Dear friends of mine are living in Bali Indonesia for a 9 month exploration not only of a simpler life, but of the senses. In a Facebook video Vicki created she made the comment, we are learning to “take a deep breath and smell the moment”. This lead me to share with you a chapter below from my book “Give Us This Day Our Daily Breath“ ,which will be released later on this month. Enjoy smelling into your moments this week!!
The senses of taste and smell are so intimately connected that without the scent of the orange or the unfurling rose filling the next inhale the taste buds and senses would not open the doorway to pleasure. Take a deep breath and smell the moment!
Let’s focus on the nose and mouth for a bit this week. The air moving through your nasal passages, carrying the smell of food along with it, is enhanced by chewing. Taste buds then blossom out to extend beyond the salty, sour, sweet and bitter and inhabit entirely new territories of savory pleasure.
Researchers say 75-80 percent of the flavors we taste come from what we smell. Humans can recognize 10,000 different odors, yet no two people sense anything the same. Animals of course have an even sharper sense of smell.
We also orient through our sense of smell, and oftentimes are triggered by certain scents which bring past memories and associations to the forefront. This sense is much more powerful than something that has been simply seen or heard.
We have all had the experience of smelling something and a person comes to mind, or an incident that involved something emotional or of a feeling nature…..or even a reaction to a scent that activates fear or excitement for it has been associated with something dangerous or advantageous to our survival or well being.
When we take a deep breath through our nose (which was made for it by the way) air is sucked up into our nostrils over bony ridges called turbinates, which add more surface area for the smells that waft through our nostrils.
Most of us have done the experiment of holding our noses and chewing something resulting in almost no sense of taste – certainly not expanded taste.
When we change to breathing through our noses, the sense of taste roars back in and we can experience our food and our surroundings with pleasure, which then stimulates the digestive system and our overall enjoyment of the moment.
Try walking through a forest or along the seashore without the sense of smell. Maybe try breathing through the mouth instead as an experiment. Would it be as pleasurable or as life enhancing?
It appears that there is more than one reason why breathing through the mouth decreases our aliveness and enjoyment of life. Mouth breathers often hyperventilate and only the upper lobes of the lungs are inflated. This causes muscle tension in the shoulders, neck, head and face and stimulates that “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system once again.
The nose however, contains tiny hair like protrusions called cilia that warm and filter the air in a rhythmical wave like motion. The entire lung, including the lower lobes, is inflated and this in turn connects to the parasympathetic nervous system which clams the body, slows the heart rate, relaxes and soothes – and of course stimulates the olfactory nerve – or the sense of smell.
When we take full and deep breaths through our nostrils we enhance the pleasure in, and enjoyment of, our lives. See how many smells you can identify this week and allow your taste and sensual life buds to open up wide! (Copyright 2011/Gaye Abbott)
Quotes of the Week:
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” ~Helen Keller
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