Monday, June 24, 2013

Ahhh, the smell of it...

Walking down the streets of Colorado Springs this weekend, I had an opportunity to stop into a few shops. Each was entirely different from one another, but I was struck by the same thing as I entered – the smell.

I mean this in a good way.

In one shop, I entered and could clearly catch the scent of lavender. This was a shop with various essential oils, flower essences, soaps and related books on the topics. Lavender has a very soothing effect on us, helping to create an aura of peace in a space, which made perfect sense for this small shop and its wares.

In the other, the strong aroma was much earthier, but still sweet, which I recognized as Nag Champa incense. Tibetan wares filled the shelves and covered the walls. My daughter was especially drawn to the singing bowls and the caretaker even demonstrated a large 18-inch quartz crystal singing bowl tuned to the key of F (the heart chakra). Statues of dragons, lucky frogs, Kwan Yin and other Hindu gods, and colorful clothing  complemented the deep red, yellow and earth tones that blanketed the space. Nag Champa seemed the perfect match for this place, with its very grounding essence.

Although two very different establishments, one very light and the other earthy, they each used the same technique for setting the tone for their stores. We can do the same in our homes or in our individual spaces. Consider the home you walk into that has cookies baking in the oven. It’s hard not feel a sense of welcome and warmth. While we can’t all be baking every time company comes, we can use more subtle approaches with aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy uses essential oils, which are botanical extracts from various plants, to make that connection between our sense of smell and a positive, emotional experience. Studies have proven our sense of smell is most closely tied to our memories, so it can be a great tool for tapping into those positive associations we have with the past, but can also help establish new positive memories.

I prefer using essential oils to the chemically based options sold in the grocery and large retail stores because it’s a more natural approach and you are better able to control the strength of the scent you use to fill a room.

If you’re wondering where to begin, start with a diffuser. The most common are those with a small stand and a glass or metal bowl heated by a tea light. Add water and a few drops of the oil of your choice, let the heat of the tea light do its magic and the space will begin to fill with the gentle aroma (make sure you don't leave the candle unattended). 

Next, you should select an essential oil that you enjoy. If you don’t know which one, stores that sell essential oils will often have testers you can use to get a sense for the aroma.

As you’re selecting your oils, remember to consider the intention or feel you want for your home. Are you looking to have your home feel more balanced, more grounded, or more energized? There are so many options ranging from lavender to sage to lemon. Bottom line though, you should listen to your intuition. It’s the best guide you’ll have.

So if you’re looking to create a great first impression in your home, don’t forget to consider the sense of smell. It can set the tone for great memories to come.

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