Note: The throat chakra governs energy related to speech, hearing, and other forms of expression. While I discuss exploring the importance of seasons of contemplation and resting the voice, this does not apply to those who are in harmful situations at home or in the workplace, or for those caring for others who may be in harmful situations. Please seek medical, legal, or professional counseling services or help from advocacy groups immediately if you are in a harmful home or work environment. The following post is intended for educational and inspirational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate disease or substitute professional counseling. Statements made in this post are not FDA approved.
The first day of October I took a walk at a local nature preserve. It was the time of morning the deer are out eating their breakfast. The lake was unusually still, devoid of fishermen, and a gentle mist clung undisturbed to all it surrounded – the native grasses whose gold and violet colors began their bleed back into their roots, scarlet Sumac, the ripe Juniper berries, gnarled forests, the aura of the lake, the gentle deer. The robust, rooted, sweet smell of our prairie’s tall grasses that reached its crescendo just a week or so before, evaporated in a matter of days allowing a drier, crisper air to encourage a loosening of golden Cottonwood leaves.
Autumn brings us to our personal as well as seasonal harvests. And while the exterior scents of this season signal us to move inward, once again, we needn’t leave the heated, extroverted frenzy of summer months sadly – there is fecund growth in decomposition, too. Leave to the earth what’s no longer needed and prepare your energetic stores for the colder months ahead. Autumn welcomes us back to the quiet, warm glow of our interior fires. For many, it’s a season for resting and re-tuning our energetic instruments of speech, but perhaps more importantly, for tuning our inner ear toward the more subtle sounds of seasonal wisdom.
There is much written about the benefits of true and authentic expression via the Throat Chakra, or energetic center. About speaking up and speaking out. Speaking what’s true for us. Initially, I had geared myself up for a rip roaring post about personal Activism but my quiet walk inspired such needed peace within myself, I don’t wish to disturb what’s begun to take root for the season.
Often enough, I find a good, long walk in nature helps bring me ’round to my truest expression, which needn’t be “vocalized” at all, but felt in the heart and simply embodied. Observing through the senses reminds me the air I inspire has also passed through the nostrils of the deer I’m watching and supports the flight of the heron nearby. My listening and expression is not separate from this nature. These reverent moments never fail to render speech unnecessary and remind me there is a season for speaking for change and a season for contemplation.
Thomas Merton wrote,
Contemplation is life itself, fully awake, fully active, and fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceeded from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant Source.New Seeds of Contemplation, 1961
As Merton alludes, contemplation itself is not a stagnant practice but one that is totally aware of itself and fed from an eternal spring of holy wonder, inspiring us to whisper thank you.
Aromatherapy for the throat energy center, or other practices and exercises to help this energy center, can help to either activate stagnant energy that is in need of expression due to a lack of or timid “voice” or soothe overactive energy, which looks like constant expression and the desire to always be vigilant with our words, to verbally process much, or, if you’re on social media, to share in order to validate the self/business. Certainly, speaking up for our personal safety and wellbeing, and those we care for, should always be a priority and never needs a season for expression, although it is understood and appreciated that it can take years to grow the courage to speak out and make necessary changes to protect yourself and those you care for (please see the introduction note above for important direction to consider).
In an era where instant gratification and social media connection has replaced impulse control and critical thinking, practices that promise quick answers or rewards seem to have replaced the ancestral acts of ritual, thoughtful communion, and contemplation that may have otherwise provided rich, substantive guidance. We don’t always need to know right away. We don’t always need to make our opinion known. Oftentimes, we need to earn our answers and insight through experience in order for us to affect the kind of change we so desperately want .
I don’t know about you, but I’m often reminded when it’s best to listen (which is most of the time), and when it’s actually time to speak. It’s a lesson in humility.
Aromatherapy for the Throat Chakra
There are many approaches to aromatherapy to support the throat energy center, which includes the ears, mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, throat, thyroid, larynx, and cervical spine (Northrup, 1994). With the above in mind, aromatherapy for the throat chakra to encourage deep inner listening may be inspired and aided by the following essential oils.
Angelica Root (Angelica archangelica) – it is said the Archangel Michael came to a European monk during the times of the plague and instructed him to use Angelica Root to ward off illness, hence it’s Latin name, Angelica archangelica. Angelica root is gifted in its ability to support many systems and functions in the body, including the nervous, endocrine, reproductive, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and musculoskeletal systems (Holmes, 2019) as well as assisting to stabilize our emotional world. Holmes notes in Aromatica: a Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, vol 2 (2019), that Angelica root may possibly help to increase basal ganglia functioning, encouraging stability and ration to otherwise anxious, fearful thoughtforms. Angelica root also is indicated for those experiencing burnout from overwork or the affects of trauma.
Angelica’s fresh yet pungent, peppery scent both inspires activation and lift to the senses while keeping one anchored to earth with its deep, complex, rooted notes. For the sake of throat energy regulation, Angelica might inspire a gentle but powerful call to help us first come nose to nose with the self that tries hard to be all and do all to be accepted and loved while helping us access the right words to express our truth to ourselves.
Valerie Ann Worwood poetically draws on Angelica Root in Aromatherapy for the Soul, “It is the revealing sword of Michael cutting through pretense and falsehoods, bringing into the light those shadows we have denied within ourselves. Yet, in this disclosure, it has compassion and an understanding of all our failings and of our longing for spiritual completion.” (1999)
Angelica Root asks us to pause, reflect, and grow closer to our own truest roots so that when the times comes, our expressions are thoughtful, mindful, truest to our nature – powerful.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) –
A well-storied cleansing and protecting herb of the Bible and companion in European monastic gardens, Hyssop’s gift is physical, emotional, and spiritual cleansing. Let’s consider the broader spiritual context here rather than one that might be otherwise be attached to shame, which Hyssop actually seeks to separate us from. More on this in a bit.
Purify me with Hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.Psalm 51:7
Hyssop is noted as a nervous and cerebral restorative as well as a circulatory, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary stimulant. (Holmes, 2019). Pungent, fresh, green, its scent “opens the chest” and helps address upper respiratory complaints as well as refreshes and restores a sense of mental awareness, focus, and balance. Holmes notes in Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, Hyssop’s possible brain dynamics is to help reduce deep limbic system hyperfunctioning, helping to address a tendency toward negative thinking, pessimism, cynicism, and repetitive thinking.
Gabriel Mojay writes of Hyssop’s gifts in Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit (1999), “Fully conscious and engaged, integrated and self-contained, only then are we able to feel “purged” of confused thoughts and negative emotions.”
We’ve heard the Buddhist saying of the gates our speech must pass through before it creates a ripple in the world: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Hyssop invites us back to the quiet monastic gardens, so to speak, where we might contemplate these things about what we want to express. What, really, is our expression serving? What is is saying about our inner health? Is our communication a projection of what we’re afraid to see or touch in ourselves? Where are we stuck? What themes do we tend to play on a loop and tend to see the world through? Rather than use our speech to point fingers, can we be brave and turn inward to study such negative thinking objectively and with humility and kindness?
In Thomas Merton’s seminal work, The Seven Storey Mountain: an Autobiography of Faith (1946) we see the whole life of Merton before he would become a Trappist monk in the hills of Kentucky. Though a brilliant academic, writer, poet, and at one time, an outspoken Communist, educated at Cambridge and Columbia, Merton described running from himself in so many ways that eventually, when finally exhausted with all his efforts to escape his hubris, he had the rock-bottom moment that so many seem to have before they appreciate the full breadth of their efforts to escape themselves. He writes,
I had come very far, to find myself in this blind-alley: but the very anguish and helplessness of my position was something to which I rapidly succumbed. And it was my defeat that was to be the occasion of my rescue.Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
Hyssop encourages deep self-honesty and washes away its shadow, shame. Wash me with Hyssop, and I am clean. We needn’t devote our lives to monastic living to realize which of our personal choices serve to defeat or rescue us, but we might spend time with Hyssop and notice what she motivates within us, what she soothes, and what she wishes to help us wash away. Remember, this work takes seasons of time. There’s no rush here. Walk slowly, be gentle.
Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia)-
A cousin to Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), Niaouli’s crisp, citrus tinged, fresh scent blossoms as if it were a synergistic blend, unfolding, lifting, spreading like wings, powerfully capturing one’s attention and strengthening one’s fortitude and sense of self, like pine. Also known to help address upper respiratory complaints, Niaouli stimulates circulation and decongests the bronchials, nasal passageways, the venous and lymph systems, and liver, among other things. A nervous and cerebral restorative, Niaouli serves to strengthen the mind and restores during times of mental fatigue and confusion. (Holmes, 2019)
Holmes writes Niaouli possibly helps to increase prefrontal cortex, our “Supervising Boss” (Demos, 2005). By olfaction, Niaouli then helps to bring focus and order to our inner world, encouraging us to use good judgement and think before we speak. And should words escape our mouths, though even well intentioned, before we’ve had time to consider their greater impact, perhaps we’ll notice how they were received, how it made us feel, and what insight was gained.
Speaking and living our truth is important to self-actualization and indeed creates a nice healthy spin to the throat energy center, but consider the time from when this psychology, championed by Swiss Psychoanalyst Carl Jung, was communicated, during the first half of the last century. There was no social media. No Instafamous or influencers and all that noise online. All that pressure to join in and post our life. All that pressure to be special in the eyes of our “followers”. And what about all the armchair social justicing and psychological diagnoses of those we may not care for or hurt us…
What “truth” are we actually living?
Personal power, as expressed and embodied by the individual, need not shout so often. It needn’t necessarily have an audience at all. It needn’t exhaust itself running around. Expression is also embodied in how we might choose to carry ourselves, bravely open, knowing we are only ever responsible for ourselves (and our dependents) and not depleting our energetic stores on battles and fates that do not belong to us. There is a difference between linking arms in solidarity with your fellow human on the street and posting digital clutter. Niaouli asks us to really consider the root of what makes us feel afraid, angry, and alternatively, secure and when we find that answer, was what we were about to say necessary? Will it detract from peace or add to it?
Try working with our friends Angelica root, Hyssop, and Niaouli for a season and see what they inspire in your waking and dream life. What might you come to realize walking through your inner garden?
Note: As always, please research and consider each oil’s contraindications and other safety information before working with them. While it’s a great idea to use them in varying ways, through diffusion and topically, please dilute appropriately and do not use with children or pets. When starting out, adopt a less is more approach. Essentials oils don’t hold like synthetic fragrances do, so anticipate that they will evaporate more quickly. What can you experience in that pocket of time? Also, never ingest essential oils (there’s no reason to) and avoid mucus membranes.
Demos, J. N. (2005). Getting started with neurofeedback. W.W. Norton.
Holmes, P. (2019). Aromatica Volume 2: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. Applications and Profiles. Singing Dragon.
Mojay, G., 2000. Aromatherapy for healing the spirit: Restoring emotional and mental balance with essential oils, Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Worwood, V.A. & Worwood, V.A., 2006. Aromatherapy for the soul: Healing the spirit with fragrance and essential oils, Novato, CA: New World Library.