how to meditate with incense - FI

How to Meditate with Incense

There are lots of different ways that you can meditate, but what’s important is that you’re able to calm your mind and focus on the present moment.

By learning how to meditate with incense, you’re discovering a new way to use your senses to keep you anchored in the present moment.

In this article, I’ll show you all about the history, benefits, and even the risks of using incense in your meditation.

The History and Significance of Incense in Meditation

The use of incense in spiritual practices dates back thousands of years. Ancient civilizations across the globe, from Egypt to India, recognized the power of aromatic herbs and resins. 

They used incense in religious ceremonies, healing rituals, and of course, meditation. 

The significance of incense in meditation is profound. The fragrant smoke is believed to purify the environment, calm the mind, and facilitate a deeper state of mindfulness.

how to meditate with incense - A Vietnamese woman drying incense sticks

Types of Incense for Meditation

When it comes to meditating with incense, the type of incense you choose can make a significant difference. There are various types of incense, each with its unique properties and fragrances.

For instance, Sandalwood is known for its calming properties, making it ideal for stress-relief meditations. Lavender, on the other hand, promotes relaxation and peaceful sleep. Frankincense has been used for centuries for its ability to inspire spiritual introspection.

Choosing the right incense for your meditation practice is a personal journey. You might want to experiment with different types to see which ones resonate with you the most.

Preparing for Meditation with Incense

  • Before you begin your incense meditation, it’s important to set up a safe and comfortable space.
  • Choose a quiet, well-ventilated area where you won’t be disturbed. Ensure the room is clean and free from clutter to promote a sense of calm.
  • When it comes to burning incense, safety should be your top priority. Use a proper incense holder or burner and place it on a heat-resistant surface.
  • Keep it away from flammable materials, pets, and children. To light the incense, hold a flame to the tip until it catches fire.
  • Let it burn for a few seconds, then gently blow out the flame. The incense should continue to smolder and release fragrant smoke.
how to meditate with incense - someone lighting incense

Step-by-Step Guide to Meditating with Incense

  1. Prepare Your Space: Clean your meditation area and set up your incense burner with your chosen incense.
  2. Light the Incense: Follow the safety guidelines above to light your incense.
  3. Begin Your Meditation: Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
  4. Focus on the Incense: As you meditate, bring your attention to the scent of the incense. Notice how it fills the room and changes subtly over time.
  5. Return to the Scent: If your mind wanders during your meditation, gently bring your focus back to the scent of the incense.
  6. Close Your Meditation: When you’re ready to end your meditation, take a few moments to sit quietly and enjoy the lingering scent of the incense.

The Benefits of Meditating with Incense

Meditating with incense offers a range of psychological and physical benefits. The aromatic smoke can create a soothing atmosphere, helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation. 

Certain types of incense, such as lavender and sandalwood, have been found to have calming effects on the nervous system.

In addition to these immediate benefits, regular incense meditation can also contribute to long-term mental health. 

A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that frankincense, in particular, can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Incorporating incense into your meditation practice can be a powerful way to enhance your mindfulness and overall well-being. 

Understanding the Risks of Meditating with Incense

While the use of incense in meditation can provide a calming and immersive experience, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential health risks associated with incense smoke. 

Recent research suggests that exposure to incense smoke may have adverse effects on health.

  • A study conducted in 2021 found that inhalation of incense smoke led to damage to the bronchial epithelial barrier in the lungs of mice. This suggests that incense smoke could potentially harm the respiratory system. 
  • Another review published in the Journal of Inflammation Research in the same year noted that incense smoke could lead to various adverse effects, including eye irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, asthma, and nose and throat irritation. 
  • There’s also a potential risk of increased susceptibility to respiratory problems, cardiovascular conditions, cancer, and neuropsychological conditions.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also highlighted the potential health risks of burning incense. According to the EPA, exposure to incense smoke can increase the risk of asthma, contact dermatitis, and cancer.

While these findings are significant, it’s important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the health implications of incense smoke. 

In the meantime, it’s advisable to use incense responsibly, ensuring good ventilation in your meditation space, and limiting exposure where possible.

Tips for Meditating with Incense

Meditating with incense can be a transformative experience, adding a new sensory dimension to your practice. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your incense meditation:

Choose the Right Incense

Different types of incense have different properties. For example, sandalwood is known for its calming effects, while frankincense can help promote clarity and focus. Experiment with different types to find the one that resonates with you.

Create a Safe Space

Ensure your meditation space is well-ventilated and free from flammable materials. Always use a proper incense holder and place it on a heat-resistant surface. There are respiratory and motor development risks to children, so avoid having children near while using incense.

Focus on the Scent

As you meditate, bring your attention to the scent of the incense. Notice how it fills the room and changes subtly over time. If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to the scent. The incense doesn’t have to be directly next to you as the scent is often powerful.

Use incense sparingly

Consistency is key to meditation, but avoid using incense too often. Try incense no more than once a day.

Listen to Your Body

If you notice any discomfort or adverse reactions when using incense, such as eye or throat irritation, stop using it and consult a healthcare professional.

The Takeaway

We’ve explored the history and significance of incense in meditation, the different types of incense you can use, and how to incorporate incense into your meditation practice. 

We’ve also discussed the benefits of meditating with incense and important safety considerations.

Meditating with incense can be a transformative experience, adding a new sensory dimension to your practice. So, why not light an incense stick during your next meditation session and see how it enhances your mindfulness journey?

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.


Meditating with incense involves incorporating the scent of the incense into your mindfulness practice. After lighting the incense, focus on the scent as you meditate. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the aroma of the incense.

Meditating with incense can enhance your meditation experience, but it shouldn’t be used more than once a day in case of detrimental health effects. The scent of the incense can help create a calming atmosphere, making it easier to achieve a state of deep relaxation and focus.

People use incense for meditation to create a serene and calming environment. The scent of incense can help focus the mind and deepen the meditation experience. Additionally, certain types of incense are believed to have specific benefits, such as promoting relaxation or clarity.

When using incense, it’s important to handle it respectfully and safely. Always use a proper incense holder or burner and place it on a heat-resistant surface. Never leave burning incense unattended, and always ensure the area is well-ventilated.

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