Of all the senses, the sense of smell is the one that reaches us most powerfully, closely linked with our emotions and triggering often forgotten distant memories.
Scent is one of the first senses to develop in the womb and when a baby first meets its mother, researchers have found that they instantly recognise each other by their own individual smells. Everyone’s body chemistry and sense of smell is different. Scent can be very complex and scientists have found that even your morning cup of coffee can contain more than 800 different types of odor molecules. Your own body contains over 1000 receptors for smell which is more than any of the other senses.
When we inhale an aroma it travels swiftly through our nostrils via olfactory receptors to the limbic system. This is the emotional part of the brain that stores memories and emotions influencing our mood, feelings, motivation, stress levels, sleep and hormone balance. Knowing this we can use aromas to instantly summon age-old memories or helpful emotions when we need to in an instant.
As a child I always loved to make potions with nature finds from the garden and countryside. It was so much fun to gather rose petals, mint leaves, pungent stalks of rosemary and pine needles. Picking up those objects now as an adult can instantly transport me to the wild floral scents of childhood that capture the essence of homemade rose petal perfumes or the spirit of adventure. Picking up pinecones from a forest floor or crushing pine needles between my fingers instantly grounds and calms me and takes me to an imagined Narnia of my childhood with nostalgic memories of snow and Christmas.
Mandy Aftel in ‘Fragrant’ describes our relationship to aromas as; “a magic carpet we can ride to hidden worlds, not only to other times and places but deep within ourselves, beneath the surface of daily life. Out of all the senses, the sense of smell is the one that reaches most readily beyond us even as it most powerfully taps the wellsprings of our inmost selves. It has an unparalleled capacity to wake us up, to make us fully human.”
Recently, I had a request to help a friend who was feeling anxious as the world self-isolated. She asked me to try and recreate the scent of her local forest woodland using my fir essential oils, which she found so grounding, comforting and relaxing. We found a waft and inhale of a mix of douglas, siberian and black spruce did the trick in an instant.
Memories are often strongly associated with the smell of certain foods, as well as the sights and sounds of our home and places we have visited. The scent of seaweed and suntan lotion always transports me to the salty sea air of the seaside and days in the summer sunshine. No doubt you will have similar memories from your own childhood. These are all examples of involuntary anchoring, which happen to us all the time, without will or conscious thought.
Aromatherapy means therapy through scent. Aromas can be used in a simple technique known as aromatic anchoring to intentionally control our thoughts and emotions, to reprogram our mind to imagine a positive outcome, reset our mood or create a remembered sense of belonging to a place or home that we can recall when we need to, grounding us and bringing comfort and security.
Pure essential oils are aromatic volatile compounds and are the most concentrated form of a plant’s aroma. They protect the plant from predators and disease while attracting pollinators. They come from the distilled roots, bark, flower, leaves and seeds of a plant or from the peel or rind of citrus fruit. Their aromatic properties can be harnessed as powerful and beautiful natural tools to create aromatic anchors to allow us alter our state of mind.
By inhaling an aroma and embodying the feeling or emotion we want to create we can consciously anchor the desired feeling to the oil. Then, with regular practice, with one inhale of an oil we can instantaneously create our chosen mind state. We can draw on this when we need to and use aromatic anchors to create our own haven free from the stresses of the external world. This technique can provide us with consistency, familiarity and stability, boost our mood or help us cope in stressful situations or new surroundings.
Citrus aromas are bright cheerful scents that can be chosen to energise us and boost our mood. Floral scents calm and sooth, and herbal aromas invigorate and improve focus. Spices warm and sooth us and scents from wood, roots and resins are strengthening and balancing. A simple conscious inhalation of pure plant essence can help us feel more connected to ourselves and to feelings of inner safety shifting our energy and our entire being.
The aromatic anchoring technique is suitable for adults and children, and a great way to harness nature’s wisdom to bring mindfulness and instant comfort. It can help us recalibrate our nervous systems, feel emotionally resilient and balanced thus providing support for our physical and mental health in uncertain times.
I love, trust and endorse DōTERRA essential oils, if you would like more information please contact me on IG @wildflorawellbeing