MINDFULNESS OF BREATHING AND SMELLINGNote: This essay is repeated from Chapter One
Traditional and modern meditations are full of breathing awareness exercises. However, i have never heard of the sense of smell being used or even mentioned in any breathing awareness meditation or pranayama yoga exercise.
Hedgehogs and dogs would probably consider breathing, without smelling, to be a complete waste of time.
Smelling is a far stranger and deeper world than seeing and listening. None of our external senses are as intimate as the sense of smell. We take smell inside our bodies, in a way we don't feel with sounds and sights. We may sometimes feel sounds pass through us, but this is not comparable with the smells which fill us.
Modern day humans are so unfamiliar with their sense of smell, that we need time to relearn it and start to recognise its potential.
The differences between mindfulness of breathing and smelling, are difficult to summarise. I'm a beginner, not enlightened, but nobody else seems to be experimenting with smelling. So i'm competent enough to start the ball rolling.
Smelling is the active ingredient of breathing. If i'm not aware of the smell, then it is only a narrow awareness of the breathing. It's like hearing electrical notes without the trumpet and violin tones. It's like seeing in black and white.
There are a multitude of effects and side effects from different breathing exercises. I'm suggesting that smelling adds a new dimension to every one of these effects. When being mindful of just the breathing, the sensation is of the in- and out-breath, maybe the different temperatures, or the body expanding and contracting. With smelling it is a process of ingesting and savouring, and the sensation is of filling up and emptying out.
Smellingand Tasting - First Exercise
With tasting, i'm referring to the taste of our own body, this is part of our basic feeling of being alive and it's so taken for granted we don't notice it anymore. Start to discover it by noticing the contrasts, all the different taste areas on the lips, under the tongue and above it, behind the teeth, the roof of mouth and then as far down the throat as you can, maybe down to your stomach. If you've recently eaten or drunk something, you will find different qualities of that taste all over your mouth.
The first smelling exercise is to notice that there is a difference in smell, between your 'in-breath' and your 'out-breath'. And at first, it's helpful to have something good to smell, a meal, or flowers, etc., or to have drunk coffee or one drop of whisky etc., then notice the contrast between the 'in-smell' and the 'out-smell'.
There is an essential practical reason for developing smell-awareness by noticing the contrast between in and out-smell : If you only concentrate on the in-smell you will get dizzy, noticing the contrasting out-smell, regulates the speed of breathing.
Smelling is greatly enhanced if you open your mouth very slightly, with the lips just touching and breathe out through your mouth; it will be a taste rather than a smell. Then leave the lips very slightly open, and 'smell-in' through your nose. As you smell-in, something will close off like a valve at the back of your mouth.
'Smell-in' through your nose and 'Taste-out' through your mouth
Then, as you let the residue of the in-smell and the out-taste build up - in the nostrils, nasal canals, head, etc., and the mouth, throat, etc., - over a period of ten breaths, - and as you start to savour those taste and smell residues, you will maybe start to notice a variety of things about how animals sense their own bodies.
This is where the panoramic senses connect with inner body awareness and it continues in Chapters Three and Four.
My first aim is to explain what i know about the panoramic senses. Many other people are already experimenting with inner body awareness.
And here's a quote from Chapters Three and Four Empathy For Animals:
I don't want to get involved in theories or anything unnatural, anything an innocent animal wouldn't feel. So, i really need a consensus of opinion from small children : where does the breath go in your body? Where do smells go in your body? What can you taste in your body? ... etc. ...
Please continue with First Smelling and Tasting Exercises