Should I Burn Incense When I Meditate? 

Incense is the perfect companion for meditation. It quiets the mind and increases concentration. 

Burning incense during meditation engages our sense of smell and enhances the session.

With each breath, the restorative powers of diffused oil or burning incense signal your body and brain to clear and calm.

There are dozens of choices of incense sticks for meditation.

Each scent has different uses. Some, like eucalyptus or lemon, clear the mind, and some, like lavender, calm the body. Which therapeutic scent you use depends in large part on the meditative purpose. 

Multiple studies have found that certain scents can relax the body, reduce anxiety and lower the heart rate.

Common calming incense includes:

  • Jasmine
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Sandalwood
  • Lavender


Lavender’s aromatic essence offers therapeutic benefits, reducing stress and anxiety for an enhanced meditation experience. Its historical use across cultures symbolizes purity and tranquility. The science behind lavender reveals compounds like linalool and linalyl acetate that calm the nervous system, aligning with meditation goals.

Nippon Kodo’s Morning Star incense, loved worldwide since the 1960s, brings top-quality fragrances for meditation and relaxation. With no bamboo core, it ensures a pure scent experience. The pack includes 200 Lavender incense sticks and a small ceramic holder, offering 25 minutes of soothing fragrance each.

Our Lavender Oil is pure and natural, rigorously tested for quality. It comes in a UV-protected glass bottle with a dropper for precise use. Blends well with Basil, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Tea Tree.


Sandalwood oil, extracted from the tree’s heartwood, contains santalol, a key compound linked to therapeutic effects on mood and cognition. Scientific studies indicate that inhaling sandalwood fragrance can have a calming neurological effect, influencing brain waves and promoting relaxation, making it suitable for meditation.

Discover Bless International’s hand-rolled Sandalwood incense cones, soaked for 48 hours. Each cone burns for 20-30 mins, filling a room with fragrance for up to 24 hours. Freshly made upon order, it comes with an exclusive eBook, “Health Rich Wealth Rich.”

Indulge in our top-quality 8oz Premium Sandalwood Essential Oil. Perfect for aromatherapy, it boasts a fresh, soothing aroma. Bottled in the USA, it comes with dedicated customer service. Trust Oil of Youth for satisfaction – contact us for a free replacement or refund if needed.

Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang essential oil, from the Cananga odorata tree’s flowers, contains linalool and benzyl acetate, contributing to therapeutic effects on mood. Scientific studies propose that inhaling Ylang Ylang aroma influences the limbic system, aligning with meditation goals of emotional balance and mental clarity.


And while there are many effective aromatherapies, lavender is probably the most well-known calming scent.

Studies show that it can help combat mild insomnia, reduce anxiety, and even ease the symptoms of post-partum depression.

How do we choose the best type of incense for meditation? 

An incense stick should be both fragrant and healthy. So, look for quality incense with natural ingredients. 

Incense is best made from a natural material. While most will have a bamboo core covered in quality oil, the highest quality solid incense sticks are made of pure rolled plant material.

These types are known as the Japanese style of incense. 

In India, many contemporary sticks are made of a masala-type paste of aromatic oil, plant base, and honey. 

Unfortunately, the least healthy have charcoal or unwanted petroleum products.

1. Burning Incense

Another decision is how to burn the incense effectively for your unique space.

Essentially, there are also two methods of incense burning:

  • direct
  • indirect

The direct method involves lighting an incense stick to release its fragrant smoke. The indirect way externally heats the oil or resin — releasing the smoke and scent.

Pure herbal incense burns cleaner with a whiter smoke. These incense stick types provide a delicate fragrance suitable for meditation. 

Tibetan-styled incense sticks tend to be larger, thicker, and smokey. Many are pungent, which can be overpowering in smaller spaces. 

In addition to smoke, another thing to look for in an incense stick is the amount of residue it leaves as it burns. Smoke and oil or chemical residue are factors in both incense burning styles.

2. Incense Holders

Another decision to make is where you will burn your incense. There are burners and holders of all shapes, sizes, and materials. 

For sticks, the most common is the long wooden boat, which holds a burning incense stick horizontally. Another type is a simple bowl with sand – leaving room for three sticks. 

There are many burners for incense cones, from a simple plate to creative clay work.

And for scented bricks, a small candle warms a brick of fragranced resin during the meditative session. Each choice has pros and cons, including space, intensity, and cost.

Once a method and style of incense are chosen, the fragrance is the next step to consider.

Is it good to meditate with incense?

Meditating with incense can be a pleasant way to enhance your meditation experience. You may find this approach particularly useful if you use scents that are believed to help promote relaxation, such as lavender and sage.

Benefits of Meditating With Incense

Proponents of incense suggest that it can produce a number of beneficial effects, especially when combined with other mind-body practices such as meditation. Some of these possible effects include:

  • Easing stress
  • Improving concentration while meditating
  • Improving mindfulness
  • Invoking pleasant memories
  • Promoting relaxation

While incense is often used in meditative and spiritual practices, there is not a great deal of research on the impact and potential benefits of this form of aromatherapy. Research has shown that scent can be a powerful cue for triggering memories.1 An incense scent that reminds you of a pleasant, relaxing, or joyful memory may help evoke those feelings in the present. 

In one older animal study, researchers found that a substance found in frankincense had psychoactive effects in mice. The substance created a response similar to that of an antidepressant in areas of the brain associated with depression and anxiety.2

Frankincense and myrrh also contain compounds that can produce an anti-inflammatory effect in mice.3 Such research suggests that the components of incense might be beneficial, but this does not necessarily mean that incense smoke may produce those same effects in humans.

Potential Risks of Meditating With Incense

While incense is a popular daily activity in many parts of the world, research suggests that it is not without health risks. While more research is needed, some evidence suggests that incense smoke and its constituents can be harmful to health.

  • A 2021 experimental study found that inhalation of incense smoke led to damage to the bronchial epithelial barrier in the lungs of mice.4
  • A 2021 review published in the Journal of Inflammation Research noted that incense has adverse effects that arise that stem from inhaling incense smoke.5

Potential adverse effects that may be connected to contact with incense smoke include eye irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, asthma, and nose and throat irritation. It may also contribute to an increased risk for respiratory problems, cardiovascular conditions, cancer, and neuropsychological conditions.5

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that burning incense can be detrimental to health and increases the risk of asthma, contact dermatitis, and cancer.6

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