Breathe in, breathe out. Take a deep whiff of your surroundings. Try again. Breathe in. Breathe out. Did you smell anything? - When I first started Sense Meditation, I always tried to skip over “smell.” It became obvious it was my least developed sense. I could never smell anything. Sure, I could pick up a handful of dirt and stick my nose in it, but I really struggled with the simple act of sniffing the air. I see animals do it all the time. My cat walks outside and the first thing she does is sniff the air. She’s looking to catch a scent - another cat, pheromones, bird farts, I don’t know, but it seems like a buffet of scents. Logically, my failure to smell leads to failure in another sense - taste.
But first, you got a sec?
Before we continue, let’s take a sec to review our senses. The top five, in no particular order, are:
Touch & sensation (i.e. temperature & breeze)
Obviously there are many more, and if you don’t have one or more of the above senses, I bet you’ve developed some kick-ass other ones.
So, with the inability to smell leading to inability to taste (remember that last time your nose was stuffed up and food didn’t taste like much?), I would just hopscotch over those senses to get to the more “comfortable” ones, like sight and hearing. Wow, what a dependence on those poor two senses! Have you ever tried yoga with your eyes closed? It will quickly make you realize just how dependent most of us are on sight. And don’t get me started on hearing. Unlike sight where you can shut your eyes, you can’t turn off your hearing. Even when we try to drown out noise with headphones by streaming your favorite music or podcast, that is still using noise to block out...noise. And have you ever been somewhere loud and have no choice but to succumb to the noise? A persistent barking dog, honking car horn, engine noise, those damn birds? (just kidding, I love those damn birds.) That means we can never shut our ears in exchange for silence. To find silence we must go find a silent place, or put in earplugs.
Rather than running out to the earplugs store, I decided I wanted to give those poor overly-relied-upon senses a break. I decided I wanted to develop my lesser-developed senses, like smell. I started burning a candle that warmed essential oils, I burnt sage and palo santo. I stopped skipping over the “smell” portion of my Sense Meditation, and struggled through it. I focused on my female intuition to sniff out the most pleasing flowers, and all the veggies in the garden. What I wouldn’t give to have the ability to smell like a female dog! What I really wanted was to smell like a bitch.
Then something happened. It must have happened gradually. I started hearing myself ask my boyfriend, “Do you smell that?” It would be some fugacious yet pugnacious scent (fleeting, yet aggressive). I couldn’t rest until we tracked it down, sometimes a package with dried curry on it, or a far off woodstove burning something other than pine, my nose was starting to notice! The next times I went out to SitSpot, I inhaled the deepest, most voluminous breaths, expanding my lungs to capture any molecule floating into my nostrils, raising my head in the air and flaring my nostrils, I felt like a coyote in the stillness of the night. I was smelling like a bitch.