Senses & Sensuality: Part 1 - Smell and Taste

Despite their ever-presence, our senses often go unnoticed. But what you don't miss are their effects.

You see a cute dog walking down the street and smile. You smell the cologne of your ex and become sad. You taste cherry pie and remember the first time you saw fireworks. You hear your email notification and your stomach churns in anxiety. You feel the warmth of a bath and instantly relax.

Your senses are constantly processing information and who you intrinsically are as a person is deeply related to your experiences with them. As The Art of Living so perfectly states, "the senses are the bridge, between objects and the Self."

Our next three blog posts will focus on our five basic senses and their relation to our emotions, moods and memories with the goal of giving you a greater awareness and power to use your senses to enhance your everyday life.

This post will cover the two highly corelated senses of smell and taste.


Smell and Memory

It's no secret that smells often transport you to a specific time and place in your life, perhaps to a memory you had even forgotten about. There are a two reasons for this, processing and human development. The olfactory (scent) system is the only sense organ that is fully developed in the womb. It's our first line of defense survival-wise and remains the most developed sense through age 10, when sight takes over. This is why the most significant scent memories are generally from early childhood.

But why do those scent memories stick so strongly in our brains? It is likely because of how a smell is processed. Let's get a little science-y for a second.

"A scent is a chemical particle that floats in through the nose and into the brain's olfactory bulbs, where the sensation is first processed into a form that's readable by the brain. Brain cells then carry that information to a tiny area of the brain called the amygdala, where emotions are processed, and then to the adjoining hippocampus, where learning and memory formation take place.
Scents are the only sensations that travel such a direct path to the emotional and memory centers of the brain. All other senses first travel to a brain region called the thalamus." - Live Science, Why Do Smells Trigger Strong Memories?

Simply put, there's less lost in translation. However, it is interesting to note that scent memories aren't necessarily accurate. But they are one of the most emotionally evocative.


Smell and Taste

Did you know that true flavor doesn't exist without smell? Yep, your tongue can only process 5 basic tastes which are sweet, salty, acidic, bitter, and umami. So where do you get those complex flavors?

When you chew, molecules in the food, he said, “make their way back retro-nasally to your nasal epithelium,” meaning that essentially, “all of what you consider flavor is smell. When you are eating all the beautiful, complicated flavors … they are all smell.” - What the Nose Knows, The Harvard Gazette

And this is why taste can have the same transportive effects that smell does. They are nearly inseparable. But they do differ in the types of memory they produce. Studies suggest that food aromas evoke memories of events, while fragrance tends to trigger memories based on personal relationships.


Harnessing Your Senses

According to this study, our emotional state can effect what we perceive. Even so much as to make a hill looks steeper because you were already nervous about going on a hike. It's common practice in meditation to flip this idea on it's head and use your senses to control or enhance your emotional state. So how can you do that? Two steps.

1. Acknowledge your senses.
Our first suggestion is just to take note! Be aware of your surroundings as often as you can and consider how they are affecting you. This can bring you into the present moment and help you isolate your thoughts to see what exactly is making you feel the way you are.

If you wish to go deeper into your awareness, consider meditation.

2. Use associative memory.
This is simply putting your notes into practice. What do you associate with relaxation? Focus? Happiness? Confidence? For those feelings you can pinpoint, take advantage! Bring those sensory experiences back when you need them.

For example, if lavender reminds you of soaking peacefully in the bath, light a lavender candle when you get home from work to wind down.


Harnessing Your Sensuality

Sensuality is too often confused with sex. It's not just a moment, but more all-encompassing. So instead of a sexual experience, we will suggest using your senses to have a sensual one.

We'll cover sense of sight, touch and sound in future posts, but we'd like to give some love to the oft-forgot smell and taste today.

First, a fun fact from Fifth Sense: Kissing is thought by some scientists to have developed from sniffing; that first kiss being essentially a primal behavior during which we smell and taste our partner to decide if they are a match.

Considering the link to smell and taste, it's no surprise that a recent study suggests that smell can factor into enjoyment in the bedroom. The study explains that sexual desire and performance were not affected, however the participants with greater olfactory sensitivity reported higher sexual satisfaction and, for women, more orgasms.

So how can you utilize these senses to enhance your experience? Just as with our everyday suggestion, we encourage you to feel it all. Be aware of your senses.

From there, get creative!

You could use something already linked to a happy memory. Perhaps an ice cream flavor brings back memories of your first date so you bring some into bed for a mix of taste and touch sensations.

Or you could use something to create a new memory. We crafted our Essential Romance Collection of Skinny Dip Candles using essential oils selected for their benefits in bedroom. Each body candle contains an aphrodisiac (or two or three) as well as oils encouraging confidence, relaxation, grounding and more. Learn more about each of the three scents HERE.

For more ideas for a sensual experience, check out Modern Relationship's list!

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