Litsea cubeba, also known as May Chang, is an Asian evergreen shrub which is often overlooked as an essential oil. However distilled from the small fruits that grown on this plant, Listea essential oil is a magical oil that should be discovered and cherished by every family.
Most people choose lemongrass, which is a close competitor to Listea, but despite the scent being similar lemongrass is not close second. Almost completely made up of terpenes, it is mostly geranial, meral and citronella which are terpene aldehydes. It is that limonene that makes its aroma similar to the lemongrass aroma. As an aldehyde it will oxidize quickly, and should remain in a cool storage space with it’s lid tightly on. The most famous aldehyde is Melissa, but also Cassia, Cinnamon and Cilantro. An oil that requires blending and dilution because aldehydes are, as my daughter calls them, spicy.
When we think of terpenes we think of mostly conifers, those pine tree oils. But this oil is very calming for mood and emotions, beneficial for environmental and seasonal threats, and can help you keep focused. Like tea tree (melaleuca) on steroids, this is an amazing oil that you can enjoy blending with other grounding oils, or an oil like Rose that helps us evoke and release emotional baggage. The blend of Litsea, Cedarwood, Frankincense and Rose has become an invaluable protector in my essential oil arsenal.
One of the impressions I have gained recently in speaking to Zen friends about practice is a certain attitude towards breathing in zazen, which I like to think of as “samurai breathing”. I think it has its origins in the martial arts.
The “samurai breath’ goes like this: one must push down hard on the outgoing breath, concentrating on the hara (solar plexus) and in doing so, push aside any thoughts, feelings, sensations, that get in the way, smashing through them like a karate expert would smash their hand through a brick.
If you practice like this, it will give you a considerable feeling of power, like winning a contest (with yourself), and also give you a sense of purpose in a goal-seeking way (like paying off the mortgage). This type of straining zazen creates a heroic struggle out of zazen and a sense that you are trying very hard, but it is ultimately self-defeating. Perhaps it is part of the process of learning that we have to go through this struggle before we realize it is not productive. When you rub this blend on your hands, put your hands together in the shape of a triangle and breathe it in… it’s like you become a warrior. Similar to standing in the Super Hero pose for five minutes. Doing that in a mist of this blend creates an unstoppable being.
Recently we added this blend to our kid-friendly offerings, and I have to say it quickly is one of the most used blends with friends and family, alike. If we teach our kids to be stronger not just in their physical strength, but in their energy body, there will be a shift across the globe. I cherish that idea.