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Releasing Control

By Jodi Cohen

A smiling woman appears as if being controlled like a marionette by a large hand using strings, illustrating the concept of manipulation or loss of control.

I spent my first 49  years trying to control all the variables in my life – my career, my children, my husband, my appearance, my time, my finances.

It was utterly exhausting and not very rewarding.

But I was raised to believe control was the secret to success.  That successful people worked harder, and longer and muscled through any physical, mental or emotional pain.

And I accepted that without question.

Until Max died…

And I began to question everything, including my propensity towards control.

Control didn’t save Max.

And in the ravages of my grief, it seemed to be killing me.

So I started attempting to let it go.

I say attempting, because letting go of control was almost harder than trying to cling to control.

And cling I did.

Much like a child will cling to a trusted blankie or binkie, I would unintentionally revert back to my control strategies, especially when life felt scary or overwhelming (which was pretty much always).

But much like Einstein defined insanity as  repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results, I began to realize that the tenacity and control that helped me succeed in the first half of my life was now actually what was keeping me stuck.

I needed to find a way to release control, to stop clenching, stagnating and limiting my growth and potential.


Releasing Control

My control tendencies are clearly rooted in fear, more clearly fear of anything bad happening to me or my children.  And then the worst thing that I could imagined happened.

My lifelong attempt to micromanage failed me, so I decided to shift gears.

And surrender.

Which for me means trying to be open to possibility that there is another way of approaching my life that does not require me to attempt to micromanage and control.  For me, this means staying in the present moment as opposed to living in my head where I attempt to anticipate and mitigate potential future dangers.  I really struggle to get out of my head and into my body.  My head is always trying to anticipate and plan.

Focusing on my body and my breath allows me to relax and flow and trust that my next breath will come whether I intentionally will it or not.  When I am present in my body, it is easier to release control and let go of expectation, recognizing that surrendering control, allows for possibilities to present that might be even better than what I might have imagined or tried to navigate toward.


Symptoms of Control Related Stagnation

On a physical level, control can cause you to constrict or clamp down in your body.  This can present as physical issues like pain, bloating, constipation, weight gain or other physical signs of stagnation, which can interfere with detoxification and elimination, contributing to toxin build-up which can then interfere with physical, mental and emotional energy.

Toxins can  clog up your physical body and lead to cellular overwhelm which you may experience as feelings of stress, agitation, brain fog, overwhelm and irritability. This can keep you stuck in your negative emotional patterns – moods, anxiety, overwhelm and over-reactions!

In other words, the more you clamp down and try to control your life,  more you contribute to stagnation and block the flow of energy, also known as Qi.  Traditional Chinese Medicine builds upon the concept that the smooth and free flow of Qi to all organs, glands, muscles and nerves helps the body stay in balance and healthy.

Qi Stagnation works rather like a roadblock, or a traffic jam, blocking or hindering the flow of healthy energy.  When this flow becomes stagnant or deficient in certain areas, your body isn’t able to function at its most optimal and eventually symptoms and disease show up.

Stagnation is said to occur when reliance is low, when you no longer have the resources available to “face the storm” and deal with uncomfortable situations that arise. The liver and endocrine (hormonal) systems become fatigued just like our muscles and tissue do.


Signs & Symptoms of Control Related Stagnation

  • Mood changes — Rapid or dramatic shifts in emotions or depressed feelings.
  • Anxiety — Nervousness, overwhelm or a strong anxious feeling. Stagnant Qi is believed to float upward and present as symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, and palpitations.
  • Withdrawal — Stagnation in the social arena looks like social withdrawal, apathy or loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
  • Brain Fog — Problems with concentration, memory or logical thought and speech or any kind of difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Sleep or appetite changes — A stagnation in personal care can present as a loss of appetite or increased fatigue and desire for sleep
  • Physical toxin build up – Stagnation impedes your ability to detoxify. A buildup of toxicity in the body can present as skin issues, weight gain and brain fog.
  • Hormonal challenges – Irregular or heavy periods, infertility, thyroid issues
  • Immune challenges – When stagnation is present you might experience an increased susceptibility to infections or allergies
  • Physical pain – stagnation in the body impedes flexibility and might contribute to muscle tightness, pain and tension
  • Increased sensitivity — Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations
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Essential Oils for Releasing 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.

Essential oils that are particularly helpful for releasing control and moving stagnation include:

Large Intestine Support

Our large intestine lets go of those things that don’t serve us. Physically, it lets go of waste after our upper digestive system has taken all the necessary nutrients out of the food we eat.  Emotionally, it allows us to let go of patterns of negative thinking, destructive emotions, and spiritual blockages that prevent us from being our best.

Large Intestine Support contains a proprietary blend of essential oils known to alleviate stagnation, including Peppermint, Cedarwood, Frankincense and Myrrh which are known to calm heat and stimulate movement and break up stagnation. Cinnamon also has warming energy which helps moves stagnation.  Myrrh also helps support healthy circulation to alleviate stagnation in the blood.

To help release control and move through transitions, apply 2- 3 drops of Large Intestine Support blend over the large intestine, around the ears or on the bottom of the feet.


Essential oils for lymphatic drainage are stimulating oils which support circulation and lymph movement.

Your lymphatic system is your first line of defense against disease. It includes lymph nodes (with clusters found in the neck, chest, underarms, abdomen, and groin).  Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have its own central pump — it only moves as the muscles squeeze it along. So the lack of movement makes the lymphatic system stagnant, with waste accumulating and excessive toxins building up. If the lymphatic system is not working correctly stagnation presents, compromising elimination, detoxification and immune function.

Lymph blend contains several stimulating and flow inducing oils, including  Spearmint, which is particularly helpful in alleviating stagnation and promoting circulation. Vitex is also known to be stimulatory and warming, especially for organs of detoxification like the Liver and the Spleen.

To support healthy lymph flow, apply 2- 3 drops of Lymph on both sides of neck, lymph nodes under arms, below and along your clavicle bone and around inguinal ligament (bikini line area – think where your leg creases when you lift it).  Lymph blend is designed for liberal usage.

Spleen Qi™

Your spleen, located in the left upper quadrant of your abdomen, acts as a filter for blood as part of the immune system. Old red blood cells are recycled in the spleen, and platelets and white blood cells are stored there. The spleen also helps fight certain kinds of bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the spleen is helps to pull qi from your food and transport and transform the nutrients into your blood which then nourishes and strengthens the energy (or Qi) delivered to your body and your brain through your blood.

When the spleen qi is flowing properly, the digestive system also functions properly. Blood and all the fluids of the digestive system move smoothly, and there are no backups or stagnation in the organs.

A deficiency of this vital life force energy can be linked to the spleen.  Qi deficiency, or low energy and stagnation in specific organs of the body and the brain, are believed to contribute to illnesses and disease.  For example, when we are deficient in spleen qi, we can feel sluggish and fatigued, both physically and mentally.  The spleen is also said to house thought processes. For example, over-thinking (like worrying) is believed to lead to spleen qi deficiency.

Qi deficiency may also result from burning through too much energy in daily life. In other words, stressful, on-the-go, busy lives, with little downtime to time to relax and heal, may quickly drain the body of vital energy, making a person more susceptible to Qi deficiency and the illnesses that follow.

Applying 2- 3 drops of Spleen Qi™ over the spleen (left side of the body, under breast) or over the spleen 6 point (inside of leg just above the highest peak of your ankle (four finger widths up from, apply deep pressure slightly behind the tibia bone).  This point can support intestinal, abdominal, and menstrual issues.


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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.