Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Incense for Thought

Various Type of Incense Commonly Used
I have always had a love for incense. This  interest might well be cultivated by the fact that I have been raised in a traditional Chinese family who values the practical application of incense. The usage of incense, more often than not, is directed towards worship in modern Chinese society. 


Offerings of such is not unique to the Chinese alone, so to speak, as Catholics and Eastern Orthodox also used incense in their worship. As I have always been fascinated by the smell of incense, I have became one of those who would patronise a incense shop just because I want to take a curious sniff on those newly arrived sandalwood or the oft-abandoned Aloewood.

Well, as I have read quite a number of literature on incense, the use of it only in term of worship might in truth depreciate its value greatly. Incense can be used to alleviate the atmosphere of a totally grumpy room or to impart a sense of familiarity on a newly moved house. Incense, in essence, can be uplifting, relaxing, and cleansing if used correctly.

Let me list down a few of these incenses I have in hand.

  1. Sandalwood
    • Sandalwood is one of the favourite of the Chinese. It is called 'Tan Xiang' and it brings a connotation of cleansing as well as calming in the human psyche. It is called Chandan in Indian. Used primarily to bring on a meditative state, I have always find this incense to be calming and somewhat improves concentration when lit.
    • It articulates our strength of conviction and, also, sandalwood is said to 'cleanse' your immediate area of spiritual 'uncleanliness'.
  2. Aloeswood
    • This is one of those hard to find wood as the supply is dwindling in the wild. termed as 'chen xiang', it reflects the condition of the wood when it is in water, it sinks rather than floats. I am currently lighting this incense when writing this article. There is a lot of Aloeswood incense but my personal favourite has been 'Shui Chen' (Water Aloes). 
    • The smell of Aloes alleviates one into musing ability, offering peace and stability. Often it helps to clear writers block (based on personal experience). It has antiseptic properties, and it helps to clear the air of germs when lit.
  3. Benzoin
    • Benzoin is especially useful if there is an upper lung infection (coughs and flu) as it is anti-inflammatory. Benzoin is commonly used in Chinese version of the 'kemanyan' which is easily available in any good Chinese incense shop. It's available in resinous form (which requires charcoal to burn) and in incense form in which the resin is incorporated into a matrix of compacted wood dust.
    • It's a potent anti-microbial agent. If you house has always had some sort of 'damp' smell to it, chances are some mildews are growing somewhere. This can be remedied by using benzoin incense.
  4. Cinnamon
    • People are always estranged when they see this entry. I even ask a few friends if they have heard of such incense and many just shook their head in disbelief. However, this herbalist tells you that YES, this is an incense.
    • The things it can do is tremendous. besides being an excellent aphrodisiac, it is very good in producing an aroma which imparts confidence together with a tint of courage. Especially useful when self-esteem runs low as this is one of the few uplifting incense.
    • It helps in relieving nervous exhaustion as well.
  5. Frankincense
    • The most commonly known incense from the Bible. It is one of the most potent air purifier which cleanse the surroundings from negativity. Lore has it, if combined with sandalwood, this make a very potent spiritual cleansing blend.
    • Frankincense helps in catarrhal conditions as well. It is useful in bronchitis and especially so in cough and flu. It helps expectoration of the mucus. Also, it quiets the mind thus its use in meditation. It has been reported to slow down breathing and aid concentration. This incense should be used to fight stress in today's modern world.
  6. Myrrh
    • The resin of myrrh is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It can benefits a sore throat, hoarse voice, and catarrhal conditions. Myrrh is expectorant as well.
    • Myrrh is stimulating on the digestive system. It can help to ease flatulence and enhance a jaded appetite.
    • This incense is warming and relaxing and particularly useful in elevating depression and stress.
    • In herbal lore, myrrh is used to heal the cuts and bruises of the soul. It also teaches us to let go instead of clinging when the time is right. Thus, perhaps, it helps in depression as it unburdens from inside rather than just a mere abandonment.
Subsequently, it is a bit unimpressive when incense therapy is not even considered to be a form of therapy in itself. At best it would be termed as 'placebo effect' when it works. It can be considered as an alternative form of aromatherapy as well. As this herbalist sees it, such an old approach couldn't be too wrong and while writing this entry, this herbalist is enjoying its fair share of lit aloewood. Cheers.

4 comments:

Legal Puffs said...

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sumon tripura said...

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sumon tripura said...

Another informative blog… Thank you for sharing it… Best of luck for further endeavor too.

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