Monday, May 16, 2011

Hack Yourself with Scent

Ah the brain... you are my enemy! Just the other morning in fact, I was on my third pound of M & Ms and thinking to myself, 'this loosing weight thing just isn't working out like I planned.' So after a good 3 hour fist shaking harangue at the mirror punctuated by bites of velvety Belgian chocolate ice cream, I considered maybe I should put a little more thought into this mind/body war of wills.

Why is it that I can think something so vividly, imagine myself effortlessly extinguishing bad habits, conquering phobias, or blossoming into a charming social butterfly, yet
somehow when I review the actual results of my efforts the reality looks so much more like...well... failure, even when I try my hardest. I am left with only one logical conclusion. A mule has taken over my mind.

I don't know about you but for me, always trying to be my better self, this proves no end of frustrating. But I have not taken this lying down, no sir! And after much study and personal experimentation I think that I have finally found a way to do an end run around that @#$% mule. It is a small thing granted, nothing earth shattering like finding a way to reduce my appetite to that of a sparrow, but it is indeed a start.

So what have we here? I give you the power of scent! Now I think most of you are familiar with the flood of memories/feelings that can come from just the right odor, or the life enhancing claims of aromatherapy. What I propose is a little different. Imagine for a moment harnessing the latter, to produce the results of the former. See, the nose has quite a prime location when considering the brain. The olfactory sense funnels right into the limbic area, the primitive mulish part of our big thinker that controls emotions, desires, and memories in addition to all those stubborn characteristics we are trying to change.

Quite inadvertently I have figured out how to calm myself down with the smell of amber. It all started when I began to meditate. A direct attack again ones mulish nature with countless benefits I won't detail today, the upshot of the whole quietly sitting process is that you are very relaxed when you are done. Like most new meditators I wanted to do it right, and since I couldn't really seem to figure out if I was getting the mental part down, I at least made sure that I thoroughly looked the part with a nice mat, incense... the works. Here we are several months later. I still can't tell you if I'm doing the mental part of meditation right, but what I have noticed is that when I catch a whiff of my incense I calm down almost instantly! As an amateur neuropsychologist I find this crazy exciting, and now that I have made the connection, and I can see the potential for manipulating my mule to live a little more to my purpose... well the experimenting has just begun! Next up paring a scent with bouts of creativity like writing. How about you? Let the brainstorming begin!


  1. I like this idea. I will have to give it a try. :)

  2. Oh do let me know how it goes. I'm trying to decide what would be the best scent to pair with writing. I think finding something that I enjoy that I don't already expose myself to elsewhere will be key. In retrospect I think the amber worked so well because my meditation was the only time I was around it.

  3. Hi Sarazen! Thanks for commenting on my blog. I really like this post, it's such a neat idea. I think coffee would be a wonderful scent to pair with writing and possibley the reason why I'm always more productive when I write in a coffee shop :-) But a calming scent is an even better idea, I'm definitely going to try it out as well!