Incense, sage, and other sacred herbs have been used almost since the dawn of human history for spiritual purposes. They were highly prized the world over by royalty and priests and used in nearly every ceremony. But these days, a lot of people view these types of rituals with quite a bit of skepticism. And unfortunately, that has led quite a few to brush off these practices, or simply proclaim they’re from a primitive time.
But the truth is these practices have many benefits for us, and countless people use them today in their everyday lives. I swear by smudging myself. I find it to be invaluable.
So what does smudging do for our psyche and spiritual lifestyle? Read on!
Clearing Out Old Energy
Some of the oldest cultures in the world have sworn by the repeated use of sage to clear negative or stagnant energy in a room or building. This was especially important when performing spiritual rituals or when doing other spiritual activities, such as prayer.
While this is a bit too ‘woo woo’ for some people, it turns out there is a scientific aspect to this practice of ‘clearing’ a space.
Surprisingly, smudging can help clear the air of all kinds of bacteria and improve allergy symptoms.
This was a study that corroborated this ancient practice. Here is the researcher’s take:
“We have observed that 1 hour treatment of medicinal smoke emanated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs (havan sámagri=material used in oblation to fire all over India), on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 hour in the closed room.
So while you may not personally believe in the idea of sage clearing negative energy, it’s certainly clearing something! And no doubt reduced bacteria in the air has a psychological component, making the practitioner feel more comfortable in a previously uncomfortable space.
It’s really fascinating to see how there’s also a physical component to smudging as well!
Just like incense, smudging can offer calming, relaxing effects that are known to help lower blood pressure, relieve stress and tension and normalize breathing rates, as the negative ions produced are absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
You may or may not have heard of ‘negative ions’ but they are increasingly talked about in scientific circles when it comes to wellbeing. Interestingly, it looks like negative ions have a profound effect on the physiology of every human being. Ions are atoms or molecules with a net electric charge due to the loss or gain of one or more electrons. Negative ions are produced in natural settings (such as a park or beach) while positive ions are produced in more contemporary places such as in the house. Electronics, in particular, give off lots of positive ions.
It seems that the negative ions produced from smudging offer serious anti-depressant effects.
Dr. Clarence Hansell, a research engineer who delved into the biological effects of negative ions in the air in the 1930s, noticed that the mood of one of his colleagues changed in response to ions being generated by their equipment. He discovered that his colleague was more joyful when the machine produced negative ions and more sullen when it produced positive ions. In a controlled study focused on seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, that was an extension of Hansell’s work, researchers found fresh air charged with negative ions was an effective treatment and prevention method of depression, thanks to its effects on serotonin levels, similar to the way antidepressant drugs works.
With these combined effects, deeper meditations are easier to attain. Many times, it’s our poor mental attitude or outlook that keeps us from going deeper in our spiritual pursuits. When we clear the mind — by whatever means — we can find an easier connection to our spiritual side.
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