Skin-care as Meditation and Spiritual Wellness

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Our face is like a flower blossom- it is our presentation point and self-expression to the world.

We are uniquely and wonderfully made.  We interact with the world through our facial expressions, eye contact, and our voice. Our face is the portal in which we communicate our unique inner beauty, gifts, and truth to others. 

We are stewards of our face (and our body) in the same way a gardener is of the flowers to the plants they cultivate and lovingly grow. 

We must be attentive to what resides in the “soil” and what feeds the roots – both in the depths of our cells, and our minds which either nourish or slowly poison our souls. In a plant, the roots reside below the earth, beyond anything that can be seen. The quality and nutrition of the soil health and the consistency of the ground effect the health of the roots and longevity of the flower. If the roots aren’t healthy, the plant will not thrive. 

I’m sure you have already concluded that this has a double meaning – that there are multiple points to this conversation. The first point is that our thoughts and our beliefs become the “food” that feeds the relationship we have with ourselves. This then translates to the energy we put out in the world and the confidence and center of self we put forward. Secondly, what we put into our bodies flows out into our leaves, our skin, and our health. 

There are steps we can take to clean up the soil. And cleaning up both the nourishment in our mind and in our bodies will be reflected in the leaves. The soul when housed in a healthy mind and body, glows with beauty beyond measure. 

In my journey of developing a true self-love through self-care, I found a way to do both.

I learned a way to renew my mind with kindness and healing while tending to my skin. Every time I sit down to do so, I love and care for myself more and my efforts compound. I love and appreciate who I see in the mirror more and more and my skin glows from the effort & care I give into it. This is how I both start my morning and end my evening & as a result, I walk away with a peace and centeredness that carries me through my day. I can’t wait to share it with you! 

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Our skin is the biggest organ in our body.

It accounts for an average of 16% of our total body weight and has a surface area of around 22 square feet. It is constantly being renewed. New cells will replace old cells which are constantly flaking off.  It has been hypothesized that every 7 -10 years 100% of our cells have been renewed and replaced and our body is in constant renewal and flux. (1)

The color and shape of our body and our face, our flower,  is unique. It is a beautiful purposeful creation. And it’s uniquely yours. There is only one of you and thus you should shine brightly and boldly to showcase the beauty that is you. 

I have not always been a steward to this body. I have not always been a steward to my skin. And I definitely have not always been a steward as the ultimate gardener to my own garden. I spent part of my life as a slave to the challenges of my body and a prisoner of my thoughts. I did not realize it was within my power to feed myself differently, to change my soil, my environment, or my thoughts. It was work to change the thoughts that I had allowed to be planted and create a cyclical upcycle of refeeding self-love. But it was worth it. I am worth it. YOU are worth it.

I spent much of my life avoiding my reflection. I would not meet my eyes in the mirror. When I did, I picked at what I saw. The strawberry birthmark between my eyes, the ruddiness of my skin, and things that no one but me would ever pick up or judge. But they were almost all I could see. My soil was filled with criticism and judgment and low self-esteem. I had a hard time accepting compliments because I did not feel worthy of them. What an abusive, fickle transient love I had with myself. 

My stewardship failed in the blindness to my TRUE worthy beauty and need for care. 

It’s a downward spiral that many of us find ourselves in. My soul was poisoned with toxic chemicals of comparison, socialization, and the false definitions of beauty. But it was driven by the poison that I began to work on myself and it was in that process that I began to heal. The poison created the symptoms, but the search for healing is the reason WHY I learned to fall in love with myself. And through my skincare routine as a meditation, I deepen and celebrate that love. 

We’ve scratched on the why now let’s talk about the “how” of the mediation and self-practice of skincare. 

We discussed last month that sometimes we have to act “as if” to plant the seeds and in time the sprouts of self-care and love will sprout through consistency of routine. 

There are three crucial parts to this meditation practice- 

  1. Make eye contact with yourself/keep your eyes on your face in the mirror
  2. Slow down and take your time 
  3. The hardest of them all, affirm your beauty. 

While there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands of skincare products on the market, the basic needs of our skin can be met with daily cleansing of our skin and moisturizing/protecting the skin after cleansing.- we need to cleanse our skin and we need to moisturize/protect after cleansing. For the purpose of this meditation, I’m going to start there and dive deeper into the details on the “what with” (and how to break through the marketing to understand the purpose of products) in the next article. 

But today – it’s about the process of skincare as a meditation. 

skin-care

Step 1.

Make eye contact in the mirror and smile. Take a moment to recognize something that went well that day or something you like about your face. I usually tell myself that my eyes are beautiful and in my mind echo “I accept that”.

Step 2.

If you wear makeup, you must remove it first. If not, your cleanser will press the makeup into your pores rather than cleaning the day away. I love micellar water (It’s made using purified water, moisturizers like glycerin, and mild surfactants) on a reusable, washable cotton round to remove the makeup while the water warms. I keep eye contact with myself and notice that my made-up skin and my bare skin are not so very different. I can now tell myself I am beautiful, but I began by congratulating myself for taking the time to care for myself before bed. Decide the truth your mind will accept in this moment and allow it to grow over time. 

Step 3.

Wash your face with a cleanser designed for your skin type. (More on this next time!) The water temperature matters – lukewarm temperature is perfect, it opens the pores without stripping important oils from your skin. I like to tie my hair back with a headband and smile at myself. Cup your hands and fill with a bit of water and wet your skin. Use this time to slow down. If you normally splash, consider a “face dip” in your hands. You only need a little bit of water to wet your skin. It allows your cleanser to move across your skin and allows you to use less product. With the tips of your fingers, In light circles, start from the center and cleanse outward. From the forehead to the chin, being sure to massage and invigorate each cell. And rinse with the same “face dip” and circle until rinsed clean. A cold splash of water at the end (or a spritz toner with hyaluronic acid) can help hold in hydration. During this time, focus on the pressure of your fingers, the temperature of the water, the sounds, and any other sensations you experience. Pat dry with a clean towel. 

Step 4.

Apply your skincare products. I will visit these more in-depth next time, but the process will be the same. Keep eye contact with yourself in the mirror and allow your mind to wander. Take this time to see what comes up and screen what you allow to feed your mind through a “sorting basket” for your thoughts. You only have two options to respond to any thought that may come up – “I accept that” or “I don’t accept that”. And you must answer one to every thought that passes and then you must let it flow away. If your mind gets caught in a situation or a problem, answer “I don’t accept that” and move onto the next thought. 

Challenge yourself to give compliments to yourself and accept them.

I used to imagine what I would say if I was talking to my daughter – I would uplift her, I would tell her she was incredible and then I would accept them the way I would want my daughter to, with a mother’s heart. Our brain releases oxytocin in this practice which is the chemical associated with empathy, trust, and relationship-building. Our brain chemistry will manifest those feelings and those feelings will drive our brain chemistry into this incredible upcycle of self-love. 

This is a time to move slowly with your actions and keep your eyes on yourself in the mirror. 

With your product (moisturizer for the purposes of the meditation) on the tips of your middle three fingers, start in the center of your forehead and slowly circle down to your temples; gently pull and massage your skin in all directions. Starting from between the eyes, pull down the nose, and sweep around & up the cheekbones and up to the temples in the same circular fashion. Then start from the center of the chin, around and across the jaw. And then carefully around the lips and near the orbital bones around the eyes. And finish massaging strokes down the line of the SCM, sternocleidomastoid muscle, of the neck and up the center, under the chin. Finish with a locked gaze and gratitude for the time you spent with yourself. 

Some of my greatest personal epiphany‘s have occurred while looking into my own eyes. This process is simple, but depending on the level of self-abuse we have experienced, it can also be very hard. Give yourself Grace, and if resistance comes up, stay curious. If emotions come up, allow them to occur.  Notice where you feel them in your body. Focus intensely on that space and notice how well the emotions pass and release. But most importantly, continue with this practice. You will be astounded by the changes that you will feel and experience in your life. AND your skin! 

Practice self-care today, you are worth it. 

  1. Freisen, Cell, 2005 https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(05)00408-3

Marilyn Harder

Marilyn Harder is an ambassador of all things self love and self care. She holds both a Master’s Degree in Business (MBA) and a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from UC Davis and well over 60 certifications in the movement and wellness industry. She has an advanced knowledge of kinesthetic movement that she acquired in her work with dysfunctional movement patterns in a 55 and older retirement community. She works primarily as a Pilates Master Trainer and has taken over 150 people through the 500 hour comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training program. Concurrently, she works as Bowenwork practitioner and a Restorative Wellness Practitioner both as additional modalities to troubleshoot healing and optimal wellness. She utilizes her education in all realms (psychology, movement, naturopathic health and nutrition) in her approach to beauty. What we put on and in our bodies matters but not nearly as much as HOW and WHY we do so. Marilyn approaches health and beauty through a triad -movement, nutrition and self care. Out of self care, self love is born. And out of self love authentic purpose, passion, and works are done. She believes that all pursuit of happiness and purpose begins by anchoring yourself spiritually and loving yourself through the eyes of God.

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