It is suggested that we don’t realise how important our sense of smell is until we lose it. And yet olfaction, a chemical sense (versus a radiation sense such as sight) is one of our more complex and sophisticated senses. Having evolved to enable a high level of discernment, our sense of scent is also the most archaic. It’s processing takes place in the limbic system, the most primitive and oldest part of our brain in evolutionary terms. Here, where our automatic body functions are regulated and emotion and memory centers located, the olfactory comes home. This explains the bare bones responses and triggers that certain odour molecules may evoke. Almost as if our brain is hijacked and (sub)consciousness accessed immediately in response to a trillion possible smells. Understandably, trauma victims and suffers of (degenerative) memory diseases may be particularly reactive, demanding a certain competency or ability on the part of a therapist to provide a secure empathic holding space.
For the purpose of experiential somatic re-education, wellness training and creative self care, sense/scent of self may also involve exploring memory and identity markers. Equally surprising, there is no telling what will come or how a scent may deepen our capacity for connection and presence or awaken our vitality. Hommage then to our nose.