Can your meditative practice use a boost? Burning incense for meditation can help increase the benefits of mediation by helping you stay focused and relaxed. Here is a description of how the most popular types of incense - frankincense, sandalwood, and sage – cleanse negative energy, ease tension, and elevate your meditative state.
“My favorite incense flavors are the more traditional scents: Frankincense, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Amber, Cedar, and Sage,” says Daniel Wyker, President of Between Heaven & Earth Mfg, Makers of Ascent and Ganesha’s Garden Incense. “I also love the many temple masala blends from India, especially some of the durbars and champas. In fact my most favorite incense of all time is a champa incense that my sister bought for me at a small temple in India 12 years ago. I have been searching for it ever since, and it has inspired my quest to produce scents that move people.”
Here, Dan and other “incense experts” reveal their favorite flavors of incense to burn, plus the specific effects of different types of incense.
The Benefits of Burning Incense for Meditation
Incense for meditation and prayer is an ancient tradition. “Incense sticks are a traditional part of our religious rituals,” says freelance writer Vidya Sury, creator of Going A-Musing. “In my home, we burn incense sticks (or joss sticks) of different fragrances. Our favorite flavors of incense are frankincense, sandalwood, roses, lavender, Michelia Champaka and jasmine. In fact, we make pot pourri from champaka petals.”
Frankincense for centering and purifying. “We use pieces of frankincense on hot coals,” says Vidya. “We cover the burning frankincense with a large bamboo basket and spread babies’ clothes on the basket to dry, so the smoke permeates the clothes. After a bath, there’s frankincense in the room to soothe the baby with its gentle wisps of smoke. We dry our long freshly washed hair, holding it over the smoke of frankincense.”
Frankincense for sanctification and cleansing. “Sometimes, if the atmosphere of the house feels ‘heavy,’” says deTraci Regula, author of The Mysteries of Isis: Her Worship & Magick. “I will use a purifying incense – usually Frankincense and/or Myrrh, both of which have ancient origins and are believed to purify and sanctify a space. The Fred Soll company has a pure resin stick incense which combines them both, and that’s my preference.”
Incense for meditation and centering prayer. “Frankincense is the original incense; in fact that’s where the word incense comes from. The effects of burning Frankincense are uplifting, centering and purifying with a warm sweet aroma. It’s one of the best scents for creating a meditative space.”
Both Frankincense and Myrrh are types of incense that have been burned throughout the ages.
Sandalwood for grounding and relaxing. “Sandalwood has been used in incense for at least 4000 years for good reason,” says Dan. “Its effects are both grounding and euphoric promoting a sense of well being and relaxation with a woody, sweet and exotic scent that wraps you in peace and harmony.”
Here is a set of six different types of incense you can burn for meditation: Nag Champa, Sunrise, Sandalwood, Midnight, and Patchouli, and Celestial by Satya. Many people burn incense to relieve stress and tension, because the scent of burning incense doesn’t just affect moods and spaces, it changes them.
Patchouli for balancing emotions. “Supposedly the only substance whose scent arouses most males is that of cinnamon, which is often a component in mixed incenses,” says deTraci. “For women, jasmines and roses scents are supposed to enhance the romantic mood. And 60s hippie favorite patchouli is said to work on both!”
Patchouli to lift your spirits. “Patchouli has a satisfying earthy quality that is great to balance the emotions and help you relax,” says Dan. “At the same time it energizes and uplifts the spirits. As well as contributing to peace of mind, it is a great aphrodisiac. That must be why I like it so much!”
If you’d like to use incense to spice up your love life, you may like Nippon Kodo – Morning Star – Patchouli incense sticks.
Amber for elevation and letting go (helpful in meditation). “Amber is a sweet layered scent, with spicy, earthy rich undertones,” says Dan. “Known as the “King of Scents” it will help you let go of daily concerns and enter the world of sensual arousal or spiritual elevation, depending on the intention.”
Cedar and sage for positive energy. “Cedar and Sage drive out negative energies, spirits and influences,” says Dan. “They have been traditionally used as a smudge to purify people and places before any sacred ceremony. They both help with creating a meditative and relaxing space.”
If you’re thinking about burning incense for mediation and prayer, listen to Vidya’s advice: “The smoke can aggravate or irritate those with respiratory problems and COPD,” she says. “So it is better to avoid lighting an incense stick/cone near someone like that. Some people develop a headache from prolonged exposure to smoke.”
Burning incense isn’t just for mediation and prayer. Incense can can become a ritual for relaxing, cleansing, and purifying your thoughts and energy. And, mediation isn’t just for relaxing! Mediation can help students focus while studying, decrease the stress medical students feel, and make you a more compassionate person.
“Better do a good deed near at home than go far away to burn incense.” ~ Amelia Earhart.
I welcome your thoughts on burning incense for meditation and prayer below…