As human beings, we are emotionally impacted by scent. In fact, our sense of smell is considered the only sense that evokes a purely emotional response. Research indicates that smells are not filtered through the part of the brain that ruminates or analyzes, but rather thru the part that responds and operates without conscious thought. It is reported that our responses to smell take place within 10 seconds after exposure – with no thought process involved. We react and then think.

Our olfactory sense is the oldest of the five senses. Smell, emotion and memory are all linked in the limbic systems of our bodies. Not only do certain smells affect how we feel emotionally, but they can also affect our level of energy. When entering a room we can either feel suffocated by someone’s lingering perfume or enticed by the aroma of delicious food being cooked.

The basis of feng shui is that everything is comprised of energy or chi. The only contact we have with the physical world is through our senses. Scent not only influences how we feel, but it also relates to the flow of chi. Unpleasant odors represent stale or negative chi, while pleasant fragrances bring in a healthy flow of chi.

Although we experience chi through aromas, both pleasant and unpleasant, smell is the sense that is most often overlooked. From a feng shui perspective, however, we can use scent to evoke certain emotions and set certain atmospheres in a room. Because response to smell is very emotional and personal, it is important to consider your individual experience with a particular scent before bringing it into your space.

One way to work with scent is through the use of essential oils. While having a diffuser is the most common method of application, you can also add the oils to humidifiers, vaporizers, washing machines or dishwashers. A few drops can be added to a bowl of hot water or to the melted wax of a candle. Other applications include saturating a cotton ball or making your own air freshener spray by adding 15-20 drops of a favorite oil to one cup of distilled water. Whichever method of application you choose, be sure to read labels prior to use.

Below is a list of scents, along with their generic qualities and possible applications.

Calms and soothes; good for insomnia and depression. Spray on bed linens or bathe in lavender oils or soap to reduce stress prior to bedtime.

Clears confusion; refreshes tired minds. Associated with cleanliness.

Optimism and happiness. For a basic orange cleaner add ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons baking soda, 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap and 1 teaspoon orange essential oil.

Stimulating and invigorating. Inspires creativity. Often recommended for relief of migraines and nausea. Also considered a natural appetite suppressant. Add 2-4 drops to a burner or hot water.

Cleanses and purifies. Light a pine scented candle to let go of the past and release things that no longer serve you. (Note, the National Candle Association reports that candles from beeswax have more health benefits, as they burn much cleaner than paraffin wax, which is made from a petroleum by-product.)

Considered an aphrodisiac. Light rose-scented candles in the bedroom to set the mood for romance.

Strengthens a weak memory; restores mental alertness. For an energizing bath, add 5 drops of rosemary and 2 drops of lavender oil.

Ylang Ylang
Relaxing anti depressant. Also considered an aphrodisiac. Can be diffused or burned as incense.

A goal of feng shui is to learn how to engage all of our senses. The more developed our senses are, the more we can tune in to our environment and make beneficial changes. By considering the emotional impact of aromas, you can create a nourishing and healthy living space with a positive and harmonious flow of chi. Take time to smell the roses!

Author's Bio: 

Susan Tartaglino is a Red Ribbon Professional member of the International Feng Shui Guild.

Susan trained with feng shui master Nancilee Wydra, founder of the Pyramid School of Feng Shui, and received her certification through the Feng Shui Institute of America.

During her residency in Hong Kong in the 1980’s, Susan was first introduced to the concepts of feng shui when she randomly came upon a book by the pioneering author, Sarah Rossbach. After discovering how influenced people were by their physical environments, Susan was instantly intrigued and eager to learn more about person-place connections.

Becoming a feng shui practitioner was the perfect path for Susan to share her enthusiasm and embrace the power of feng shui to positively affect people’s lives. Susan has combined her years of feng shui study with her passion for interior and exterior design to help others achieve balance, comfort and inspiration in their environment and in their life.

Other interests include a dedicated yoga practice and spending healing time with nature in her garden.