“If you smell the roses for long enough, eventually you’ll inhale a Bee!”
In middle school, I remember another kid talking about how his dad couldn’t smell anything because he lost it in a car accident! I have no idea how you would lose your sense of smell in a car accident, but that’s not the point.
The point is that his dad could no longer taste food the same way. He had to load up everything with a mountain of hot sauce just to sense the flavor! At the time I remember questioning what else in life might be affected by a sudden loss of smell. So this week I decided to spend more time focusing on my sense of smell… and it was awesome!
The human nose can detect close to 1 trillion different chemicals!
Yes. Trillion with a T. Flavor receptors in the nose are highly specific and sensitive to even slight changes in chemical structure. Your mouth on the other hand kinda sucks… It has only a handful of flavor receptors; spicy, bitter, salty, sweet — generic flavors.
The real flavor action is in the snout.
This explains why holding your nose helps you swallow the not-so-nice flavors from childhood (read: broccoli & mushrooms). It also explains why ‘wine people’ spend so much time smelling their drink. Ever noticed how you can’t really taste anything when you’re sick? That’s because congestion in the nose blocks flavor receptors and food becomes much less pleasurable as a result.
Fun fact: Astronauts love spicy food in space because the micro-gravity makes them constantly congested!
This past week I’ve been really focused on smells and my life is better for it.
For example, when sitting down to eat a meal, take a deep breath and really try to be mindful of the food. #smellyourfood
Don’t eat. Dine.
Try this next time you eat:
Close your eyes. Smell the steam wafting from the food, try to pick out each sent as it comes to you. Chew slowly and savor every bite. It’s okay to make little pleasure noises at this point, food is great.
Guaranteed, your meal will be more enjoyable if your focus on the flavor experience. You’ll probably also eat less and improve your digestion because of all the pleasure chewing.
Our nose is not as sensitive as other animals, but it’s still pretty damn impressive!
Your nose can detect some smells at around 1 part per 40 Billion!
Take a second right now and breathe deeply. You’re going to breathe anyway so you might as well take a second and focus on what you’re doing. Close your eyes if you like. Immerse yourself in the activity.
Inhale the environment and try to determine all the different flavors in the air around you. At first you might not smell anything. You may think, “the air around me is completely odorless”. Don’t kid yourself. If you really focus, you can probably smell your own musk, maybe even your perfume… Smell harder and you might detect more than just yourself.
Pro tip: Use scent-oriented breathing to relax and you may find meditating easier than it was before.
Smells have the power to relax us.
The healing power of nature is well documented and worthwhile experimenting with. But it’s not always easy to “get out into nature”, especially if you live in a big city (like most humans). The fun part is that we can bring nature with us.
Bring Your Flower to Work Day!
After work today, go past a flower shop and buy the most flavorful flower you can find. If the flower appears visibly attractive this is an added bonus but the point of the exercise is to appreciate your nose – your eyes get enough stimulus already.
Put the flower in your bag for the rest of the week and whenever you feel anxious, stressed or overwhelmed take it out and inhale deeply a few times.
I personally use flowers to give myself a creative or energetic boost in the middle of the day. This may look weird to the outside world but your inside world will appreciate it.
Giving your nose a little more affection will help you stay creative and alert. Hopefully, you appreciate your nose while it’s there because one day who knows what could happen?! One day you might lose your precious sense of smell forever…