Walking across Central Park one morning, the air was filled with a fragrance that I meet during the early days of summer each year. A group of trees, Silver Lindens, have blossoms, clusters of small flowers, that release a powerful, heady and, to me, enchanting fragrance that captivates me each morning as I pass them on my way to the office. The blossoms don’t last very long, which makes them even more special, and I—along with many other people—inevitably stop for a moment, bury my nose in them deeply breathing in the sweet fragrance.
One morning as I walked on, I began to think about the powerful effect scents have on our internal experience…
I used to do a lot of work with essential oils, using different fragrances to help support grounding, clarity of thinking, ease, relaxation and more. Often, with just a few moments of taking in a particular scent, clients would shift from stressed, agitated, or exhausted states into greater comfort or ease. I recall my very first therapy session, many years ago, where I suddenly smelled the scent of my father’s aftershave and how vivid that sudden memory was in my experience.
One of the things I learned when I began to use essential oils personally and in my practice was how quickly a scent can shift us from one state to another. For this week’s practice, I invite you to explore which scents allow you to shift into greater ease when you need a little time off from the stresses and strains of everyday life. You may already have scents that you know offer you immediate ease, and this week’s practice asks you to engage them a bit more than you may do already. The fact that essential oils come in small bottles makes them easily available as resources that are easy to carry through a day, but for sure essential oils aren’t the only sources of healing scents.
The challenge these days with essential oils, perfumes, and other scents we may wear is that so many people are allergic to them. Because of this, I no longer put scents on my body when I’m out and about working, at a class, or in other public settings. That doesn’t mean I don’t carry them with me, so I can sniff them whenever I need a moment’s respite, though.
You can also experiment with filling your home with scents that settle you into ease. I have a deep love of palo santo, which is a sacred wood that I burn as an incense. Some people love the scent of sage and other sources of incense. There are also the smells of cooking that offer some people deep ease and relaxation. I know a friend who only has to smell garlic and onion cooking and she’s in heaven, her whole body relaxing completely whenever that scent is in a space she enters.
Whatever your favorite scent for feeling instantaneously more relaxed, give yourself permission to engage it more often this week and see what happens. With our world as stressful as it is, moments of finding ease become gifts not only to our psyches, but also to our bodies. Giving our adrenal glands a little rest through eliciting ease can become part of a daily practice of self-care that has powerful benefits over time.