Compared to modern incense, traditional Tibetan incense refers to a type made in Tibet and sometimes India by Tibetan refugees, which are known to be more pure than most others. Most modern incenses made nowadays are for commercial purposes, have become less pure and do not follow the original formulation used by Tibetan culture.
The use of Tibetan incense historically dates back to about 3,000 years before the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet. During that time, the Tibetan people were still practicing Bon, the traditional Tibetan religion at that time. The people practicing Bon, especially the priests, had incense as a sign of offering to their deities.
When Buddhism was introduced to the Tibetan civilization, the practice of incense making and burning was integrated into the religion. The Tibetans mastered the production of incense following the Hindu formula, which made use of thirty or more herbal ingredients.
During the attack on the Buddhist civilization by the Muslims, the formulation for making the incense was almost lost. Fortunately, Buddhist monks were successfully able to hide scriptures which included the recipe for creating Tibetan incense. By the year 1959 when China annexed Tibet, many Tibetan dwellers were forced to seek refuge in India. They took the scriptures on incense making, and thus a lot of Tibetan incense makers are refugees in India.
1. Traditional (and cultural) use – for those who are practicing Buddhism, especially those with Tibetan lineage, the use of incense is a part of their tradition and culture. They make use of incense burning as way to appease their deity and their means of sacrifice. The act of burning incense as a means of offering is considered to be an act of selflessness and generosity in their culture.
Also, for Tibetans, the practice of burning incense represents life – a life devoid of concern for worldly things, as well as provides a sense of value back to the soul. The ignition of the incense stick represents life, and the aroma that fills the room represents the beauty of life. As it burns up and turns to ash, this represents death and the thought that all life must come to an end when the day comes.
2. Relaxation and meditation – many who practice yoga and other meditation techniques make use of Tibetan incense to calm the mind. This was a practice of the Tibetan monks as they meditate within the walls of their monastery.
Since the traditional incense from Tibet makes use of herbs and minerals found from the earth, it is devoid of impure properties. The aroma that it has when it is burned produces a calming effect on the human body when inhaled. Thus, the senses are heightened and one is allowed calmness.
Those who practice yoga benefit from this, as it enables them to connect the mind with their body more easily. Thus, allowing them to attain and maintain a relaxed state.
There are different Tibetan incense formulations that are used for relaxation and meditation. The formulations make use of varying numbers of herbs, minerals that are found in Tibet. You may try looking for these formulations through the internet and choose one that suits your preference.
3. Health and alleviation of ailments – even before, the use of healing incense to cleanse the body and heal ailments have been practiced by ancient Tibetans. As written in Tibetan medical books, there are five elements in the universe namely, earth, fire, water, air and space. Among the five elements, four are found within the body as energy. An imbalance between the flows of these elemental energies within the body is believed to be the cause of ailments, according to ancient Tibetan medicine.
The aroma from the Tibetan incense can calm the mind and the body. There are different formulations of Tibetan incense which are found in the scriptures and have been mastered by authentic makers. They have varying uses and effects for health and in curing illnesses.
There are those that are formulated for use upon waking up and help in cleansing impurities within the body. Others are helpful in treating symptoms related to stress. Most of these are being sold nowadays online and would be worth a try, especially if you want to try out alternative medicines that are known to be effective and without impurities. Live Well! Roger Marlow