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Anxiety Part II: Healing the Anxious Spirit

Anxiety has been around for centuries. It has been referred to as nervousness, hysteria or panic attacks, but it is all the same to the sufferer. And as our world spins, instances of clinically debilitating anxiety are occurring at a record pace.

In part one of this series, Plants for Anxiety, the chemical triggers that cause an anxiety attack were addressed. I discussed different plants that may be used internally to relieve the effects of anxiety clinically, and how the history and story of a plant has a beneficial effect as well. To view part 1, see my previous post.

In part two, the approach is different. I will define aromatherapy and shamanic healing, and how they can be used together with the intent to heal the anxious spirit.

Shamanism and the Art of Spiritual Healing

While medical approaches are specific to the physical or emotional illness and dictated by evidence-based medicine, spiritual healing is intuitive. Spiritual healing techniques are often passed down by word of mouth over time or through the experience of studying with a shaman, or spirit worker. A shaman views each person’s wounds as a symptom of spiritual illness. And while the wounds appear similar from person to person, what is indicated for each person’s healing is unique.

In order to accomplish the task, a shaman communicates with spirits on behalf of the one seeking healing. The process calls for a shaman to journey, in most cases, into other dimensions in order to retrieve information, and/or parts of the soul lost in the past through times of trauma and stress. This latter part is often referred to as soul retrieval. A shaman may also perform work in the spirit world on behalf of the recipient for healing ancestral wounds, clearing things from their living space or body that are interfering with good health, or dealing with issues of soul purpose, past life or dark parts of ourselves that we wish to ignore.

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the art of using essential oils distilled from plants for healing. In clinical aromatherapy, we consider the chemical structure of the essential oil and its historical use.

Aromatherapy works well especially in cases of emotional distress, because scent triggers an immediate physical and emotional response. Messages are received in the olfactory lobe of the brain, and sent hormonally to corresponding organ systems in less than a second. A person’s mood and mind can change quickly. Scent creates an alternate reality which encompasses and transports the person. The result is stress is relieved, perhaps an incident gets immediate perspective, or liveliness arrives where listlessness once reigned.

Aromatherapy for Anxiety

While I often recommend shamanic work combined with aromatherapy and the use of plant tinctures internally, essential oil use on its own can be very beneficial for those with anxiety. The process of choosing ones own oils and making a bath formula and/or a daily body oil is therapeutic in itself.

For the most part, it is wise to choose oils for your formula that you like the smell of and you believe are specific to your needs. However, I always remind people that if you don’t like the smell of something alone, you may like it in a formula with other oils. I also find it interesting that we sometimes have an aversion to that which we need. Adding one drop of that oil into our formula shifts something in our energy field in a positive way.

The Oils

Oils with specific anti-anxiety action are: rose, sweet mandarin, ylang ylang, lavender

Citrus oils are light and uplifting. They make us happy, and each fruit does so in its individual way. They also balance and lighten the scent of the formula. Sweet mandarin is a citrus specifically indicated for anxiety, as it is the only citrus oil that is calming, and quiets the chatty mind. To counter balance the sedative effects, I like to combine it with grapefruit, which also supports kidney function, is a lymphatic, and stimulates the detoxification process.

Ylang-ylang is sweet. Its scent is similar to jasmine, but without the enormous price tag! It triggers feelings of euphoria, calms nerves, and is specific for anxiety. It regulates rapid cardiac rhythm and breathing that is slow and shallow. Ylang ylang is thought to soften the spirit and the heart.

Rose is a powerful calming agent, medically indicated for anxiety. It strengthens the nervous system and the heart. It is specific for those who suffer from fits of anger.

Lavender has a balancing effect on the nervous system. It is also specifically indicated for depressed mood, and is anti-bacterial and anti-viral.

Some other oils that I like to use for anxiety are frankincense, vetiver and sandalwood. These three are spiritually great protectors, and support lymphatic and immune function as well. Peppermint is calming to the nerves and conscious mind, while giving a little boost. It calms nerves in the stomach. Clove is anti-viral, warm and soothing to the nerves. Clove also aids those who spiritually feel disconnected from community. German chamomile is specifically indicated for anxiety, is calming and anti-inflammatory

Essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil before application (grape seed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil etc.). Sometimes it is good to practice making formulas with small amounts of carrier oils; 1 ounce is a good start. A dilution that is appropriate for regular use is 1-2%, that is 6-12 total drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil. I recommend smaller amounts of citrus oils and spices, especially for baths. These oils can be skin irritants when used in higher quantities. For one ounce of carrier oil, add about 3-4 drops should do it. Rose and ylang ylang are others that should be used sparingly, for they are especially powerful scents. It only takes about 2 drops in 1 ounce of oil; otherwise they will take over the formula. Avoid the use of peppermint in the bathtub. It will burn your skin, and cause a rash.

To use this as a bath formula, apply the oil to your body before stepping into the tub. This application allows for a greater therapeutic response, as most of the oil is absorbed into your skin instead of floating aimlessly on top of the water.

For everyday use and application, dab on wrists, back of neck, feet or at the temples. Carry a small bottle around throughout the day to renew. When you use your formula, focus on your intent and what you need.

Here are a few sample formulas to get you started.

Mental Murmer: sweet mandarin, ylang ylang, clove
Sweet Relief: rose, sweet mandarin, frankincense
Dream Time: vetiver, sweet mandarin, rose
Emotional balance: lavender, sweet mandarin, and grapefruit

Combining Shamanic Healing with Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy combines well with shamanic work. As noted in the clinical approach, a quick emotional response is granted by nature of the work. The reason and method for choosing the oils used are different.

When choosing essential oils for spiritual healing, I may employ a few that are specific to the presenting problem, such as oils specifically for anxiety. But I would combine them with oils that are indicated for the person by a helping spirit. Once the oils are revealed, so is the form of use, which may be healing baths, sprays or oils to be used before bed. The client also receives exercises they must do in conjunction with the use of the essential oil formula. It may include meditation, dream work, writing or art exercise needed to aid the spirit in preparation for receiving healing.

As a shamanic healer, I use essential oil formulas before the client has their first shamanic healing appointment. They help clear the energy field and prepare and strengthen the spirit of a person to better receive healing. Aromatherapy formulas can also balance chakras and raise or lower the vibration of the person or illness, shifting the energy thus making it easier to work with.

What Follows the Healing Work?

With the completion of the first shamanic session, I usually recommend that supportive work with aromatherapy and the internal use of plant therapies continue. The next step is to integrate the soul parts retrieved in the work, and to follow the instructions given in the journey. The information that comes can involve practicing movement, meditation, dream work and, in some cases, art, to enable the person to integrate the work.

The Effects of Spiritual Healing On Anxiety

To delineate out all the symptoms of anxiety and indicate how they were made better by shamanic healing is impossible. Everyone’s experience is unique, regardless of the similarities of their disease. And everyone responds differently to the therapy. But here are a few common threads that clients experience.

In anxiety, there is a disconnection between what the heart feels, and the mind believes. With the use of a combination of plant therapies and shamanic work, there is a keener sense of when this happens, and what triggers it. Clients find themselves more capable of dealing with the triggers, and calming down.

Generally, those who receive soul retrieval feel that things look brighter (often literally), and they sense themselves as being more solid, stronger, and in themselves. People with anxiety who tend to disassociate found it was easier to bring themselves back into their body consciously, and find a solution to the problem rather then to try and escape it.

Shamanic healing is beyond what we can touch, see, or imagine. It penetrates our soul deeply to inspire our bodies to respond physically and emotionally. We restore wholeness and connection within the self. This allows the emotional and physical pieces to fall into place. But it is a process that takes time, and is not simple.

The large rewards come in retrospect. When we look back on a process that was once slow, and a bit uncomfortable, to realize how far we have come. We have changed our perspective, and repaired the past, thus healing our future self.


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  • Mcgivern

    I liked your explanation of how a person responds to the soul retrieval piece. i is consistent with what I have observed too as a person begins to feel more substantive. It can be very helpful with those who are feeling disconnected after a loss or death. Blessings, Michaela McGivern, Energy Medicine and Shamanic Healer

    • Hello, and thanks. It’s always nice when we practitioners have similar experiences. There is so much wonderful literature about soul retrieval out there. But it is difficult to describe the results of it, for effects can be more subtle for some in the beginning and more powerful in time, and the other way around for others. It’s a process that allows everyone their own map to healing and timing of achieving it. I love how it roots people in themselves, supporting physical healing as well. Warm wishes to you, Kathy