Chapter 7 :
Chapters 6 and 7 discuss taste and smell. They are a separate part of this project to be experimented with when you've a little extra time. As far as i'm aware at present, they will not influence your understanding of broadband theory or practice. They add new depth to body and breathing meditations.
IN PRAISE OF THE NOSE
If we had an image of God here, i would worship Hedgehogs : they can hardly see or hear, but they snuffel like world champions. Their whole reality and sense of self and the world outside rotates around smells, ... where we think: objects produce smells; a hedgehog thinks, and experiences: smells produce objects.
MEDITATION AND SMELLING
Traditional and modern meditations are full of breathing exercises. However, i have never heard of the sense of smell being used or even mentioned in any breathing awareness meditation. It seems to me that smell is the active ingredient of the breath. 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.
Till recently the world was full of interesting smells. The carpenter smellt of wood and the blacksmith had smoke drenched clothes. Quite suddenly we've lost a certain natural beauty and depth to life, where each tradesman and craftsman had their own 'colour' and their identity confirmed by their smell.
Suddenly in the developed world everything gets put in plastic bags and our personal human smells are soaped away with detergents, we aim at being odourless or perfumed.
And in the middle of our civilised odourless cleanliness, all over the modern world, humans are producing a horrible new noxious substance, and we hardly seem to notice it anymore. I wonder how much the stink of petrol and diesel fumes have caused us to inhibit this sense and turn it off. And i pity all those animals who are dependant on this sense for their survival.
Personally i want to be aware of bad smells. I breathe them in anyway, if i'm aware of them at least i have a choice to move, or not to inhale deeply.
When practicing scenting, there is a great tendancy to smell-in slowly or irregularly in order to savour the scents. After a few breaths you might get breathless or dizzy. So it's important to balance it by also scenting your own out breath. And it's important to be able to let go of your breathing and give it time to regulate itself as described in Chapter 5.
1st. Step To start with, smell-in something nice, with your mouth closed.
Savour the new incoming scent. Notice the smell in your nostrils. It may well feel as though the smell is 'tasted' on the roof of the mouth. Sense both the in and out-scent to regulate the breathing and simply, notice the contrast between the in-smell, and the out-smell.
BACK TO BASICS
Amoebas have chemoreceptors, this means they have a rudimentary sense of something like, deeper than or combining, taste and smell.
I have a feeling that every cell in my body must have a primitive form of this taste/smell perception for its environment. Scientifically speaking each cell 'responds' to oxygen – i understand this as : each cell senses, tastes and digests oxygen.
When we touch things with our hands, we realise them with our heads. The nose and nasal canals are where smells are 'touched'. But, where do we 'realise' smells? I wouldnt be suprised if children and animals felt the scent over the entire top of the head and down their necks, and into their bodies. I'm sure, as adults, we can all remember when the smell of a succulent meal, seemed to fill our whole body.
I would love parents to ask their four to ten year olds, (after the questions on breathing): "and when you smell, "where do you feel it?" - "can you feel it in the back of your head, your neck, the top of your head? Can you taste it? Can you taste it anywhere in your body?
THE HABITUAL OUT-SMELL
Hedgehogs are so used to their own inside body smell, that the out-smell happens incidentally, without them really noticing it. Their self-smell is a constant, in relation to all the smells of the world around them.
I've obviously no scientific proof, but i imagine that their out-smell is some sort of guide to their own inner health (in the same way we use visual symptoms), so, even though they don't need a constant awareness of it, i believe they would be very quick to notice and react to any changes.
So, it seems to me, any sensible hedgehog scenting the world, would use the time during the old normal, reliable, habitual 'me-smell', the out-smell - to savour every available new in-scent which they can find.
And outside, - where scents change with each change of wind, - each fresh new in-smell is savoured and examined - they search out all the different meanings behind the smells, and notice the slightest contrasts and changes.
Perhaps you've noticed how the stink of a bad perfume, hangs around in your nostrils and memory for long minutes after the experience. Smells (at least initially for humans) hang around in the nostrils.
Dogs have a slit at the side of their nostrils, where they exhale the out-smell. This is an important factor for scenting. We can partially simulate this by opening our mouth slightly to breathe out. As discussed in Chapter 6, when smelling-in the back of the tongue blocks off the mouth like a valve. This restricts the sensation being felt on the roof of your mouth, and allows the residue of the in-smell to hang in the nostrils.
2nd. Step Still noticing the contrast between the in and out-smells, but with the mouth open. Sense the residue of the in-smell in the nostrils, notice it in the nasal canals, and how the sensation seems to spread. It feels to me, like the sensation extends to my head, and into an area behind the cheek bones which opens out a bit like a cavern spreading out to the ears and the back of the head. - while the warmth of the out-smell comes up in the central area direct from the belly and can be tasted in the throat and the mouth.
3rd. Step Open the mouth slightly, and smell something with a nice scent. Notice the contrast between the in-smell and the out-smell. Then start focussing exclusively, recognising and being conscious of and enjoying only the in-smell. Fill up with new scent and be conscious of it, with no interest in your out-smell. Be aware of the residue in your nostrils, let the feeling spread, examine it.
Do this for a few breaths. Where do you sense the scent?
SAVOURING and DIGESTING the SCENTS
In Chapter 4 i discussed how with breathing, the feeling is that the breath permeates the whole body, filling it up to just under the skin, and then emptying out, a bit like a balloon. Smells are carried by the breath, - the simplest logical conclusion any clear thinking hedgehog could make is that the smell goes where the breath goes, filling up the body to just under the skin.
I feel the smell goes where my breath goes - (and even if it's just my imagination, it's a wholesome feeling). The smell comes in filling me up to just under my skin. And this sensation is like a combination of tastes and smells.
I taste, savour and absorb the residue of the fresh new in-scent. I digest the in-smell and the sensation is that i savour the scent with my whole body. This may well be to some extent a memory or impression - but to argue it scientifically: we know that the 'goodness' in the air we breathe, goes to the lungs where it's absorbed by the heart and circulated around the body in blood, and this 'goodness' is then absorbed by the surrounding tissue, by the cells.
No hedgehog could figure out all the science. From a hedgehogs perspective, they taste and digest the scents, and then they are conscious of it with their whole body. And as far as I'm concerned this is the truth, until it is disproved by science, common sense, or a consensus of opinion from children.
Alone, whole body breathing gives me a feeling something like a bag, a sheet of inside skin; but when i start smelling scents, the taste/smell confirms the impression made by the breathing of the shape of my body from the inside, and the inside skin starts fizzing. It reinforces the solid feeling of self identity in my body from the inside, with a sensation of vital, effervescent life happening just under my skin ... and thus, i maintain that smelling is the active ingredient of breathing.
So, before i can write much more, i really do need a group of parents who will question their children, to confirm my 'theories'. Even if i did find other individuals who were interested in experimenting, any group of adults could easily start kidding themselves about the effects, and i don't want to get involved in theories.
So, what i need most and first is parents to ask their children a few of the questions i've mentioned, and then please give feedback.
Appendix C has additional ideas.
There are worlds still to discover ... i'm still experimenting. The world of smells is far deeper and stranger than seeing and listening.