The Memory of Smell

Walking into a bakery instantly brings me back to my childhood and the memory of visiting Pilon’s bakery in Vankleek Hill. The smell of the ocean reminds me of Long Sands Beach in York, Maine; my mother instructing us to roll down our windows so as to smell “that fresh, ocean air.” Stick my nose in a hard cover book and I am roaming between the shelves of our small town library. The smell of coffee in the morning I associate with the start of a new day.

Unfortunately, for anyone who has suffered trauma, smells can also produce an instant and visceral reaction that can trigger their fear response; bringing them back instantly by way of flashback to the experience. It is important when this happens to take some deep breaths; reminding yourself that it is a flashback, that you are safe, and that you are in control of your surroundings.

Though often underestimated by way of our senses, smell plays an important role in our psychological system; instantly warning us of potential danger or bringing us back to a memory that nurtures our comfort system. Smell is our only sense with links directly to the parts of our brain that are responsible for emotion and memory; explaining how a smell can trigger an instant reaction.

As you have read this post, you most likely thought of your own favourite smells associated with memories. Please feel free to share in the comments section 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Miti on Unsplash

If you liked this post, consider subscribing. Daily bits of advice will be delivered into your inbox; creating an anchor to your day.





2 thoughts on “The Memory of Smell”

  1. My time travel this morning was memories of the smell of hot, steamy cotton. Back in the day, sheets and pillow cases had to be ironed, after hanging out on the clothesline, which of course contributed to the unique smell. Ironing proceeded with the addition of sprinkles of water, shaken through a reused ketchup bottle with pin holes put in with a hammer and nail. As the day wore on the smell became stronger and more pervasive as there was generally way more than one bed to be changed that day. I was allowed to do pillow cases under supervision, being about age six or so before the development of permenent press sheets.


Leave a comment