• The sensation that results when olfactory receptors in the nose are stimulated by particular chemicals in gaseous form
  • The general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people
  • The faculty that enables us to distinguish scents
  • The act of perceiving the odour of something
  • Emit an odour

Roll on
Spray on
Splash on
The great cover up!

Many years ago, I used to share my house with a labrador. I don’t know if you’ve ever had one, but his sense of smell was acute! He could smell the fridge door opening at over four hundred metres. Whatever was cooking, wherever he was, he would hunt down the smell and sit, tail wagging, mouth salivating until he was “rewarded” with some of my food. Our sense of smell isn’t as well developed as his, but it is still one of the most powerful senses we possess.

Smells get right into the brain instantaneously, and produce a reaction, which may be pleasant, sensuous, calming, stimulating, or just downright disgusting.

Some smells affect only individuals, whilst others are liked or detested by people equally. For example, an addicted smoker finds the smell of the cigarette being lit wonderful – he just can’t wait until he takes his first puff. This is also the case for many ex-smokers who have given up for years, but suddenly catch the smell of cigarette smoke, and are motivated to start thinking about buying cigarettes again!

It sounds crazy doesn’t it? But having been a smoker, I can relate to it. The chemicals in the smoke we inhale, react with chemicals in our brain, and provide us with a sensation of pleasure. For someone who’s never smoked, someone lighting up next to him might be the most disgusting smell ever. His brain has never made a pleasure connection with the smell and as such, rejects it as it rightly should (only an addicted smoker thinks that the smell of cigarettes is nice).

All around us, we are surrounded by different smells, all competing for space in our olfactory system. The whole world smells of something, but whether we find it pleasant, is a different matter. During my life I have travelled to many different countries, and the first thing I notice when I leave the airport is how each place smells different. Each is unique.

Across europe, the smells vary less, but when you reach asia it really hits you. Whether it is the smell of fuel from the taxis, unfamiliar foods cooking, or a combination of many things, I am not sure, but I feel excited, just by smelling a new place!

Of course, for the locals it’s just another day; they don’t notice it because they are used to it, but they would notice a difference if they came to the uk.

Before we get caught up in discussing all the billions of different smells in the world, and their effect on us, let us look, or indeed, smell a little closer to home! That’s right, ourselves.

Are you aware how you smell? Are you aware of the odours you give off? Do you think you give off any odours? How do these odours influence others around you? If I was to ask you on a rating of 1 to 10, how you rate your smell, would you give it a 1 (nice), or a 10 (unpleasant), or somewhere in between?

Most of us in the western world, myself included, would find that hard to answer, because of several factors.

The first, is our breath. We brush the minty gel all over our teeth, and our gums, and our tongue, and scrape away any impurities. We gargle with minty mouthwash, and for the in-between times, we chew minty gum.

The second, is our hair. We wash our hair with perfumed shampoos and conditioners so it doesn’t smell bad.
The third, is our body we wash daily with shower gel, that makes us smell like a tropical fruit punch. “Ooh, alan, you smell so positively fruity.”
The fourth, is underarm deodorant and anti-antiperspirant, just in case we sweat a little, which is natural – I hasten to add – and leave a little sweat (salty fluid secreted by sweat glands) on our shirts. We spray or roll on “arctic mist,” guaranteed to keep you dry, and smell free your whole life.

The fifth, is aftershave or perfume. This is the “piece de resistance” (sorry, borrowed from the french), the crowning glory of humanity. The smell that attracts a thousand suitors (or not, if you choose the wrong one for your body type). This is the smell that people identify us with. This is the smell you connect to a face.

How many of you have smelled a woman’s perfume or a man’s aftershave in passing and instantly looked round sure to see an ex-partner? This is the power of smell. The power of association we have in our mind. We have all become so addicted to smelling like this that we have forgotten what we really smell like.

That isn’t to say we should never wash. The smell of stale unwashed bodies is one that most of us turn our noses up at. I used to joke with a friend of mine that just because he cared about the environment didn’t mean he had to smell!

This is nothing to do with washing. If you didn’t know it already, washing our bodies to get rid of the daily dirt is a necessary affair. It makes you feel refreshed and clears the mind.

We all smell of a brand.
We don’t even have to wear their fashion labels.
We emit their corporate logo, every minute of the day.

The real problem is, that in our desperation to become more than animal, we seek to mask our true identities artificially. Not only do we wash with products containing perfumes, and put perfume on our skin, we also wash all of our clothes in perfumed detergent. We have no idea what we smell like as a species! How funny is that?

As we know from other topics, the body is a pretty advanced system, and the idea that it would smell bad to other potential mates by design, is ludicrous. The bad smells emitted from our bodies have more to do with covering ourselves up with clothes all day, so the body cannot breathe (thereby trapping bacteria in the sweat glands), and the toxins we ingest on a daily basis. Come on, you didn’t think you were going to get away with that one did you? The old saying “you are what you eat” applies here. Sweating is one way for the body to emit toxins.

Have you ever smelt someone (or yourself) after a night out drinking, smoking or taking drugs? The smell is disgusting. It is pure poison. We happily ingest these poisons and wonder why we smell bad! The same applies to the foods we eat.

That is why it is of the utmost importance to pay attention to what we ingest, as it reflects outwardly.

But I know all of you like drinking, and partying, and eating unhealthy foods, and as long as you do exercise, everything will be all right. Right?

Cosmetic cover-ups are fine as well, as long as you realise that that is what they are. “Eau de nicesmell” is not your natural species odour. You and I don’t know what it is to be human. We are not even aware of the subtle smells that attract us to each other, and we do our best to interfere with these processes by wearing deodorants and strong perfumes. The strange thing is, we are now conditioning our minds to be attracted to women wearing specific corporate branded perfumes because we like that smell.

Does this mean we will be attracted to anyone wearing that perfume? Of course not, but it is something to consider.

So what do we do? We like the way these products smell, and as a social animal we don’t want to smell bad around other people; so it seems we have no option but to continue using these products more and more.
In some monastical (of communal life sequestered from the world under religious vows) retreats, they undergo long periods (six months or more) without washing, shaving or brushing their teeth; in order to purify themselves. To most of us that seems disgusting. Why? Because it reminds us of animals; and deep down it reminds us that if we didn’t interfere with nature, that is what we would look like too.

People often despise “dirty smelly unwashed hippies,” and I can’t say I have ever found that an appealing lifestyle, but in reconnecting with nature, that is precisely what we need to do. If the body is free of toxins there is nothing to contain smell but our clothes. Those are the things that trap bacteria.

Our body has clever natural processes to allow us to sweat naturally; the process of perspiration helps the body maintain homeostasis ((physiology) metabolic equilibrium actively maintained by several complex biological mechanisms that operate via the autonomic nervous system to offset disrupting changes). So who is going to be first? Ok, I will!
It is often said that if you allow your hair to become really oily, and don’t wash it for a long period of time, then the body starts its own self cleaning process (remember that we are the most advanced species on the planet). The only problem is that we don’t allow it time to work.

Because we are now “civilised,” the very idea of going to the office with unwashed hair is unthinkable. So we interfere with nature. Clean hair is now associated with the smell of “almond milk shampoo.” The association has been made between the olfactory system and the brain, and is now ingrained in the culture. This is what “clean” hair “should” smell like – according to the producers of shampoos; even if it does strip away the hair’s natural nutrients!

As consumers, we have no idea if any of these products are doing what they say they are on the label. Is shower gel actually cleaning away the dirt any more than scrubbing with water would, or is it just a foamy confidence trick?

As none of us (well some of you may be) are scientists, we will never know, but for thousands of years we have got by without foamy shower gels and shampoos. It is time we looked into this carefully and not just accepted what we are told. Someone, anyone, please find out on our behalf and let us know! What do we need to get our skin and hair clean? There! A challenge to you! Is water and a loofah (the dried fibrous part of the fruit of a plant of the genus luffa; used as a washing sponge or strainer) sufficient, or do we need something stronger?

I do not have the skills to test this, but if we need one, I am sure there is a natural product out there that complements our body processes at the same time as cleaning our bodies.

Our clothes are a different matter, as they contain bacteria we have picked up during our daily activities. Clothes do need to be washed quite often, as they are against our bodies, but that doesn’t mean we all have to smell of “mountain dew” fabric softener. These products are artificial. What we are looking for is something that gets them clean, and does not put chemicals out into the environment through the water system.

The key to smell is whether it is natural or unnatural. Natural smells are important to us, and we know this through using essential oils in “aromatherapy,” which have become popular over the last few years (although probably used for thousands of years). Think lavender to calm and soothe, and ylang ylang for sensuality. These smells have a real marked effect on the brain and the emotional system. Smells to calm, smells to uplift, to excite, and to comfort.

The smell of fresh flowers and herbs in your garden or in your house helps to restore harmony. It brings nature’s reality indoors where it has long been shut out through brick and glass. Bring some flowers from your garden into your bedroom.

Choose different smells for different moods and different rooms. Burn essential oils. Make a sterile concrete home, a natural living place again. Smell the difference!

Talking of smelling the difference, have you ever walked into a room where fried food is being cooked and noticed the smell coming from the food? And tell me, have you ever walked into a room where vegetables are being steamed, and noticed the difference? I don’t think I have to say any more do I? Greasy fatty food is a nice smell for some when they are hungry or hungover, but after they have finished, the true pungency of the scorched oil takes on a different smell, don’t you think? It also permeates every fibre of your clothing, leaving it smelling rancid. I will leave it up to you to decide if fried food is good for you or not. After all, you do belong to the most intelligent species on the planet.

Have you noticed how smell has also become a status symbol? How wealthy, successful people smell successful, whereas less well off people smell less well off! Is this true?

Well, without making sweeping generalisations, you can see how it could be possible. The more money you have, the more you spend on perfumes, and expensive perfumes use more carefully blended, rarer ingredients which cost much more to produce than the cheaper chemically manufactured mass produced ones. So smelling expensive really could be a possibility!

It is nice to smell nice, that is sure. It gives us a positive feeling. We feel confident, or sexy, but we must remember that it is a confidence produced artificially (even if it is from natural products). We must not rely on external products. We are a human animal with our own smells and they need not be bad. If we don’t like bad smells, we should do something about them and so we must let our bodies detox from poisons we have ingested through eating drinking, injecting or smoking, and allow them to purify themselves. They are pretty clever things these bodies.

During this time (a week or a month or however long you wish to do this) do not cover your body smell with artificial perfume. Sure, you may smell a little toxic, and a bit rancid for a short while, but after only a week or so of drinking lots of water, and eating healthy vegetables, you will notice your sweat no longer smells like it used to.

In order to purify yourself, you will have to go through this process with no deodorant! It may help to tell others what you are doing in case they think you are just lazy or don’t care that others have to be around you. Most will be impressed. Hey, they may even try it themselves.
After purification, there is no reason not to put a little natural perfume on your pressure points. I don’t want you to suffer too much (if being without artificial smells is suffering!). It can even enhance your natural smell (good smell not bad).

The problem with covering ourselves in artificial smells is that we have spent so many years trying to deny we have anything in common with nature. Don’t deny it.

Remember the monks purifying themselves and what they look like. Like hairy neanderthal beasts! That is what we would all look like without shaving, nail clippers, and cosmetics. Remember it, and go into life unbranded. A fully fledged member of the natural human race.

by alan macmillan orr

‘the natural mind – waking up’



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