Experiencing scent

When we want to focus exclusively on a beautiful piece of music or taste an exquisite handmade piece of chocolate, we often close our eyes. Why? Closing our eyes shuts out visual distraction and we are able to bring our focus inward to heighten the sensory experience.

We can approach smell in much the same way.

As we enter the holiday season – a time that is filled with gorgeous botanical fragrances – we can use the scents around us as a way to pull us more fully into the present moment.

When we fully engage with a scent and it becomes our focus, we can detach from busy distracting thoughts and experience a state of mindfulness and reflective awareness (Peace Rhind, 2014).

A Mindful Fragrant Reflection

Adapted from Mandy Aftel’s Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent

Close your eyes.

Take a breath and bring a mindful focus to the aromatic sensation that you are receiving.

Push aside any immediate reactions like: Yes, I like this or No, I don’t.

Try to appreciate that a scent is something alive, vibrant, varied, and unique.


  • the layers of smell
  • the shape of the smell (pointed, sharp, rounded, dull)
  • the memories it conjures and the feelings it arouses

When you smell a fragrance, your brain will register not only the smell but the emotions you feel, and the people, place and/or event associated with the smell (Read Our Sense of Smell).

Allow the smell to open itself to you and discover its beauty.

I would love to know if you try this out. What scent(s) did you reflect upon and what happened?


Aftel, M. (2014). Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent. New York: Riverhead Books.

Peace Rhind, J. (2014). A Sensory Journey. London: Jessica Kingsley Publication.

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