Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Relax with incense

If you're not allergic to it, incense can be a powerful aid to meditative practice. Here is an excerpt from 1,001 Meditations by Mike George:
In the brain the processing of smell is closely linked with memory retrieval, so that a smell can act as a powerful trigger for a memory and therfore a mood. This makes it possible to prime calm states of mind using certain scents - helpful when preparing for meditation. Perform this exercise for the first time when you are already feeling calm. Sit comfortably, light some incense and close your eyes. As you breathe, focus your awareness on the smell of the incense as it enters your nostrils during each inhalation. Visualize the smell as a beautiful light, flooding your body with liquid calm. Continue for at least five minutes. Perform this exercise at the start of your meditation practice if you are feeling agitated. Not only will it be calming in itself, but it will also trigger memories of the calm that you experienced the first time around.
It's worth it to take the trouble to experiment with different kinds of incense to find the scent that really works for you. You can also light it for just a little time (and then snuff it out) so that the scent is quite subtle. This is often a good plan if the usual amount of incense bothers you.

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