If you’re anything like me, you enjoy the smell of incense. I particularly enjoy the smell of an incense that’s available locally called “Ocean.” But there are number of more traditional scents, such as sage and sandalwood. And I once read somewhere that the word “incense” is based on the latin term meaning “to burn,” which is kinda cool.
Incense incense burning is usually done in order to produce a particular scent within the surrounding room, but it’s been long associated with the martial arts, religious practices and ceremonies and rituals. In fact, while growing up in the Catholic church I would often attend services with my family where the priest would walk around and “bless” the congregation by shaking a device called a “censer,” which contains burning powdered incense.
Some religions will use burning incense as a way of blessing things, warding off bad spirits or during ritual practices. Most convents and temples of varying faiths will usually have incense burning for one reason or another. Some people burn it within their home just for the pleasant scent (pleasant being a relative term, since my wife tolerates the incense I use but isn’t a huge fan if it).
Is incense a good idea? Like most things in life, there are good and bad aspects to incense burning, especially within one’s home. First of all, let’s agree that burning incense creates smoke. In all cases, breathing in smoke of any kind is never a good idea. This isn’t a new concept; the medical world has been talking about the dangers of smoke inhalation for decades. Ever sit too close to a camp fire? Once the breeze conveniently turns the smoke towards you, breathing easy is the last thing you get to do.
Depending on where you purchase/obtain your incense, they’re mostly made from natural ingredients. This doesn’t mean that it’s any better for you. After all, tobacco and marihuana are natural products but they’re no better for your lungs. But modern incense that you buy at your local retail chain can contain preservatives, chemicals and artificial products that can release carcinogens into the air.
You can Google some research initiatives that were done in the past twenty years. increased levels of incense burning has been linked to certain forms of lung cancer, asthma, tissue inflammation and even rashes. I have no idea how much incense you’d have to burn to be affected by these hazards and ideally, you should be burning incense in a well-ventilated area.
At the end of the day, incense has been around for way longer than we have. Make sure to light and burn it safely, since it is a fire hazard and try not to use it in confined spaces. I have a bad habit of lighting a stick of incense during my workouts in the basement of my home. It’s not so bad when I’m doing forms, but it gets a little hard to breathe when I’m doing something intense like a circuit workout or weights. Actually, that’s kinda what led me to write this post. Burn with care, folks! ☯