Adding scent to meditation infuses your practice with a wonderful sensory layer. With your olfactory nerves engaged, you’re physically pulled into the present and invited to stay. Working with scent is also a chance to channel your energy, and the right scent can inspire a sense of peace or balance. While incense is a more traditional tool for meditation, you might consider trying essential oils.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are the extracts of plants that have been distilled into concentrated oils. Wonderfully fragrant, essential oils come from the leaves, bark, flowers, resin, or stems of a particular plant. They are completely natural and have been used for centuries for everything from homeopathic medicine to religious rituals.

What Essential Oils Can I Use for Meditation?

There are no wrong oils to use for meditation. It’s whatever you prefer! If you’re drawn to a specific oil’s scent, test it out to see how it makes you feel. But if you’re really not sure where to start, the following are popular oils for meditation and spiritual rituals.


Taken from flower buds of the lavender plant, lavender oil emits a sweet, floral fragrance. It has a proven sedative effect that calms the mind and eases stress. This makes it an excellent choice for meditation as it soothes you into a quiet stillness.


Taken from the sap of the Boswellia sacra tree, Frankincense has been used in different spiritual practices for centuries. It has a woody, balsamic scent that is extremely relaxing. According to legend, Frankincense is said to deliver your prayers to the Gods, making it excellent for ritual.


Similar to Frankincense, Myrrh essential oil has been considered sacred throughout history and was used by many different cultures for religious ceremonies. Myrrh is taken from trees in the Commiphora genus. It has a spicy scent that promotes balance and peace.


Sandalwood is distilled from the heartwood of sandalwood trees and has a spicy, woody scent. It’s considered sacred in many Eastern traditions and has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. With sandalwood, you’ll feel grounded and relaxed.

Palo Santo

This smoky yet sweet oil comes from the Bursera Graveolens tree in South America. Palo Santo means “holy wood” and was used by the Incans for special ceremonies. Palo Santo oil purifies your space, wards off negative energy, and attracts good fortune.

How to Use Essential Oils For Meditation

Because oils help attune the mind, you’ll want to diffuse them before meditation and give yourself time to settle into a more mindful state. If you like, you can incorporate this step as part of your regular ritual, perhaps offering a blessing or prayer.

To diffuse the oils properly, we suggest using one of the following tools.

Essential Oil Lamp

Oil lamps are the most traditional way to use essential oils. These lamps have small basins that hold a little bit of water and a few drops of oil. After the basin is filled, a lit tealight can be placed under the basin. As the light burns, the water evaporates and disperses the oil’s scent into the air.

Essential Oil Diffuser

Electric essential oil diffusers come in all varieties, but the most popular kind are ultrasonic diffusers. Similar to humidifiers, these plug-in devices use water and a blend of your favorite oils to create an aromatic mist. Diffusers can be purchased online or in specialty stores.

Essential Oil Spray

Essential oils can also be used like room sprays. You can buy these sprays from natural wellness stores or make one yourself by mixing water, alcohol, and a few drops of essential oil in a spray container. To use, simply give the room a nice spritz before meditation.