INSIDE AND OUTSIDE - SMELLING
new and probably still a bit messy - jan 31st
Traditional and modern meditations are full of breathing awareness exercises. However, i have never heard of the sense of smell being used or even mentioned in any breathing awareness meditation or pranayama exercise (the yoga of breathing).
Hedgehogs and dogs would probably consider breathing, without smelling, to be a complete waste of time.
None of our broadband senses are as intimate as the sense of smell. Yet we hardly notice it.
Smell is the active ingredient of the breath. If i'm not aware of the smell, then it is only a narrow awareness of the breathing. It's like hearing electrical notes without the trumpet and violin tones. It's like seeing in black and white.
Smelling is a far stranger and deeper world than seeing and listening. It adds new depth to the feelings already found in many body and breathing meditations.
We take smell inside our bodies, in a way we don't feel with sounds and sights. Sights are always perceived as outside us. Sounds may feel as though they pass through us. But this is not comparable with the smells which fill us.
Modern day humans are so unfamiliar with their sense of smell, that we need time to relearn how to use it.
To start with, the most important smelling exercise is to start recognising the difference between the in-smell and the out-smell. Over the next few days and weeks, whenever you notice a smell, then focus on it, take a moment to let it fill you, and notice the contrast of the out breath. This has deeper effects, but at first just practically, if you only concentrate on the incoming air you will soon get dizzy, noticing the contrast regulates the speed of breathing.
It can be done with fresh air and old air, but if we can make the incoming or outgoing air more noticeable, it stimulates the sensation.
Focussing on Strong Smells to Wake Up
The outgoing breath and smell is easy to amplify with coffee, whisky, southern comfort, or chocolate, etc. And it's better to use one simple strong taste, rather than after a meal, when the taste of the meal seems to fill your whole body.
BUT you will need a variety of nice things to inhale. You don't want to inhale the same thing every day, a few days long if you enjoy it, but then it gets boring, and probably has one-sided effects.
Indoors, these days, i often use aroma therapy oils. (from China 1.50-2.00 euro per bottle, go to 'Kiuno' or 'Pyrrla'). In summer, i would advise you to rub your nose in a few roses or honeysuckle, and empathise with bees.
Trying to find household equivalents is tricky.
What ya' got? tiger balm and clove oil don't work so well, peppermint oil is good but somehow thin, deeper smells are better like vick, and tea tree oil is very good. ... i have little rags and heat them on a lamp ... rub them on my nose ...
Isolating the In-smell and the Out-smell
I found this very informative TED video on how dogs ‛big picture’"see"‛big picture’ with their noses, it's 5 mins long.
Dogs have a slit at the side of their nostrils where they exhale the ‛out-smell’. This is an important factor for scenting. It allows the ‛in-smell’ scent to hang near the smell-receptors and to build up, over a series of ‛in-smells’, without being disrupted by the ‛out-smell’.
We can partially simulate this by slightly opening the mouth to breathe out. This is the first step: Smell in through the nose and breath out through the mouth.
Then we can get one step better. If you leave your mouth very slightly open while you smell-in, what will happen, if your tongue is relaxed, is, on the in-breath, the back of your tongue will curl up, like a valve, ... where the 'K' sound or 'Q' sound is made. This restricts the in-scent from being felt in the mouth.
Now the out-smell will be felt, or rather, 'tasted', in the throat and the mouth; and the in-smell will hang in the nostrils, and we can explore the pure residue of the in-scent in the nasal canals, and both can build up over a series of breaths.
Sense the Scents
Sense the in-smell, in and behind the nose. Notice the smell sensation spreading out, above the roof of the mouth, maybe to the top of your head and outwards to both sides in the direction of the ears.
If you chew sweet chocolate, and then smell mint, after about 10 breaths you will feel a clear divide line on the roof of your mouth. Above the roof and at the sides and back of your head is filled with mint, and in the mouth and below is a warm chocolate taste.
And then consider that to some extent this is happening all the time, it is a constant in our experience of ourselves, and we are unaware of it.
To enjoy this experience it's necessary to open the mouth only very slightly, otherwise after a few minutes your mouth will start getting dry. When lying down on your back or side it's easy, the lower jaw hangs a bit, and you can rest your upper teeth on your lower lip. When sitting or standing it is not as natural, your lips will automatically touch together and this stops the 'Q' valve action, so try to hold the lips just a paper thin slit open on one side.