woman getting a facial treatment

The Body Keeps the Score – Facial Mapping

Facial Mapping has been used for centuries in other cultures, like in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine. It helps the practitioner identify imbalances within the body. 

Depending on which school of thought you’re using, each area of the face corresponds to an area of the body, which are connected by qi, or chi, or life force energy. 

Our skin is a reflection of our internal health, and when we have imbalances internally, it will eventually manifest in our skin. One example that is often used in the skincare world is how breakouts around the chin are associated with hormonal fluctuations. 

Trapped trauma or emotions can also show up in the skin. When we have experiences that create stress within the body that are not properly dealt with, the emotions surrounding it gets stored in our tissues.

We react to emotions using our face, these are our facial expressions. When we experience a specific emotion, our face can communicate how we are feeling with the world.

For example, when we experience fear, we open our eyes wide (orbicularis oculi muscle) we open our mouth (orbicularis oris muscle) and we raise our eyebrows (frontalis muscle).

When we experience anger we flare our nostrils (nasalis muscle), furrow our brows (curragator muscle), and tighten our lips (orbicularis oris).

And when we are happy we smile, squinting our eyes (orbicularis oculi), and the corners of our mouths lift (zygomaticus muscle).

When we experience an emotion over and over again, or when we have a significant event in our lives linked to a certain emotion, we start to subconsciously make the expression associated with that emotion. Our body, and muscles, are holding onto that emotion through muscle memory.

This is why when someone asks you “whats wrong?” when nothing seems to be wrong, its is your subconscious state making the facial xexpression, aka your facial posture.

By looking at the skin we can see fine lines, or feel tension around areas of the face. This tells us that the person is subconsciously holding onto emotions. 

When talking about “emotional release” around using Gua Sha, cupping, or even manual massage, we are talking about releasing these stored emotions from the tissue. It is relaxing your facial postures and ironing out the tension. As we release muscles, fascia, and lymph that is intertwined, these trapped emotions can also release along with it. 

We can restore the flow of qi, or energy into these areas, allowing oxygen and nutrients to flood the tissue, allowing the body to heal and repair both on a physical level (releasing the muscle) but also on an energetic and emotional level. This is a true holistic healing treatment.

Most people feel a sense of relief after, but some may experience uncomfortable side effects. This work might bring these emotions to a head, making the person feel a little more emotional then usual, or a bit “off”. Releasing any kind of toxin from the body, even an emotional toxin, can also lead to some physical feelings like being a little lightheaded.

Home care is so important to bring the body back to balance and continue the work that was done. Breathing exercises, or self care rituals can further release any stagnant fluid, emotions or waste from the body.

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