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Japanese Incense: Promoting Inner Peace and Healing

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Japan is a land of paradoxes: it is one of the most modern nations in the world today, yet it is steeped in ancient rituals and traditions. The image of smoke curling up from lit joss sticks or Japanese incense brings to mind major traditional customs such as the tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arranging) and kodo, the art of perfumery and incense making. All these ceremonies require a person to have intense self-discipline, as well as a considerable measure of inner peace and tranquility. The scent of lit Japanese incense plays a major role in helping a person achieve the state of mind necessary to participate in or master these ceremonies.

Japanese Incense in Aromatherapy

Since the earliest days, the Japanese kodo masters used only the purest and finest ingredients to make incense. Sandalwood and several kinds of aloeswood are essential components of Japanese incense. A number of herbs and spices are also used, and while these have a beneficial effect on the mind, they have been found to have physical benefits as well. For instance, spikenard oil has been shown to be effective against ailments such as indigestion and camphor is believed to help cure digestive tract infections. Meanwhile, phytochemicals in star anise relieve stress and are being explored for their supposed role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, these and other components of Japanese incense not only help calm one’s mind, they can promote healing of the body as well.

Transcending Today’s Hassles with Japanese Incense

Many in Japan today, like their forefathers, continue to integrate tradition in their everyday lives. Incense sticks are burned at their places of worship to attract the attention of the gods; students who are about to take examinations bathe their heads in Japanese incense smoke to increase their chances of getting good grades. More often than not, an individual just spends some time alone in a room scented with incense just to reflect and meditate. Those of us who are not Japanese are also able to do this, since high-quality Japanese incense from masters such as Shoyeido and Baieido are available to us today. The ability to refresh the mind and body by opening the senses to the soothing and healing power of Japanese incense helps us to cope with the stress of everyday life.

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