Sunday, December 6, 2015

Aromatherapy, a gift to yourself

Today's natal gift to you is a few minutes of your time allowing your limbic brain to take over.  It's about the sense of smell, and what it can evoke.

I pulled out a few random spices in the kitchen, since it's winter, and not much to smell out of doors, beyond a bit of frosty air.  But if you do something like this, or use flowers and herbs if your garden is flourishing because it's your season, just give yourself the gift of a few minutes to sniff and enjoy.  

No need to be methodical just inhale the smells and let your mind go where it wants to.  Often this kind of pleasure brings up all sorts of buried memories, usually very vividly, and good ones.  Just a few minutes away from stress and into pleasure.

For me, nutmeg is about my mom, cooking with it, cinnamon from a later period, the Indian spices from early married life when I experimented with curries and had a great time doing it, garam marsala is about Girija and Shabnam, garlic about studying in France, coffee likewise.  The banana never fails to bring me back to the first time I ever saw or tasted one, at age seven when the Atlantic shipping lanes were open again after the end of WW2.

It's not just food, though. You can choose cleaning materials, if you like the smells, or things from your toolbox or your toiletries.  Turpentine swings me right back to early days of making art, Dove soap to bathing a newborn, homespun wool to my experiments with fleece, then Carol Q comes to mind as my spinning guru.  You have your own gallery already stored in your limbic brain, waiting for you to give it a chance on stage.

Just pull them out, set them up and sniff from one to another till your nose gives out -- this will happen fairly soon, so it will be just a short time for this experience.

And the other thing is that as you do this, you are laying down new memories for the future.  Years hence if you smell one of the items you choose today, that will be one of the memories it brings back.

I occasionally gave workshops when I had a large garden, about sensory memory to local groups, bringing in armfuls of herbs from my garden. People were amazed that some of the memories dated back to babyhood, before they were verbal, and certainly before they could read.  This part of the brain does that.  And you tend to form metaphors around it -- the smell of apple pie means home to many Western people.

This is a gift of just a few minutes to enjoy for yourself. Happy Natal Month!  and particularly to those people who also celebrate this month, I'm looking at you, Quinn!  And Tarang, my honorary granddaughter, and Gary, my next door neighbor.  Not to mention Jane Austen, Beethoven and other everyday folks..


  1. And not forgetting Diane!! whose quiche recipe has appeared in various forms in this blog, and who took up paper jewelry and various other crafty things, very successfully. And music, and I've lost track of her activities, so many, so varied!

  2. For me Baby's Own Soap, the fragrance of my newborns freshly bathed and swaddled. Yardley's Olde English Lavendar talc, my Auntie Nellie's favourite, Lily of the Valley, my mother's go to when we'd walk down into the village and get a squirt from the perfume counter in the drug store. I love the scent of sage which I use in meat loaf as well as turkey stuffing, a little of it in chicken and turkey soup. Here in Alberta we catch the scent of sweetgrass on the breeze, always enjoyable. -Jean in Cowtown


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