connecting with the fragrant nature

It is not necessary to import aromatics from Asia in order to get an idea of Asian perfumery arts. Neither is it necessary to use a great amount of perfumes, and even not to cut living plants and take them out of their habitat.


On the contrary, the goal of nearing the art of 'fragrance' affords to connect with the fragrant world as such, and to develop a deep understanding of nature. Which processes lead to the abundant wealth of scents in nature, and what does nature need for that? Moreover, when, how and why do we experience sensory phenomena as 'fragrances'?


Thus, the first step to approach the olfactory universe is to sharpen one's own olfactory sensitivity. Aesthetical practices from Asian cultures help with ideas of how to achieve this sensory 'grounding'.


It shall not be neglected that these traditional skills have never desribed the whole population of Asia and are increasingly falling into oblivion in course of global developments. The more worthwhile however it is to remind of this possible sensory training and its beneficial effects on physical and mental health. The rewards have been valued by Asian populations for centuries. To express it poetically, the practice helps to experience whiffs from the (generally fragrant!) Paradise, indepent of how this is called in the various Asian cultures and languages.




1. Set your intention. Choose which landscape, which surrounding, which nature area, or which plant or part of a plant or refined perfumery good you want to discover in regards to its fragrant character, and on which day.


2. Don't use any body perfume, and try to avoid as many scent additives as possible on that day, such as scented soap, scented washing powder, scented cremes and lotions (hardly necessary to mention: unscented products are welcome!) as well as all kinds of smokes and drugs.


3. Leave behind everything that distracts you, such as your mobile phone, music, and work papers.


4. Forget all expectations, open up for the present sensory experience.


5. Take time, slow down.


6. Close your eyes, and breathe in the air. How and where do you feel the fragrant air? Which olfactory character do you notice? Does it change?


7. Deepen your attention. Also feel the tactile quality of the air. Is it humid, warmed up by sunlight or glowing charcoal, swirled up by wind, purified by rain?


8. Take note of the scent's source. Use all your senses. Listen to the surrounding, welcome its visual appearance, possibly taste it (if you are sure about its safety!!).


9. Observe your feelings. Does the fragrance arouse any special emotional tuning in you?


10. Observe your intuitive thoughts. Which images, ideas and stories does the fragrance evoke in you? Are they related to earlier experiences in your life? Or could you give expression to their kind and quality by the help of poetry or painting?


Last but not least: ENJOY!







Dr. phil. Dinah Jung



c/o Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies
Prof. Dr. Harald Fuess
Karl-Jaspers-Centre, University of Heidelberg
Vossstr. 2
D - 69115 Heidelberg
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text and photos: © dr. phil. dinah jung, 2002–2020. all rights reserved.