For hundreds, maybe thousands, of years, scents have been used to help people heal. Scents are so potent because they directly effect the brain which sends signals and directions to your body.
Whether you take on a more Eastern philosophy based belief, or grew up with the guidance of the bible, scents have been documented as being something that is sacred and powerful. Incense is constantly burned in temples and they brought baby Jesus frankincense and myrrh.
Besides just smelling good, there are actual facts about aromatherapy and how it can assist you. 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).
Burning incense while meditating helps keep your focus on the breath as you can actually smell something. It keeps you aware that you are still here. This can help significantly in the beginning stages of your meditation practice. 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 (as some people tend to fall asleep when they meditate). Incense or any type of scent keeps your concentration, it keeps you grounded.
Let us state for the record that this is a personal opinion of ours, 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 coming from your incense should NOT be black!!! Let us 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 we can assume is not healthy for you. If it is natural the smoke burns a whitish-grey. Remember that.
Sandalwood along with Nag Champa are also really popular, especially for those who practice yoga. 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. Across the world and philosophies, these two powerhouses have always been 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....no wonder they brought this to baby Jesus!
Now let us talk about sage and smudging. The whole We Heal Too team absolutely believes in burning sage! When the energy feels stagnant in a particular space or if negative energy seems to be looming, we reach for our handy dandy bundle of sage to smudge ourselves and the area around us. Smudging = clearing out a space with smoke. Smudging clears out negativity. Scientifically, burning sage releases negative ions which have been said to make one happier! You can also use palo santo wood to smudge. This scent is much lighter and sweeter. It is said that sage gets rid of the negative energy, being more masculine, and palo santo invites the positive energy in, being more feminine. There are plenty more options for you to smudge with such as hummingbird sage, blue sage, copal, cedar, but we will stick to the basics for now.
Easy how to for smudging: 1. Open windows (and doors if possible) 2. Light the bundle and blow it out causing the smoke (some people choose to fan out the flame as not to add their energy to the smudge via their breath aka prana...which is something we will discuss at a later date!) 3. Begin by passing the smoke around you. Starting with your head, chest, arms, hands, torso, legs, and under the feet...everyone forgets to smudge under their feet! 4. Walk to every corner of the room/space/house in a clockwise manner. At this time you can choose to recite prayers, mantras, chants, affirm your protection, or speak your intention ("with this smoke I dispel all negative energies and spirits", etc)
Oils can be used topically to direct affect a targeted area or symptom. For instance, when you have a headache, you can rub lavender oil on your temples and massage your neck or dab some on a washcloth and inhale deeply. When you're feeling sick or have flu-like symptoms, rub yourself down with eucalyptus oil (cut with a carrier oil such as sweet almond or coconut) right after you come out the shower. If you are feeling down or sleepy, take a whiff of peppermint oil or inhale long and deep as you drink some peppermint tea. Your possibilities are literally endless, here.
Well, we are going to wrap it up here. If you have any more questions, please feel free to send us a love note!