August 16, 2015

Being Vulnerable to a Sense of Smell

This past week I had a cranial-sacral therapy session with my friend Lauren and at the end of the session she asked me what I noticed. The sense that had opened in me was that of smell. Suddenly I had a stronger sense of the odors, good and bad, around me.

I've always had a strong sense of smell but have dulled it over the years by breathing less deeply. Why? I am not sure. For me smell can be overwhelming and even shocking. By shutting down my nose and breathing less deeply I have protected myself from these smells - out of habit. Only recently have I noticed that when Brian has asked me to smell something he has prepared, I take a big preparatory, olfactory opening breath and then step in for an official whiff. All the nuances of the fragrance permeate my senses and I give in to the smell.

What effect does shutting down your nose have on living a full life? Well, I imagine that it has impacted the stress I carry in my head, neck and face. If I am constantly clamping-down on my nasal passages, certainly that is not relaxing. Also, I talk more nasally than I probably should. Not breathing deeply also means less oxygen to the body which affects the body and mind. I remember a massage therapist in London telling me that I was not getting oxygen to my back body and therefore my neck and back muscles were stiff with lack of oxygen.

Most significantly, not breathing deeply to avoid smell means that I a not fully experiencing the world with one of my senses. This is a form of protection - avoiding deep connection with what is around me - control.

Ironically, I am a restorative yoga teacher. I lead 90-minute yoga sessions where I guide my students in noticing, feeling, accessing, and expanding their breath. And yet, do I intrinsically know what that means if I myself do not fully breath?

Today I set an intention to allow myself to use my full sense of smell: to open my nostrils and let the fragrance shine in. This is a practice in being open, receptive and vulnerable. Frankly, it is a metaphor for my willingness to again blog as I have been absent from contributing to this site openly. We all go through cycles of openness. As I open my nasal passages to trust my senses I too will open my heart and begin contributing once again to this blog.