By Don Curneleous
So I’ve been told, incense has been used for thousands of years to create spiritual ambience. Many people have come to associate its smell and properties with positive transformation. People have also been smoking cigars for countless ages, and especially cigar smokers have come to associate cigars with goodness.
However, there are some people who complain constantly about the smell of incense. These people don’t complain too loudly where they don’t have a sense of entitlement, like church, synagogue, or sweat lodge. But when they are seeking transformation at a place where the power structure is smaller and they’ve paid a fee, like a yoga studio, these same people will outwardly whine at length.
I, me, mine
Similarly, when I’m at a patio having a steak, trying to transform the mucoid sheath on my synapses with a cigar, there is always one obnoxious egomaniac that doesn’t understand that the cigar is part of my ceremony. So, I can relate to the persecution felt by people who use sage or incense.
The incense (earth) combines with the flame (fire) and is transformed into smoke wafting straight up to heaven. You can’t get any more symbolic than the use of incense. And I can empathize with this, because I use fire to transform tobacco into the more ethereal nicotine-laced smoke. The chemistry-altering properties make me feel whole, just like incense awakens sense memory of betterment and holiness.
Haters, not meditators
The haters of incense and cigar-smoke are trying to quash the positive atmosphere of the occasional Cuban or stick of the popular Nag Champa-brand incense.
The use of aromatics in most yoga classes or religious ceremonies is usually quite brief, at the beginning or the end. But some people seem to have an attachment toward how much more they’d enjoy their experience in those passing moments if there weren’t any incense smell.
If they’d just get over it and meditate for a few minutes, it wouldn’t be a problem. But instead they get all worked up and complain to the yoga studio manager and other students, over and over again. Sometimes their complaints are extra insensitive given the fact that the incense is actually masking the smell of the nail salon or Italian restaurant downstairs from the yoga studio.
So, if you are someone who lights incense in order to feel uplifted, and someone walks in the door and immediately says, “Ugh, now I have a headache”, I’m right there with you. People say that to me all the time, at restaurants, house parties, bathrooms, elevators, busses, cars, yachts, lobbies, waiting rooms, garages, groceries stores, casino pits, auctions and intimate dates.
Have compassion; it’s not all about you
Hey, I’m not even a yoga student; I’m just a cigar aficionado. But if I were to go to a yoga class, I might not like the smell of Nag Champa or whatever sage or incense you burn. But I tell you what, I won’t get all worked up about it, and I won’t feign or create psychosomatic symptoms of nausea. And I won’t complain to the teacher or management.
When I’m on a patio finishing up my steak, I would really appreciate the same treatment from the other patrons. Please don’t cringe or ask the Maitre d to eject me. It is just one ceremonious cigar at the end of my meal. Just objectify it. You don’t need to make yourself sick. It is just a moment to be enjoyed, at least by me. This too shall pass.
Photo credit: guy with cigar: ankarino/flickr; cigar in ashtray: Richmond Bar and Grill/flickr;incense burning: nyuhuhuu/flickr;Nag Champa box: House of Sims/flickr
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