The Scent of Christmas ~ an aromatic meditation
The sense of smell is closely connected to the area of the brain that processes emotional memories; sometimes memories are very deeply buried and certain scents can awaken those memories. I am also aware that not all buried memories are good ones, which is why for this meditation I am asking you to think deeply about which aroma you best associate with Christmas time.
Spices are a popular smell at this time of year; for some the powerful scent of cloves, and cinnamon and ginger sum up their aromatic memories of Christmas. For others the crisp clean smell of pine or fir cones and needles is instant Christmas. Others love the scent of baking goods, or roasting turkey. For some chocolate is the best scent of the season. Traditionally the resins of frankincense and myrrh are used as incense and their part in the Christmas story is very important.
Take a little while to think about what scents you most associate with Christmas happiness. If it is a scent you can put on an oil burner as essential oil or hold in your hand like cinnamon or cloves, then do that. If it is something less easy to reproduce, then try your best to hold the memory of that fragrance in your mind.
When you are ready and you have let your mind settle and become quiet, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
You find yourself in a dark room, which seems to be quite small at first. There is only the light of one candle in a glass lantern on the floor near your feet, shedding a soft golden light around you. The walls of the room are high and the room is long and narrow but most of it is lost in shadows. The air is cool but not cold. Go to the candle and hold the lantern up.
You will see that the walls are lined with row upon row of drawers, each with a neat little label on. There are hundreds of drawers and there is even a rolling stepladder. It’s a little like an old fashioned apothecary’s shop. At one end of the room there is a door which is the way you will return to your ordinary awareness, but near the door there is a low table. On the table there is a small crystal bottle, shaped like a tear drop with a flat bottom. It has something engraved upon it; look closer and you will see it has your name on it. If you hold it up to the candle light, you’ll see that it contains a liquid. The bottle is sealed with a stopper than glitters like a diamond in the flickering light. If you remove the stopper you will discover that the liquid emits the fragrance that you chose as being most closely and best associated with Christmas.
Take the bottle and the lantern stand in the middle of the room and look around. Each of the drawers contains other fragrances that are associated with Christmas. Some of these are ones that you might like to explore.
There’s one marked toffee popcorn. Another marked spiced cider. Another says chocolate. Look around you at all the drawers.
Oranges. Cloves. Cinnamon. Wood-smoke. Fruitcake. The smell of new snow. Granny’s perfume. Cranberries. Fir-cones. Pine needles. Gingerbread. New books. Old Spice. Mulled wine. Roast potatoes. Sherry trifle. Egg-nog. Bubble bath and bath salts. Chestnuts. Candles. Plasticine.
The walls are filled with them, hundreds of them. Some are old, their labels in faded copperplate and contain some surprising things. These are fragrances from older human memories. They’re all good things, but things we don’t have any more as part of our Christmas, like Plum Pudding and a winter drink called Lamb’s Wool.
If you wish to do so, explore the drawers. Each one contains a neatly stoppered bottle like yours, and inside it is the essence of the fragrance. Take your time. If a fragrance appeals to you and brings back good memories, add a drop to your bottle. This is not like blending a perfume but rather a blending of memories. You may find that first the name and then the fragrance may awaken some lost and treasured memories of Christmas past.
If you find a fragrance does not appeal or you dislike it, return it to its drawer and move on.
Give yourself time to explore as many of the drawers as you find interesting. There is no limit to what you can add to your bottle. None of the smells will clash or fight.
When you feel you have collected all your fragrances, go to the door at the end and put your lantern on the table. Hold your bottle up to the light and watch the liquid inside sparkle and glitter. This is your unique Christmas perfume, filled with warm memories. Every ingredient is special and precious. If you smell one, it will bring back those warm feelings and if you smell them all, it will bring a wealth of wonderful memories and emotions.
Before you open the door, take a breath of the scent contained in your bottle. Each note is unique and special and the whole fragrance simply says: Merry Christmas.
Put the bottle back on the table and open the door. Your mind is peaceful and happy and you are ready to return to your daily life. Step through and open your eyes.
(Remember to take time after meditation to allow your mind to adjust to normal; this can be helped by eating or drinking something to help you ground the experience and signal to your mind to return tor normal. If it helps, make notes of what you experienced so you can remember more late)