This phrase crops up regularly in all manner of media. Apparently, it is something we should all be aware of us concerning ourselves and life. One may take find courses on how to achieve this ‘state’ and related practices or as in many articles one should simply practice it without any real advice as to what is meant.
We can trace the idea back to Buddhist philosophy, but mindfulness is not a set of doctrines, a belief system or indeed a philosophy. The ‘idea’ behind the term seems to be to be at peace with oneself, being satisfied in the equilibrium of the moment. There also seems to be, at least in the way that some teach, that as stressed and disturbed or suffering people or indeed humanity we can achieve a way of being and our response to the world can be mitigated.
Now most people would be put in mind of meditation, its purpose and technique and the related term mindfulness to lack definition and to be very loose and woolly. Some would say it’s about living the moment by noticing what is going on around you, the experience of the moment and react to the experience rather than any circumstantial habit without thought. Is that different from thinking about what your situation is in the moment, its consequences, and effects? I do not think so.
All our actions should have a sense of kindness, common humanity and being non-judgemental. Proponents, teachers would say this should be applied to oneself as a primary objective. The suggestion is that breath control will aid in this fostering this attitude to self and others. This is reminiscent of Zen practice focusing on the intake of breath whereby we release past, present and future, taking in the breath of life and releasing it slowly. Anyone who practices meditation would recognise this. So, is Mindfulness just a modern word, fashionable and the province of the London, LA, New York centric, journalists and celebs?
Yes and No for the word has entered the general vocabulary but as I said above, used without definition. Let’s say then that mindfulness is meditation but that rather than separating ourselves from the world by cantering the objective is to relate to the world around us as experience. Instead of closing our mind we observe what is going in and around us internally and let our thoughts flow without distraction.
Mind wandering in normal meditation is discouraged but with mindfulness it is not such a bad thing. This is an opportunity to become aware of the reason or purpose of the mind wander and the ebb or flow of your thinking its direction and nature. Likewise with the sensations our body produces, rather than worry about these strange pains, feelings, and sensations we can evaluate the experience and change our attention to more pleasant aspects for the mind and usually categorise things as unpleasant, neutral or pleasing. For example, we can observe our heart rate and slow or increase it but observing the moment from different perspectives that is body function, feelings, and observing how our mind responds to these then followed by pondering as to why and where the mind returns. Mindfulness can therefore be a path of discovery about our habitual being and a journey into a better understanding of ourselves.
One of the first synergies Fragrant Earth produced was a meditation aid which has been widely used. Smelling the Meditation synergy was designed to centre the mind upon a single dominating note with molecules that induced sedation and a hypnotic state. This would not relate to the Mindfulness we discussed above.
The first question asked would be is there a relationship to smell and Mindfulness to act as a similar single aid. At Fragrant Earth we do not see this as a possibility but rather an opportunity for people to explore what various fragrances, perfumes or essences bring to their mind and emotions, a way to really explore feelings.
Fragrant Earth has some experience with this within their natural perfume range Ladies of the Lake whereby consumers are invited not to like or dislike a smell but rather experience the feeling, the impact that the odour provokes. Likewise in Mindfulness the complexity of our very being in body, feelings and mind needs clarity. Complex fragrances may well have been made with a purpose in mind which can be tuned into.
An example of such would be a group of fragrances created by Fragrant Earth called the Fey. Two artists created images of fairy, otherworldly beings, with specific characteristics and in certain settings. Simultaneously a small booklet gave stories concerning real life events with morals for each event. These morals are about our feelings, pains, anxieties, and sufferings whereby a fairy godmother might help. The purpose of the perfumer behind these complex fragrances was to set a path toward an exploration of the moment of smelling. Where can it take us? Surely away from the world but still in it but induced and provoked feelings, to excite intrigue and move us to be more positive about anxiety, pian and fatigue.
Mindfulness and smell, the act of breathing in and out the energy of nature go together. Strangely or coincidentally the Fey fragrances come in eight forms reminiscent of the Buddhist eightfold path. Our sense of smell is underutilised and is a good sense to take us to a place where we can rest, pause, and observe the moment. WE recommend the Fey as a Mindfulness assistant.
Jan Kusmirek ©March 2022