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Essential Oils for Mental and Physical Flexibility

By Jodi Cohen

I have long struggled with control issues which can present as rigidity and inflexibility both in my physical body and my emotional temperament.

In my physical body, my hips, shoulders, neck and back are often tense and tight.

My mental rigidity presents as inflexibility in my routine.  I am particular about what I eat, when I eat, where I sit in restaurants, my exercise routine.  I also find that I don’t do well with surprises or unexpected changes in my schedule, which can be stressful for those around me.

Now that I am in a serious relationship with an amazing person who comes with his own preferences I am working hard to become more flexible and less ridged.  In addition to countless books and counselling, I also naturally looked to natural remedies and plants that might help ease the way for increased flexibility, less rigidity and being better able to flow with life.

My research led me to Willow trees and other plants with deep roots in the earth and flexible branches and leaves.  For example, Willow trees are known for their ability to bend without breaking, signifying flexibility, adaptability and strength. The willow tree has flexible branches that twist and turn in a storm but do not easily break. The tree also has robust roots that keep it strong and standing against strong winds.

Essential oils derived from flexible plants may help support physical and emotional flexibility that allow me to be more flexible and less controlling and rigid in my life.


Physical and Mental Inflexibility

Flexibility is often described as the quality of bending without easily breaking.

In your physical body, flexibility can present as the ability of a joint or series of joints to move through an unrestricted, pain free range of motion which can be influenced by the mobility of the soft tissues that surround the joint. These soft tissues include: muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and skin.  Inflexibility is often the most noticeable in weight bearing joints such as the hips and knees.

Physical rigidity can also be experienced as characterized by the inability of the muscles to relax normally — when a muscle or a group of muscles stays contracted or partly contracted for an extended period – which can be triggered by long-term stress. When stress is chronic or prolonged, your brain continues to send nerve signals telling the muscle to contract even when the muscle is no longer needed for movement.

Mental rigidity refers to a rigid way of thinking that may prevent you from empathizing with or appreciating the perspective or experience of other people.  We all are raised with different  stereotypes, beliefs and prejudices that may color our perspective of the world and other people.  For example, you may have been raised to think that there is only one “right way” of doing things.

Like physical rigidity, mental rigidity impede your ability to flow easily through life and may keep you trapped in old patterns that limit your adaptability, creativity and spontaneity.


Signs of Inflexible, Rigid and Controlling Behavior

Mental inflexibility can present as:

  • Assuming your perspective is correct and everyone else is wrong.
  • Not being open to change because you are scared of it.
  • Clinging to the past and refusing to move on.
  • Trouble trusting people.
  • Wanting to know what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen, and when it’s going to happen.
  • Over-planning, micro-managing and getting upset when things don’t go according to plan.
  • Obsessing over details, even insignificant details.
  • Critical of others.
  • Dislike change and don’t like surprises.
  • Feeling anxious or angry when you don’t know what’s going to happen, things don’t go according to plan, you can’t complete a task the way you want, or others make “bad” choices.

What Causes Mental Rigidity?

Mental rigidity and controlling behaviors often stem from anxiety and fear.

Anxiety not only alerts you to a potential danger but also prepares you for action to facilitate your survival, turning on your sympathetic “fight or flight” response.  Your body reacts biologically (your physical response), cognitively (your accompanying perceptions and thoughts), and behaviorally (your actions) —all in response to a perceived threat.

In the body, signals are sent to the adrenal glands to release adrenalin, increasing your heart rate and converting glycogen to glucose for energy; your facial expressions change, alerting others; your muscles tense and your respiration rate increases, preparing you to fight or flee.

On the cognitive side, your pupils dilate, bringing in more visual information; and you begin to retrieve memories of similar situations from the past, allowing you to select the best course of action – and eliminate potentially dangerous courses of actions, thus inciting controlling or mentally rigid behaviors.  When things feel out of control, it’s natural to want to control them in order to feel safe.  You may crave predictability, avoid risk, feel rigid or anxious or want to know you can succeed at something before you try.

In regard to your behavior, anxiety organizes your priorities (it’s very hard to think about anything but your safety when a bear is staring at you) and motivates you into goal-directed action (to address the risk).  Anxiety helps you quickly organize your priorities, focus your attention, and prepare to respond.

When you calm your anxiety, you are better able to clearly discern your best options in responding to or influencing events that fall outside of your control and calm any mental rigidity or controlling behavior.


Essential Oils for Releasing Mental Rigidity and Control

Essential oils can be powerful tools to help you surrender into your “flow” so you can release control and stagnation.  Connecting to nature can help you connect to your ability to flow and surrender.

Oils derived from plants can help support flow and gently break up stagnation and increase movement on both the physical, mental and emotional levels.

In fact, Chinese medicine has long incorporated essential oils to clear blocks in specific acupuncture channels and activate the related energetic organ systems.  This one of the reasons that I attempt to be super specific about application points.  I have repeatedly found that using essential oils to activate acupressure points has a synergistic effect that is more powerful than using pressure points or aromatherapy as independent self-care modalities.

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Fascia Release helps you unravel deeply held tensions and mental, physical and emotional constrictions to promote physical and mental flexibility in all areas of your life.

Formulated with essential oils derived from flexible plants with deep roots in the earth like Frankincense, Fascia Release™ helps support muscle relaxation, reducing muscle tension, and promoting a sense of ease in the body, which may support improved mental and physical flexibility.

Fascia Release™ blend contains Lavender oil which is known for its calming and soothing effects. Lavender is known to help relieve muscle tension and promote relaxation, which can indirectly support flexibility.  Cypress allows for improved flexibility and resilience.  Frankincense helps calm your nervous system and support mental flexibility.  Black pepper and Rosemary oil are stimulating and invigorating which may help improve circulation and alleviate muscle tension, which can support flexibility.

Apply on the back of the neck and back of the heart to improve both mental and physical flexibility.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.