MORGAN YAKUS ON OLFACTORY EMPOWERMENT
Inside/Out Expert Morgan Yakus is a bicoastal hypnosis practitioner and wellness expert whose work is rooted in neuroscience. She has worked all over the world integrating active meditation, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and past life regression with her clients. She has extensively studied aromatherapy and is a certified herbalist.
As part of a 2 part series on scent, Morgan discusses how particular smells can shape our memories and provides strategies for using olfactory intelligence to shift from a state of overwhelm to calm - especially useful during the hectic holiday season.
"The world seems like a different place these days. Longer working hours, overwhelming technology, societal pressures and the attempt to balance it all while pretending everything is fine. One word I hear a lot from my clients is ‘free.’ They just want to feel ‘free.’ This got me thinking about how we can shift any moment by connecting a scent to a positive feeling, we can anchor the scent and the feeling into our memory. At any point in time, I have three different essential oil blends on me, such as a roll on, a small spray bottle, essential oil and a Bach Flower remedy. Having these essentials mixed with a flower essence is always helpful and can shift my mood in moments. I have been interested in essential oils for over 20 years. It started at Neals Yard Remedies in London, where I had my first aromatherapy massage from a wonderful woman. I had been working on runway shows in Milan, Paris and Madrid, walked into that massage room feeling completely stressed out and when I left, I felt like I was floating. This sparked a lifelong curiosity of how plant medicine transformed into scents can support us.
The use of aromatic plants predates written records. Archaeological evidence indicates that ancient civilizations in Egypt, Sumeria, Babylonia, Assyria, Crete and China knew how scents like rosemary, frankincense and rose could be used to create environmental moods. I love the idea that Cleopatra, Egypt’s most famous queen, was a fragrance fanatic, drenching the sails of her ship with perfumes to attract Mark Anthony. Greek athletes anointed themselves with fragrant oils to increase their strength during competitive games. Roman soldiers were smoothed with scented oils before and during battle. And during the reign of Louis XV, Parisian fountains were perfumed.
Have you ever wondered how you can imagine the ocean and conjure the smell it as if you were there at that very moment?
Well, think about this:
Our olfactory system contains 50 million smell receptors which convert them into messages and send them to the brain for processing.
Smell signals travel through the limbic system and play a supporting role in provoking feelings and memories.
Among the structures that form the limbic system are the amygdala, where we process anger; the septum pellucidum, where we process pleasurable sensations; and the hippocampus, which regulates how much attention we give these emotions and memories.
This simple information can help target our emotions with scents to counterbalance imbalance.
Smell has a powerful impact on memory. The subconscious mind stores our memories of past experiences in the memory bank. As this process occurs, a particular memory can be activated. If a scent is recognized, it may trigger a memory of past events and emotions associated with that particular smell. Smells can also create changes in the body, temperature, appetite, stress level and sexual arousal. This close connection between smell and memory may help determine why we prefer one scent to another.
Though we’re not living in ancient times of lavish perfumes, essential oils are easily attainable. We can apply these wonderful plant medicines to our daily lives, weaving scents in with roll ons, room mists, diffusers or pure oils. Scents have different functions. For example, lavender calms and rose helps to slow down the brain while citrus stimulates it. We can train our olfactory system to anchor into certain scents in order to induce various effects. Science aside, the best way to start to find out what you like is to smell different scents and see how they make you feel.
I encourage everyone to purchase an inexpensive diffuser. This is truly one of the gentlest ways to receive scents. When overthinking and stressed, we are most likely in the left side of the brain, so a way to create balance is to explore specific oils which activate the right side of the brain and create more coherence. These include: bergamot, grapefruit, neroli and Roman chamomile. creating more coherence.
For increased productivity and focus, try lemon. Another great tool for our tech-centric lives, is to bring a bit of the forest into an interior space through the use of oils like cypress, sandalwood or pine. This can increase the effectiveness of negative ions which which helps the body detoxify from heavy use of electronics.
Overall, using scents is as a way to take a moment and shift into your ideal state. You can feel what resonates with your senses and experience how to shift your mood through scent therefore anchoring in a scent that resonates with how you would like to feel, it’s an effortless and empowering tool.”
I often make make my own blends in a little spray bottle which can be used as multi-purpose spray. Four drops of oil in a 4 ounce (glass) bottle of spring water can really transform the moment.
I often have a wonderful mixture in my spray bottle of rosemary and orange - great for grounding and clearing, as well as acting as a hand sanitizer. Frankincense is wonderful for clearing energy and regulating the nervous system. Also great for travel are lavender for calming, rose and sandalwood for grounding.
(Editor's note: Be careful in the sun, especially if misting on face.)