Close your eyes for a moment and remember the last time someone reached out to simply hold you – maybe with a little half-smile and a hint of sensuality, to support and encourage you and maybe just because it felt really nice… no agenda. (* NB if you can’t remember or have never had this, it’s time to start changing the people you hang out with!). Feel that lovely moment of surrender and enjoyment again. Now, Recall #2. Try to remember the last time someone rudely grabbed your arm or shook your shoulder roughly to get your attention. Or jabbed you hard in the ribs. Or maybe they just shouted at you. Feel the difference in the way your whole being responds between the first interaction and the second. The first interaction makes you almost want to draw the person in through the pores of your skin to bring them closer, whereas in the second interaction you bristle so fast that you energetically repel them and probably snap back.
Now I want you to honestly consider how you approach your skin. Do you slap products on to your skin determinedly and forcefully to try to make it conform to an ideal of beauty? Do you bully it? A hurried 5 mins given begrudgingly cos you need results fast? Mutter at your zits, wrinkles or stray hairs crossly in the mirror? Or do you quietly give your skin a gentle and grateful touch when you use your products and clean your body?
Or maybe you’re a massage or spa therapist. Do you give mindful and generous touch when you massage, or are you busy thinking about sen lines, thumb pressure, the overdue phone bill or, Goddess forbid, what’s for lunch. Be honest.
Every cell in your body is alive and responds to energy, to touch. The way you touch skin changes the way it receives not only the healing touch but also the product you apply.
Now imagine you have an innocent 11 month old baby hungrily awaiting her dinner in her high chair. Gurgling and banging the spoon in that oh-so-cute way. Imagine yourself feeding her some wholesome food prepared with love, ever-so-mild and nutritious. Delicious but gentle. Baby gurgles, dribbles, smiles, receives and digests your lovingly prepared meal. Everybody happy. Or take #2. You smile and coo and then gently spoon into baby’s mouth some strong flavoured, ultra spicy food that burns her mouth and makes her cry, or some tuna that’s really for cats but it was cheap and seems OK and the cat doesn’t have a problem with it so why should baby? You wouldn’t do that, would you?
The relationship between the quality of the touch skin receives and the products we choose to use IS really important.
It doesn’t matter how delightful or natural the body or face care product is, if it is slapped on hurriedly, begrudged or resented. If the touch is rough, uncomfortable and perfunctory, the cells of the body literally recoil. It doesn’t matter how expensive the massage oil or how many lovely essential oils it contains, if it is applied without mindfulness, generosity or care. Conversely, the best technical massage in the world is flawed if you’re using products known to cause skin irritations, which contain harmful petrochemicals or which contain artificial fragrances which are publicly documented to be seriously harmful to long-term health but allowed under lax labeling laws.
Good natural skin health – for ourselves, our clients and our customers – requires us to consider this complex relationship between the quality of the touch and the nature of the product.
So now take yourself back to where we started – to that gentle, supportive embrace that is so wonderful to receive. Remember it again and savor it for a moment. When next you think skin care for yourself, for clients or for massage, think natural and try to recreate that feeling. Do no harm with your skin care and massage products - to the environment or to the body which will receive it. And learn to give yourself over completely to the experience of quality touch, whether it’s 5 mins in the privacy of your bathroom or during that slightly-rushed-pre-lunch massage that you need to deliver.
Enjoy the vibrant health and glowing skin that mindful touch combined with simple, effective and natural products brings.