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Tasting and smelling are intrinsically connected, and they are a far stranger and deeper world than seeing and listening.

Modern day humans are so unfamiliar with their senses of smell and taste, that we need time to relearn them and recognise their potential. Mindfulness exercises often encourage an awareness of the taste of food. In the same way, over the next few days and weeks, whenever you notice a good smell, take a moment to let it fill you.

With tasting, i'm referring to the taste of our own body, we are so familiar with it that we don't notice it anymore. Start with all the different areas of taste in your mouth. Under the tongue and above it are different, between lips and teeth, roof of mouth, on the lips, and throat, are all different. Some are salty, sweet, rich even fruity. Which colours would a child associate with all these flavours?

With smelling, the first step is to notice that there is a difference in smell, between your 'in-breath' and your 'out-breath'. And at first it's important to develop the sense of smell by noticing this fine difference and contrast between the 'in-smell' and and 'out-smell'. This is also important for a very practical reason: If you only concentrate on the in-smell you will soon get dizzy, noticing the contrasting out-smell, regulates the speed of breathing.

Your nostrils are where you sense smells. Breathe in and savour the scent in your nostrils, and notice the contrast, notice how this sensation, the scent, dissapears on the out breath.

And then smell in the scent, savour it, and breathe out with your mouth slightly open,- the residue of the in-smell remains in your nostrils (and nasal canals etc.) and you will 'taste' the smell of your out breath with your mouth. Let this scent residue remain in your nostrils and build up over a series of say five breaths ... taste the out breath as it comes up from your stomach. ... is this how it feels to be an animal?

Focusing on Strong Smells to Stimulate Awareness

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.

The outgoing smell and taste 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 ebay, takes a month from China, 1.50 euro per bottle, go to 'Kiuno' or 'Pyrrla'). In summer, i would advise you to rub your nose in a few roses or honeysuckle, ... empathise with bees.

Trying to find household equivalents is tricky. 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 ... (incense is probably mostly good).

Ideas on how to encourage these neglected senses are described in Tasting and Smelling Games. The smelling apparatus itself and how hedgehogs use it continues with Isolating the In-smell and the Out-smell.

Back to Chapter 4 : Smelling and Tasting