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JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS  - March 2016 - Kansas City

Sensing Easy Ways to Happiness

By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.


The five senses are with you all the time. Barring a physical issue with any of your senses, they are yours to use in whatever way you choose. You may say that you do not choose to take in sensory information and that is true. But you have a wide array of choices in what types of sensory input you choose at any given time.


Our most primal sense is smell as it bypasses the frontal cortex and goes straight to the limbic or reptilian brain. Its message will go to unconscious stored memory quickly and elicit an emotional response. Aromatherapy is defined by Webster as “the use of aroma to enhance well-being.”


My friend and colleague, Bob Wilson, a Licensed Massage Therapist who uses essential oils extensively in his practice, uses Frankincense to welcome people into his space. I asked what he might use for depression or anxiety. He explained that the oils have a measured frequency that effects a person. He uses Lavender for calming, Bulgarian Rose, with the highest frequency for depression, and Geranium for calming and uplifting. Others that could be used would be Bergamot and YlangYlang. He explained that he uses combinations of oils depending on the needs of the person.


He suggested the website for A Reference Guide on Aromatherapy and diffusers. I found another great place for information; The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy which also suggests a short booklet Explore Aromatherapy. 


A study cited by the American College of Healthcare Sciences tells us that the combination of essential oils of Frankincense, Lavender and Bergamot in equal ratios helped hospice patients feel calmer. Another study in Taiwan in 2011 found that even a 10 minute long weekly inhalation of Bergamot C resulted in a significant reduction of blood pressure and heart rate, and drove autonomic nervous activity toward a balanced state.


Years ago I experienced the burning of sage to cleanse a space. In aromatherapy Clary Sage is used to clear away the dark clouds of our moods and uplift our spirits. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology published an article Medicinal Smokes stating that ‘ambient smoke-the type of passive smoke generated by smudging-is air purifying and that smoke-based remedies are highly effective in that they offer rapid delivery to the brain and more efficient absorption by the body.” Another paper published by the same journal found that the burning of wood and a mixture of medicinal herbs over a one-hour period in a closed room resulted in a 94 percent reduction in airborne bacteria and was maintained up to 24 hours in the closed room.


Have you ever thought about how your voice effects you? A study conducted by researchers at the Science and Technology of Music and Sound Lab found that when people reading aloud heard their own voices altered to sound happier, sadder or more fearful, it changed their mood to the emotion of the altered voice. So imagine you are feeling sad or fearful and you modified the pitch of your voice and inflection to sound more positive and more rapid to sound more confident and excited. You would be happier even though the change was initially artificial.

Sometimes that ‘act as if’ axiom is really helpful!


Well, now I am excited as I am reminded of just a few of the easy ways I can be happier and more confident by tuning in to the senses of sound and smell. Try it.

Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to


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