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Science and the Sense of smell

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Link to the TEDX Cannes video


To follow one’s nose, what hangs from our nose, like the nose in the middle of our face” are all french expressions saying a lot about thepowerof this sense. Yet it has been seen for long time as of secondary importance for human survival.
Smelling has been the primordial sense since the dawn of time to find our food, detect predators, find a healthy place to live, it was the fundamental sense to survive and protect ourselves when we lived in nature. In this context, a new smell represented a potential danger! What about today ?

The olfactory system - from receptors to the brain

We finally rediscover the sense of smell since 2004, the year when the Nobel Prizein Medicine and Physiology was awarded to Linda Buck and Richard Axel. These researchers succeeded in interpreting how our olfactory receptors “decode” odors and how olfactory neurons send information first to the limbic brain, the place of our emotions, then to the neocortex of the brain that conceptualizes them. This worldwide recognition has thus rekindled interest in this neglected sense.

Since then we remember the vital power of olfaction, which is the ancestral chemical language since the unicellular, the paramecium, as evidenced by the spermatozoon which, thanks to its olfactory receptors, can swim effectively towards the ovum…

Embodied through our senses

When we connect to the world through the senses, we connect to what is happening here and now – the warmth of the sun, the wind in our hair, the smell of cooking bread, music floating in the air, a person smiling to us – we feel what this does inside ourselves. Smelling leads us to deeply feel, a state of perception that helped us to survive in the wild world but with which we lost an intimate connection after a few hundred years of pure rationalism.

However we are multi-sensory beings and at the crossroads of our senses springs our spark of life, our vital energy. It is at the crossroads of the senses that we find our humanity connected to our immediate environment, planet Earth, in all aspects of her multi-sensory beauty. By paying attention to our senses, we incarnate, we become present and responsive to the messages from our environment. We become more conscious. Feeling is to connect ourselves 50% of the time to what is happening outside and 50% of the time to what is happening inside, because our inner world arises at the crossroads of these two realities.

Fragrances remind us that we have this sensory intelligence «this EQ”, this heart, which can help us to think and to act with “our IQ», our Reason, which together nourish our unique little voice. By bringing heart and reason together, we relearn to respect our humanity in all our sensitivities and diversities, to develop what makes us unique and strong, to jump with joy into the unknown.

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