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Ancient Secrets of Facial Rejuvenation
A Holistic, Nonsurgical Approach to Youth & Well-Being
By Victoria J. Mogilner
New World LibraryCopyright © 2006 Victoria J. Mogilner
All rights reserved.
Facial Rejuvenation and the Oldest Medical System
Most of us have been taught the maxim "love thy neighbor as thyself." But the great practitioners of Chinese medicine teach that you cannot love another until you first love yourself, and you cannot give to others what you cannot give to yourself. More fundamentally, you cannot know who and what you are until you take the time to tune in to your inner self. Listening to yourself and giving to yourself are the pathways to self-love, and there are no shortcuts to it.
While growing up, most of us were never taught how to love ourselves in a way that truly nurtures our physical body, our emotional self, or — especially — our spiritual essence. And we spend so many of our adult years unlearning the rules and concepts we once thought valid. But when we finally do learn to take care of ourselves, we are empowered to attain greater health and wholeness, and we are provided with the capacity to truly care for others. In order to feel and exude our true self, we must let go of an often painful past; we must shift old attitudes that constrict, and instead learn to create peace of mind.
Being beautiful is an "inside job," which takes time to cultivate, just like a garden. As you plant thoughts of self-love, you take time to connect with your soul and spirit. Love, healing, joy, peace, tranquility, and gratefulness are the nutrients for your spiritual growth. This inner gardening requires going within daily to replenish and connect with your spiritual essence. When you set aside time each day for yourself, your work within will be reflected without. The techniques you will find in this book will give you the tools you need do that inner work to achieve inner balance, beauty, and harmony.
This chapter lays the groundwork for the rest of the book. It presents the fundamentals of Chinese medicine, including an explanation of its major principles, such as chi and the meridians. With this background information, you will be equipped to begin reaping the benefits of the Acupressure Facelift.
The Traditions and Philosophy of Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine, more than three thousand years old, is the most ancient medical system in the world. Its philosophy is that you pay the doctor when you are well, and the doctor pays you when you become ill. This maxim illustrates the preventive nature of Chinese medicine. As you learn to take care of yourself and practice preventive medicine by eating a healthy diet, getting proper exercise, keeping a positive attitude, living in tune with the seasons, and practicing the acupressure and other techniques in this book, you can prevent many illnesses and learn to be healthy and content.
Chinese medicine is concerned with restoring balance throughout the body and promoting the flow of energy, which is called ITLχITL (pronounced "chee"). Chi is the life force that represents your strong spirit. When I use the term ITLχITL I am speaking of your vital essence, which can be reflected in your eyes, for in Chinese philosophy, we say the eyes are the gateway to the soul. When your eyes are bright, your chi is vital and alive.
Chi is circulated along a subtle energy system, a transportation network consisting of channels, usually called meridians. There are fourteen meridians in the body, each relating to one of the vital organs. So that you can better visualize the concept of chi and the meridians, think of the meridians as a riverbed and the chi as the water that flows through it and nourishes the land. If a dam were placed at any point along the river, the nourishing effect of the water would be blocked. The same is true of the meridians and chi. When the chi becomes blocked along a meridian in one area, the rest of the body suffers. Illness and disease can result if the flow is not restored.
In traditional Chinese medicine, a well-known maxim states "If there is pain, there is no free flow. If there is free flow, there is no pain." Healthy individuals experience a free flow of their chi and blood. Chinese medicine removes obstacles so that chi and blood flow smoothly, restoring balance and correct function. Practitioners of Chinese medicine recognize that there is no "one size fits all" therapy for an interruption of chi, just as they know that identical symptoms can result from entirely different root causes. They use four primary treatment methods to restore balance, approaches designed to treat the whole person: diet, herbal medicinal formulas, acupuncture/acupressure, and massage, all of which will be covered in this book.
Chi and blood flow through the body at certain times during the day, so in order to live a long life, it is important to follow certain guidelines that reflect the body's cycles and optimal functioning. Establishing a regular rhythm and living with the cycles of nature will keep you healthy, and simple scheduling patterns will keep you young. Keys to longevity include: early to bed, early to rise; eating lightly and at regular hours; being active by day and resting after sundown; and breathing life into each and every cell. Leisurely walks in spring, sunbaths in summer, stretching the body in all seasons, watching the mind each moment, avoiding anger, and living easy — all are critical to replenishing the self from the inside to the outside.
Nei Ching, the ancient book on Chinese philosophy and medicine, gives us the fundamentals for living a full life. Inherent in its teachings is that longevity and rejuvenation are partly states of mind that depend heavily on one's connection to the divine life force. When connected to spirituality, one is less likely to be a victim of life's circumstances.
Another important concept in Chinese medicine is that of yin and yang. Yin and yang represent the duality of the universe. They are the cosmic forces of creative energy. Yin refers to your softer, female side, which relates to taking time for you, flowing with life, and not being hard on or judgmental of yourself. It means going within to replenish and recharge. Yang refers to the body's active, masculine energy, characterized as hard, bright, and overpowering. Yang can manifest as being aggressive, loud, and out of control — running around all the time and being obnoxious and unruly. The balance between yin and yang is what we strive for in our lives. Yin and yang are interdependent as well as conflicting. In traditional Chinese medicine their relationship is used to explain the physiology and pathology of the human body, and it refers to your lifestyle as well as your constitution.
Yin also relates to your internal organs, called Zang Fu — your liver, spleen, kidneys, heart, and lungs. The health of these organs is reflected in the color in your face, and we'll learn more about this in chapter 5. Any imbalances in your organs can be corrected with proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle, as well as work on your facial points.
Remember, the outside reflects the inside; everything you do shows on your face. When you learn to take care of yourself on the inside, it will show — you will have glowing skin, a sparkle in your eyes, and a calm presence.
The Meridians and the Acupressure Facelift
As mentioned above, there are a total of fourteen meridians, twelve primary meridians and two other major meridians called the Conception Vessel and Governor Vessel. Each of the meridians corresponds to an internal organ, as well as an emotion, with the exception of the Conception Vessel and the Governor Vessel. These are not connected to any single organ or emotion but instead are the "mommy and daddy" that give birth to the other twelve meridians. The Conception Vessel, the most yin meridian, starts at the perineum (the lowest point of the pubic bone) and runs up the center of the body, ending under the mouth on the chin. The Governor Vessel, the most yang meridian, starts at the coccyx, or base of the spine, and runs up the midline of the back and over the top of the head to a spot just above the upper lip. The Conception Vessel and Governor Vessel connect under the tongue.
Like the two major meridians, most of the others begin or end on the face. Thus, when you touch the points on your face included in the Acupressure Facelift, you will be positively affecting many other parts of your body as well.
The Meridian Clock
In Chinese medicine, each of the twelve major organs has a two-hour period of high energy and a two-hour period of low energy. The meridian clock shown on the next page illustrates this concept. Working with an organ, or the meridian related to it, during its high-energy period always reaps the greatest benefits, while during the low-energy period, the organ is resting. For example, if you want to work on digestion, it is best to do it during the stomach's most active time, 8:00 a.m.
The negative emotion associated with the stomach is worry or overthinking, while its positive emotion is self-nurturing. So, if you want to release worry or stress and foster self-nurturing, the most effective approach would be to work on the stomach at 8:00 a.m. You could visualize letting go of stress and bringing nourishment into your life. Affirmations, positive thoughts stated as affirmative sentences, are very effective with this type of work; for this example, a useful affirmation could be, "I release all my worries to my higher self, and I bring nourishment to every cell of my being." Saying this affirmation would be a good way to start your day.
You can work on all your organs in this way via the meridians that begin and end on your face. You will learn how to do this in chapter 4, which presents the Acupressure Facelift in detail.
WHEN YOU APPLY THE WISDOM of Chinese medicine to skin care, your face will respond by appearing more healthy and radiant. The next chapter presents some fundamentals about the skin.CHAPTER 2
Toward a More Youthful Face
Everything you think and everything you feel is reflected on your face. And every line you see there is related to an emotional or physical condition in your body.
What others see on your face depends on many factors in your life. If you live in isolation, the shadows of loneliness, sadness, and depression are revealed on your face. But as you create a life of joy, harmony, and fulfillment, the positive effects of these gifts will emerge there instead.
Since every point on your face has a spiritual and physical meaning, when you touch your face, you connect directly with your spiritual essence. You can help release fear, depression, and anger by looking into the mirror and gently touching your face. You can heal old traumas and wounds and help create a new life of joy and love.
Through regular use of the Acupressure Facelift, you can become more closely and deeply connected to the divine spirit at your core. As you learn to recognize the truth that comes from your inner divinity, you can make choices that will help you achieve the best for your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
To prepare you for this transformational practice, this chapter presents some basic information about the skin, including its function, the various skin types, some common causes of skin damage, and how the Acupressure Facelift works to revitalize the skin.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. Governed by the lungs, it influences all other body systems, helping the other organs to recharge and de-stress, and the immune system to strengthen. When you take care of your facial skin, you also help your internal organs, for the health of your organs shows on your face.
The skin is comprised of seven layers. The five outermost layers are called the epidermis; they are what you feel when you touch your skin, put on makeup, or shave. Through a process called keratinization (so named because it is activated by the fibrous protein keratin), cells are continually being formed at the innermost layer of the epidermis and moved outward, layer by layer, until they are finally sloughed off. For any given epidermal cell, this process takes about thirty days. However, damage to skin fibers interferes with the process of cell renewal and is the primary cause of wrinkles and aging.
Beneath the epidermis is the dermis, which actually has two layers containing the connective tissue, blood, and lymph to supply nourishment for the skin. This is where the sweat and oil glands are located. The deepest layer of the dermis gives the skin its elasticity and strength. Collagen, a protein, makes up 90 percent of the dermis.
The skin performs six vital functions:
Protection: The skin acts as a barrier to protect the body's tissues from dehydration and to prevent invasion from harmful organisms. The skin also produces melanin, an enzyme that blocks the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Sensation: The skin contains innumerable nerve endings that make it sensitive to heat and cold, as well as to pressure, vibration, and injury.
Temperature control: The skin regulates body temperature. In cold weather, blood vessels contract to conserve heat, and the hairs on the skin trap a layer of heat to provide insulation. In hot weather, the blood vessels dilate to allow heat to escape.
Storage and synthesis: The skin stores water and lipids (various fatty compounds), and it synthesizes vitamins B and D when activated by the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Absorption: Important gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide are absorbed by the skin in small amounts.
Also, the skin can absorb healing substances, such as aloe vera and essential oils, that are found in lotions and ointments.
Waste removal: Sweat glands in the skin function both to help control body temperature and to remove toxic substances, such as urea, from the body.
Proper diet, healthy exercise, and adequate hydration all play a major role in natural skin care. By drinking eight glasses of room-temperature water every day; eating warm, nurturing foods; and touching your face with love, you can help replenish your cells and therefore keep your skin healthy, alive, and vital. If you appreciate your appearance, your cells will respond and send a message to the brain, which will help with rejuvenation and skin repair. Remember, the more you maintain your skin, the healthier it will stay.
Skin Types and How to Treat Them
There are five types of skin: normal, dry, oily, sensitive, and combination. Normal skin is neither too dry, too oily, nor too rough and may be affected by climate, hormonal problems, or stress.
Dry skin is caused by too much wind, harsh soaps, poor diet, and insufficient fluid intake. The skin becomes dry due to inactivity of the sebaceous glands that lubricate the skin. Since it has less oil, dry skin is more prone to wrinkles and lines. If you have dry skin, it helps to use a rich moisturizing cream; eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and flax seed will also help. Avoid too much sun and wind. For dry to normal skin, use a light scrub (a honey or almond scrub works well) two or three times a week to get rid of dead skin and help the skin to breathe.
Oily skin usually indicates an excess of internal heat in your system; typically, the pores get clogged more easily, resulting in blackheads, whiteheads, and enlarged pores. If you have oily skin, use waterbased products. Make sure your hands are clean before you touch your face so you don't increase the oiliness. Removing dead cells with a gentle exfoliant is helpful in treating oily and acne-prone skin.
If you have sensitive skin, you should avoid harsh soaps and instead use a gentle cleansing milk. Use moisturizers containing calming ingredients, such as aloe vera or chamomile. Avoid spicy foods and alcohol, for these may aggravate your condition. Always wash your hands before touching your face, and be sure to touch your face gently.
Excerpted from Ancient Secrets of Facial Rejuvenation by Victoria J. Mogilner. Copyright © 2006 Victoria J. Mogilner. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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