I recently ordered some goods at  Aroma-Zone and since there was a delay in delivering, they offered me  little booklet called “My 30 essential oils for diffusion” (Mes 30 huiles essentielles à diffuser). In it there is a passage which I wanted to share with you which talks about the sense of smell and its importance for our emotions and memory.

L'odorat, le sens des émotions

Our sense of smell, the smell of our emotions

“Our sense of smell is our most instinctive sense. It is a primitive one,  vital for many mammals. In humans, however, it has become a sort of “accessory” sense, relegated to a simple pleasure function. Our sense of smell has nonetheless maintained a crucial role if  only a subconscious one. Smell influences our psyche and is linked to zones in our brain involved in emotions and memory.

Through our sense of smell, we can perceive what is impalpable to our other senses, via chemical stimuli. Our sense of smell is in fact linked to the limbic system, a complex set of brain structures involved in regulating our emotions, memory, behaviour and motivation.

L'odeur des feuilles mortes

The smell of Autumn leaves

Smells are good for us

Smells are particularly well memorised by our brain, even subconsciously, and are hence amazing triggers of memories and emotions.

Who hasn’t returned to their childhood upon smellling a cake “just like Grandma made” or breathing in the characteristic smell of damp fallen leaves recalling past Autumns.

Le souvenir d'un gâteau d'anniversaire

The smell of past birthdays

The writer Dominique Paquet reveals: “A scent moves us because we have already smelt it”. In the course of our life we memorize hundreds of smells, contained in the olfactory memory we have built up since childhood. So when we breathe in a scent we have already come across, it takes us back to the emotion we felt the first time we smelt it.

Source: Mes 30 huiles essentilees à diffuser, Aroma-Zone

So for my next post, I’m going to make a list of my favourite “memory smells” from my childhood, that is smells which bring back specific memories or emotions for me. And I’d like you to do the same and share them with me. So start thinking now.

I’ll be back with those smells soon!

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