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Heart to Heart with Ginger Ciao and Robbi Zeck

San Francisco USA

CIAO: The Blossoming Heart is a book written by naturopath, Robbi Zeck that shows how the power of scent can help a person achieve tremendous healing insight. “The Blossoming Heart and Aromatic Kinesiology seminars largely speak to the part of the self that is ready to unfold. This stirring of the soul is always motivated from within and is the basis for growth, development and evolution. Lasting transformation always evolves from deeper changes within and is influenced by the age-old technologies of collective integrity and wisdom.”

Having essential oils in your emotional toolbox certainly help encourage this transformation in a beautiful and gentle way. This interview has been on my to do list and yet I felt like I had so many other things to do. This morning, I thought I would try my hand at using The Blossoming Heart and as I flipped open the book at random, I landed on the page that describes Fennel. “The sweetness of Fennel assists in completing things that are unfinished or requiring further attention in your life.”

I love when things like this happen. It really is the magic of using essential oils. In your book, you’ve been able to offer a complete way of viewing and using essential oils on a much larger scope than what has been available up till now. Do you think that is from your vast experience of helping so many people through your practice or do you find that you have been given this gift from the oils themselves?

ROBBI: I think this is a twofold approach as there is a magic in plant life and nature that brings us gently to thinking about things differently. Perfectly captured within living plants, essential oils are fragrant symphonies sourced from a bountiful array of flowers, seeds, plants, trees, spices and fruits. Essential oils offer their own insights, transformations and healings through their connection to the earth. When aroma is coupled with the power of imagery we are lead so beautifully along the path of regeneration and wellness. All plant-based remedies have the potential to initiate an awakening of the soul as they can remind us of the journey we are taking, rekindle our passion for living and dynamically activate the flowering of the heart.

Over time of course, there is a gift that comes to any practitioner who engages from a heart-orientated perspective. I have always felt that therapy is basically about quiet reflection and love, from this place, both the therapist and the patient will be equally grateful for the healing experience that occurs. It has been my privilege to facilitate many people as their hearts have been gently opened through this work with aroma. Knowing beauty can be a great healer. To draw beauty into our lives through all of our senses can heighten and deepen our awareness of how to influence our physical health, our state of mind and our connection to spirit.

CIAO: Do you find that when you spend time in the places where the oils are from, that the region also exudes a particular energy? For example, does Provence and lavender evoke a certain feeling that is different than the regions in Turkey where Rose is grown?

ROBBI: Yes absolutely. In Provence, where we see field after field of undulating lavender fields wafting on the breeze there is a heady blend of earthiness and sensuality that I have come to associate with the south of France. The perfume of Provence is deeply and joyfully embedded in my soul.

In Turkey, the country has a strength, masculinity and raw energy. Even the beautiful women who harvest the roses for the delightful rose otto, have a positive determination and definition about them. One year as we harvested the roses under the early morning sun with the villagers, I recognized a smiling warm-hearted woman from the year before. I told her she was a sister of my heart and she replied that we are all sisters of the heart.

In Bali, the energy is soft, warm and deeply spiritual. Bali has many ceremonies, rituals and an abundance of beautiful aromatic flowers. The significance of nature is so very powerful for the Balinese, that they believe the sweeter and more fragrant the flower, the more quickly their prayer will go to heaven.

Each essential oil is natures' precious gift to us and closely tied to the vitality and beauty of the aromatic plants, the special regions where they are naturally found or cultivated and also to the dedicated people who grow and distil them with skill and passion. To be able to be immersed in the study of plants in this way enables the possibility of entering into a deeper level of appreciation and understanding and I am grateful every day that I can support people in experiencing this too.

CIAO: Are you drawn to places that are not fragrant or do you have the ability to “smell the roses” everywhere you go?

ROBBI: I think it is important to develop the capacity to smell the roses wherever we go in life and no matter what is going on in our lives!

CIAO: Are you drawn to certain places now that you weren’t interested in before? Is there more interest now to go elsewhere and look for specific oils? For example, would you go on a vanilla tour and go from Tahiti to Madagascar?

ROBBI: As a personal journey I would love to follow the vanilla trail. It is one of my favourite aromas. We have some dear friends who live part of the year in Madagascar and the rest of the year in Provence. Monsieur Michel creates natural perfumes for a perfume house in Grasse and Madame Zoe's family farms vanilla in Madagascar.

Currently, we are developing a tour to Thailand and Vietnam as there are some wonderful aromatic plants being grown there, such as benzoin, lemongrass, peppermint, may chang, geranium, jasmine and agarwood. Another friend has set up a distillation project in Northern Thailand and this would be a great opportunity to support the hill tribe people living in this region.

And not to forget the home country, Australia has much to offer in the area of aromatic delights, including our wonderful food and wines. We are conducting our first Aroma Tour here this year in Northern New South Wales, traveling from Sydney to Brisbane. We have some wonderful visits planned including, a large organic farm growing herbs organically such as melissa for essential oil production, a commercial tea tree plantation and eucalyptus forests.

CIAO: Are you finding that you are going to places where people have an openness to learning more about your Aromatic-Kinesiology? For example, you are coming here to SF and leading a workshop after you present at the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy’s 6th annual conference.

ROBBI: My own work and our tours don't usually coincide except during our annual Aromatherapy Retreat in Provence. However, I must say as the years go by, more and more people are wanting to develop skills that enable a different approach to working with essential oils, in addition to the usual application, such as massage, baths and vaporizing. The work is being very well received in Taiwan and other parts of Asia. Aromatic Kinesiology provides a framework for blending holistic aromatherapy and the emotions from a counseling perspective. It is a wonderful system which encourages the use of aromatic anchors with the application of essential oils to enhance emotional care and wellbeing, using metaphor imagery and narrative. Included in the workshop is kinesiology to determine stress factors, stress management techniques including emotional stress reflexes, guided imagery, goal setting, acupuncture point reflexes, meridians and their emotional expressions and methods for recognizing and transforming habits and behaviours. We also look in depth at The Essential Oil Reflections which comprise 52 essential oil emotional profiles offering a symbolic perspective for initiating change.

CIAO: What I find most inspiring about The Blossoming Heart is how comprehensive it is on so many levels and yet it is written with a gentleness that is not intimidating. It is also gorgeously presented. I especially enjoyed the rose meditation. Can you please elaborate a little on the concept of “aromatic anchoring”?

ROBBI: Thank you for that. It was important to me that an essence of beauty came through in the presentation of the book. I wanted the feeling that is created in the workshop series to somehow be transported on to the pages and I am satisfied I achieved that. So many people have written to tell me how beautiful they find the book. That is a great feeling.

Aromatic anchoring occurs when an aroma suddenly whisks us back in time evoking a memory that has perhaps been either long forgotten or easily recognized. When I first travelled to Bali some thirty years ago, my time there was a delightful sensory experience. There were the lush green rice paddies, the tinkling sounds of the gamelan music and the open-hearted, smiling Balinese people. There were smells like no others I had encountered. Aromas of coconut, mango, chili, ginger, clove, nutmeg, lemongrass, cinnamon, tumeric, tuberose, frangipani and cananga flowers, mingled with the smells of sand, sea and sandalwood incense. The memory of all this beauty lives at the back of my nose and even now as I write, I am immediately transported back to Bali as I recall these delightful smells. This is aromatic anchoring in action. Aroma has the power to take us into the past as well as into the future, enabling us to change our state of mind through the influence of scent.

CIAO: Additionally, the affirmations and inspirational quotes interspersed through out the book were perfect compliments to the material you presented. Are they favorite quotes of yours or did you find them along the way?

ROBBI: As a trainer I have always found it useful to illustrate a point with a quote so I do have my favorites that I have collected over the years. While I was writing The Blossoming Heart I did my own personal reading with a view to seeking out the perfect quotes to reflect the oils I was writing about. I have found that affirmations are a powerful way for patients to integrate work done during consultations. There is a Blossoming Heart affirmation for each essential oil covered in the book. One of my favourites is the affirmation for Benzoin - 'Change becomes me.' As someone who travels so much for work and pleasure I would have to say it's working!

CIAO: There are other essential oils that are not mentioned in the book. Can we expect another gorgeous compilation?

ROBBI: Yes I have already begun writing the next series which will include Australian Sandalwood, Lemon Myrtle, May Chang, Black Pepper, Mandarin, Linden Blossom, Tuberose, Vanilla to name a few. I continue to be filled with wonder and delight that these precious fragrances can deliver so much beauty in to our hearts and minds. Scents of heaven and plants of earth always reminding us of the deeper connection to our natural heritage.

CIAO: Our sense of smell is the least bombarded of our senses. So much of Western culture especially is over stimulated from a visual and audio perspective. Our sense of smell is one of our only senses that really encourages people to take note to what they’re “sensing” as well what they are feeling. As more people people become familiar with aromatherapy, aromachology or Aromatic-Kinesiology, do you think a greater cosmic consciousness will be realized?

The way you’ve presented Aromatic-Kinesiology in the Blossoming Heart, it is intuitive and easy to use with guidelines for the beginner but it is also very valuable for the advanced soul. Are you finding a cross-over with other modalities that allow for this kind of work to foster a greater community and universal healing?

ROBBI: Yes I am, very much so. In these busy times we need to stay connected to the things that bring us energy. The healing process is a very personal process for each of us. These days, our time is so precious that luxurious living is taking on a different meaning. The concept of luxury now embraces time to be, spaciousness, peaceful living and the maintenance of a sustainable and intact ecology. These are the new luxuries.

Integral to the healing journey is time to spend in quiet reflection and creating an environment that is healing to our bodies and our minds. The power of restoration and replenishment comes fully alive when we take a tranquil pause. 

From this place we can listen to the longings of our soul. It is in these quiet moments that we can address the blocks that prevent us from moving forward in life. As we move toward emotional renewal and put new values in order for ourselves, we can extend that philosophy out into the wider world.

As we discover truly who we are and have the courage to be that, we can nurture ourselves while making a difference.

Enlivened in our inner world, we can contribute to the healing that is much needed for our beautiful earth to continue to be sustained and nourished. After all it could be said, that we are born connected and that we are all part of the one mind, the one heart, the one breath and the one consciousness.