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Olfactory Sensations

Ingrid Naiman

The sense of smell is the most fundamental of the five physical senses. Not only does it work in harmony with the survival instinct, but it "informs" us of much more, consciously and unconsciously. We must breathe, and this is so automatic for most of us that we do not even think about the process of inhalation and exhalation, the exchange of vital prana for depleted air, the gift of inspiration and life.

Each of the five senses is related to an element, a chakra, and an endocrine system. The sense of smell is related to the first chakra and the adrenal glands.

Studies have been done to show what stresses people the most. Much to the surprise of some who probably have not thought about this before, financial worries, ill health, divorce, and death, while stressful, do not compare to odor. Nothing wears us out faster than a smell we cannot stand.

Likewise, many of us are like mindless idiots when hit by a wave of pheromones that seduce on a level our pets understand but we fail to recognize. For an animal, a smell is full of information, as Sonya Fitzpatrick the Pet Psychic says, a sniff around the neighborhood is for a dog what reading a newspaper is for us.

The fact that we do not consciously interpret odors does not mean that they are not affecting us on some level. You might think of this in the same way that you think about microwaves: you do not "feel" them, but they are impacting you and causing distress whether you know it or not.

Likewise, the unconscious is making use of scents to warn us of danger in the air. For instance, we learn to shun tainted food and to crave savory dishes because our sense of smell alerts us to what to avoid and what to ingest. It, in turn, triggers the adrenals to send little hormonal messages that act as catalysts to move towards safety or prepare the body for a feast. A lovely aroma will stimulate the salivary glands to anticipate a fine meal, and the arousal gets the gastrointestinal system cranking so it can begin the churning and transformation of food into nutrients the body can use.

Odor versus Aroma

However, smell goes well beyond noxious odors and sensual pleasure. We might divide smells into repulsive and attractive. A bad smell or a smell one does not like is really repugnant. Generally, no amount of persuasion will convince someone that a bad smell is good. People like certain odors or they don't like them. They like the smell of garlic or chaparral or they don't like these smells. Likewise, they like the smell of certain perfumes or they find them cloying and annoying.

"Honor your senses" I have a garage full of soaps and incense that are overwhelming to me; however, there are some smells that are blissful and uplifting. It's important to honor our preferences so that we do not add to our stress by trying to like something we really do not like.

Since many of the associations with particular smells are unknown to the conscious mind, it behooves us to pay attention to how we feel around certain smells. Because the sense of smell is related to the earth element, very sturdy, strong people with abundant energy and endurance usually have an enormous tolerance for odors that some people cannot stand. Such people may like the smell of fresh-cut hay or even a stable or perspiration. It seems natural to them; they feel renewed by the image of the Earth in its endless cycles, including the cycles of work and rest. These people will not mind some real odor, but they may also be responsive in profound ways to more seductive smells.

A person who is adrenal exhausted, fragile, and environmentally sensitive will detest the smell of cigarettes as well as most body odors and perfumes . . . not to mention petroleum fumes and cleaning agents. These people need to avoid such smells, but they can be nurtured by wafts of delicate aromas that are uplifting, like a whiff of citrus peel or fresh basil. These smells actually soothe them; they help such persons to feel clearer and more focused. So, while smell is related to the earth element, it does wonders for the air element as well.

It is not a myth that certain smells are detoxifying. Years ago, I was lecturing at a seminar on a college campus in the smoggiest part of Los Angeles. The freeways and motel room smelled awful but the campus, just across the street, was actually invigorating. It had thousands of eucalyptus trees growing everywhere and was exhilarating.

Similarly, something like basil is oxygen-rich so it improves transport of this vital molecule so that our blood feels more alive and our brains are more alert. It's not an impression, it actually happens.

When a person is toxic, there may be malodorous smells deep inside the body as well as exuding from the pores of the body. In a severe case, this could lead to irritation of the nerves and spasms. I have often held an open bottle of an essential oil under the nose of someone in the midst of a seizure only to have them recover quickly and smoothly without the usual feeling of fatigue afterwards. These scents purify the body of noxious odors and allow the various systems of the body to rest.

You might thus say that a purifying aroma has the power to neutralize a toxic odor. This is obviously much more efficient if the vapors are consciously assimilated and circulated throughout the body through focusing on the inhalation, movement of wind, and exhalation of air. Our respiratory systems were designed to exchange spent air for inspiration, but we can improve the efficiency of the exchange by deliberately inhaling vitalizing fragrances.

In observing people under a lot of stress, I have learned that the less resilient we are, the more sensitive we are to odors. We are actually defenseless against the odors that wear us down. However, we are renewed by the fresh smell of a waterfall shooting its negative ions into the atmosphere and enhancing our own sense of well being.

Usually, the spectrum is fairly wide. In the beginning of a stressful period, reactivity to smells is heightened. This is generally true of everyone; and it is a sign of Nature working at Her very best, alerting us to the need to take better care of ourselves by not subjecting ourselves to what is enervating. The second phase is however different for the rugged adrenal types in that many of these people actually lose their sense of smell. It fails to act as the early system it is supposed to be.

Sometimes, this loss occurs suddenly, after shock or surgery. Usually, the ability to smell comes back after a suitable period of adjustment or convalescence, but it may still be diminished for a long time.

For people who always were a bit more sensitive, the sense of smell becomes increasingly acute so the sensations are also extremely pleasurable or unbearable. The number of odors that are deemed intolerable tends to increase until a point is reached where the individual is moving in the direction of healing rather than greater illness.

It is not unusual at all for some people to react adversely to everything with even a hint of synthetic ingredients. Such people can smell the dyes in clothes, the artificial additives in foods and household products, and sometimes what others ate days ago.

Obviously, human beings are severely distressed by such heightened sensitivity. They desperately need to heal . . . and they will not begin to heal until the stressors in their lives are reduced, including smells they can't stand. To "normal" individuals, people in this condition seem overreactive, but they are not psychotic and they do not have severe cases of hypochondria. They are exhausted and they need to recognize this so they can adopt sensible measures to recover. One of these sensible measures is delicate inhalation therapy using extremely pure and aromatic substances, natural smells such as fresh herbs or spices or totally unadulterated essential oils.

Because such people are hypersensitive, they need brief efforts in the beginning until feeling more emotional and physical elasticity. When this inhalation is accompanied by meditation or at least absence of intrusion, the results can be quick and decisive. Not only do people feel more centered, but they experience a lessening of anxiety and sometimes illumination.

Anyone who wants to try this can simply put a drop or two of essential oil on the palms of the hands, rub them together and then cup the hands and take a few deep breaths of the aroma.

You can also rub some fresh herbs or fruit on the hands and do the same. Wetting a cloth with hot water and a scent and breathing through the cloth is another way to inhale the purifying aroma. Until recovering the sense of smell, tranquility, and stability, adrenal tonics and strategies can be used.

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*The material provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The author is not a medical doctor. The statements made represent the author's personal opinions and are not intended to replace the services of health care professionals. The content and products discussed have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this page and the products available on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.