It is believed that people began burning incense in ancient Egypt — possibly even earlier. Incense many different uses ranging from mystical to practical. It makes us think of hippies, Buddhist monks, the Bible, yoga and probably your college dorm room (for a variety of reasons). You may remember the to-do over Giuliana Rancic’s Zendaya patchouli comment.
Aroma is profoundly evocative and just a whiff can trigger vivid memories or completely change your mindset. In fact, a 2008 study found that burning frankincense may have real antidepressant effects. Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal adds: “This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion — burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!
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Of course, there are so many types that it can be pretty hard to figure out what’s the best incense for you and your lifestyle. To start, there are three main types.
• Indirect Burning: This needs a separate heat source to burn so it requires a little more equipment. Frankincense and myrrh are the most well-know examples of indirect burning.
• Direct Burning: The incense is mixed with a combustion agent that allows it to burn itself — like sticks, which require an incense holder, or cones, which need a dish.
• Reed Diffuser: This doesn’t require any heat. It consist of a bottle containing essential oil that bamboo reeds soak up and slowly release into the air for a more subtle vibe.
Once you’ve chosen your method, it’s time to find the best incense for your needs. Obviously air freshening is entirely based on personal taste. A reed diffuser may be the best option since it doesn’t require any burning, thus no smoke and no risk of fire.
If you’re being eaten alive during a cookout or anything else that may involve insects, citronella incense can used as a bug repellant.
For clearing out bad energy, Native Americans have traditionally used sage smudge sticks. Palo Santo, meaning Holy Wood, is a South American scent made from a tree that has cleansing and healing benefits. Frankincense and sandalwood are also used to make way for good vibes.
If you want to enhance your meditation practice try relaxing scents like lavender, sandalwood, patchouli or nag champa. Several different aromas are used in yoga practices for grounding, breath, focus, etc.
Finally, studies have found carcinogens in incense smoke so it’s not something you want to be exposed to 24/7. For the healthiest possible incense burning experience, crack a window and buy high-quality, all-natural products. A few places to start are: Incense Warehouse for a huge selection of everything; Shoyeido for Japanese incense and Auromère for Ayurvedic.