Tamara’s personal experience:
- During the incense burning, I felt an openness of the mind and a sense of connection with my surroundings at the time
- I found that the different scents gave me different thoughts, perspectives and reactions
- The more natural and perhaps subtle smells definitely gave me a sense of peace and tranquillity while the more harsh smells did not give me that same sense of connection with my surroundings and nature
- Different scents made me tune in to my surroundings more and take note of things such as birds and other sounds
- Overall, I can understand why incense has such a strong history in religion and social contexts as I too felt a sense of connection and peace that is often associated with religion and notions of a higher order
Ruth’s personal experience
When we lit the first incense stick it was quite a nice scent, it was the pure agarwood. Personally, I’m not much of a ‘scent’ focused person. I don’t really use many candles and have only seen incense in those spiritual shops or in certain restaurants. I did like it; I felt it was very relaxing. The second stick (sandalwood) was quite similar, It smelt natural. The third, which was chakras, I didn’t find it as nice as the others. It smelt a little soapy and unnatural and much stronger than the other ones. We were unsure if it was a traditional scent from India and we have this certain idea of what they should smell like or if it might have been an adapted one for less traditional consumers. For the last stick of incense, we were completely silent. This made the experience very calming as we were also outside on the grass and in the sun. It was very pleasant. Although it was nice, I probably wouldn’t do it often or every day like some people do however it is understandable of how there are spiritual and mental to the act.
Sophie’s personal experience
I’ve used incense before, for the most obvious reason – fragrancing an area or space. But I hadn’t ever experienced a feeling of calm. Most of the time, I put incense on and leave the room. However, burning incense in the outdoors made me more aware of my surroundings and immediately, I felt at ease. Proving my research to be correct. The differing scents had unparalleled effects. Some were so strong that my head would ache, whilst others were the opposite. Despite being a shared experience, it was unique to the individual in terms of one’s reaction and overall opinion.
Kate’s personal experience
I was expecting the incense to set off my hayfever, it is often set off by strong scents such as perfume. Thankfully this didn’t happen. I liked the scents and they made me feel relaxed. I can’t confess any sort of spiritual experience but I did feel relaxed. It was nice to sit and listen to the sounds of nature. Curiously I was left feeling light-headed something that lasted for a while.
Eliza’s personal experience
I bought an array of incense types for the practical task of burning the incense, some traditional such as agarwood, sandalwood and frankincense, and others based on the attractive scent or type of packaging I feel had been customised for westernised societies. The first stick we burnt was the pure agarwood, it was potent in its intensity but I enjoyed the scent and it gave me a nostalgic feeling of the holidays I took as a kid to a beautiful Buddhist retreat on the north coast. It could have been the memories or the familiarity with burning incense but it was an overall pleasurable experience burning this incense. I felt pretty well calm the whole way through burning the rest of the incense as it’s something I personally burn in my room all the time, it also reminds me of home because my mum always used incense.. whether it be while she meditated, general relaxation while cooking dinner and listening to folk, or just to make the house smell oh so good. One of the packets labelled ‘7 chakras’ claimed to help make zodiac predictions come true.. I found this a commercialised form of incense, a tactic to get people to buy it, and the smell of the packet alone was similar to a recently cleaned bathroom. I found by the end of the experience, which I think is noticeable in my body language seen in the video, I was calm and relaxed. The day had been non-stop up until that point and it allowed me some time to zone into my surroundings and be present in the moment.