In Conversation With: Jonathan Hinde
It is my total pleasure to have Jonathan Hinde of Oshadhi Oils here for the fourth installation of our 'In Conversation With' blog series.
I first met Jonathan at the International Ayurveda Congress in April, where his mentor, Malte Hozzel, and founder of Oshadhi oils, was scheduled to give a talk. After the talk, Jonathan arranged an impromptu Q&A with Malte, which could easily have gone on and on. He generously shared years of knowledge and experience, and the energy between Malte and Jonathan was palpable, and I knew Jonathan and I would have more to talk about.
So, subsequent meetings with him in London included chats about marma therapy, transcendental meditation, and of course, essential oils. We seemed to circle back to the common thread of all of these and how they can encourage and support spiritual awareness and growth, especially through the more painful happenings in life.
It was during my first meeting with Jonathan that he said to me 'you really do meet some interesting people along the way,' which was what inspired me to start this blog series. I wanted a place to catalogue and share insights from the people that I felt grateful and lucky enough to have crossed paths with.
I eventually made a trip to Cambridge, where Jonathan is based, for a marma therapy session, and what was a wonderful afternoon sampling a number of Oshadhi oils together with Jonathan's wife, Mary. In between cleansing our olfactory bulbs with coffee beans, we got to talking about the feelings, memories and triggers each one brought up. They were different for all of us.
I recently invited Jonathan to answer a few questions, and I hope as you read on your curiosity is piqued and that you find his insights just as fascinating as I do.
Can you take us back a little and describe briefly how you got to where you are today?
I suppose the theme that knits it all together is an interest in the mind, personal development and higher consciousness. I took a degree in experimental psychology at Oxford University but I had a somewhat mottled academic career because it really didn't satisfy me at all. While I was there I learned Transcendental Meditation and soon after graduating I became a TM teacher. Most of my adult life has been spent teaching this simple, natural and effective practice, and I have enjoyed every moment of it.
It was when I was working at the International Centre in Switzerland that I became friends with Malte Hozzel, who founded the Oshadhi brand of essential oils. Malte has always had a deep personal connection with medicinal plants and essential oils, and spent years travelling the world and sourcing oils direct from the growers. After going on one of his courses I was hooked, and my wife and I became UK distributors for Oshadhi. It was like a gift from Nature suddenly to have almost 500 different essential oils to play with!
What was the extent of your interest in essential oils before you met Malte?
If I am truthful they had not really crossed my path, (apart from Patchouli which may tell you a bit about my teenage years!). I don't know why, but that's how it was. And I'm perhaps a little ashamed to say that for years I had thought of aromatherapy as a sort of pampering treatment for women of a certain age (if you know what I mean) because that is how it was promoted. But Malte really opened my eyes to how important essential oils are not only for health but for higher consciousness and our reconnection with Nature.
So I suppose the realisation of how limited my original viewpoint had been has made me now feel like a bit of a warrior to bring the incredible importance of plant oils to greater public awareness.
Has there been a single most transformative thing that has come about for you from your use of essential oils?
Gosh. That's difficult to answer. For me it seems to have been a constant gentle fascinating journey into a deeper and richer understanding, rather than one single transformational experience. And I know that I have only just scratched the surface. It is a lifetime of discovery. I surround myself with oils. I suppose that as a result of my use of essential oils first of all I have come to appreciate the connectedness of all things, the balance that exists in Nature and the generosity of the plant world if that doesn't sound too contrived.
Plants are far more than 'nice decoration'. We owe our survival to them. Secondly I am much more aware of the underused therapeutic power of the sense of smell, which is in fact the only sense that connects directly to the central nervous system.
We talk a lot about the practical everyday uses of essential oils, and you have spoken a lot about harnessing the subtle energies of the oils for spiritual growth - can you expand on that?
The thing is that health and well-being depend on many factors and exist on many levels. Some health problems, such as a broken bone, are physical in origin and need a physical solution. This is the realm of modern medicine which can be amazingly effective on this physical level.
But many (we could probably say 'most') health problems are stress-related and have their origin in more subtle parts of our existence. After all we live on many different levels: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual ... So what about those problems that stem from deep disconnection with nature and lead to existential fear?
Try opening a bottle of Jasmine Sambac Absolute, Frankincense or Palo Santo, inhaling deeply and see if it helps you let go of your troubles. The chances are it will help. You see plants also have their own spiritual side, and essential oils have a vibrational quality that can balance us on this deep existential level.
And you know, people are unconsciously aware of this: Try opening a bottle of really nice quality essential oil on a train and start playing around with it. Everyone around gets interested! They recognise something that has been lacking in their lives. Surrounding yourself with gorgeous aromas has an immediate effect of reducing stress and restoring balance.
You refer to essential oils as "gifts from the plant world, and their energy and healing power is absolutely necessary at this turbulent time in the history of the world." This seems especially pertinent now. What are some of the ways that you use them?
Maybe I can explain a little more? In traditional cultures all the senses were given equal importance. The Romans had their baths and oils, and many Bible stories talk about how Jesus 'anointed' people. 'Narde' oil is mentioned, which we know to be Spikenard (Jatamansi). Earlier than that Ayurvedic texts from ancient India are full of recipes using plants. These cultures also gave great importance to touch, taste and smell. But one of the things that happened at the time of the Renaissance and the scientific revolution was that two of the senses (hearing and vision) somehow took on a higher importance. Touch, taste and smell became the lower, more animalistic senses. And if you look at the way that we live our lives nowadays nearly all the sensory stimulation is audio-visual: computers, TV, radio, movies, telephone ... We cry out for touch, taste and smell because somewhere deep inside we know that these have an earthy balancing influence that pacifies the insistent chatter of the mind! A gentle massage with essential oils (touch and smell) is a wonderful way to unwind.
But as I mentioned dis-ease can be on many different levels, and just as we live on different levels, so do plants. Essential oils can be used to treat problems which are spiritual, emotional, mental or physical. I am sure that essential oils will inevitably become more used in conventional medicine. One example of this is the antibiotic crisis. Antibiotics are mono-molecular so it is relatively simple for a bacterium to develop a resistance to an antibiotic, which they do. But plants are also subject to bacterial invasion (and viral and fungal by the way) and they have developed their own resistance. Essential oils contain complex components of different molecules, many of which are anti-bacterial in their function.
Another example is a recent study where a small amount of lavender oil was diffused to babies in intensive care. The 'lavender babies' needed on average 6.4 fewer days there than the controls. Each day in intensive care costs about $5000, while the lavender patch costs a dollar, so perhaps inevitably it was the cost savings that were highlighted. Oh well.
Finding out about essential oils also encourages you to take responsibility for your own health. Inhalation with oils such as Ravintsara, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, or Cajeput helps both to clear the lungs and to get rid of the infection. A couple of drops in the bottom of a cup, add boiling water and inhale. Use the same procedure with Bay Laurel, Roman Camomile and Eucalyptus radiata for Hay Fever. Have Helichrysum available for bruises, Rose Hip Seed oil and Cistus for skin repair. The list is endless.
There is a new generation of Oshadhi essential oils; can you talk through some of them?
Can I mention three? Palo Santo for removing stale energies; Petitgrain Mandarin (use with a carrier oil on your abdomen and upper lip to help sleep); and Brazilian Pepper for bronchial problems. Oh, and Silver Fir to give you an energy boost, especially when driving.
What a fascinating synthesis between all that Jonathan does, am I right? I would encourage anyone to visit the Oshadhi site where you'll see the sheer breadth of the oils and hydrolats they source. I would also highly recommend signing up to receive Jonathan's monthly emails.
For those that are interested, Jonathan will begin offering marma therapy in London in the autumn. For more information, he is happy to be contacted directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read! To share your thoughts or to ask a question, leave us a comment below!