Frankincense for Meditating on the New Year

Dec 29, 08:39 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

Every New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, I have a special ritual of releasing the old year and opening myself to change and growth in the new. I spend a little time in prayer and meditation on both days, and always use aromatherapy to enhance the ritual. Last year, my oil of choice was bergamot. This year, it is frankincense.

Frankincense is one of the oldest known incenses in the world. Its name orginates from the old French franc, or abundant, and the Latin incensum, to kindle or smoke. Although many associate the smell of this essential oil with Catholic religious services, pieces of resin (known as tears) were burned in temples throughout the ancient Mediterranean: Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Hebrew, Babylonian, Sumerian and early Christian. Frankincense was a primary ingredient in the fabled Egyptian perfume and incense Kyphi, used to honor the sun god Ra.

This aromatic's use in widespread religious rituals is not without merit. Physiologically, frankincense deepens and slows the breathing, making it easier to achieve a meditative state. Burning frankincense actually releases a mildly psychoactive substance which helps expand consciousness. Energetically, this essential oil is one of the few to resonate with and unify all seven major chakras, making it both highly grounding and ethereal... perfect for enhancing meditation and prayer.

The oil is somewhat associated with conjuring up spirits and deities. This is not surprising, since the original purpose of incense was to call forth the gods into earthly realms to communicate with priests, priestesses and oracles. This belief, combined with the relative scarcity of frankincense trees, made the resin very valuable even in ancient times. It was a prized gift among royalty. We still celebrate the gift of frankincense to kings during the Twelfth Day of Christmas, or Epiphany, when the Magi were thought to have presented a cache of resin to the infant Jesus.

Spiritually, frankincense oil simultaneously raises the spirit while giving it a firm grounding in the temporal world. It promotes inner calm, concentration and introspection. The oil can help release unhealthy earthly attachments, past life trauma, and patterns of spiritual abuse.

From an emotional standpoint, frankincense helps us release obsessive or unnecessary attachments, grounds those who are suffering loss, and calms the restless mind. The oil can be used to calm those who are fearful of real or imagined terrifying situations. It can also be effective for depression, agitation, nervous insomnia and emotional fatigue. Does this sound like your 2010?

I use frankincense in an aromatherapy diffuser for my meditation ritual, although some prefer to dilute the oil and use it to anoint the crown or heart. Although hard to find, tears or chips of the resin can be burned in an electric or charcoal incense burner.

Develop your own ceremony to welcome the New Year with this very old and divine aromatic. Wishing you joy, clarity and blessings in 2011.

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