If you’re in a hurry and just want to know which incense would be the best for meditation, then I would recommend,NAQSH incense cones, as your best choice.
Many different religions have used incense over the centuries as part of their practice. From ancient Egyptian civilizations to modern day New Age movements, incense is an accessible way to incorporate calmness and reflection into prayers and devotions.
While the approach might be different from one belief system to the next, incense itself is neutral. Burning incense can be a religious or secular practice and there’s no one right way to choose the best incense for meditation. It’s all about finding what works best for you.
In this article, I am going to share what I have found to be the best incense to burn during meditation.
My Top 5 List Of The Best Incense For Meditation
In the early years of human life, “smell and emotion are stored as one memory,” and through age ten the smells they love and which ones they despise are determined.
So take these suggestions with a grain of salt. A scent can relax one person and make another one feel invigorated or agitated.
If you dislike a particular scent or find it to be ineffective during your meditation practice, try different ones until you find the one(s) you like most.
1. Best Budget Value: Satya Meditation Incense Stick
Quantity: 144 sticks
Length: about 9 inches
Approximate burn time: 30 minutes
Satya’s Meditation Incense is a familiar fragrance blend of frankincense, myrrh, and copal that reminds people of sacred religious ceremonies and temple visits.
Woody, resinous, and sweet scents are primary with secondary floral and herbal notes. Copal’s citrus and pine notes help lift a person’s mood and increase alertness.
Overall, the Meditation fragrance blend purifies the air and relaxes the mind and body while alleviating stress and body tension.
Although Satya fragrance oils are nature-based, these incense sticks were not made with 100% essential oils, which may or may not be a deal-breaker for you. They are instead made with fragrance oils, usually a combination of natural and synthetic fragrances.
Many customers are pleased with this brand and the sticks are known to burn well. As they are masala incense sticks, each one was rolled by hand around a bamboo wood core.
- Best value for the cost
- Slow, steady burn
- Familiar, relaxing fragrance
- Stronger fragrance
- Formula includes fragrance oils
2. Best For Shorter Meditations: NAQSH Incense Cone Assortment
Quantity: 120 cones total
Height: up to 1.5 inches tall each
Approximate burn time: 15 minutes
Since incense cones are compressed ingredients, they burn in less time. But this is perfect for those who are new to meditation or simply prefer shorter meditation periods of fifteen to twenty minutes.
This NAQSH standard cone assortment includes ten cones each of twelve soothing scents. Some examples include:
Lotus – aids in mental clarity and helps a person generate creative thoughts, increase productivity.
Benzoin – a sweet, earthy scent for releasing emotions like anger and sadness while opening up the heart to new possibilities.
Patchouli – a distinctive scent to relieve stress and anxious thoughts, helping a person sink into their meditative practice.
Additional scents include sandal, nag champa, frankincense and myrrh, opium, lavender, vanilla, palo santo, and more. Each scent was chosen to help make meditative practice feel peaceful and relaxing and for individuals to walk away from their practice feeling more positive and balanced.
The company states that they only use resins, flowers, woods, and essential oils in their incense paste, which is then shaped by hand.
NAQSH also offers a set of ten backflow incense cones in an assortment of floral fragrances.
- Small metal burner included
- Many fragrance selections
- No additives or toxins
- No fragrance oils
- Scent lingers for at least a day
- Great timing for short meditations
- More potent than some might like
- You may not like every scent
- Some people find burning them to be tricky
3. Best Quality: Shoyeido Beckoning Spring Premium Incense Sticks
Quantity: 35 sticks
Length: 7 inches
Approximate burn time: 40 minutes
Beckoning Spring, or Shun-You is a premium fragrance blend by Shoyeido that can help meditation feel more tranquil and abundant. Its scent and light smoke can lull a person into a transient state that leaves them relaxed, yet revived with a clear mind and inexplicable peace.
Experience the mildness of clove, patchouli, and camphor mingling with all of the senses. Camphor opens the mind and banishes fear. The smell of clove brings warmth and noticeable relief, helping to improve blood flow and stimulate the brain. Creamy sandalwood and complexly sweet aloeswood ground the fragrances that are also peppered with additional spices.
In keeping with traditional Japanese incense sticks, Beckoning Spring does not have a wooden core. Their incense paste is made by hand using 100% natural raw ingredients, and then pressed out as moist sticks that are further refined by hand before drying and packaging.
Japanese incense is often described as sophisticated due to its softer aromas. And Shoyeido’s premium incense line is even more exquisite. Similar to wine, this premium scent only gets better as it ages.
- Premium incense from Japan
- Lighter, more delicate scent
- Scent ages well over time
- Completely raw ingredients
- No artificial fragrances
- Scent lingers for hours after burning
- A bit more expensive
4. Best Value For Indirect Burning: HEM Resin Incense Variety Pack
Quantity: 150g total (30g per box)
Sizes: Various pea-sized pieces
Approximate burn time: Varies by amount used
For resin incense assortments, this is a really good deal. Thirty grams each of five types of boxed resin: dragon’s blood, copal, benzoin, frankincense, and myrrh.
A versatile set, you can use a small amount of resin or increase the amount to your liking. There’s also the possibility of warming more than one scent to create calming combinations that feel the best to you.
Since resins are not made with combustible ingredients, they must be warmed indirectly. Usually this involves placing a smoldering charcoal tab inside an incense burner, and then placing resin chunks on top of the charcoal.
An alternative would be to place unscented oil and crushed pieces of resin in an oil diffuser for them to release fragrance that way. With this option, the scent typically lasts longer, and it is more subtle. This is also a great smoke-less alternative for individuals with respiratory health conditions.
Aromatic benzoin smells like vanilla musk that calms and cleanses the air during meditative rituals. Copal is a lighter musk that also has hints of sweet lemony citrus and pine. It smells clean and refreshing and offers clarity.
Dragon’s blood helps replenish energy and lifts moods, battling depressive and anxious thoughts. There’s a long list of benefits to warming frankincense and myrrh. Ultimately they can enhance meditations by promoting deep relaxation, cleansing, and combating depression and anxiety.
When using resin, it is best to set up your space ahead of time because it can take a little longer for the scent to be released. So warming the resin five to ten minutes before you begin meditation is ideal.
Also keep in mind that it’s an organic substance that might change in appearance over time.
- Ethically sourced natural tree sap
- Can experiment and combine fragrances
- Helps relieve stress and anxiety and improve focus
- Nice variety
- Comes with steel mesh holder
- Requires additional accessories to burn
- Charcoal can produce more smoke
- You may not like all of the scents
5. Best Floral Scents: Nippon Kodo Hana-no-Hana Assorted Incense Sticks
Quantity: 30 sticks
Length: 3 ¾ inches
Approximate burn time: 10 minutes
Hana-no-Hana is perfect for those who prefer floral scents to earthy or resinous ones. You might be surprised to learn that this fresh floral set was created back in 1911. Timeless and delicate, they’re still enjoyed in homes worldwide in present day.
Nippon Kodo suggests lighting Hana-no-Hana prior to meditation or guest arrival so that the scent can permeate the room and individuals can linger in the fragrance that remains after the incense stick has burned. Created with depth and complexity, the lingering fragrance, or nokoriga, was designed to last longer than most other incense sticks.
A lot of Japanese incense smells more woody than floral, but this assortment is an exception.
Included fragrances are:
Rose – like blooms freshly cut from the garden with a spicy top note, woody musk base notes, and vanilla essence combined with rose in the middle.
Lily – more mellow than sweet but lovely nonetheless; lily notes are sandwiched between leafy green top notes and a woody musk bottom note.
Violet – most intense of the bunch but still delicate and sweet with powdery violet as the top note, more florals in the middle, all grounded with sandalwood and musk.
There are ten sticks of each fragrance. Since these are short sticks, they also complement shorter meditative periods if you prefer to have the incense lit during practice.
Hana-no-Hana’s historical blend still has a modern charm. In terms of meditation, rose is calming and helps balance emotions. Violet relieves stress and reduces anxiety levels while lily helps lift a person’s mood. They can all help a person relax and enjoy their meditation.
- Includes a ceramic incense burner
- Three floral fragrances to try
- Lingering scents
- Clean burning
- Packaged for gifting
- A little pricey
- Not for those who dislike floral scents
- Not for those looking for singular floral scents
Thoughts About The Sense of Smell & Incense
The way that we process scent is unique in comparison to all of our other senses. With sight, touch, hearing, and taste, sensory signals are sent directly to the thalamus structure located in the center of the brain. Then signals are sent to the front of the brain where we reason, recall memories, consider thoughts, use language, and so forth.
What’s different about our sense of smell is that it takes an alternate path. When we smell something, signals are sent directly to the amygdala and hippocampus before reaching the thalamus.
The amygdala processes our most basic emotions – whether positive or negative. The hippocampus forms and stores memories of things that have happened to us. It connects our memories to our senses. Like when we smell cherry blossoms and immediately think of spring.
Together, the thalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus, are part of the limbic system, which plays a big role in how we go about regulating and responding to stress and emotions.
It’s a complex process but scent has such a big influence in our lives and smelling certain fragrances while meditating can truly help a person de-stress and feel more relaxed.
Basically, the nerves involved with our sense of smell are linked to the emotional center of the brain.
And this is why burning incense can be so impactful. The aromas can sear new memories into the brain, helping to change or heal a person from the inside out.
Advantages of Smelling Aromas During Meditation
From strengthening the immune system to simply enhancing a person’s mood, meditation brings many advantages.
Adding incense into the mix, amplifies those benefits. The fragrances that rise from burning incense can help a person feel more relaxed and calm, less anxious, more focused, and more in touch with self.
For instance researchers have found that ylang ylang helps people feel more relaxed and so can the smell of orange essence. Citrus aromas can generate positivity and reduce anxiety. Lavender is calming and helps reduce stress. Orange and lavender combined does both – improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Magnolia flower deepens concentration and jasmine can help a person feel more at ease. And although sandalwood is soothing and relaxing, researchers found that it can also lead to improved productivity.
Food smells tend to reduce a person’s attention, so I would stay away from incense that is fruity (like strawberry or cherry), or ones that are richer (like chocolate, almond, or coffee) while meditating.
There are many positive ways that the mind and body respond to fragrances. These studies are mostly about essential oils, so finding incense that is made with natural raw materials would likely be most helpful.
How To Choose The Best Incense for Meditation
Since there is such a strong connection between a person’s mental state and their response to smell, I would suggest starting with a scent that you already know that you will like.
There is no right fragrance, but you do want to choose one that helps you feel relaxed as you meditate. If there are positive memories attached to that scent, then even better.
Duration Of Meditation Practice & Incense Format
Next I would suggest that you think about how long you usually meditate because the duration of your meditation practice influences the kind of incense you might want to use.
Do you prefer incense cones, sticks, coils, resin, or a different type of incense? Cones typically burn for a shorter period of time, which works well if you meditate for fifteen minutes or so.
Some incense sticks can burn for up to an hour, but the shortest amount of time is usually thirty minutes per stick. Incense coils burn for two or more hours, so I did not review any here, but if you plan to meditate for that long, Shoyeido’s River Path coils are a good pick.
Resins have the greatest variance in time because you can choose the number of rocks to indirectly heat up based on the amount of time you plan to meditate.
Another thing to consider is whether your meditation practice involves a visual stimulus. For some, watching smoke drifting in the air can be as contemplative as sound or smell.
How To Safely Burn Incense for Meditation
To safely burn incense, always use the appropriate holders on a fireproof surface and never leave burning incense unattended.
If you have a medical condition that is agitated by smoke, then you might want to consider alternatives. For you, heating resins in an oil diffuser as described above can be a solution. Otherwise, essential oils might be the better option.
Individuals who are pregnant or have a pre-existing cardiovascular health condition should speak with a doctor before burning incense because certain fragrances can cause complications.
Personally, I have a short attention span, so if I were placing a new order today, I would begin with the NAQSH incense cones for shorter meditations. Then I would transition to the resin assortment by HEM because I would be able to gradually increase the length of my meditation practice.
Always choose a fragrance that makes you feel good and keep in mind how long you plan to meditate because that will help determine what kind of incense to use. Try to enjoy the process of finding the best incense for your meditation practice.
When you are ready, you can always try a new fragrance to see how it makes you feel as you meditate.