Mindfulness Made Easy – Practice #6 Smell Mindfully

Here is the sixth of my 50 Mindful Practices  from my upcoming book. Please sign up for my weekly emails if you want to get the rest automatically in your email box. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Practice 6: Smell mindfully

“Mindfulness, bravery and compassion and wisdom are not born overnight but nor are they remote and unattainable qualities. They can be awakened, and once awakened, will inspire others.“ Jane Hope

What it is.  Mindful smelling involves noticing when your sense of smell is being activated and understanding its impact on you.  Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense. For some, the smell of fresh baked bread, clean sheets or popcorn can evoke a sense of comfort. For others the smell of a mother’s perfume can stimulate forgotten memories. The smell of smoke or gas can alert us to danger. The smell of food cooking can remind us that we are hungry. Without a sense of smell we cannot taste! But sadly, many of us do not even realize when our noses are stimulated or the impact that smells have on our entire sense of well-being.  We often only notice smells when it’s extreme, like when the oven is on fire or there is mold on our yogurt.

How to do it.  With another person, go to your kitchen and open up a food or spice cupboard. Select few items that have distinct smells, like lemongrass, peanut butter, coffee or vinegar. Take turns closing your eyes while the other person moves items under your nose. Guess what the item is and reflect on whether it brings back a memory or feeling. Another fun exercise that demonstrates the power of smell is to pretend you have a lemon in your hand (no real lemon is required) and slowly move your hand towards your mouth. Your mouth will begin to salivate even though there is no lemon in sight!

What to notice. How is mindful smelling different than the smelling you do automatically day-in and day-out? How many smells do you notice in an average day? If you slowed down, do you think you would notice smells? Do you think some smells make you more calm or more agitated? Although we can all smell with our noses, it comes as a surprise to most, that we do not use our noses as much as we could. It’s a if we need  to retrain ourselves to smell again. We have all heard the phrase, “You need to stop and smell the roses!”  but it seems so difficult to notice all the wonder and beauty unless we stop or at least slow down.

Comments { 0 }

Here is a taste of what working with the RCMP as a woman feels like

Here is my good friend Maureen McGrath (CKNW) interviewing two women about their experience with the RCMP supervisors. Its a sad day when you have to go to work and face this kind of treatment just because you are a woman. Who say sexism is dead? Thanks Maureen!

RCMP officers talk about RCMP sexual harrassment


Comments { 0 }

Come to the Equality Breakfast this Tuesday

COME CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY WITH WEST COAST LEAF’S 28TH ANNUAL EQUALITY BREAKFAST. Honour LEAFS collective achievements, be inspired, catch up with old friends, meet new ones. Raise money for West Coast LEAF’s upcoming projects in the areas of legal education, law reform, and litigation. KEYNOTE SPEAKER: MINNIJEAN BROWN TRICKEY. Click here for more information: Equality Breakfast. I was once a board member of LEAF and it’s a great cause.

Comments { 0 }

Mindfulness Made Easy – Practice #5 Be Totally Present

Here is the fifth of my 50 Mindful Practices  from my upcoming book. Please sign up for my weekly emails if you want to get the rest automatically in your email box. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Practice 5: Be Totally Present

“[People] measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is. … Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What it is. You may have heard of the concept of “living in the now” or being present. This means trying to live right here, right now without looking ahead or looking back. It means being totally alert and awake to all that is going on, both inside us and around us. Sadly, we rarely live in the present. We rarely stop to smell the roses. We all tend to worry too much about what may happen in the future or stress about what has happened in the past.

The skill of being fully alert and centered, is best seen in those who practice martial arts. They are trained to be so calm on the inside that they can respond appropriately to any attack. Like a well rooted tree, they are completely here in the present moment and as a result can weather even violent storms.

How to do it. Next time you do a simple chore like sweeping the floor or washing dishes take the opportunity to do the task mindfully. Instead of thinking or other things or daydreaming, focus fully on what you are doing with complete curiosity and calm. Feel the handle of the broom in your hands. Watch the shape of the bristles as they press against the floor. Notice the dirt flecks as they move onto the dust pan. If washing dishes, feel the temperature of the dish water. Smell the soap suds. Become fully absorbed in the moment and sense how free it feels to be fully engaged in the present. Another easy way to be more in the present is to mix up your habits. For example, walk to work a different way or eat a different breakfast or sit in a place that’s new for you.

What to notice. When we focus on the present moment it is as if all our senses come alive. We see things we have never noticed before.  All the mental energy that might have been spread over many things, is now focussed on just one thing: Being here now. It feels similar to moving from multi-tasking to working on only one project. Your levels of concentration and observation increase significantly.  All the other distractions fall away. As you go about your day try to notice how often you are truly in the present moment.





Comments { 0 }

Women In film in Vancouver March 4-8

The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is on from March 4-8. Go to www.womeninfilm.ca to learn more. We need more films by women and we need to celebrate the ones who are making films so why not grab a friend and go watch a few! And come back here and write a review (PLEASE)!Click here: Women in Fillm

Comments { 0 }

Harper government holds women back

Here are Joyce Murray’s (Member of Parliament) recent words in our Federal legislature:

Mr. Speaker, 48 years ago today, Liberal Prime Minister Lester Pearson officially established the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, based on the concept of equal opportunity for women and men. The royal commission played a major role in defining the status of women as a legitimate and important social and economic issue, and gave a platform for women’s voices.

The commission’s groundbreaking recommendations on child care, pay equity, prohibiting gender as grounds for discrimination and other matters sadly remain relevant today. Women’s equality has taken a step back under the Conservative government’s regressive policies, which have put the brakes on the important momentum to close the gap in Canada.

As we mark this historic anniversary and the progress made by women over the decades, we must remember that there still remains much work to do in order to achieve true equality.

Let us all celebrate how far we have come, but also commit to equality of opportunity for all Canadians.

Comments { 0 }

Mindfulness Made Easy – Practice #4 Eat Mindfully

Here is the fourth of my 50 Mindful Practices  from my upcoming book. Please sign up for my weekly emails if you want to get the rest automatically in your email box. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Practice 4: Eat Mindfully 

“We depend on food to survive. Only oxygen and water are more critical. Since preparing and eating food is such an essential component of our lives, why not bring mindful awareness to this?” Stahl and Goldstein

What it is. The speed at which we eat in Western society is shocking. Some meals at our house are finished in less than ten minutes. Not only is this bad for digestion, but we barely taste what we eat or savor it.  We miss out on the simple pleasure of eating but also miss out on the information emanating from our body as we chew and swallow. We don’t notice our taste buds, our throat constricting or our stomach. We don’t know whether we are full or still hungry.

In the popular “Mind Up”  program created by actor Goldie Hawn,  elementary school students are asked to use words to describe the various tastes they sense when they are eating. They describe foods as either  bitter, salty, sweet, sour, tangy, lemony, bland, or sharp. When they use the descriptive words, not only do students slow down, but they become more selective and conscious eaters.

How  to do it. Place a raisin in your hand. Look closely at the raisin and notice its shape, color and texture. Smell the raisin. Take your time.  Now place the raisin on your tongue. Do not bite it right way. Just roll it around in your mouth and feels its bumps and contours. Notice that your mouth is salivating. Notice the urge to bite and swallow. Slowly bite down into the raisin and feel your teeth and jaw pressing down. Notice the burst of taste in your mouth and where on your tongue the taste is registeringRoll it to the back of your tongue and swallow. Sense it going down your esophagus. Breathe deeply and reflect on how it felt.

What to notice. How is eating in this way different than how you eat on a regular basis? Most people says its the first time they really tasted a raisin.  Also, when engaged in this way you might notice that your mind does not wander elsewhere. You have the pleasure of doing only one thing with complete attention, free from other distracting thoughts.

Comments { 0 }

Three new booklets on advancing women

I have decided to break my upcoming women’s book (formerly called Man’s Guide to Ultimate Power) to into 3 smaller (100 page) booklet. This way they are easier to read and access. Here are the tentative titles. Please let me know what you think.

1. Level the Playing Field- 20 ways to advance women at work and in business

2. Stop the Madness of Motherhood: 10 ways to empower mothers today

3. You are Good enough!- 20 ways we hold women back and 20 strategies to change it.

I welcome any feedback!

Comments { 0 }

Mindfulness Made Easy – Practice #3 Use All Your Senses

Here is the third of my 50 Mindful Practices  from my upcoming book. Please sign up for my weekly emails if you want to get the rest automatically in your email box. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Practice 3: Use All Your Senses 

“Never underestimate the value of small rituals for everyday household chores. You can bring mindful presence into doing the laundry, washing dishes or making dinner. These small routine ceremonies are opportunities to still your mind and give you a small breathing space within the hurly-burly of everyday life.“  Brantley and Millstine

What it is. Although all humans have five senses – sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing- we tend not to use them all and often favour one or two, causing the others to sit relatively dormant. This practice will help you activate all your senses.

How to do it.  For this exercise you need a group of at least five (and up to 30) people and a bag of navel oranges. When everyone is sitting, ask each person to take one orange from the bag. Have each person touch their orange, smell the orange and look at it closely. Ask them to note any particular markings on the orange since they will be asked to identify it later.  After about 3 minutes, have each person place the orange back in the bag. Mix them around and then pour the oranges into a pile in the middle of the room. Finally, ask each person to come up and select their orange.

What to notice. It is surprising when each person identifies their own orange. Often we assume oranges are all the same and we don’t take the time to see how unique each one is. By being more attentive we begin to notice the subtle differences in everything – from fruit to the weather and particularly to people we do not know well. We wake up to the realization that every single thing and every moment is different and that mindfully using your senses is a powerful tool of observation and understanding.

Comments { 0 }

Mindfulness Made Easy – Practice #2 Body Scan

Here is the second of my 50 Mindful Practices. My book is being published so in the meantime I will blog one of these each week or so.  Please sign up on my website if you want to get them automatically in your email box. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Practice 2: Do a body scan

What it is.

The body scan is a fundamental practice of mindfulness. It is a way to monitor what is going on at a physical level and also a way to relax the body, bit by bit. Also called muscle relaxation, this practice was refined by Edmund Jacobsen in the 1930’s. It is often used to activate the body upon waking and to slow the body down before sleeping.

How to do it.

You need about ten minutes for this practice. Lie down on your back and breathe deeply in and out three times. Prepare to both contract and relax every muscle group in your body. Starting with your toes, tense your toes for five seconds then release them. Next your arches, then your calf muscles and so on. Move up your body to your torso and limbs all the way up to your neck face and scalp. Try to become aware of where you are holding tension and practice actively letting go of it wherever you find it. Breathe deeply throughout and if you wish, breathe into each muscle as you proceed.

The body scan involves either sitting or lying down with your eyes closed and mentally scanning your body from head to toe and back again. Rather than using your eyes, you use your senses to listen to each of your body parts.

“Learn to be calm and you will always be happy.” Paramhansa Yogananda

What to notice.

Did you notice any areas of tightness, tension or pain? Did you feel a tickling sense or release when you focused on that particular area. Some people feel energy emanating through the body. At the end of the scan you should experience a restful awareness of your whole body and may even sense the energy field around your body.

copyright: Maureen F Fitzgerald, PhD

Comments { 0 }