Author: Eliza May

Individual responses to the burning of various incenses

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.

A mirror reflecting more than the person standing in front of it


I will begin by giving a quick rundown of my individual project idea, to refresh my memory and yours. My last post basically discussed how my past travel experiences have lit a fire in my belly to explore all that the world has to offer, and more specifically, the road less travelled. My adventures have most likely intensified my curious nature, which explains the keen interest I took in a travel phenomenon I heard being discussed on the radio, ‘Dark Tourism’. As I read my last blog post, I tried to align the style and content of my writing with the Ellis et al (2011) reading, all the way highlighting how I incorporated the Autoethnography methodology. I gather that Autoethnography combines the methods that of an autobiography and ethnography, incorporating both personal (auto) and cultural (ethno) research. The narrated experience in my last post sparked an epiphany, the travels I shared with my family and especially in Vanuatu have impacted the trajectory of my life. I…

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A Dark Individual Project


Writing is a way of knowing, a method of inquiry (Richardson, 2000). Consequently, writing personal stories can be therapeutic for authors as we write to make sense of ourselves and our experiences (KIESINGER, 2002; POULOS, 2008) – Ellis et al, 2011, ‘AutoEthnography: An Overview’

When asked to start thinking about a research topic for the individual project assessment, the first thing that popped into my head was a travel, I can’t shake the nostalgic feeling for the excitement felt when discovering the new and unfamiliar when visiting someplace new. It doesn’t come as a surprise that my initial thought was travel, my parents have helped instil within me a strong value for taking any opportunity to explore and venture out into the world. Many of my precious moments are of the travels I have been on with my family, I feel lucky enough to have travelled all over Australia and abroad…

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Now I will proceed to attempt dissecting the shit out of my ‘Akira’ viewing experience


If I was to describe my relationship with anime as if it were a person, anime and I would be acquaintances, the type of acquaintance you have due to a mutual friend and every once in a while you may cross paths, say hello and make small talk about the weather. Anime has not been on the radar for me in terms of the pop culture I generally choose to interact with, I have had brief encounters with the genre such as dressing up as one of the Sailor Moon characters to a party in high school, and having watched the film Spirited Away (2001) thanks to my younger sisters persuasion. Both interactions with anime I enjoyed, especially watching the anime film, I found the animation beautiful and the storyline pleasantly unsuspecting. I appreciated that the story was suited for enjoyment by both children and adults, my sister is much younger than myself and she…

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State of Play (2013), play huh?


I am a latecomer to BCM320, my first class being in week 2, and my reasons, unfortunately, are not as exotic as recently returning from the classic euro trip many embark on as a right of passage of being a student in their early teens, angsty to escape and party after 13 weeks of tedious “study”. After I caught myself up with what the course of the semester looked like in BCM320, I am pleased to have chosen this subject to close my studies in global communications. I am curious to study a culture I have a personal interest in; my family have welcomed exchange students from Japan, Thailand and the Philippines to board at our home for the duration of their stay in Australia. The time they spent with us allowed deeper insight into cultures I had little knowledge of first hand, and I thoroughly enjoyed comparing factors such…

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