Tag Archives: memories

THE NOSE – such a powerful tool

Last night I was sitting with a lady who asked me what I did…What is aromatherapy? I explained the oils and how scents are extremely evocative. She was silent for a while and then she started talking about scents: The scent of the eucalyptus that you find in American shops around christmas time. The scent of horses (she works with horses); how it is different in summer than in winter. How the best scent ever is when the horses have eaten a specific herb in summer and then get warmed up by the sun. (She still hasn’t been able to figure out exactly which herb creates this amazing scent)

Listening to this wonderful lady, I realized that she runs her whole horse-business somewhat by scent. She smells her horses and knows if something is not right. Her sense of smell is so attuned to what she does that she doesn’t even realize it, it naturally guides her in her communication with her horses.

Finally I looked at her and said; “This is what I do, scent”. And she nodded her head, completely understanding my work. This led me to think about people and how they perceive scents, since scents influence us on such a subtle level; it is all about emotion. Scents will evoke memories long forgotten, bringing back the memory as clear as day, every detail burned into our emotional center. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are smelling something, memory just kicks in with such force that it, literally, takes our breath away. Only thing is, most people are not aware of smelling, it passes by the rational mind and lodges where we feel. This sense of ours, the sense of smell, is the least studied, the least known or understood and the most powerful of all our senses. We should train ourselves to recognize and understand what we smell and how it influences us since this is a very powerful tool for awareness of our surroundings.

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THE MAGIC OF SCENTS

Ever since I can remember scents were always important; they would work on my imagination and carry me off. I never thought about it because it has always been such a vital part of who I am, but lately I have looked at what scents do to me. (Mind you, scents can even be smells or stinks…it doesn’t matter, I make no difference.)

When I think of scents, there is a whole world opening up in me; scents are the embodiment of history, every single story told and untold. They evoke mystery and adventure, they are the whiff of faraway lands, dreams and colors, displaying a whole array of emotions and music within. Scents are truly Grace.

I believe scents have not changed that much through history; lavender probably smells the same as it did centuries ago, so we might actually have the same experience now as was had then…scents span time. A story from the bible tells of Maria Magdalene rubbing Jesus’ feet with the oil of Spikenarde (Nardostachys jatamansi). I love that oil with its fresh, deep and musky scent. Knowing the properties of the oil (calming, grounding…) makes the story so much more interesting. I can rub my feet with Spikenarde and have the same experience 2000 yrs later – mind-boggling! Look at ancient poetry and you will find that the herbs, plants and oils haven’t changed. The poems speak of rose, jasmine, sandalwood, aloeswood, rosemary and thyme…

In the bible, poems and other written work through history we can find recipes for perfumes and scents that were used at the time. By recreating them we get an idea of the evolution of perfumery. Every century had its own “scent-fashion” and it has changed over time. Some of the perfumes, or scents, from ancient times would not be very popular today. At the time much of the known perfumes were connected to religious ceremony since scented matter oftentimes was costly and difficult to come by. By offering these expensive and evocative perfumes to the God(s), people hoped that the gods would be benevolent towards them.

The earliest perfumes were usually made from resins and woods, mixed into fat and then burned or anointed. Little by little, over time, the art of securing the evocative and fleeting scent of flowers was found and has been perfected ever since. Today lots of synthetics and alcohol is used in perfumes which somewhat takes away the “heady emotional reaction” to a scent, though the pleasure of it is always there. Everybody reacts on scents in some way, even anosmic people. Scents evoke memories, even long-buried ones, to be brought forth in vivid detail; matter might desist, but scents remain forever.

LITTLE STORIES ABOUT SCENT

Ever since I can remember I have perceived my world largely through the sense of smell. I smell everything! As a little child I could find my way home, eyes closed, just by smelling. My siblings teased me and said I was a dog.  Sometimes I thought that if I would go blind, I could probably make it in the world anyway, just by smelling. I lived my first 7 years in Japan, then moved to Sweden. These countries smell very different, and the first months in Sweden I was busy sorting the scents… Over time and travels I have found that every country has its own scent, even cities. The metro in Paris has a smell like no other metro in the world, though the London underground has a touch of it. (This memory is from a trip to Paris when I was 11).

When I was 9 yrs old I was sent on holidays to friends of the family who lived in a huge mansion by the sea. Behind the mansion there was this beautiful rose-garden where I spent most of my time reading. One day I collected as much roses as I could carry and brought them to my room where there was a wash-stand. There I immersed the rose-petals in warm water to make rose-water, nobody had ever told me how to do this, I just wanted to keep the scent. I knew then, that I would one day work with scents and plants. (I forgot all about that “wish” for almost 20 yrs and when it resurfaced – while smelling an essential oil – I found my present career.)

At 18, I visited with friends in New York. They took me to China Town where I was hit by such an enormous wave of memories and emotions from my (by now half-forgotten) early childhood in Japan. I was in pieces, seldom have I experienced anything so strong.

One day when I went shopping with my little son, aged 8, we went to the cash-machine to get money. While I am putting away the money, my son  asks me: “Mami, first you smelled your card before you put it in the machine, and then you smelled it when it came out. What do you think the machine did to your card?” I don’t notice that I smell things, I just do it. There is no such thing as a bad smell, it’s all information. A “bad smell” usually means something is rotten, ill or poisonous – very important information. The oil of hops (humulus lupulus) is the oddest-smelling essential oil I have ever come across, its scent is on one hand beautifully  floral and sweet and behind that scent it smells like natural gas. Black pepper (piper nigrum) smells like peppercorns, but behind that there is this ethereal floral scent. Our senses give us the emotional experience of living, but I think that scent is the most subtle of them all. So start paying attention to what you smell and feel – it will take you on a most astonishing journey…Enjoy!

CREATING SPACE

clutter-main_FullIf you had to chose only a few items of all that you own – what items would that be? Chances are that you can’t answer this, or need masses of time to figure it out.

Our lives are cluttered; with things, ideas, papers, emails…anything. And this clutter grows as we daily add to it; another book in the book-shelf, another t-shirt in the closet, another paper in the pile. How much do we take away, throw away, give away? Not as much as we collect,  I am sure. We save things forever; letters and photos to boost our memories, the things that “might come in handy one day” (and never do), books that we will never read again, papers because we didn’t have the energy to get rid of them…on and on.  All this clutter takes space and energy; physically because it needs to be managed, mentally/emotionally because it means we are not letting go.

The Mongolians can carry all of their belongings with the help of their ponies. They live in large tents that are built in layers on a wooden core and they have actual furniture made out of wood. All this takes space, still they can fold and pack it onto a couple of wagons. I like the idea of owning only what you can carry.

How do we clear our spaces? How do we get rid of clutter and will it liberate us?  Remember last time you moved? How it bugged you that you owned so much? All the stuff you suddenly felt prepared to get rid of? This is the point; when you suddenly need to carry all your belongings, a lot of it becomes redundant.                                                                                                                                                                                                    I started with my books; I love books and I had plenty, too many actually, lots of them were in boxes in the attic. I can not re-read books, I have too good a memory, so I just collected them. One day I told all my friends to come and get what they wanted, I gave away almost all my books, and those that were not taken I gave to a 2nd hand bookstore. This was not easy,  suddenly every book was a treasure, but I let them go and once it was done I felt liberated and free which gave me the incentive needed to clear more space. I now don’t own anything I don’t use, and no matter how hard it is sometimes to let things go, I know how it liberates me and that makes it easier. And all that which I give away creates pleasure for somebody else.

Look at every thing you own; do you really need it? Does it give you pleasure? Is it worth carrying around if you have to? Memories are lodged in your head; much more vivid and beautiful than any picture or letter. Start in one end; your books or clothes or papers or letters or kitchen cupboard or the attic or or or…

If you want new things to come into your life, you need to make space for it, and this is true on all levels. So are you clinging to what is old and out-dated or are you opening space for new and exciting opportunities?