a thousand ships
Your face speaks volumes about the person who you truly are.
It also has the power to heal.
As children, we are told not to “judge a book by its cover,” but we’ve all done so, trusting someone by his/her “kind, open eyes” or “strong jaw.” When we do this, we are practicing the ancient technique of face reading. Every culture practices face “reading” in some form or another.
For those who are able to master the art of “reading” a human face, that face becomes a map, and an intricate set of topographical clues to someone’s personality, health and experiences.
Mien Shiang, the ancient Taoist technique of face “reading” is a practice that originated in China almost 3,000 years ago. The technique was one of the first medical diagnostic tools ever used, and is still employed for the same purposes today.
In 2001, The Mien Shiang Institute, in conjunction with Yo San University School of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Los Angeles, offered the first ever accredited Certificate Program of Taoist Facial Diagnosis. Students of the technique are healers such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, medical doctors and body workers.
Mien Shiang practitioners believe that every facial feature corresponds to an internal organ or organ network. Patricia McCarthy, President of the Mien Shiang Institute in Santa Monica, explains that experts may “read” a facial feature’s size, shape, coloring and placement to gain insight on a patient’s specific health issues and personality traits. For example, a crease on an earlobe may be indicative of high blood pressure or potential for stroke, either inherited genetically, or acquired from a person’s lifestyle. Characteristics too are reflected. The larger the ears, the greater the person’s risk-taking ability; eyes relate to sensitivity, with open eyes reflecting an open, sensitive heart; and a person’s jaw shows how determined they may be. Brow bones, eyebrows, noses, cheekbones, mouths and chins all speak volumes.
The ancient alchemical principle, “as above, so below” speaks not only of the inextricable connection between an individual and the universe, but also of the union between one’s internal and external worlds. Mien Shiang acknowledges that the internal and external are reflections of one another and that there is no separation between mind, body and spirit. One’s personality, spirit, emotions and physical health are all linked and reflected in the details of the face.
Change, emotional experiences, diet, stress, rest and exercise, may be written all over your face. Likewise, altering one’s external appearance, changing the face by employing plastic surgeries that change facial features – brow lifts, cheekbone implants or nose-jobs, for instance – will inevitably change one’s character and how one is perceived by the outside world. Small button noses may be aesthetically popular, but as a nose is whittled down, so too is that person’s power, ego and sense of leadership.
As we age and undergo the ups and downs that make up a life, lines and wrinkles naturally appear on the face. McCarthy explains that each line is visual proof that a lesson has been learned in life, and suggests we wear these lines as badges of courage and accomplishment. That said, the thriving business of plastic surgery testifies to how difficult these honors are to accept. She says, “Since each line is a lesson learned, drastically removing the lines through surgery will also erase the lesson. People may begin to act like younger versions of themselves.” McCarthy works with plastic surgeons who wish to bring awareness to this process.
Where surgical face-lifts abruptly remove lines and wrinkles by cutting away or eliminating the culprits, Facial Rejuvenation, or Natural Face Lift, is a technique that works to release areas where skin and muscles have become “stuck,” creating patterns of wrinkling or persistent expressions of tension. Jessica Ranek, the developer of this distinctive technique, explains, “once these areas are released, the muscles relax and there is an increase of blood and oxygen flow to the tissues, resulting in a face that is actually lifted and revived.”
The method developed by Ranek is based on certain principles both innovative, and as ancient as the technique of face reading itself. They include Ayurvedic massage, myofascial release, cranial sacral work, acupressure, deep tissue massage and energy work. She has recently begun to teach courses in the system she developed.
Facial Rejuvenation accomplishes through massage of the face, head, neck and shoulders what Reflexology achieves for the entire body through pressure points and stimulation of the feet. Just as reflex areas of the feet and hands link to other areas and organs of the body, Natural Face Lifts release tension in areas of the face that correspond to parts of the physical body and emotions.
Those who have experienced the technique report feeling deep emotional release and a sense of profound peace and balance after a session. Because Facial Rejuvenation is a process in which the practitioner and the client work closely together to release the energy of the emotions that are held in the face, neck and shoulders, the sessions may range from a pampering, spa-like experience to one of deep emotional release, depending on how far the recipient wishes to go. A happy side-effect is that the process also seems to ”˜lift’ and eliminate even deep lines and creases, creating a face that is more vibrant and youthful.
Although each individual may have unique and particular needs, Ranek recommends three initial sessions to ensure complete release, followed by up-keep appointments twice per year. Her clients range in age from 21 to 75. Actually, she claims that the earlier one begins the process, the better to prevent “face sticking” and developing wrinkles.
Mien Shiang speaks of the right and left sides of the face as presenting one’s outer, public self and inner, private self, respectively. Yogi, know thyself: in learning to understand our own health issues and personality, we seek to find balance among every aspect of our lives inside and out, in mind, body and spirit. Inevitably, we will feel and look better for it.