Your life is linked from moment to moment by scents from the perfume or cologne that you put on after your shower, to the coffee brewing in the kitchen, to the fresh breeze as you reach outside for the morning paper. The smells that make up your day are not always pleasant, however. A blast of exhaust fumes and garbage left too long in the can are sharp reminders of the more unseemly side of life. But it is this wide range of smells that helps create the intricate and detailed fabric of daily life.
Every smell, whether you are conscious of it or not, creates an experience of the senses. Even the thought of exhaust fumes immediately sends us mental images of being stuck in rush-hour traffic that spews forth thick clouds of black smoke. Conversely, a pleasurable fragrance, such as a whiff of perfume, might send you back to your warm, steamy bath and soft towel from the morning.
Smells fill your day to such an extent that you may often fail to realize the variety of sensory input that you get through your nose. When you pay attention to the mental effect a smell creates, it is easy to see how a whole visual scenario is painted in your mind’s eye.
A whiff of lilacs may send you back to your great-aunt’s garden, allowing you to recall those sunny Sunday afternoons when the family gathered for iced tea. The smell of chalk may place you in a grade-school classroom complete with your fifth-grade teacher and the class bully sitting at the desk beside you. And what about the smell of pine? Your mind may go racing back to a walk in the woods with snow falling gently on your coat, or picking out a Christmas tree with your father.
Exercise: Try this simple exercise with smell to become familiar with how potent its power really is. Read the list of smells that follow and write down what images first come to your mind. What is the experience like? Is it pleasant? Frightening? Sad? Joyful? Painful? Melancholy? How old are you? What are you wearing? Who else emerges in the picture that you have associated with the smell?
• candles that have just been blown out
• freshly baked peanut butter cookies
• a wet wool sweater
• bread baking in the oven
• permanent magic markers
• a freshly bathed baby (or even the opposite)
• Grandma’s house freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
What did you see in your mind’s eye as you recalled each smell? With each image, did you have shift in attitude?
Scent triggers a small movie that plays in your mind evoking more than memories and images of your surroundings. Fragrance is the catalyst that also brings up emotions and instinctive responses—responses that are linked to the situations surrounding the memory of the smell. This brief exercise underlines the link between smell and emotions, something you are usually quite unaware of.
Smells definitely do alter memory, emotion, and instinctive responses. I have a vivid memory of fragrance that altered my personal Chi. I was visiting Giverny, the home of the famous French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet. As I emerged from the house into the gardens, I was taken not only by the beautiful array of color and light that inspired his breathtaking works, but I was also overwhelmed by the fragrance.
I began to cry as I walked along the garden path. There was no concrete emotion attached to the smells—I was just struck by the beauty of the scents, sights, and sounds. My Chi had been inspired by the lovely fragrances of Monet’s living work of art.
The Essence of Feng Shui: Balancing Your Body, Home, and Life with Fragrance by Jami Lin
The key to fragrant Feng Shui is how you feel in an environment, and its association with fragrance. Based upon your personal experience, each smell conjures up not only a situation, but an emotional response. A wet wool sweater might have elicited a memory of an endless day of boating, when rain drenched you miles from the shore and you ached to be landside and warm. Oranges may have sent you affectionately back to that freshly squeezed glass that your grandmother would make and the love that you felt for her as she prepared a special breakfast just for you.
Smells are powerful tools that evoke complex visuals and feelings from the past. They also provide ongoing reference markers to the present. A whiff of pizza that interrupts your football game definitely snaps you off the field and back into your living room, a hard-to-resist delicacy! Scents do not just belong to the past and present they can also be used to shape the future.
The Essence of Feng Shui
Fragrance can be used to create the kind of life you have always dreamed of. Just as scents can send you into the past, they can also be used as a tool to link you to the future one that you specifically create according to your dreams and visions. Smell can transport you into the future by setting up a framework in which to move.
Most of us are already planning for our retirement. We have a game plan on how to save money so we can live comfortably. We have visualized where we would like to be living, and perhaps what hobbies we would like to cultivate. These are plans we are making for the future.
Most times we do not make these same kinds of plans for our immediate and mid-range future. We let the current of life carry us along. But we can make positive changes in our lives more frequently by using desire and intention. And, by linking the changes with fragrance, we can begin making subtle, wonderful improvements on a daily basis to live the kind of life we really want.
I am convinced that, as a little fairy told me, when you make the transition and leave this life, you are asked two questions: “Were you a good person?” To which you should be able to say YES! And, just as important, “Did you have a good time, living to the fullest and leaving nothing undone?” Again, your answer should be a resounding YES!
This excerpt was taken from Jami Lin’s new book The Essence of Feng Shui: Balancing Your Body, Home, and Life with Fragrance, published by Hay House and available at all bookstores or by calling 800/654-5126, fax 800/650- 5115 or via the website at www.hayhouse.com.