What did you do last night? Maybe watched a movie; enjoyed some pizza and the Destiny beta or maybe just prep for the week ahead. I usually do all of these things come Sunday night, but last night was different. Last night I needed calm. Silence. An escape from the hamster wheel of technology and to focus on me. Last night I engaged in my first ever round of Abromatheraphy, and I can't recommend it enough.
It's simple: abromatherapy is simply aromatherapy for men: "the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils for healing and cosmetic purposes".
But wait, isn't aromatherapy nonsense just for ladies? For those asking that, I'd say first of all, don't be so closed-minded.
The term metrosexual ought to have died out a long time ago as it now seems to just slot alongside the normal definition of inner-city males these days.
Every bloke is moisturising, perhaps cleansing and toning and generally manscaping themselves these days, and if they're not, they should be. In an age of pet therapists, personal shoppers and computers on your wrist, is it really that hard to envision men taking time out for themselves to stop and smell the rose oil?
Even if aromatherapy and associated new age hokum aren't scientifically proven, there's nothing wrong with taking time out for even the briefest of meditation sessions to focus your mind, clear your thoughts and centre yourself.
If you're working a 9-5 in any industry, chances are you could do with some meditation and relaxation. With businesses continually pushing workers to do more with less, and the constant threat of a double-dip downturn looming over the heads of higher-ups, the modern business world is a pressure cooker on steroids.
And thanks to the advent of smarter, smaller and ever more connected technology, we're now being followed around by our work life: bugged, traced, tracked and accounted for so we can be called upon to work outside of normal hours at the drop of a hat.
With persistent technology stalking our every move and a more demanding work life, it starts to change the way you think about your downtime.
To appropriate the thoughts of philosopher Alan Watts, we devote our minds to being busy. We're afraid of silence. There's a lack of distraction because you don't want to be alone with yourself. Compulsive thinking and a need to be busy is a drug that you don't want to wean yourself off.
You need to learn to leave your mind alone. That's what abromatherapy is about for guys: finding time to truly focus on yourself, and block out the stresses of the world.
Abromatherapy, like aromatherapy and other unproven new age therapy techniques, is far from an exact science. It's one you'll have to test and re-test yourself to get it right. No two people experience relaxation the same, so get a bit of trial and error going.
For our abromatherapy session, we set the mood with a scented aromatherapy candle (I fancy a touch of vanilla, so I went with that), a reed diffuser to scent the space and a few essential oils. Namely, we used Frankincense oil from Neal's Yard Remedies and Arctic Cloudberry Goji and Borage oil from Evohe. I don't know what either of them do, but they smell great, and can aid in the relaxation process.
Once you've lit your candle and set up your reed diffuser, you've got a difficult task ahead of you: turning off all your gadgets.
Don't do that thing you all do on planes and set your phone to silent and think nobody noticed. The harder it is to turn that bad boy back on, the less tempted you'll be to break it out mid-session to see what's new on Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, tumblr, Grinder, Facebook, Google Plus, Path or whatever other social network you're obsessed with this week. (See the problem yet?)
And then you just need to sit quietly, and relax. Clear your mind of all thought and focus entirely on silence.
The hardest part of this whole process for anyone will be meditation. Because your brain is hardwired to keep your whole body busy doing things, you'll always think you're missing out on something just by sitting down and doing nothing.
<a href="http://www.popsugar.com.auPOPSUGAR Australia's beauty editor and meditation guru, Jasmine Garnsworthy, shared with me the five best tips for first time meditators:
• It's recommended that you meditate twice a day for 20 minutes at a time. If you're just starting out, that can often be a daunting task. Don't try and do 20 minutes twice a day to start with. Start out with 10 minutes once a day and work your way up to the recommended amount.
• Download an alarm app on your phone that's not intrusive to let you know how you're doing for time. Otherwise you there's a risk of losing track of time or worse, falling asleep.
• Don't check your phone!
• You can listen to binaural beats to get you in the right frame of mind.
• The key to success is repetition. You just have to keep doing it over time and eventually it gets better.
You can also listen to or watch along with specialised videos to help you relax. You may have seen references to a phenomenon known as ASMR on Gizmodo before. Videos that can trigger ASMR and such have been featured.
You may have experienced ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, before: basically it's the feeling of intense tingles or a pleasurable sensation in your head, spine, arms and hands. The science behind it isn't well understood, but ASMRtists (as practitioners are now known) upload their own "trigger" videos to YouTube, often garnering thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of views.
Triggers can include slow scratching, gentle whispering, detailed touching of a particular object or other physical stimuli. ASMRtists role play as hairdressers, suit fitters, and massage therapists.
It can be a little weird to have someone whispering at you and doing weird things with binaural microphones around your head, but if viewed in the right frame of mind, viewing ASMR videos in lieu of meditating can leave you with a similar feeling.
So the next time you're feeling crushed by work, stressed by life and wound up to the point of snapping, break out your oils, scents and various media and relax. It's not just for women: your mind and body will thank you.
Meditating image via Shutterstock