One of the best ways to practice mindfulness is to work on paying close attention to each of your five senses. For many people, this is easy when it comes to sight or sound, but far more difficult when it comes to noticing your sense of smell.
Unless there is a strong aroma (for better or worse!) we often fail to pay attention to what our noses are telling us, but with a little practice, you can find a deep, relaxing joy in the world of everyday smells.
In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite mindfulness exercises to improve your sense of smell.
You might also want to try these mindfulness exercises for the 5 senses.
3 Fun and Easy Mindful Smelling Exercises
How Many Aromas?
The first exercise is remarkably simple, and yet we so often fail to do it.
All that you need to do is take a few moments to observe the plethora of aromas that already surround you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the kitchen, at work, or in the park, there are always some smells that are crossing your path.
This game is easiest when you are in an area that you already associate with positive aromas, such as your kitchen while cooking a meal, or while sitting in a nice restaurant.
It helps if you close your eyes and take a few breaths, then simply inhale through your nose, and see what wafts in front of it!
Don’t Drink That Wine!
The next exercise is perfect for when you crack open a bottle of wine after a hard day’s work.
Instead of pouring a full glass, just pour an ounce or two into your wine glass, as if you were about to do a wine-tasting. But, instead of tasting the wine, smell it.
Play with moving your nose towards and away from the glass. How does the smell change when your nose is a few inches away, at the rim of the glass, or dipped inside the glass?
How does the smell change depending on how you breathe? Can you smell it more fully when you inhale deeply through your nose, or when your breath is relaxed?
After a while, take a sip of the wine. Then, repeat the process, noticing if and how the smell has changed.
Note: If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic version of this exercise, try it with coffee, or your other favorite, aromatic drink.
The last exercise I want to share is all about combining scents in new ways. This is a great game to play with your kitchen spice-rack, candles, or a few bunches of flowers.
First, gather 5-10 different scents in front of you and line them up. For example, choose a handful of spices from your kitchen cabinet. One by one, go down the line, taking a few moments to notice the aroma of each fully.
Then, begin to experiment with different combinations of scents. Try to observe the different smells without judgment, and notice how you are naturally drawn towards some, and pulled away from others. Notice if and how combining the scents changes the quality of the individual items involved.