Traditional and modern meditations often practice breathing awareness exercises. However, i have never noticed the sense of smell even being mentioned, in any breathing awareness meditation or
pranayamaThe Yoga of Breathing. Iyengar's encyclopedic "Light on Pranayama" never mentions smelling.
yoga exercise.

If i'm not aware of the smell, then it's only a narrow awareness of the breathing. It's like hearing electrical notes without the trumpet and violin tones. Smell adds colour to breathing. Smelling makes the breathing actually feel alive. hedgehog smelling the breeze and snail slithering byI believe that for some animals, smelling is such an integral part of breathing, that without it breathing would be a complete waste of time.

Humans are smelling subliminally all the time, but we hardly notice it. We have effectively lost any awareness of how smell influences our emotions, psychology, and inner-body awareness.

I have only had limited experiences with what i could call panoramic smelling. However, smelling and tasting opened up a whole new depth to inner-body awareness.

None of our three external senses are as intimate as the sense of smell. We take smell inside our bodies, in a way we don't feel with sounds and sights. We may sometimes feel sounds pass through us, but this is not comparable with the smells which fill us.

Once you can combine panoramic seeing and listening, and the world is so still that not even a shadow is moving, that's a good time to start scenting the breeze.

First Exercises

Tasting and smelling are intrinsically connected, and first we need to explore the sense of taste.


With the sense of taste i don't mean food and drink, i'm referring to the taste of our own body, we are so familiar with it that we just don't notice it.

Obviously, food and drink influence the taste inside our body. And to start with, feel how after a rich meal, a sense of the taste of that meal is present all over the body.

Then, to rediscover the basic tastes inside your body, notice the contrasts in your mouth – all the different taste areas on the lips, under the tongue and above it, at the sides, and the roof of the mouth. I notice three basic qualities, salty, sweet, and fruity tastes vaguely resembling prunes and/or rhubarb.

If you drink something strong and swill it around your mouth, you will notice variations of the flavour all over your mouth. Follow the flavour down your throat, and into your central body. Chapter 6 discusses tasting in detail.

Then, realise you can taste smells, by opening your mouth and tasting your own out-breath.


With smelling, over the next few days and weeks, whenever you notice a good smell – cooking meals or coffee, or at the bakers – take a moment to let the smells fill you. Find things which are strong and good to smell, flowers, fruits, or essential oils, rub them under your nose. Enjoy them.

When you start doing smelling exercises, it is important to notice the contrast between the 'in-smell' and your own 'out-smell'. This is important for a very practical reason: If you concentrate exclusively on incoming scents, you will soon get dizzy. Noticing the contrasting smell of your own out-breath, regulates the speed of breathing.

The following exercise is invaluable to clarify the basics of smelling. It separates and amplifies the contrasts between the 'in-smell' and 'out-smell'.

First Smelling Exercise

When you smell in and out normally through your nose, you will almost certainly notice that the smell of the out-breath eliminates the smell of the in-breath, and vice versa.

Dogs have a slit at the side of their nostrils where they exhale the ‛out-smell' (4.50 min video on how dogs "see" with their noses). This allows the 'in-smell' to remain undisturbed in the nostrils, hang near the smell-receptors, and to build up over a series of 'in-smells', without being disturbed by the 'out-smell'.

To empathise with how dogs smell, open your mouth very slightly with the lips just touching, breathe out through your lips (even beathing out through just one side of the lips) and you will 'taste' your out-smell.

beaver scenting the breezeThen leaving the lips very slightly open, 'smell-in' through your nose. As you 'smell-in', something will close off like a valve at the back of your mouth. This valve stops the 'in-smell' from entering into the mouth. This sends the incoming scent directly through your nasal canals, filling behind the cheek bones, the middle, top, and back of your head.

'Smell-in' through your nose and 'taste-out' through your mouth

Let the residue of the in-smell and the out-taste build up – in the nostrils, nasal canals, head, etc.; and the mouth, throat, etc. Savour these residues.

It accentuates the experience if you close the eyes, and if you smear a little Vick, tiger balm, or something similar under the nostrils. It also helps if have recently drunk or eaten something with a strong flavour.

For beginners this exercise is advisable for about two minutes, but when you start building an awareness of the residues, then continue as long as you want. I think most of the inner body exercises can be done for 5 minutes at a time; they're somehow not like the panoramic exercises.

And you dont need to practice smelling every day. This is a strange new world you're entering. I found it needed a slow approach. You may feel like doing it just once or twice, or maybe for a week or more, but dont push it; if you want to just let the sensations and impressions settle down in the subconscious for a while, then please do that.

Chapter One continues with Warm Up Exercises and Ideal SituationsChapter 6 explores how we ingest and digest smells inside our body

Back to Chapter One : The Animal Teachings
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