality between the amount of money made by the farmers and the amount made by those who import the chocolate into the West. I will explore this further in another post. I am sickened by the divide between the rich and the poor. I am neither rich nor poor, just a humble individual trying to preserve this planet for my grand-children and their children.

I graduated in 2013, since then I have been attempting to reconnect with my earth. I have been a conscientious consumer, purchasing second hand where I can. I’ve thought about the chemicals I use to clean with and I have attempted to not pollute my waste water. I have an allotment which is rich in alluvial soil, here I grow my own vegetables and fruit. I make my own aromatherapy products too which has given me a great sense of connection to my ancient past.

For me, ecotherapy is about discovering aspects of our self through our connection with our natural environment. Trees and their roots, fungi, grass, mountain ranges, plants, flowers, bees, they can all help us to find our self in a chaotic world that sometimes, we have no control over. Being in an ancient forest gives me a space to feel at home in when I am feeling unloved in the world. Stay with me on this journey. I’m not here to make money, just share my experiences of the natural world, my inner self and how I understand the chaotic world we live in.





p20141107-135555Aromatherapy uses the ecological balance of nature and can help with the treatment of conditions such a stress, mental fatigue, arthiritis, rheumatism, low or high blood pressure and infertility, to name a few. It is an ancient tradition that can be dated back to 4000 B.C.E, in the time of Mesopotamia, where the use of plants were recorded on clay tablets in cuneiform. Aromatherapy has reached many cultures throughout the ages, including the Egyptians, Arabs, Greeks, Indians, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Aromatherapy has the ability to connect us with our past and the now forgotten connection to nature we once nurtured.

The oils are extracted from the natural plant products such as the flower, stem, leaves and resin from the barks of trees. The oil is extracted using a method of steam distillation. Abu All al-Husayn ibn Abd Allah ibn Sina (980 – 1037 C.E.), a natural scientist of his time, can be commended for this process and other valuable written work of more than 800 plants and their healing properties on the human body systems. Botanical sources such as geranium, thyme, rose and bergamot (there are more than 70 oils to choose from in modern aromatherapy) are used in the treatment. The oils I use are purely natural and have no added preservatives or colours. They consist of natural compounds that work with the body’s complex systems, for example, when assisting with the treatment of depression, I will use oils that stimulate and regulate the nervous system, penetrating the unconscious mind. Aromatherapy can also help to balance women. There are oils that can help with fertility, uncomfortable or irregular periods and the menopause, for older women. Aromatherapy can have a positive effect on your general well-being, you may find you have more energy, a relief in your current symptoms, an improved mood, you feel more relaxed, you are able to sleep better and a greater sense of well being.

Each aromatherapy oil is made up of it’s own unique blend of chemical constituents. The oil is absorbed into the body usually through olfactory process which is situated in the nasal passage or it can be absorbed into the blood stream through the lungs by massage or steam inhalation.

The chemicals in the essential oils attach themselves to the scent receptors in the nose, chemical messages are received into the brains limbic system via the olfactory nerve. The limbic system is situated at the top of the mid brain and includes the hippocampus, amygdala, septal area and hypothalamus. This part of the brain is used for survival, expression of emotion and the formation of memory.

The olfactory bulb is “hard wired” into the limbic system, it connects our sense of smell to memories and emotional responses. The hypothalamus is home to our subconscious mind; the unconscious mind is mental activity that is not perceived by consciousness. Our memories, feelings and thoughts have the potential to influence our behaviour, without any realisation of it. Aromatherapy can soothe the unconscious processes we may have, helping us life a more fulfilled and nurtured life.

© Melissa Ward

Subtle Aromatherapy – Vibrational Healing

The word ‘subtle’ means ‘slight and not obvious’. Subtle aromatherapy works on a level that cannot be seen. The oils used in subtle aromatherapy work on a vibrational level. Vibrational means to ‘be communicated on an unconscious level’. Subtle aromatherapy uses the subtle energies from the oils to influence and restore the energetic body of the individual. This in turn leads to the homeostasis of the physical body.

Research has been carried out on the relationship between our emotional self and our physical body (Pert, C. 1997). Our state of mind can influence the biomolecules of our physical self. A healthy mind means a healthy body. The unconscious mind is the aspect of our self that is not known or understood easily. Our experiences and interactions with others from the moment we are born to the present moment can affect our unconscious processes. Subtle aromatherapy has the ability to calm and restore the unconscious mind.

The healing powers of the plant are drawn upon. The process of photosynthesis converts the energy from the sun, carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere and water from the soil, into a chemical energy which is finally extracted from the plant using a process of steam distillation, into the form of an essential aromatherapy oil. Each plant, tree, flower or herb is grown in it’s own unique eco-system. This gives the aromatherapy oils their different healing properties. For example, lavender grown at high altitudes will have different healing properties to lavender grown at a lower level. Frankincense is extracted from the bark of the tree, it produces a resin which eventually hardens. Trees are both in the ground (roots) and in the atmosphere (branches) therefore frankincense is a very grounding oil but also has the ability to deepen and slow the breath allowing the mind to reach a higher state of being in meditation.

While aromatherapy has the ability to heal the physical self it also has the ability to heal the mind, spirit or soul. If you are intrigued by subtle aromatherapy, please do contact me for more information.

© Melissa Ward 2014

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