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Hidden World of Smell - Regain your lost kingdom

Hidden World of Smell - Regain your lost kingdom

Smell had been our primary organ of perceiving the world for hundreds of thousands of years. We have now almost lost much of this fantastic power of smell. Are we even aware of the word ‘anosmia’? It is a word to describe loss of power of smell. However, all of us are aware of the words deaf and dumb meaning losss of hearing and speaking capacity. Then there is a word Dysosmia indicating distortion of perceived odor quality (parosmia, e.g., smelling burnt paper instead of baby powder). This is because in our modern life of living within four walls and inhaling toxic gases from air pollution the power of smell got seriously affected. Our need to use our smell perception is also getting substantially reduced in our comfortable and safe environment of modern times. We do not also give much importance to this power.

Sri Anand Yoga (SAY) lays great emphasis on increasing our capacity to enjoy life to fullest extent. One of the important ways in which we can increase this capacity is by making our organs of perception more healthy and powerful. Power of Smell had played a very important and crucial role in our ancient days in the wilderness. And most importantly, it is still relevant today.

Power of smell is very essential to have a taste of the food we eat. Without smell, we can detect only 5 basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami (savory). But our brains incorporate information from both taste and smell receptors to create the perception of many different flavors. What we call taste is essentially a mixture of different sensations. One of the sensations is smell. During the eating process, the smell of food causes sending of information to the mouth in a process called olfactory referral. What the brain perceives as flavor is actually a fusion of a food's taste, touch and smell into a single sensation—each not only influences flavor but is an integral part of it. Sight, though not technically part of this equation, certainly influences perception in its own way.

According to the American Rhinologic Society nose also plays a role in hearing. The nasopharynx is flanked on either side by eustachian tubes. These tubes connect the nasopharynx to the middle ear. The nasopharynx fills the middle ear with air, equalizing air pressure in the ear with the atmosphere around it. This process is an important part of hearing..

Our olfactory nerve is the only nerve in the central nervous system that continually regenerates throughout our adult lives. The olfactory nerve is composed of neurons that originate in the mucus tissue of the nose and run the short distance to the olfactory bulb. Olfactory bulb is one of the most primitive parts of the brain. Humans have between 10 and 20 million olfactory receptor neurons.

A widely publicized study suggested that humans can detect more than one trillion different odors Though this study has been under criticism from the scientific community, still it is undisputed that we can have the capacity to detect more than 10,000 odours. The point for our consideration at SAY is this : how much of this amazing power of smell we are actually using? Very little. SAY aims to polish and sharpen our power of smell to its fullest capacity. Why this is important will be explained shortly.

Scientists have recently discovered thriving ‘Neuron Nurseries’ inside an adult human nose. There was an established science notion that our brain stops making new neurons after our childhood years. This latest study suggests the olfactory neuroepithelium in the human nose seems to carry on producing neurons in our adulthood,

Because smell information is sent to different parts of the brain, odors can influence many aspects of our lives, such as memory, mood, and emotion. Aromatherapy uses essential oils from flowers, herbs, or trees to improve physical and emotional well-being. Though there’s little scientific evidence supporting aromatherapy’s effectiveness for most health issues, it does not disprove its effectiveness.

As per medical science, the sense of smell arises in the brain and not in the nose. Brain processes and synthesizes sensory information to create a sense of smell. The functioning of the brain regions involved in smell and memory becomes impaired during old age causing serious impairment in our smelling capacity. However very little is known about the processes happening where the odors are first detected in the nose. On the other hand, according to SAY, our nose indeed has a sense of smell. This will be explored further in SAY practices.

Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system. The limbic system is the most ancient and primitive part of the brain. It is thought to be the seat of emotion.

Now we turn to a very interesting topic of the smell of emotion. This topic is very much relevant to SAY. Do emotions can be ‘smelled’? A new study suggests that maybe you really can smell human emotion. People in a close romantic relationship are able to smell emotions like fear, happiness and sexual arousal in each other. Babies identify their mother by smell. In the study conducted it was found that people don't rely only on language and visual cues to communicate. The emotions that the experimenters tested were communicated solely by chemical signaling. One of the advantages of SAY practices is that the person's capacity to perceive emotions greatly increases. Power of smell in perceiving human emotions as explained above greatly assists in this process.


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