Scent has always been a part of my life. I remember my grandmother’s house always smelling like herbs, garlic and lemon/lime. I remember the smell of freshly dried peppermint and/or spirit weed (its a Caribbean thing) being boiled in the morning. I also remember being rubbed down with all types of herbs or herbal ointments when I was ill as a child. Scents have always been a part of my life, I didn’t really pay close attention until I got older….especially when I moved out on my own.
I personally use scents to assist me in whatever I need for a particular moment (whether I need to calm down or pep myself up). For instance, when I have a headache I rub lavender oil on my temples and massage my neck. When I’m feeling sick or have flu-like symptoms I rub myself down with eucalyptus oil.
I happen to use everything. Im my collection are numerous oils, various incense, and actual herbs/wood such as sage and palo santo.
Besides just smelling good, there are actual facts about aromatherapy. Aromatherapy works because the scents in the oils/smoke stimulates the olfactory system in the brain which is connected to smell. The limbic system is then activated and causes chemicals to be released that can make you relaxed, more calm, or invigorated. Besides the major use of calming or sedating, oils can also be used to catalyze action such as promoting sweat and muscular contractions (which is why pregnant women need to be careful as to what oils they use as they can commence uterine contractions).
I have been using incense and other forms of scents a lot more ever since I begin my spiritual journey. I first began burning incense when I started practicing yoga and meditation. For me, I feel as though burning incense while I meditate helps me focus on my breathing as I am actually breathing something in. It keeps me aware that I am still here. That helped me a great deal in the beginning stages. Everyone always tells you to focus on your breath when meditating, but when you don’t know what you’re doing at first, it is very easy to “lose” your breath and drift off. Incense or any type of scent keeps your concentration.
Let me state for the record, NO ONE CAN HAVE INCENSE BURNING AND BE UPSET! It just doesn’t make sense! Haha. No seriously though, being mad + burning incense just does not go together.
Any who, more about incense. First off, the smoke should
NOT be black!!! Let me repeat, your incense smoke SHOULD NOT BE BLACK! If it is black, then your incense is probably filled with a whole bunch of fake scents and other ingredients that I can suppose is not healthy for you. If it is natural the smoke burns a whitish-grey. Remember that.
Some of my favorite things to burn are sage, sandalwood, nag champa, frankincense, myrhh, and most recently copal.
I always have a sage bundle in my home. When I feel like the energy is stagnant in my home or if I experience negative energy, I smudge my space and myself. Smudging = clearing out a space with smoke. Smudging clears out negativity. Usually I open windows, light the bundle and blow it out causing the smoke, then I walk to every corner of the house in a clockwise manner. Scientifically, burning sage releases negative ions which have been said to make one happier!
Sandalwood along with Nag Champa are my regulars. Sandalwood is a go-to for Buddhists. It promotes relaxation and grounding. It is very calming and can treat depression and anxiety. Sandalwood is also said to open the third eye. Nag champa also contains sandalwood and other pure flowers, resins and oils. It is also used to encourage calmness. Some have even added enhanced meditation to its attributes.
Frankincense and Myrhh have been known since the beginning of time. If you are familiar with the bible then you know that frankincense and myrrh are mentioned. Scientifically there are phytochemicals in frankincense which effect the cerebral cortex and the limbic systems. It calms the nervous system and it may expand consciousness and add more awareness to one’s meditation. Myrrh, besides smelling amazing, also has many scientific benefits. It is antimicrobial, astringent, anti fungal, stimulant, diaphoretic, antiseptic, immune booster, circulatory, tonic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic.
Copal is something I was just introduced to a couple of months ago. I was at a wedding and someone was burning it. I fell in love with the smell and had to get some. I purchased 100% copal resin incense. You can actually hear it sizzle when you burn it. Copal is said to bring in the atmosphere of purification and love. It was primarily used in rituals by the Mayan and Aztec people for purification, consecration, and “offerings to gods”. I just use it because my spirit seems to enjoy it.