The dynamics of smell

If we have smells that take us “outwards” –more fresh– and smells that take us more “inwards” –warmer–, we could also have an infinite number of degrees between these two extremes, as many as smells we can recognize at a time dice.

Does it smell good or bad?

We as Europeans understand well something as basic as that “smells good”, or “smells bad”. Using the scent to aromatize, in our culture, is the main option “by default” and practically the only one.

As a conscious exercise, we could go further by thinking about something as simple as this: Grandma’s stew smells delicious, perhaps because it reminds us of happy childhood moments. Do you remember  which ones?; on the other hand, the smell of a roast chicken “is great” when we have spent happy and festive moments with friends at some point. Any remembering?

But a “happy moment with the family” is not the same type of “happy moment with friends”, with which we were in a  restaurant eating chips, salad and grilled chicken. One is more interior, familiar, inward. The other is more public, outward.

A little bit of practice

If we want to remember more intimate and familiar moments, we don’t put drops of lemon ae in the diffuser, we put something like Ravintsara or Kunzea.

It is about understanding that smell can be used as an olfactory metaphor, to express abstract concepts and values:

When we want to internalize our behavior, we use scents that are closer to the “herbs of the mountains”, a balm or something close to musk. But when we want joy, share or talk, we go more for smells closer to citrus, flowers or spices.

We can’t help but show a smile when smelling a flower. Nor can we get meditative or reflective in a market, in front of the spice stall. The only way we can close our eyes with pure lemon juice is for us to taste it directly in our mouth, but we can’t stay quiet, immobile; in the same way, when we try to deeply smell lemon essential oil, we cannot stay totally freeze for too long. It just cannot be done, we have the need to move the body.

It can be fun

There are very creative ideas that we can put into practice. For example. identify ourselves with a smell at a given moment or an entire group! Surely we would not identify a 4-year-old classroom in a Nursery School with Sacred Incense.

We can also use smell to communicate how we feel or how other people make us feel.

There are conferences that leave us in a “incense” mode and others leave us “tangerine” . It may sound strange to you, but surely you understand.

It is about re-educating ourselves to establish a value system based on olfactory symbolism, so that we can characterize certain smells as good or bad and assign them to different behaviors or states to signify their goodness or badness.

We all know people of all kinds. Some are nice but they are like clove and cinnamon, a little is good, but tiresome if we spend a lot of time with them; At school and in the parks, we have surely seen children or like Ylang Ylang, who amuse us, we rejoice in the spirit of knowing that they are there, but without a doubt the people we all like the most are the lavender people, because they are good for everything.

 

 


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