“Smell the Moment”. This is one of my favorite Debbie Rosas phrases. In Nia class, this invitation is one of the ways to guarantee that students will take a deeper breath and use their whole bodies to do it. Smell the moment, take it all in. Just for fun, and because it is potent, sometimes I ask students in my Nia classes to smell the moment at the very end of the Get-Moving cycle when we are all sweaty. Usually people laugh and take a big whiff! Yeah, we’re usually pretty stinky by then. But what better way to build community than to take each others’ scents in at the height of joyful expression. That is a moment worth smelling.
My sense of smell reminds me, more than my other senses, that I am an animal. Unlike my eyes, which tend to take me to words or my ears, which take me images, my nose takes me to a primal gut place. The sounds I make in relation to smell bypass my mental realm. Sounds like “Mmmmmmm” or “Ahhhhhhhh” or “Eeeewwwwww”. I can even venture to say that these sounds are beyond my conscious control. They are made by my larynx, but they come directly from my gut brain.
The way something smells is always more important to me than what it looks like. I once had a crush on a guy who smelled so good, I would get light headed around him. Turns out it was not his manly scent but his laundry detergent that got me excited. However, I still can’t smell that detergent without thinking of him. There was another guy that I really liked until I got up to close to smell him. He smelled like bologna and I had to hold my breath around him. That was that.
Like the phrase “smell the moment”, scents can be used to encourage deeper breathing, more prana, more life. Things that smell good make me feel more alive. If I am really loving the smell, really wanting to smell the moment, I will fill my body with breath again and again and again. Even imagining things that smell good will do this. In Nia classes I sometimes invite the class to imagine they’re smelling roses, cookies baking, wet grass or city streets. These olfactory images can be more powerful that visual ones to bring the movements I am doing to life since they invite my whole body to fill.
Conversely, I find that when I do not like the way something smells, I hold my breath or take more shallow breaths. This creates contraction in my body, less life. So I go about my life adjusting the pillows and the scents in my environment. Flowers and essential oils and fresh air are my tools. What I choose to bask in may not be what my dogs love (dead snake, for instance) but then, we are different animals.