Traditional and modern meditations often practice breathing awareness exercises. However, i have never noticed the sense of smell 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 the breathing. Smelling turns breathing into a sense rather than just a rhythmic bodily function.

Hedgehog scenting the breezeI believe that for some animals, smelling is such an integral part of breathing, that without it breathing would feel like 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.

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.

Smelling and Tasting
snake smelling with its tongueSmelling and tasting are intrinsically connected. Snakes, lizards, and some other reptiles, smell with their tongues.

We start tasting in the womb. I wouldn't be surprised if initially, the foetus was more aware of its sense of taste than its shape. The sense of taste is sometimes evident in the pregnant mother's cravings from the fifth week.

After around 5 months, unborn babies start hearing sounds inside the mothers body, then around 6-7 months sounds outside e.g. voices; and the eyes begin to open. The embryo is then able to sense light outside the mother's body at the beginning of month 8.

The point is we can taste, way before we can hear and see. But we start smelling at birth when the breathing starts.

From a practical viewpoint, it's enjoyable to explore tasting and smelling at the same time.

I feel certain for animals, the sensations overlap. And as with many areas on the subject of inner body awareness, the only way to get clear guidelines about how it really feels and the best ways to encourage our adult sensitivity to smell is to ask Questions For Children.

On this page i give guidelines to stimulate curiosity and exploration. The specifics are developed on the following pages.


The taste of our own body from the inside is a vital aspect of life, yet we are so familiar with it that we just don't notice it.

To rediscover the basic tastes inside your body, notice the contrasts in your mouth – all the different taste areas, the lips, under the tongue and above it, at the sides, and the roof and back of the mouth. Use the very sensitive tip of your tongue to touch and taste all the areas inside your mouth.

The specific taste of food and drink, while we're eating them, is largely irrelevant. It's the body sensation afterwards which is interesting.

If you drink something and swill it around your mouth, you will notice variations of the flavour all over your mouth. A minute later you will sense it down your central body and in your stomach. Coffee is more remarkable than tea, or water, a few drops of whisky are especially effective.

After a rich and balanced meal, a sense of the taste of that meal is present all over the body. (If you confuse meat, vedgies, pudding, and cheese, the inner tastes cancel each other out.)

It depends on what you eat, but it seems to take about 3 hours for the effects of a meal to vanish. Start to think about tasting your basic body as it is without the overpowering influence of food. Fasting for 24 hours is a valid experience.


It is pointless doing smelling exercises straight after a meal, i.e. when your body is full of tastes. The natural time to smell is before the meal, when bread is baking, a meal or coffee is cooking or being prepared.

When you start smelling exercises, it's necessary 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 your breathing.

For short periods, you could start to seperate the smells, by opening your mouth on the out-breath and tasting/smelling your own out-breath. I don't know why, but we seem to do this naturally when smelling something hot and steamy like real coffee.

Find things which are strong and good to smell: flowers, fruits, or essential oils. Put a few drops on your finger and rub them under your nose. Be inquisitive. Enjoy them.

Opossum smelling and listeningOver the next few days and weeks, whenever you notice a good smell – cooking meals or coffee, at the bakers, by the supermarket fresh vedge or meat counter (depending on preference) – stay with the smell for a minute, let the smells fill you.

If you do the cooking, the smell grows slowly and so you hardly notice it. If someone new comes in they smell this new experience for 10 seconds.

It's amazing how quickly we get used to a smell. Unless it's compelling or horrible, it soon becomes subliminal. Only by maintaining a consciousness of it – will it remain conscious.

The most intense area of smell are the nostrils.

General Approach to Smells and Tastes
Most of the tasting and smelling exercises can be done for at least 5 minutes at a time. They are focusing exercises, not like the panoramic seeing and listening exercises.

You dont need to practice them every day. This is a strange new world you're entering. It needs a different general approach.

It's the sort of exploration where you may feel like doing it intensively for a week or more, but at some time, you will need to slow down and take time to let the sensations and impressions settle down in your subconscious for a while.

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

Back to Chapter One : The Animal Teachings
Back to THE SENSE OF IT ALL Priority Pages