What is incense? Good question. Incense are natural materials, typically in the form of bamboo sticks or essential oils, that produce an aroma when burned. Many burn incense during meditation and yoga to calm the mind and, sometimes, for rituals. The process of burning incense dates back thousands of years to when the Egyptians burned dried bouquets that released a pleasant aroma. However, there are so many incenses to choose from, especially for meditation, that it can be difficult to understand how incenses and, in particular, incense sticks benefit meditation and what type of incense to burn.
Below, we look at the benefits of burning incense during meditation and the most popular types of incense and their uses and benefits, so you can make an informed decision when choosing incense.
Sometimes also referred to as fragrance sticks, incense sticks have an array of benefits when meditating. Incense let off calming aromas that help to focus the mind while meditating and can also help to get you in the mindset for meditation through a ritual at the beginning of your session. For instance, many Buddhists, before they begin meditating, position themselves comfortably and light a candle which they then light an incense stick from. This process will help you to focus and clear your mind, ready for meditation. As with all types of routines, the more you practise a ritual before meditating, the more focused you will become as the brain will start to see the lighting of a candle and incense as a signal that you are going to meditate and, therefore, must focus. When first experimenting with incense, try different types to find out what works best for you. Naturally, different people associate different aromas with positivity which will, in turn, help you to meditate.
As well as its general properties, the effects of incense differ depending on what type of incense you burn. For instance, frankincense is thought to relieve stress and anxiety while lavender promotes beauty; rose promotes love, sex and desire; and cinnamon boosts energy levels, lust, and passion.
Below, discover some of our favourite incense and their benefits.
Burning incense sticks is a relatively straightforward and safe task, providing you have the right tools. Take your incense stick of choice from its box, holding the uncoated end of the bamboo. Light the coated end of the stick using a match – wait for a flame – and then extinguish the match and put it somewhere safe, such as on your incense burner, and run it under the tap before disposing of it. If your incense stick has a coating on both ends, you can light either end. You then need to extinguish the flame on your incense so it’s just a glowing ember, which you can do by lightly blowing or fanning the flame. Once you have extinguished the flame, the end of your incense will glow red, which means it’s smouldering, and a wisp of smoke will float into the air. You should then place the stick in an incense burner, which will catch the ash and stop it from falling on your floor, table or window ledge.
Similarly, you can burn incense cones by lighting the tip of the cone, extinguishing the flame, so there is only an ember, and placing the cone on a specially-designed incense cone holder. To burn incense oils, you will need an oil burner. When you have your burner, fill the bowl at the top of the burner with water and add a few drops of oil to the water before placing a lit tea light underneath the bowl. As the water evaporates, scented vapour will fill the room, and you can reap the calming benefits.
There are thousands of types of incense out there in the form of incense sticks, essential oils and incense cones and spirals. Finding the right incense for you can be tricky as every type of incense has different characteristics and benefits. Below, we explore some of our favourite kinds of incense.
As one of the most calming incenses, Frankincense is a popular choice for meditation. If you’re wondering how to burn Frankincense, rest assured it’s as simple as burning any other type of incense and is available as both incense sticks and essential oils. Frankincense promotes calmness and peace and relieves stress and anxiety. You can also use Frankincense for conflict dissipation and resolution.
Tribes have been burning sage for thousands of years, especially in North America. Shamans consider dried white sage a cleansing property; they believe burning dried white sage cleanses your energy field of conflict, anger, illness and evil. Spiritually, burning sage can rid a home of evil spirits, too. Traditionally, dried white sage is bunched together and placed in an abalone shell to smoulder. You can also widely purchase sage incense and essential oils, however, both methods are less traditional.
Who doesn’t love the smell of cinnamon? Cinnamon is a fire associative which means it can be used to deal with fire elements, such as passion and warmth. It is associated with sexual desire and increased energy levels, too. Rather than burning candles during sex, try cinnamon incense sticks.
Traditionally used in funerals, myrrh has many spiritual connections. It is used to promote renewal in life and for purification, including exorcism. To heal, cleanse or open your mind to truth, burn myrrh.
If you’re embarking on a journey of self-discovery or experiencing changes in your life that you don’t understand, you should burn amber incense sticks. Amber has connections to knowledge and history, which makes it the ideal incense if you’re trying to understand a situation or discover yourself. Similarly, you can burn amber when looking to the past in the hope of finding answers or information.
Whether you’re simply seeking to clear your mind after a long and stressful day or you’re on a journey of self-discovery or change, burn incense during meditation to heighten your experience. Additionally, wearing comfortable yoga clothes during meditation or while practising in your yoga class, can significantly improve your concentration and mood overall.