Sandalwood Uses In Ayurveda, Meditation, Spirituality And Its Ability To Relieve Anxiety
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Sandalwood is often cited as one of the most expensive woods in the world. It has a long history of use in ayurveda, meditation, yoga, spirituality and worship for its ability to clear the mind. Sandalwood oil is also used in aromatherapy to promote a sense of calm, relieving anxiety and tension. Both the wood and the oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued and used for thousands of years to calm the mind and relieve anxiety, reduce signs of aging and skin inflammation. Today, modern science not only supports traditional beliefs but reveals new ways to experience sandalwood’s benefits.
Sandalwood is a class of woods from trees in the genus Santalum and indigenous to the tropical belt of the peninsular India, Malay Archipelago and northern Australia. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and, unlike many other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for decades. Sandalwood's main components are the two isomers of santalol (about 75%). It is used in aromatherapy, body scrubs, and to prepare soaps. Other relaxation methods include using sandalwood oil in a diffuser, burning the oil, using sandalwood incense sticks or a massage oil.
There are two main kinds of “true” sandalwood: Indian and Australian Sandalwood, as well as other important varieties, including:
Indian / White Sandalwood: It. is the most popular and commonly used sandalwood.
Australian Sandalwood: It is a preferred ingredient in many aromatherapy products.
Hawaiian Sandalwood: These native Hawaiian species have been overharvested and are listed as endangered by the Hawaii State Legislature.
Fiji Sandalwood: It is a lesser-known species of sandalwood from the islands of Fiji, Niue, and Tonga. Locals call it “yasi” or “yasi din.” It’s used for cosmetics, perfumes, incense, and religious ceremonies.
Red Sandalwood: It’s called “rakta chandan” in many Indian languages. The word “rakta” refers to its application in the treatment of blood disorders as well as the color of the wood itself.
AYURVEDIC, SPIRITUAL AND DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE
Sandalwood is very sacred in the Hindu Ayurveda and is known in Sanskrit as chandan. It is one of the most used holy elements in Hindu and Vedic societies. The wood is used for worshipping the deities, and it is said that goddess Lakshmi lives in the sandalwood tree; therefore, it is also known as Srigandha.
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The wood of the tree is made into a paste by grinding sandalwood against stone slab, and this paste is integral to rituals and ceremonies, to make religious utensils, to decorate the icons of the deities, and to calm the mind during meditation and prayer. It is also distributed to devotees, who apply it to their foreheads or necks and chests. Sandalwood paste is used for most pujas both in temples and home altars performed in private households.
Sandalwood use is an integral part of daily practices of Jainism. Sandalwood paste mixed with saffron is used to worship 'tirthankar' Jain deities. Sandalwood powder is showered as blessings by Jain monks and nuns (sadhus and sadhvis) to their disciples and followers.
In some Buddhist traditions, sandalwood is considered to be of the padma (lotus) group and attributed to Amitabha Buddha. Sandalwood scent is believed by some to transform one's desires and maintain a person's alertness while in meditation. It is also one of the most popular scents used when offering incense to the Buddha and the guru.
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In East Asia, sandalwood is the most commonly used incense material by the Chinese, Korean and Japanese in worship and various ceremonies. However, some sects of Taoists, following the Ming Dynasty Taoist Manual, do not use lakawood but sandalwood incense, in worship. In Korean Shamanism, sandalwood is considered the Tree of Life.
SANDALWOOD - CHANDAN TILAK
For a very long time, sandalwood is considered sacred and holy to most social religious rituals. It is also applied on the forehead (as tilak) as a sacred mark by the members of some communities in India. According to the Hindu Shastra, Chandan Tilak is applied in between two eyebrows on the forehead as a representation of the third eye (ajna chakra). The shape of the tilak and the substance it’s made from generally corresponds to the God or Goddess that lineage worships.
Many with spiritual beliefs and practices believe that this is the subject of point with which our brains and bodies communicate with the world of invisible energy patterns, auras and out of the body experiences through meditation. And this leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. In New Age spirituality, the third eye often symbolizes a state of enlightenment or the evocation of mental images having deeply personal spiritual or psychological significance.
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Vaishnavas the worshippers of Lord Vishnu usually apply tilak using sandalwood, clay, or a mixture of both, in two vertical lines, which connect near the bridge of the nose to form a “U” shape called 'urdhva pundra'. The “U” is commonly seen as the footprint of Vishnu, indicating the wearer’s desire to become his humble and devoted servant. Though the depictions and layers of symbolism of urdhva pundra vary depending on the sect of Vaishnavism a person belongs to.
You can also simply make a bindi or a dot using Chandan on the forehead. The sandalwood would help in cooling the nerves and relieving a headache caused because of excessive sun exposure. The cooling sandalwood calms our body, mind and soul. It stimulates alertness and improves the concentration power of a person. According to Ayurveda, when we massage the point between the eyebrows with Chandan, it helps in relieving insomnia and stress. It also helps in reducing the body temperature, thereby, reducing the fever effectively.
Negative energy in the form of negative thoughts enters your body through this chakra. When you apply chandan, you block the negative energy from entering the body.
Sandalwood oil is one of the first recorded cosmetic ingredients, used by Cleopatra over 2,000 years ago and Queen Elizabeth 400 years ago. In the 6th century, Varahamihira, an ancient Hindu astronomer and polymath, wrote a famous encyclopaedic text called Brihat Samhita where he recorded 1,820 cosmetic formulations containing sandalwood. In the Tang dynasty (618-907), literature shows the use of sandalwood as a cosmetic ingredient in myriad formulations.
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Sandalwood oil is extracted from the woods for use and has a distinctive soft, warm, smooth, creamy, and milky precious-wood scent. It is a proven relaxant, decreasing anxiety and calming the nervous system, and assisting with better quality sleep. Its benefits are realised upon inhalation of the sweet woody fragrance, absorbed through the skin, rubbing oil in your wrist, or ankles. Studies show that inhaling sandalwood oil causes a reaction with brain receptors, eliciting feelings of calm and suppressing negative emotions, thereby reducing the desire to eat. As muscles in the body relax, digestion improves.
Indian sandalwood oil is used today to create healthier, brighter and younger-looking skin. Sandalwood oil works as a great antiseptic agent that is safe and effective for use both externally and internally. Applying sandalwood oil externally can treat acne, sores, boils, and pimples progressing into an infection or becoming septic. Sandalwood oil portrays strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antifungal properties that are not only used for removing bacteria and germs from the body but also effectively treats wounds and improves healing mechanisms.
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Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidation properties can potentially help prevent skin damage in the first instance, and repair any damage that has already occurred in the second. As skin ages it naturally produces cortisol, which increases inflammation of the skin tissue. Indian sandalwood oil is reported to block the activity of crucial inflammatory enzymes while stimulating the activity of a deactivating enzyme.
Indian sandalwood oil is believed to ‘supercharge’ the production of proteins that stop the oxidation process and reverse associated damage. It also inhibits the major enzymes producing melanin, reducing discolouration and brightening the skin. Whilst Indian Sandalwood oil does not block UV or blue light emitted by digital screens, it does help repair the damage, inflammation and skin pigmentation caused post-exposure.
White sandalwood powder is also readily available in a ready-to-use powdered form, believed to combat excess body heat. Sandalwood powder has been traditionally used for homemade skin care remedies. You can make a face pack and apply it regularly for smooth and soothing skin. This natural mask gently exfoliates & pulls out oil & dead cells without drying out the skin.
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