Sonal Shah, founder of The Om Room, has always had an interest in scent and ritual that began with her cultural heritage and upbringing. Now she brings that interest into her business, which she started just two months ago. We caught up with Shah about aromatherapy and self-compassion. Note: This interview is a part of our 20 Masters of Mindfulness, Movement + Connection roundup, which ran in our Winter 2021 issue.
Tell me about your journey and how it brought you to your current role.
As a young child, you could always find me in the backyard, which I called my magical forest, collecting pieces of plants and making concoctions for my favorite game, “Witches.” Meanwhile, growing up in a home of two generations of immigrants from India, I was lucky to be exposed to temples, yoga, meditation, incense, rituals and ancient remedies. These experiences carried through my life. Scent and rituals, in particular, became a big part of my life, so much that 10 years ago I got certified as an aromatherapist to start a scent-related business. After getting a cushy corporate job, however, I kept putting off that dream until last year after getting laid off. Two months ago, I launched The Om Room and my first product: sage and palo santo smudge sticks. The Om Room offers natural aromatherapy and energy-healing products to bring balance into your life and was born with the deep roots of my upbringing, as well as my own pursuit of finding harmony in my daily life.
How are you practicing and prioritizing self-care, especially mid-pandemic?
Self care is such an important part of my life. I meditate for 10 minutes every morning and every night. I use essential oils daily because of their mood-enhancing abilities (like orange and ginger body wash, and lavender spray on my pillow at night). I get outside once a day to get a mental break, free of digital. I burn palo santo and practice positive affirmations. The smoke brings focus and leaves a pleasant lemony scent behind. I truly believe in the importance of self-care rituals to keep me grounded.
What does self-compassion mean to you, and how do you incorporate it into your practice?
Self-compassion is about feeding your mind and body with love, just as you would to a small child or a plant that needs that water. By filling yourself up with love, you give yourself a chance to be the best version of yourself, which brings a sense of harmony and a ripple effect to those around you. Some practices I incorporate are hot lemon water in the morning, weekly visualization practices (visualizing the life you want in a specific area and describing it as if it’s happening already), listening to positive guided meditations, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and yoga workouts four times a week and weekly journaling of things that are going right (I know that sounds extra, but it’s super powerful).
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