We do not use incense, but others may have used incense at Mountain Cloud Zen Center, where most of our events are held. Although we are not a part of the Zen center, we use their facilities.
As in the world at large, there are many members of the vipassana community who are extremely allergic to commonly used chemicals, and in particular to scents and fragrances. Upon being exposed to these aromatic substances, they suffer severe and debilitating physical symptoms. In an effort to include these people and make the dharma accessible to as diverse a population as possible, we ask that you make it part of your practice to refrain from using scented products while participating in sangha events.
This will require a special kind of mindfulness because so many products contain scents and fragrances. Please don’t rely on your own nose. The only way to ensure that a product is unscented is by reading the list of ingredients: look for the words fragrance or natural fragrance.
While it goes without saying that perfume and cologne are among the products to be avoided, most other personal care products such as shampoo and other hair products, body/face lotions, soap, etc., contain fragrances as well. Please also be aware that the scents in laundry detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets remain in clothes for a long time and are among the most troublesome products.
In response to requests for suggestions, we are including this list of fragrance-free products. In making a commitment to use unscented products you are contributing to a healthier environment and ensuring that people with severe chemical allergies will be able to attend our retreats. Over the past few years, the Santa Fe Vipassana Sangha has become known for its awareness, generosity and accessibility in this area.
Thank you for your sincere efforts and consideration. Your generous act of renunciation will be deeply appreciated.