Mindful Monday : The Power of Smell

Do you have scent that conjures up special memories? Perhaps the smell of a pipe reminds you of your grandfather, or cherry pie reminds you of Gramma … I have one. Well, many. My family went on a long walk and found ourselves somewhat lost (!) but we didn’t mind as it was a beautiful fall afternoon. It was fairly cool, so we were walking briskly to keep warm, until I stopped dead in my tracks as the wind delivered a familiar smell that immediately brought special memories to mind. What was it? A campfire. Well, these folks weren’t actually camping, but rather roasting marshmallows over their fire pit on their patio. Minor difference. But it was the smell. And it reminded me, immediately, of summers spent in the mountains of North Carolina, roasting marshmallows with my own family during weeklong family reunions with some very special people.

Often times when teachers speak of using senses to learn, we usually think of using the sense of touch to put learning into the hands of children. However, we truly need to rethink using the power of smell in our daily life to teach kids … not only academic learning, but behavioral learning, as well. When I was in college, one of my education courses required reading surrounding studying strategies. One article I read, which I will never forget, gave me a tip that became very useful throughout my remaining time in school. It instructed students to burn a particular candle, or wear a different perfume when studying for a big exam, and to wear that perfume or bring that scented candle to the exam with. By sniffing the scent, it triggers memory in your brain, pulling that information forward and allowing you to recall it faster and in greater detail (I got an A on my next exam.) If this works for college students, why not our little learners?

Though going into depth with aromatherapy may be a little wearisome for many, there are a few oils, or even simple scented lotions from your local store that you might want to consider keeping handy in your home.

• Mandarin, Orange and other citrusy scents are thought to bring energy and cheerfulness
• Peppermint has proven to bring alertness to those who might need a little extra “oomph” in the mornings
• Lavender brings an essence of calm to many environments
• A small whiff of cinnamon allows you a “brain boost”, one of many delightful benefits of this delicious powerhouse.

On a side note, for all you mommas and dads out there … because our sense of smell is powerful, indeed, if you have a special trip, such as a honeymoon, date night, or other event coming up, treat yourself to a new perfume or lotion that you use solely during that event. When you want to to retreat back to that special event, simple drag out that bottle of perfume or lotion to bring those memories to the forefront to relive over and over again!

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