When I first started my dōTERRA essential oil journey in 2017, one of the very first questions I asked myself was, “How can these pretty smells help me in my musical and performing life?”
Academics are by nature the kind of people who ask questions and are skeptical of everything. I entered into my new research project with a full bag of skepticism and a hunger to prove myself wrong.
Essential Oils for Memory – The Discovery Phase
The first thing I did was to employ the very academic search engine: Google. I entered into The Google: “dōTERRA memory”. A number of options came up, but one of the essential oils for memory that seemed to be the clear winner, and the one I didn’t yet have in my collection, was Rosemary. So I ordered a bottle.
My bottle of Rosemary came. I eagerly opened the cap and took a big inhalation. I noticed its very strong, herbaceous aroma. I didn’t love the aroma at first, but that’s ok, we don’t have to like how they smell for them to work.
Not knowing what to do with it, I consulted The Google again. This time I entered: “dōTERRA Rosemary memory”. After a little poking around I landed on that very academic website, Pinterest. There I found a roller bottle recipe that included the following essential oils for memory: Wild Orange, Peppermint, Frankincense, and of course, Rosemary.
I had all the stuff to make this, so I quickly whipped up a bottle. “Wow,” I thought, “it smells really good.” Then my skeptical side said, “Well, that’s nice, but it won’t do anything.”
Creating a Scent Link Between Practicing & Performing
My plan was this: I would create a scent link between practicing and performing. The theory was that aromatic consistency during practice, when also present in performance, would help with the recall process on stage when under stress. This is old news, we know this works, and it would have worked with pretty much anything. I just figured having a great memory oil would enhance the process.
So I set to work…
I did not want to practice that night. I had a looming deadline – Schumann Piano Quintet, I was behind and I didn’t want to tackle the hard bits. My inner toddler was in full-on resistance mode. I slathered on the lovely-smelling concoction I had just made, set my timer for 25 minutes (after which I give myself a short break), and sat my butt down on the bench.
One minute in: checked my timer. Ten minutes later, checked it again and only two minutes had actually passed. Continued to check my timer while poking around at notes and pretending to practice.
Then the magic happened, right around the 15-minute mark.
At 25 minutes I turned off the rude interruption of the timer and kept on going, until I looked up 3 hours later and had to stop because my back hurt.
“Holy smokes,” I thought. “Fluke. I was just deadline prompted.”
The next night, I tried the same thing. Rolled on the concoction, took a big sniff, sat down and sulked for 15 minutes, then snapped out of it 3 hours later with a sore back again and a great handle on some really tough technical passages.
“Hm. Maybe not a fluke after all, but still. I probably just had another good night.”
Third night, want to guess what happened? The same thing. In my books, after three times it’s not a fluke any more.
Is it just me?
I cornered my unsuspecting husband who is a fine percussionist, and told him what I was experiencing. I urged him please to try it. So he rolled it on, took a big sniff, commented on how nice it smelled (probably just to placate me), and went into his studio to practice.
Any guesses as to when he emerged from that practice session? Three hours. “Wow,” he said. “That stuff really works.”
Then I started handing out samples to some of my performer friends. More and more people commented that they were experiencing similar results during their practice sessions. They were able to sustain a fine degree of focus for extended periods of time and they got a ton of quality work done during their practice sessions.
People started reporting other things to me too.
One friend, who plays violin in an orchestra, came out of rehearsal where they were rehearsing endless bars of the same pattern over and over. He reported, “Wow! I knew exactly where I was!” (His stand partner, upon whom he usually relied for cues, was quite happy about this.)
One person told me it really made a difference with her intense anxiety when on stage.
Is it the combo or Rosemary alone that makes this work so well?
My own experience when using this combo has also supported these kinds of results, over and over again. I realize this may be the combo, and this will be the subject of another blog post. But I’m not really willing to try the combo without Rosemary since it works so well.
One experiment I have done is set up a diffuser beside my practice piano and try different oils in it while I’m working. Diffusing is great for experimentation because you don’t have to commit an entire roller bottle, you can just drop whatever oils into it and off you go. Time and time again, any time Rosemary is in the diffuser, that’s when the good work happens.
I realize this story started out as indicating Rosemary would be the great memory support, and it sort of morphed into extolling the virtues of Rosemary as a laser-beam for focus. When you really think of how memorizing works, the best work happens when the focus is heightened. Retention is better, confidence is increased, you feel more prepared so your anxious feelings decrease, you’re less distracted. You’re basically set up for success.
Essential Oils for Memory – The Results
It’s hard to quantify whether Rosemary actually has a direct effect on memory retention and retrieval. You can’t possibly duplicate the exact conditions of testing memory. However, if you’re someone who practices and performs a lot, you can definitely go on your own person experience and compare to your baseline normal.
Pushing a deadline? Lots of notes to cram? Feeling scattered? Overwhelmed? Want to make sure your brain is set up to retrieve memories on stage without getting distracted by the guy in the back row jingling the change in his pocket, or the lady crinkling the noisy candy wrapper, or the guy taking video of your performing even though you announced this wouldn’t be allowed…. Rosemary is your girl.
In the words of one of my dōTERRA colleagues, “Rosemary works like a hot damn.”
Indeed, she does.
Let’s learn from each other. What are your favourite oils and blends for productivity and memory?