A dear friend of mine, Céline, is a perfumer. She goes through life following her nose, so to speak; apprehending her environment with her sense of smell.
She has never been to Hong Kong and recently asked me to describe the city from an olfactive point of view.
I started by telling her that:
HK is a city where people’s senses are constantly stimulated.The sense of smell is probably the one that people notice the less.Let’s start by the obvious, the malls.
Each has a signature smell, as do hotels and most modern buildings.
IFC used to smell like green tea when I moved here, and now their fragrance is a clean cologne (very close to CK One).
The Ritz Carlton is a traditional gentleman, with its woody fougere smell. K11 has a gourmand scent like sweet caramel and vanilla.
Hong Kong gets more interesting if you start walking on the streets.
In Sai Yin Pun, Queen’s Road West smells like dried fish and Chinese herbs.
The harbour on Tsim Sha Tsui side smells like tepid water, a very humid and penetrating smell.
The part of Tsim Sha Tsui where I live has many smells of food and people mixing all the time depending on which street corner: the clean smell of household products coming out of the supermarket, cold smoke and ashes on Prat Avenue, coconut waffles on Carnarvon Road, a potpourri of fragrances coming out of Sasa, the incense burning in a temple on Haiphong Road …
What struck me most from our conversation was that in describing to her the smells, I was intently focusing on my sense of smell and I was more present. It is very easy to go on autopilot mode when living in a city like Hong Kong for a while. Our senses get stimulated, overly and non-stop in this steroid-driven city.
I like to remind myself and my students how essential it is to be present in the here and now, present whatever we are doing. Our senses are a way to anchor our awareness in the present moment. We can repeat a mantra, light an incense, play a Tibetan bowl, choose a method that resonate with you.
To ensure that I am being present, I have created some ritual to help me reset and connect with my centre. For instance, after being out and about in the city, I go to my sanctuary corner , unroll my yoga mat, light a candle and then choose an incense to burn or a fragrance for my diffuser. I then sit down for a few moments with my eyes closed and senses inwards. I listen to my breath to help me tune in.
The simple act of sitting on my cushions starts the relaxation. The silence and fragrance help mereach a deeper level of awareness. As I sense further inwards, I become more present and eventually, the smell, noise and thoughts fade away. Then I meet myself in that sweet silent place.
Smelling the city for Céline reminded me once more how living with intent and awareness is crucial in our modern world. The fragrance you decide to smell, the food you choose to eat, the silence you surround yourself with. Everything counts. It also made me realise that my sense of smell is one of the most potent ones to enhance my creativity.
After this experience Céline and I decided to combine our passion for yoga and fragrances and offer a workshop at Luxe Nova; a nice afternoon (re)treat and rejuvenate yourselfwith yoga, fragrances and creativity. I will lead you through a yoga practice and guided meditations, and the tailor-made fragrances will activate your senses and intuition.
This unique combination of yoga and fragrances will help you become more connected with your inner self and gain clarity on your personal intention.
Join me and let your inspiration and your creativity flow.
Virginie Morel will be hosting an afternoon workshop - Cultivate Your Creativity with Fragrances & Yoga.