Hindsight is 20/20 is a popular proverb that in essence means it is easier to understand something after it has happened. How many of us live in hindsight 2020 mode? Do we reflect on our past to make better choices in the future or do we live in our past weighed down by regret, guilt, unforgiveness, or shame?
I spent the better part of my 2019 year researching and writing my doctoral dissertation on a comprehensive integrative approach to healing mental health conditions including Christian counseling psychology and clinical aromatherapy. I encountered people living in hindsight guilt. I encountered people drowning in emotional stress understanding what happened but not moving forward. I encountered people who superficially smiled but were so broken inside.
I spent the month of December in 20/20 mode praying for direction on how I can help more people move out of hindsight guilt and into the JOY of the present. Every year I pick a word to reflect on throughout the year and for 2020 I decided on the word FREEDOM. So my focus for the 2020 JOYfull Inspirations year is to help you achieve FREEDOM in your life by focusing on the common areas that cause emotional and mental stress. Each month I will focus on a freedom theme coupled with a Young Living essential oil. This month my theme is the reason I always Choose JOY: FREEDOM in Christ. The Young Living essential oil I am focusing on is Humility.
You may wonder what does freedom in Christ have to do with mental health? Prayer. Prayer is communication with God that fills the spiritual experience that the frontal lobe of our brain craves. “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Mother Teresa. Prayer is releasing the power of God in your life and living in the JOY of His unconditional love.
An emerging area of research in neuroscience called “Neurotheology” is discovering scientific evidence of the impact of religious practices on the brain including prayer. One study suggests that religious experience activates the same circuits of the brain as sex and drugs.[i]
Prayer is an evidence-based approach used to support mental health and as a coping mechanism in difficult times.[i][ii]Prayer may reshape your brain,[ii] can release hormones such as of oxytocin and can help reduce reactivity to traumatic events.[iii] Prayer is an opportunity to release the weight of guilt, shame, regret and experience spiritual growth, healing, resilience, and joy. Not sure where to start with prayer? Check out my 15-minute Prayer Punch to start your day.
One of my favorite Young Living essential oils to use during my prayer time is Humility essential oil blend. Humility includes a blend of some of my favorite essential oils for emotional health including Boswellia carter (Frankincense) known for calming and emotional support and Cananga odorants (Ylang Ylang) known for soothing, calming, and uplifting. To use Humility during prayer time, diffuse 1-2 drops for 30 minutes or apply one drop to the palm of your hand, rub palms together, cup over nose and mouth, and inhale deeply for 5 counts, hold, release slowly. Repeat 3-5 times.
Prayer is the foundation of my life. I don’t go a day without intentional prayer. Jesus is my everything! Without Him I am nothing. When life gives me lemons, my go-to-therapy is prayer first enhanced with essential oils! With the scientific evidence showing the mental and emotional health benefits of both prayer and essential oils, I am not missing out on a chance to incorporate both for maximum benefit.
Are you ready to take your first step in a life of FREEDOM? What does that look like to you?
Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.-Bill Keane
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Blessings and JOY,
Wife, Mom, and Certified Clinical Aromatherapist.
[i]Sandoiu, Ana. 2018. What Religion Does to Your Brain. Medical News Today. July 20, 2018. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322539.php#2
[ii]Hagerty, Barbara B. 2009. Prayer May Reshape Your Brain and Your Reality.NPR News. May 20, 2009. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104310443
[iii]Spector, Nicole. This is Your Brain on Prayer and Meditation. NBC News. February 16, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/your-brain-prayer-meditation-ncna812376
[i]Kuhlman, Heide R. (2018). Living for the Fruit of the Spirit: Christianity for Those with Mental Health Conditions. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press.
[ii]Koenig, Harold G., Linda George, and Bercedis Peterson. (1998) Religiosity and Remission of Depression in Medically Ill Older Patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 155 no. 4: p. 536-542.