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Sometimes it seems like everything just works to deflate my mood, to discourage and diminish my energy. It may not be any sort of plot, but it just seems that way. I have found that I am very sensitive to scents, and that is probably why that enters so much into my posts on this blog. Scents can be mood enhancers. No magic involved, it is more that this is the way many of us are wired.

Marcel Proust is probably one of the most famous for remarking on the amazing ability scent has for evoking memories and mood.

An hour is not merely an hour! … It is a vase filled with perfumes, sounds, places and climates! So we hold within us a treasure of impressions, clustered in small knots, each with a flavor of its own, formed from our own experiences, that become certain moments of our past.”

~Marcel Proust

Smell is so closely identified with our ability to taste that we often connect the two, maybe that is why fragrance can give some of the feeling of satisfaction? I don’t know.

Research saysMore Powerful Than Visual Memories:

“These scent-triggered memories feel more “real” and powerful than a memory triggered by, say, a photograph or song. For this phenomenon (often called, in popular lexicon, a “Proustian experience”) to happen, the scent must be something you would smell very rarely, and unique enough not to be associated with other aromas.

But why are these scent-induced memories so powerful? Why do they fill us with such strong nostalgia?

Science is just beginning to unlock the mysterious power of humans’ sense of smell and its links with our memories and emotions. What has been discovered so far is that the area of the brain that processes aromas is the same part that is responsible for emotional behavior and memory.”

So lately I find myself trying to utilize this brain function by consciously including more pleasant scents in my surroundings. From times of yore in my youth I revived the use of incense. Yes, I did! This is ancient in practice, with religious usage recorded in the Bible and many other writings.“Anthropologists speculate that primitive perfumery began with the burning of gums and resins for incense.” ~Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art In fact, in the Bible certain formulations of incense were to be used strictly in conjunction with religious ritual. I think that is because of the deeply evocative power of scent – and our need to not confuse such emotional triggers. But back to my own return to some of these things such as burning incense.

I had found the gizmo for burning stick incense ( I also have a porcelain burner inherited from my Dad- I remember,as a child, him using it filled with sand and the little cones of incense within). So on a whim, while at Whole Foods, I came across a sale on real Japanese incense of different types. It had been so long since I was familiar with any particular types that I just bought one of the samplers of the stick form. WOW! Some really beautiful effects that did make me feel a little more uplifted. I had purchased Shoyeido traditional japanese incense, and so far I think my favorite of the ten sorts is “Fresh Breeze” or Sei-fu. Shoyeido’s site has interesting info and a free offer. O r a book, The Book of Incense: Enjoying the Traditional Art of Japanese Scents might just be the beginning of exploring this mode of fragrancing your home and life. An excerpt:“The fragrance of jinkoh varies depending on the amount of resin in it, the part of the tree the wood comes from (the roots and branches of the same tree can differ greatly in fragrance), and the particular region of Southeast Asia the tree grows or grew in. So, in a sense, one could say there are infinitely many kinds since each piece found in the jungle is unique. This makes the task of classifying incense wood daunting, to say the least. Nevertheless, various characteristics of aromatic incense wood have been analyzed over the years in an attempt to create a working classification.”

Of course, I’ve always liked scented candles and potpourri, as might be presumed by the amount of attention I give aromas in my life! But reports on what I like in those topics are for another day:)
Right now I am trying out another of the sampler’s offerings which is purported to have ‘regeneration’ properties, whatever that is supposed to mean. It does smell nice , but I think regeneration is going a bit far with reputed effect. I did think Sei-fu was “uplifting” as labeled, although I know those are just general guidance as to what to expect from a type of smell formulation. Like any perfume, you just have to try out things for yourself to see what personally appeals to your own sense of a ‘good smell’.

You know, the whole topic would not be complete without remembering that Christ gives a fragrance to ones life that is spiritually discernible to those around us. This is probably the most eternally uplifting of any any scent, by far.