Skin forms an essentially protective and containing barrier for us physically but it can also reveal our inner emotional state. Our skin literally holds us together and forms an effective frontier and boundary between our body and the elements. Just like the rest of our complex, integrated, selves, our skin is responsive, reactive, sensitive and not divorced from our emotions! I hope the following will provide an interesting insight about the connection between your feelings about yourself and your actual skin from a 5-Element perspective.
On your Metal: With Traditional Chinese Medicine Philosophy (TCM), our Skin falls under the ‘Metal’ Element* which also governs the Lungs. Both play a vital role for us. Both organs need to breathe. Both are responsive to varying levels of pollution, internally and externally and both also respond to kindness and compassion! In this context, Metal is associated with the many benefits of letting go: E.g. of physical tension, stress, worry, grief and limiting self-beliefs – metaphorically breathing in the good and breathing out the bad; for releasing what doesn’t serve your purpose
Is your ‘Metal’ in or out of balance? Metals appreciate beauty and refinement and are not adverse to a bit of bling! They can be deep thinkers and have high standards. However, an out of balance Metal Element can lead to “Pondering too much on the past or reflecting too often on the future (which) immediately limits the present” (1)
Metal adds value to all the other elements. This is rather nice to know! However, many people do not adequately value themselves; are not that comfortable enough in their own skin and sadly, when they look in the mirror, feel overly judgmental and dissatisfied with themselves for a variety of reasons. Whatever a person’s age, shape, ethnicity, gender, it’s important to know that beauty can be more than just skin deep. When we start to love ourselves on the inside, it shows and glows on the outside! If you feel that’s a bridge too far, Emotional Freedom Technique or ‘Tapping’ can help you kick-start liking some aspect of yourself, no matter how small. Remember, a little bit of self-kindness can go a long way.
Body language: Each of the 5-Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) relate to various yin-yang organs and a spectrum of physical and emotional qualities. In harmony, they all positively enhance each other’s functionality; when disharmony sets in, from what ever source, their interactive relationships flag, along with our own condition. For example, when we are happy and healthy our skin’s vitality glows; when we are tired, under the weather or mal-nourished our skin lets us know by erupting, becoming dry, dull, flaky etc. These are some of the signs that reflexologists consider when addressing the accumulating effects of stress expressed.
The TCM 5-Element health system is one of wellness relationship checks and balances. On this basis, the correlation between Metal and ‘Fire’ Element interactions has a significant bearing on our emotional and hormonal balance in particular. For example, many of us know how, at certain times of the month, our hormones can become unruly, skin can erupt and moods swings fluctuate. This would demonstrate a Metal/Fire energetic imbalance. The Heart is known as ‘The Emperor of the Body’ whereas the Lung, as second in command to the Heart, is known as ‘The Prime Minister’! From the TCM perspective, maintaining good chemistry between these two with regular ‘re-balancing’ therapies, such as meridian based Reflexology or classical acupuncture, can be very supportive.
Thick and thin Skinned is physical and emotional state of being! Rather like our emotions, skin has two layers. A top, thin but resilient, cover (the epidermis) plus a thicker layer beneath (the dermis). Both are interdependent upon each other’s state of vitality. When most of us are in balance we can ‘take the rough with the smooth’; have a reasonably balanced perspective but when our Metal Element is out of kilter, say due to prolonged over-work, anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, we become increasingly sensitive i.e. too ‘thin skinned’, open to introspection and self-criticism – or perhaps worse, too ‘thick skinned’ and aloof. So environmentally protecting our actual skin and our emotions is symbiotically wise!
“I choose to feel good about myself. I am worthy of my own love” (2)
Skin is the largest organ of the body and sensitive to many things, internally and externally. It also functions as a thermostat and therefore plays an important role in regulating body temperature. As such our skin’s condition can be a good barometer of general body health. With the Metal Element in mind, think of your own value, your own self-worth with compassion because when you love and value yourself when you are ‘comfortable in your own skin’, it’s easier to appreciate and value others too.
If you enjoy using aromatherapy oils at home, essential oils like Eucalyptus is known for its antiseptic and anti-viral properties, Geranium is known to balance sebum production and Lavender has a particularly good reputations as a relaxant and for soothing irritated skin, burns and blisters. Tea Tree oil has been used for thousands of years by the to treat cuts and wounds. Interestingly, during World War II, in Australia, the Government issued Tea Tree to soldiers because of its natural germicide and antiseptic properties. Tea Tree also inhibits mould, fungi, bacteria. “When Captain Cook first arrived in Australia, the leaves from one of the many species of this plant were used as a substitute tea, hence its name”. Caution: Always read the labels and be aware that not all essential oils are suitable for use during pregnancy (e.g. Lavender). Recommendation: Do use good quality 100 percent natural oils because synthetic or chemically changed oils can cause reactions – so go for the best quality you can find. A good book: I have a super book entitled ‘The Aromatherapy Kit. Essential Oils and How to Use Them’ by
Charla Devereux and Bernie Hephrun from which the above product types were sourced.
Hang out in harmony with me:
(1) The Metal aspect of ourselves, just like our lungs and skin, needs time and space to breathe, emotionally and physically. Taking time for good health, makes space for wellbeing. (2) Allowing your body to receive and let go is a personal investment in looking after your energies. (3) Connecting to all joints, muscles, organs and body systems, when cared for the nourishing meridian network also looks after your energy. (4) As a therapist, I was pleased to find out that we have over 20,000 nerve fibres terminating in each finger tip! Remember, that as an important sensory organ, skin is highly sensitive to the power of touch.
Copyright Reflexology Plus Therapies February 2019
Disclaimer: Please note this article is for general well-being guidance and is not a substitute for clinical care. If you have any skin issues or affiliated health concerns always consult your GP or a specialist directly.
References: (1) Chris Stormer ‘Language of the Feet’ (2) Louise L Hay Hay House 2018 Calendar (3) Louise L Hay ‘The Power is Withi’n You Hay House. Essential Oils ‘The Aromatherpy Kit’ by Charla Devereux.