Smelling, Aroma, Scents, Fragrances, Odors, Taste

Quotations, Sayings, Aphorisms, Clichés, Quips, Quotes, Wisdom, Poetry, Facts, Comments

Prepared by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. 
Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California


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"Of all the ingredients we employ in the creation of a garden, scent is probably the most potent and the least understood.  Its effects can be either direct and immediate, drowning our senses in a surge of sugary vapor, or they can be subtle and delayed, slowly wafting into our consciousness, stirring our emotions and coloring our thoughts."
-  Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden, 1991


"Scents bring memories, and many memories bring nostalgic pleasure.  We would be wise to plan for this when we plant a garden."
-  Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973 


"The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odor around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one center after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection. "
-  Lewis Thomas


"Perfumes are the feelings of flowers."
-  Heinrich Heine 


“Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.”
-  George Herbert


“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”
-  Doug Larson


"Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth."
-  Diane Ackerman


"The object of our lives is to look at, listen to, touch, taste things.  Without them, - these sticks, stones, feathers, shells, - there is no Deity."
R. H. Blyth, Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics, p. 144.


"For many people the scent of certain plants can revive memories with a vividness that nothing else can equal, for the sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that and left the conscious mind."
-  Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973


"It grew late.  Through the open door, stealthily, came the scent of madonna lilies, almost as if it were prowling abroad."
-  D. H. Lawrence


“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”
- Vladimir Nabokov


"Botany I rank with the most valuable sciences, whether we consider its subjects as furnishing the principal subsistence of life to man and beast, delicious varieties for our tables, refreshments from our orchards, the adornments of our flower borders, shade and perfume of our groves, materials for our buildings, or medicaments for our bodies."
-  Thomas Jefferson


"There's always a period of curious fear between the first sweet-smelling breeze and the time when the rain comes cracking down."
-  Don DeLillo


"Today I think
Only with scents, - scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot's seed,
An the square mustard field;
Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery ..."
-  Edward Thomas, Digging


"When I was a boy, I thought scent was contained in dewdrops on flowers and if I got up very early in the morning, I could collect it and make perfume."
-  Oscar De La Renta


"The gardens of my youth were fragrant gardens and it is their sweetness rather than their patterns of their furnishings that I now most clearly recall."
-  Louise Beebe Wilder


"Sweetly breathing , vernal air,
That with kind warmth doth repair
Winter's ruins; from whose breast
All the gums and spice of the East
Borrow their perfumes; whose eye
Gilds the morn, and clears the sky."
-  Thomas Carew,  1595 - 1645 


"A garden full of sweet odours is a garden full of charm, a most precious kind of charm not to be implanted by mere skill in horticulture or power of purse, and which is beyond explaining.  It is  born of sensitive and very personal preferences yet its appeal is almost universal."
-  Louise Beebe Wilder 


"My garden, with its silence and pulses of fragrance that come and go on the airy undulations, affects me like sweet music.  Care stops at the gates, and gazes at me wistfully through the bars."
-  Alexander Smith 


"Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies."
-  Erich Fromm


"Organismic awareness is what we - on the Ego Level - ordinarily, but clumsily, refer to as seeing, touching, tasting, smelling and hearing.   But in its very purest form, this "sensual awareness" is non-symbolic, non-conceptual, momentary consciousness.  Organismic awareness is awareness of the Present only -  you can't taste the past, smell the past, see the past, touch the past, or hear the past.  Neither can you taste, smell, see, touch or hear the future.   In other words, organismic consciousness is properly timeless, and being timeless, it is essentially spaceless.  Just as organismic awareness knows no past or future, it knows no inside or outside, no self or other.  Thus pure organismic consciousness participates fully in the non-dual awareness called Absolute Subjectivity."
-  Ken Wilber, Spectrum of Consciousness, 1977, p. 115


"It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves."
-  Robert Louis Stevenson


"Don't wear perfume in the garden unless you want to be pollinated by bees."
-  Anne Raver


"Scent is the most potent and bewitching substance in the gardener's repertory and yet it is the most neglected and
least understood.  The faintest waft is sometimes enough to induce feelings of hunger or anticipation, or to transport
you back through time and space to a long-forgotten moment in your childhood.  It can overwhelm you in an instant or simply tease you, creeping into your consciousness slowly and evaporating almost the moment it it detected.  Each fragrance, whether sweet or spicy, light or heavy, comes upon you in its own way and evokes its own emotional response."
-  Stephen Lacey,  Scent in Your Garden, 1991


"Money is like manure.  You have to spread it around or it smells."
-  J. Paul Getty


"There are few pleasures like really burrowing one's nose into sweet peas."
-  Angela Thirkell


"Here comes the time when, vibrating on its stem, every flower fumes like a censer; noises and perfumes circle in the evening air."
-  Charles Baudelaire


"Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring - that delicious commingling of the perfume of arbutus, the odor of pines, and the snow-soaked soil just warming into life."
-  Neltje Blanchan


"Through the open door
A drowsy smell of flowers -
grey heliotrope
And white sweet clover,
and shy mignonette
Comes fairly in, and silent chorus
To the pervading symphony of Peace."
-  John Greenleaf Whittier


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"Earth knows no desolation.  She smells regeneration in the moist breath of decay."
-  George Meredith


"Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.
-   Walt Whitman, Give Me That Splendid Silent Sun, 1819 - 1892 


"The flowers never waste their sweetness on the desert air or, for that matter, on the jungle air.  In fact, they waste it only when nobody except a human being is there to smell it.  It is for the bugs and a few birds, not for men, that they dye their petals or waft their scents."
-  Joseph Wood Krutch


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"The strange thing which I have experienced with flower scents, and indeed with all other scents, is that they only recall pleasant memories."
-  Theodore A. Stephens


"How miraculous that growing on my own little plot of land are plants that can turn the dead soil into a hundred flavors as different as horseradish and thyme, smells ranging from stinkhorn to lavender."
-  John Seymour


"I went out into the garden in the morning dusk,
When sorrow enveloped me like a cloud;
And the breeze brought to my nostril the odor of spices,
As balm of healing for a sick soul."
-  Moses Ibn Ezra,  1060 - 1138


"They walked over the crackling leaves in the garden, between the lines of box, breathing its fragrance of eternity; for this is one of the odors which carry us out of time into the abysses of the unbeginning past; if we ever lived on another
ball of stone than this, it must be that there was box growing on it."
-  Oliver Wendell Holmes


"A wedding is a funeral where you smell your own flowers."
-  Eddie Cantor


"My lilac trees are old and tall;
I cannot reach their bloom at all.
They send their perfume over trees
And roof and streets, to find the bees."
-  Lousie Driscoll,  1875 - 1957,  My Garden Is a Pleasant Place


"Those herbs which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the rest, but, being trodden upon and crushed, are three; that is, burnet, wild thyme and watermints.   Therefore, you are to set whole alleys of them,  to have the pleasure when you walk or tread."
-  Frances Bacon


“Candy is full of taste.  But so is shit, because taste is full of smell.”
-  Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title 


"Fragrance, whether strong or delicate, is a highly subjective matter, and one gardener's perfume is another gardener's stink."
-  Katharine S. White, Onward and Upward in the Garden, 1979


“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.”
-  H.L. Mencken


"The lime trees were in bloom.  But in the early morning only a faint fragrance drifted through the garden, an airy message, an aromatic echo of the dreams during the short summer night."
-  Isak Dinesen


“As soon as I got into the library I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I got a whiff of the leather on all the old books, a smell that got real strong if you picked one of them up and stuck your nose real close to it when you turned the pages. Then there was the the smell of the cloth that covered the brand-new books, books that made a splitting sound when you opened them. Then I could sniff the the paper, that soft, powdery, drowsy smell that comes off the page in little puffs when you're reading something or looking at some pictures, kind of hypnotizing smell."
-  Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy


"A man ought to carry himself in the world as an orange tree would if it could walk up and down in the garden, swinging
perfume from every little censer it holds up in the air."
-  Henry Ward Beecher


“Masculine exhalations are, as a rule, stronger, more vivid, more widely differentiated than those of women.  In the odor of young men there is something elemental, as of fire, storm, and salt sea.  It pulsates with buoyancy and desire. It suggests all the things strong and beautiful and joyous and gives me a sense of physical happiness.”
-  Helen Keller 


“The cup of tea on arrival at a country house is a thing which, as a rule, I particularly enjoy.  I like the crackling logs, the shaded lights, the scent of buttered toast, the general atmosphere of leisured coziness.”
-  P. G. Wodehouse


"O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!"
-  Dinah Mulock Craik 


"That which above all other yields the sweetest smell in the air is the violet."
-  Francis Bacon


"Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived."
-  Helen Keller


"So great is the economy of Nature, that most flowers which are fertilized by crepuscular or nocturnal insects emit their 
odor chiefly or exclusively in the evening."   

-  Charles Darwin


“Tonight I can smell the season the way it's usually only possible to at the very first moments of its return, before you're used to it, when you've forgotten its smell, then there it is back in the air and the flow of things shifting and resettling again.”
-  Ali Smith, The Whole Story and Other Stories


"Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it."
-  Nabokov


"To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat."
-  Beverly Nichols


“When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered...the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls...bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory”
-  Marcel Proust


"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
-  William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


"The most fiendish plant I know of, the sort of thing Beelzebub might pluck to make a bouquet for his mother-in-law ... it looks as if it had been made out of a sow's ear for the spathe, and the tail of a rat that died of Elephantiasis for the spadix.  The whole thing is mingling of unwholesome greens, livid purples, and pallid pinks, the livery of putrescence in fact, and it possesses and odour to match the colouring."
-  E. A. Bowles, My Garden in Spring, 1914
   Speaking about the Dracunculus vulgaris, syn. Arum Dracunculus   (Dragon Arum)

For more suggestions from mAlice about plants that appeal to "Gothic" tastes be sure to visit:
Gothic Gardening:  Something Wicked This Way Grows



"Your nose is the scenter of your face."
-  Anonymous


“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight...”
-  M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating


“I hover over the expensive Scotch and then the Armagnac, but finally settle on a glass of rich red claret. I put it near my nose and nearly pass out. It smells of old houses and aged wood and dark secrets, but also of hard, hot sunshine through ancient shutters and long, wicked afternoons in a four-poster bed.  It's not a wine, it's a life, right there in the glass.”
-  Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World


"May you taste, smell, and touch your dreams of a beautiful tomorrow."
-  Jonathan Lockwood Huie


"The gift of perfume to a flower is a special grace like genius or like beauty, and never becomes common or cheap."   
-  John Burroughs


"Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams."
-  Ashley Smith


“I hope that while so many people are out smelling the flowers, someone is taking the time to plant some.”
-  Herbert Rappaport


"Visualize your end result as having already been accomplished.  Let the image of your success play on the giant screen in full color with surround sound -
so real you can smell and taste it."
-  Jonathan Lockwood Huie


"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." 
-  Margaret Atwood


“To-day I think
Only with scents, - scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot's seed,
And the square mustard field;
Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;
The smoke's smell, too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns.
It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth."
- Edward Thomas, Digging


“Vinegar: that's what fear smells like.”
-  Jennifer Egan,
A Visit from the Goon Squad


"A man has his distinctive personal scent which his wife, his children and his dog can recognize. A crowd has a generalized stink. The public is odorless."
-  W. H. Auden


"Aromatic plants bestow
no spicy fragrance while they grow;
but crush'd or trodden to the ground,
diffuse their balmy sweets around."
-  Oliver Goldsmith


"Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment."
-  Haywood Hale Broun


"Odors have an altogether peculiar force, in affecting us through association; a force differing essentially from that of objects addressing the touch, the taste, the sight or the hearing."
-  Edgar Allen Poe


"All fresh meat is eaten in a state of decay. The process may not have proceeded so far that the dull human nose can discover it, but a carrion bird or a carrion fly can smell it from afar."
-  John Harvey Kellog


"As the sense of smell is so intimately connected with that of taste, it is not surprising that an excessively bad odour should excite wretching or vomitting in some persons."
-  Charles Darwin


"The Qualities then that are in Bodies rightly considered, are of Three sorts:  First, the Bulk, Figure, Number, Situation, and Motion, or Rest of their solid Parts; those are in them, whether we perceive them or no; and when they are of that size, that we can discover them, we have by these an Idea of the thing, as it is in it self, as is plain in artificial things. These I call primary Qualities.  Secondly, The Power that is in any Body, by Reason of its insensible primary Qualities, to operate after a peculiar manner on any of our Senses, and thereby produce in us the different Ideas of several Colours, Sounds, Smells, Tastes, etc. These are usually called sensible Qualities.  Thirdly, The Power that is in any Body, by Reason of the particular Constitution of its primary Qualities, to make such a change in the Bulk, Figure, Texture, and Motion of another Body, as to make it operate on our Senses, differently from what it did before. Thus the Sun has a Power to make Wax white, and Fire to make Lead fluid. These are usually called Powers."
-  John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690 


"Through seven figures come sensations for a man; there is hearing for sounds, sight for the visible, nostril for smell, tongue for pleasant or unpleasant tastes, mouth for speech, body for touch, passages outwards and inwards for hot or cold breath. Through these come knowledge or lack of it."
-  Hippocrates 


“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.  The odors of fruits waft me to my southern home, to my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief.  Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening fields far away.”
-  Helen Keller


“All we have to believe is our senses: the tools we use to perceive the world, our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted.”
-  Neil Gaiman


“The fragrance of white tea is the feeling of existing in the mists that float over waters; the scent of peony is the scent of the absence of negativity: a lack of confusion, doubt, and darkness; to smell a rose is to teach your soul to skip; a nut and a wood together is a walk over fallen Autumn leaves; the touch of jasmine is a night's dream under the nomad's moon.”
-  C. JoyBell


"At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes--an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense."
-  Carl Sagan


"Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have live." 
-  Helen Keller


"Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose."
-  Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin


“Presently, we were aware of an odour gradually coming towards us, something musky, fiery, savoury, mysterious, -- a hot drowsy smell, that lulls the senses, and yet enflames them, -- the truffles were coming.”
-  William Makepeace Thackeray

“The smell of roasting meat together with that of burning fruit wood and dried herbs, as voluptuous as incense in a church, is enough to turn anyone into a budding gastronome.”
-  Claudia Roden

“We plan, we toil, we suffer -- in the hope of what? A camel-load of idol's eyes? The title deeds of Radio City? The empire of Asia?  A trip to the moon? No, no, no, no. Simply to wake up just in time to smell coffee and bacon and eggs. And, again I cry, how rarely it happens! But when it does happen -- then what a moment, what a morning, what a delight!”
-  J. B. Priestley

“Liza poured thick batter from a pitcher onto a soapstone griddle. The hot cakes rose like little hassocks, and small volcanoes formed and erupted on them until they were ready to be turned. A cheerful brown, they were, with tracings of darker brown. And the kitchen was full of the good sweet smell of them.”
-  John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“Much more of Garlick would be used for its wholesomeness, were it not for the offensive smell it gives to the by-Standers.”
-  John Woolridge, 1688

"Heliotrope.  To be sowed in the spring. A delicious flower, but I suspect it must be planted in boxes and kept in the house in the winter. The smell rewards the care."
-  Thomas Jefferson


"You're only here for a short visit.  Don't hurry. Don't worry.  And be sure to smell the flowers along the way."
-  Walter Hagen


The Five Senses       Cloud Hands Blog       The Good Life: Virtues


"Powerful Dreams Inspire Powerful Action.  When you can taste, smell, and touch your dreams, you can enroll the world."
-  Jonathan Lockwood Huie


"Smell the smells, feel the fear, and smile at the incoherent way life runs us in circles while inscribing the real lessons in a corner of the margin."
-  Jonathan Lockwood Huie


"Do the small things of life with a relaxed awareness.  When you are eating, eat totally - chew totally, taste totally, smell totally. Touch your bread, feel the texture.  Smell the bread, smell the flavor.  Chew it, let it dissolve into your being, and remain conscious - and you are meditating.  And then meditation is not separate from life."
-  Osho 


"As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round."
-  Ben Hogan



  1. "To perceive by the olfactory nerves, or organs of smell; to have a sensation of, excited through the nasal organs when affected by the appropriate materials or qualities; to obtain the scent of; as, to smell a rose; to smell perfumes.
  2. To detect or perceive, as if by the sense of smell; to scent out; -- often with out.
  3. To give heed to.
  4. To affect the olfactory nerves; to have an odor or scent; -- often followed by of; as, to smell of smoke, or of musk.
  5. To have a particular tincture or smack of any quality; to savor; as, a report smells of calumny.
  6. To exercise the sense of smell.
  7. To exercise sagacity.
  8. The sense or faculty by which certain qualities of bodies are perceived through the instrumentally of the olfactory nerves. See Sense.
  9. The quality of any thing or substance, or emanation therefrom, which affects the olfactory organs; odor; scent; fragrance; perfume; as, the smell of mint."


"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
-  John Burroughs


"Where there is a stink of shit there is a smell of being."
-  Antonin Artaud


“I emitted some civetlike female stink, a distinct perfume of sexual wanting, that he had followed to find me here in the dark.”
-  Janet Fitch, White Oleander


"It would appear that “the five senses” are a matter of common sense, and yet few experiences are more socially constructed. The fact that we may see, hear, smell, taste, and feel through touch makes it, perhaps, all too difficult to recognize that we experience these sensations in ways that are much more contaminated than they appear to be. For example, every morning I enjoy a cup or two of strong coffee—and not only for a caffeinated jolt to my groggy mind. I genuinely enjoy the total sensual experience of fresh-brewed morning coffee. The taste of coffee incorporates its smell, but the smell of the coffee I drink is quite different from the tantalizing aroma of brewing coffee, a scent that, in fact, seems to awaken my senses. Even though the two aromas are different, I know that the smell of brewing coffee both anticipates and lubricates how I both taste and smell coffee when I drink it. When I am traveling, a morning cup of coffee is not nearly so satisfying and partly because, at a restaurant or gas station, I am usually not seduced by the aroma of the brewing process. The flavor of coffee also includes the feel of hot liquid. In the morning, it has to be hot. I occasionally enjoy iced-coffee, but iced-coffee would never satisfy me in the morning, regardless of environmental temperature. Even the weight and feel of the mug is significant. I find it hard to get a satisfying swig from those dainty, undersized, bourgeois, espresso cups. Conversely, if the mug is too large the coffee is cold before I’m finished. Glass mugs are cute, but they hopelessly fail to insulate and quickly become scolding hot to grasp with my hands. I prefer a mid-size thick ceramic mug. The taste, the smell, the tactile feel of coffee in the morning—no one sensation is distinct from the others—blend into a total sensual experience in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As we will see in chapter three, the same can be said of wine connoisseurs, but upon reflection we can all recognize these same kinds of total sensual experiences in our life, these moments of multisensuality where the experience of one sense cannot be separated from others. Moreover, these experiences are not exactly synesthesia-like either; we merely experience “the five senses” in ways that are not as discrete as “common sense” seems to imply. In fact, in most circumstances, when I seek to specify a sensual experience, I am rarely able to entirely pin it on one mode of sensing. Can you? Can anyone? Indeed if it was possible to precisely characterize sensations and feelings, could poetry continue to exist? Would language not work more like math? Would all of the arts not feel like positive sciences?"
-  Author Source Lost


"If you are possessed by an idea, you will find it expressed everywhere, you even smell it."
-  Thomas Mann


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“The smell of coffee cooking was a reason for growing up, because children were never allowed to have it and nothing haunted the nostrils all the way out to the barn as did the aroma of boiling coffee.”
-  Edna Lewis


“If Leekes you like, but do their smell dis-like,
Eat Onyons, and you shall not smell the Leeke;
If you of Onyons would the scent expell,
Eat Garlicke, that shall drowne the Onyons' smell.”
-  William Kitchiner, The Cook's Oracle


“Of the many smells of Athens two seem to me the most characteristic - that of garlic, bold and deadly like acetylene gas. and that of dust, soft and warm and caressing like tweed.”
-  Evelyn Waugh


"For unknown foods, the nose acts always as a sentinal and cries. 'Who goes there?'"
-  Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin


“As for the garden of mint, the very smell of it alone recovers and refreshes our spirits, as the taste stirs up our appetite for meat,”
-  Pliny




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Smell, Odors, Fragrances


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The Five Senses   Bibliographies, Links, Resources

Ackerman, Diane.  A Natural History of the Senses  New York, Vintage, 1991.  352 pages.  ISBN: 9780679735663.  VSCL. 

Soma, Body-Mind, Somatics, Somaesthetics: Bibliography, Links, Resources







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Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California


The Five Senses

Soma, Body-Mind, Somatics, Somaesthetics

Compiled by Mike Garofalo

This webpage was last modified or updated on February 28, 2015. 

This webpage was first placed on the Internet on April 15, 2013.   

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