Incense has been used for centuries in religious ceremonies and for meditation. Incense smoke is said to purify the air and help the mind and body to relax and focus. Incense comes in many different fragrances, each with its own unique benefits.
In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know regarding enhancing your meditative practices using incense, covering all the bases. Let’s get into it.
What is Incense?
Incense is the name given to a substance that is burned with the goal of producing a fragrant smell.
Nowadays, this usually refers to cones or sticks made from powder that has been infused with aromatic ingredients, the smells of which are released when burned at high temperatures.
Some of the most common ingredients used in incense include wood, herbs, spices, and resins, and it really depends on the type of incense and what benefits it can offer.
Why is Incense Great for Meditation?
Incense smells good and can be used for many reasons, including to improve focus, reduce stress, create a relaxing and calming atmosphere or environment, and even for health benefits, such as unblocking sinuses.
This is why incense can be so effective when used within meditation practice.
For starters, the fragrant smell of the incense can help to relax and focus the mind. The smoke from the incense also purifies the air and helps to cleanse the body and mind.
As we’ll get into shortly, different fragrances offer different benefits, so it’s really down to personal preference as to which type of incense you choose to use.
That’s also why choosing a type of incense that works for you is important.
How to Meditate Using Incense
While you can use incense however you like in the way that best suits your individual practice, there is a straightforward way to enhance your practice.
This is usually going to be your go-to method, especially when you’re just starting out, but feel free to mix things up as you become more experienced and want to take your practice in the direction you want.
Let’s break it down.
- Get into your usual, comfortable meditation position or posture and relax. Light your incense stick and place it securely in a holder, so there’s no risk of it falling over or being knocked by anything.
- Sit comfortably and tune into the scented smoke that is rising up and dissipating into the air in front of you. Let your eyes close naturally if you want to focus on the scent. Or, if you prefer, keep them open and fix your gaze on the tip of the incense stick. Let yourself become almost hypnotized by the random trails and patterns of smoke coming from the end.
- Allow yourself to be consumed by the scent of the incense, letting it fill your senses and clear your mind. If any thoughts do enter your head, simply let them drift away with the smoke in front of you.
- Using this approach, try to stay as present as possible, and enjoy being in the moment. Realize that you have no control over the smoke, the trails, or the smell, yet it’s still a gorgeous and simple display that you get to experience. Allow this kind of realization to wash over all aspects of your existence.
You can follow through with this practice as long as you like.
10 – 20 minutes is the ideal time to get the most benefits, but if you’re just starting out and building up your practice and habits, five minutes is fine too.
If you want to sit for longer, perhaps even for the entire incense stick to burn (see also ‘How Many Incense Sticks to Burn for Good Luck?‘), you can do that too.
Through regular practice, you’ll be able to extend your focus for much longer periods of time.
Try and make sure you’re practicing every day and mixing up the scents, strengths, and types of incense to keep things as fresh as possible for the best chance to remain focused and present.
Preferred Forms of Incense
There are many different types of incense available on the market, and it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out which one is best for you. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular types:
- Sticks: These are the most common type of incense, and they’re made from various materials, including bamboo, wood, and charcoal. They’re usually quite thin and long and come in various fragrances.
- Cones: Cones are very similar to sticks but are generally shorter and wider. They’re made using the same materials as sticks, so you can expect to find the same range of fragrances.
- Powders: Incense powder is made by grinding up different herbs, spices, and resins. It’s then mixed with water or oil to create a paste that can be burned on charcoal blocks or in special burners.
Benefits of Meditating with Incense
There are many benefits to meditating with incense, and it’s important to bear these in mind. Different fragrances offer these benefits to different degrees, so if there’s a certain aspect of your practice you want to improve, feel free to zero down on it!
- Easing stress: Incense can help to relax the body and mind, which can help reduce stress levels.
- Improving focus and concentration: The act of focusing on the scent of the incense can help to improve focus and concentration.
- Mindfulness: Incense can help to improve mindfulness as it allows you to focus on the present moment.
- Relaxation: Incense can help to create a more relaxed environment, both physically and mentally.
Types of Incense and Their Scents
There are many different types of incense available on the market, each with its own unique scent.
Here are some of the most popular scents:
- Lavender: Lavender incense has a calming and relaxing scent that can help to ease stress and anxiety.
- Jasmine: Jasmine incense has a sweet and floral scent that can help to boost mood and energy levels.
- Patchouli: Patchouli incense has a woody and musky scent that can help to create a more grounding and centering experience.
- Nag Champa: Nag Champa incense has a sweet and earthy scent that promotes relaxation.
- Sandalwood: Sandalwood incense has a woody and sweet scent that can help to improve focus and concentration.
- Ylang-ylang: Ylang-ylang incense has a sweet and floral scent that can help to boost mood and energy levels.
Tips for Meditating with Incense
Here are some tips for meditating with incense:
- Start with one stick: When you first start out, it’s best to use just one stick of incense. This will help to reduce the risk of any health problems.
- Use different scents: Try out different scents of incense until you find the ones you enjoy the most.
- Keep away from children and babies: Incense should always be kept away from children and babies as it can be harmful to their health. This may seem like common sense, but remember that you might have your eyes closed for long periods, so be aware and take precautions to ensure there are no accidents!
At the end of the day, when it comes to meditating with incense, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just find what works best for you and go with it! Experiment with different types of incense and see how they affect your meditation practice.
And don’t forget to take some time to relax and enjoy the experience! Meditating with incense can be incredibly rewarding, and there’s no doubt it is one of the most unique yet powerful ways to dive into your spiritual practice.
Open your mind and see what it can do for you!