Here I am, in this beautiful perfumerie tucked away in the old city center of Havana, Cuba. I love perfume making, so today let’s talk about the wisdom of our senses, and especially, our sense of smell.
We were all created with five basic senses: smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing. While many people on a spiritual path are often motivated to develop their intuitive and psychic abilities, what I often tell my clients is that the path of intuitive development first begins with attuning ourselves more deeply to the five senses. Once we widen those, it is only natural for other senses to open up for us – and they do, inevitably.
Our five senses carry within themselves all that is needed to connect to ourselves more deeply and to expand in our energy. They are also many wellness and health benefits, because each of our five senses is essentially a language of what our body needs. They also serve as intuitive pathways about what is going on in our external environment – and when we widen our inner world through them, so does our understanding of the outer world widens also.
Our five senses are also what grounding techniques are based on. For example, if you feel stressed, the quickest way to ground yourself is just place your hands on something like a wooden table, or just hold your hands. If you think about it, grounding essentially means to come back to the present moment – which means embodiment. In addition, working with our senses is also one of the key components of feminine embodiment and invoking feminine energy. As women, we connect and align to our natural rhythm through our senses.
When we develop a deeper connection to our physical body through our senses, we also deepen our experience of life itself, and expand our creativity and imagination; we also become more grounded, establishing a stable channel through which inspired creativity, and source energy, can flow freely through our body. So if you are feeling stuck creatively, just connect to your senses and let that deepening of experience inspire you to then express your art through, and find new ways to expressing creativity.
Our five senses are also an amazing and creative way to deepen intimacy with our partner, or with ourselves. You can read more about that in my article The Art of Nurturing Intimacy. We awaken our sensual self and come into our sensuality through our ability to fully enjoy our senses. Actually, lack of sexual confidence often refers to body insecurity, which in turn means “not knowing how to be in your body.” Sensuality is in a way the ability to be fully in your body. Being sensual grounds us in our body, and we live in the present moment, and we are able to be more attentive to our partner also. To be sensual is to be completely human; and we get to experience ourselves, and this life, through many different ways. This makes us more imaginative, creative, and able to rekindle our intimacy and connection to our partner; because lovemaking isn’t just about genitals, we make love in so many other ways using sound, words, playfulness, touch, hands, eyes. The greatest lovers are the ones that pay attention, and all begins in life with noticing.
And yet our senses aren’t just about the physical or creative experience – each of the five senses can be engaged towards a higher spiritual purpose that will naturally bring us more fulfillment and soul expansion. Once we learn how to mindfully and consciously use our every day movements and gestures, higher love is expressed and embodied through our hands, ears and lips in a way that is meaningful, purposeful and aligned to our spiritual path. For example, touch isn’t just about touch of fabric and skin, it is about how we touch other people’s hearts. You can read about this in detail in my article Engaging All Five Senses Towards Higher Purpose.
A responsibility goes with all in life, in that we need to understand how energy works, and the purpose of the tools we have. Everything in life can be either medicine or poison depending on its usage. Water too can be either medicine or poison; air too can be either medicine or poison; astrology too can be either medicine or poison, depending on how you use it. Senses can be our greatest allies, but they can also be used against us, to trap us in our lower chakras, if we don’t understand our true inner power. So what we have to remember is that through mastering and understanding how we can work with our senses – that they are precious and powerful tools for tuning the body and energy into more alignment, to set our spirit free and access our inner self more deeply, we can then use them for a more fulfilling experience and real empowerment. Otherwise, we become trapped and vulnerable to manipulation and control from the external environment.
our sense of smell
Our olfactory sense, or sense of smell, is perhaps one of our most powerful. The oldest and strongest form of memory actually occurs in the olfactory bulb – it is this that gives so much power of connecting us to the liminal, to spirit, to soul memory, and to lineage, sometimes even to past lives. You know this: Each time you smell something familiar, you go right there, all the way back to the moment when that thing happened.
This is one the most powerful ways to work with our sense of smell – because it is so deeply connected to our emotional body and memories. Memories are like batteries. We enter doorways through senses – and in these rooms, we conjure feelings, experiences, thoughts and emotions. When we know which door to open, we can invoke specific moods into our life. So if I have a great memory with the scent of apples, every time I smell apples, I’ll feel that thing I did way back when. This is great for self-care and mood enhancers, because knowing ourselves and our minds and our memories, we can use specific senses, whether music, scents, images, to put ourselves in a good mood when we are feeling down.
In many Indigenous cultures and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, people build relationships to God by olfactive offerings. Incense itself was once believed to be the fragrance of God, and of Christ, and symbolizes the rising of our prayers, which are then held by God, heard by him, and establish our connection and strengthening of our spiritual core. This is why when you enter an Orthodox Christian church, you’ll be immediately smelling all these scents and incense – and you’ll have your other senses engaged as well through the icons – because when our senses are engaged, our spirit is free and more able to receive the spiritual soothing and awareness.
Depending on the intention, is how people pick the herbs and oils and fruits that are associated with these vibrations and resonances. This gift helps to form and build a bridge of connection and reciprocity. It is considered a ritual to offer something when entering a temple, in exchange for the gift of peace and harmony that you will receive in that space. This exchange of energy, of giving and receiving, is what essentially builds the bridge of connection and begins the language with that which cannot speak.
Scent is very important in aligning to our natural rhythm. With so many harmful contents and toxins in cosmetics, food, house cleaning supplies, and don’t even get me started on the toxins in contraceptives, our hormonal health is constantly disrupted, and our bodies can become too numbed in our senses. It is a well known fact that we choose potential partners based on their body scent – and if our senses are off, well … yeah. That’s another topic – but suffice it to say, dear ladies, smell the skin of your partners rather than his perfumes, and trust how you feel – the body never lies.
When it comes to scent, and anything else in life, one thing to remember is to follow what feels good for you. You don’t have to surround yourself with all the fragrances mentioned below – find the ones that you truly love. Remember: Align to your own natural rhythm which is unique to you.
Each scent is traditionally associated with particular emotions and body organs – which is why scents also have many medicinal and wellness benefits – but it is also why they provoke very powerful memories within us, from our deep subconscious. So while for someone jasmine oil might be seductive, for another, it may provoke some uncomfortable feelings with intimacy. For them, perhaps something else will be more arousing. Patchouli may be a powerful aphrodisiac, but perhaps for you, it invokes not so great emotions. So follow your own inner guidance, always.
In general, it is believed that we are attracted to those scents that we are currently aligned to, or are pulling into our aura, or are already in our energy field, or we want to embrace more; while those scents that we feel an aversion to are usually those we have current resistances to, or just those we are not focused on. And this changes through the years and months.
For example, maybe sometimes you love sandalwood, but then one day you wake up and you suddenly dislike it. Don’t force yourself to like it. Use scent as guidance to your natural rhythm, and as a deepening of understanding of your body’s language – and current state of being. The body is intuitive and knows, always, what it needs.
Trust your flow, follow the scent.
As an exercise, see which scents you are most drawn to now, and research their emotional and spiritual qualities. Also, see which ones you feel repulsed by perhaps, and what are they associated with also.
For example, vanilla relates to love and sensuality – perhaps love is coming for you; perhaps you are in a love mood; perhaps you are in a creative mood and need to express yourself romantically and creatively; perhaps you need to allow yourself to be more emotionally open, because perhaps you haven’t been, but it’s time now. What does vanilla mean to you? How does it make you feel?
Stay open to the messages of your body and senses, feel into them, take what resonates, and leave the rest to the winds. Not all has to have a deeper meaning – sometimes it is just for us to enjoy them and deepen into our experience of the beauty of this world.
Fragrance is a beautiful way for us to experience ourselves and self-adorn, and it invokes various moods, emotions, creativity and atmospheres. It is a creative self-expression and in many ways, it is an art making and a love making – which is what perfume making is. A making of love and of life, a making of stories and romance, as we dance with the beauty that aromas bless us with.
How to deepen your connection to scent: Experiment with various scents in a perfumery – which ones do you love? What feelings and emotions arise within you? Smell the fruits and vegetables in the market. Light candles or essential oils at home, whichever you prefer, and have some relaxation time.
Have a candle-lit hot bath with essential oils and flowers. Mix your own oil or perfume blends – there are some perfumeries where you can create your own signature perfume! Create your own bath oil by mixing various oils. For some playful intimacy with your partner, close your eyes, and let your partner give you different candles or foods, so you can guess which is which.
Indulge in the scent of something before you eat it or drink, for example, tea or chocolate. Don’t hurry to eat or drink it, just enjoy how it smells for a while.
Notice how your skin smells, how your sweat smells, don’t be afraid of it. Notice how your partner smells. Smell your arms, smell his arms, his neck, his chest. Press noses to skins and rediscover how we can kiss with our noses.
When you go to the beach, take time to enjoy the salt air, the beach lotions, smell your skin after swimming – isn’t it wonderful!
Everything in life begins with noticing – and as we widen our sense of smell, we begin to notice how actually everything has its own unique scent, even air, even tree leaves, and it is how we connect to all and everything even more deeply.
The higher spiritual purpose …
The higher spiritual purpose of our sense of smell is about the impact we have and leave behind.
Love is a scent. All is a scent. Our actions, words and energy leave traces behind us wherever we go. Whether sweet or not, that’s up to us.
Questions to reflect upon:
What is the aroma of my actions and words?
What impact do I leave behind?
What is the scent of my love?
Do I leave a lingering sweet aroma for others to follow, for others to light up their own ways when they feel lost in the forests?
Do I scent of beauty, hope, love, encouragement or discouragement?
Do I scent of an artificial perfume, or a natural authentic soul-skin essence?
Be a scent of love, unmistakeable and undeniable; be a scent of sweetness and compassion. And may through your hands that scent of grace, other people’s hands scent of it for long after you’ve unheld them, and give that scent of grace, compassion and kindness to many others on their paths also.
For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.
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Cover photograph by me.