“Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any other of our senses and recognition of smell is immediate. Other senses like touch and taste must travel through the body via neurons and the spinal cord before reaching the brain whereas the olfactory response is immediate, extending directly to the brain. This is the only place where our central nervous system is directly exposed to the environment.” (von Have, Serene Aromatherapy)
Makes sense, then, that a smell so quickly and easily transports us to a particular memory, place, time or person. While many associations are pleasant enough, with a few we love to linger over, there are times when nostalgia simply weighs us down. Our 'aroma imprint' contributes to emotional, cognitive and lifestyle stagnancy, when 'a million little smells' conspire to keep us in a particular consciousness or viscerally re-experiencing places, events or conversations in a feedback loop that never goes forward. We can become stuck, entrenched. Yet aromas can also play a role in our ability to create the personal and lifestyle changes that we seek.
The nervous system and subconscious are powerful and hold onto trauma and memories, often with great tencacity. Sense of smell, unlike other sensory organs, heads straight to the lymbic brain, seat of emotions, memories and instinct, making it a great tool for reprogramming and establishing a sense of inner resource and resolve. Quick tip: Start creating new aroma memories for yourself. Whether using a Lady of the Lotus Aromatherapy Spray, Blessing Oil or Rasayana body oil, or your favorite herbal tea, begin to associate new aromas with those experiences or places that currently drag you into the past unnecessarily.
If, for example, every time you go to a particular location, you are reminded of an unpleasant time in your life, but you cannot avoid going there altogether, bring along an aroma spray or essential oil bottle. Consciously intend to associate this new smell, with the new location. This aroma will help you tap into your inner strength, resilience and resolve. Over time, it will also help to deprogram your body's responses to particular stimuli, as appropriate for you. Decoupling these often powerless feeling responses, while connecting with inner resolve, is a powerful formula for creating positive life changes, as well. You'll be creating new pathways, in your brain and in your life.
The same applies in reverse, for aromas or scents that you associate with particularly negative experiences or memories. To 'de-charge' the scent from the experience, simply take the aroma with you to a place that you love, feel rejuvenated by or that empowers you. Perhaps nature, or a close friends, or while hanging out with your pet; consciously choose to create a new association with the scent. You'll likely need to repeat this process, and if you find that it's not working, perhaps the scent is not resonant enough for you personally, on an energetic and spiritual level. Try a different essential oil, perhaps one with known mystical properties such as Frankincense, Oud, Myrrh, Palo Santo, Sandalwood, Jasmine or Wild Spikenard.
This technique is a great way to remind yourself how much power you do have, and to learn how the brain actually rewires itself, creates new pathways and regenerates, rather than deteriorating due to age and disease, as we are so commonly taught! It's probably not as useful to do this for an extreme trauma memory (or do so with the support of a qualified therapist/healthcare provider only); for less severe though still jarring experiences that make your stomach flip or otherwise take you out of your center, it's a useful tool!
Your house of memories, emotions and instinct will be free to engage in new experiences, instead of being weighted in the past through the viscous and sticky energy of nostalgia.