In order to continue our mission of popularizing and demystifying Qigong, here is our latest addition in the form of a Qigong blog. And since Qigong is one of the modalities of Chinese medicine some articles will be about Chinese medicine generally. We hope you enjoy it. And feel free to comment :)
Beauty - Is It Only Skin Deep?
SALIVA VS L’OREAL
What is beauty? It is something that attracts us to someone or something and makes us feel good about them. Even though most people would agree about beauty in regard to human looks, shape, hair, teeth etc., it still is a relative thing. It's not only what we see (although very important and for many - most important) but also what we hear, smell, touch, taste and feel.
For example, we like someone even more, because of the way they speak or sound, or we simply feel good about someone for no apparent reason. Or opposite to that, we do not like someone because of the way they speak, sound or smell. Just think about some of your favourite singers who might not look that great (or not that great anymore) but you love to see them and listen to their music or obsess over them.
Same can apply to movie stars, certain politicians, doctors, lawyers, etc. You see beauty even in their crooked teeth or bold patch. That's the case when inner beauty takes over the appearance. In China, it is classified as "yang" or "spiritual looks" and it includes a person's character, behaviour, habits, beliefs, level of education and everything else that we are not born with but achieve later in our life. It's something that we have the power to change to a great extent. For instance, we can decide to be really nice and friendly towards a person, or be real bastards towards them.
The "material looks" or "yin" however, is pretty determined before we are born. It's the way we look, the colour of our skin, hair, eyes, the shape of our face and teeth, the sound of our voice. It's our body, our material appearance or who we "are" as seen through the eyes of other people. We can still dye our hair, grow or shave it, have plastic surgery but those who know us can still see us a little modified, but the overall change is minor. These two (yin and yang) are the two aspects of one whole, they support and influence each other and cannot exist without each other (i.e. not in the same form).
Being developed the way it is, Chinese medicine's approach towards beauty is very different to western medicine (say with plastic surgery, liposuction, breast implants). Firstly, it's based on chi and not anatomy (i.e. the material body) the way western medicine is, so it does not treat the "disease" but the "energy imbalance" and then in the process of rebalancing it, the disease will be treated. Secondly, it's wholistic, so it does not only see all our illnesses as one chi imbalance, but it sees the problems with our looks as part of that whole too. In other words, Chinese medicine, if applied properly, corrects the core of all problems, thus, not only treating whatever disease is present, but is an excellent beauty therapy at the same time.
If you have problems with your skin, whether it's too dry, flaky or has pimples, in Chinese medicine, it's always a sign of energy imbalance inside the body and the treatment would be to fix the "inside" (or "root") in order to change the "outside" (or "branches"). It might involve some dealings with the outside to strengthen the results, but it wouldn't be to mask the outside.
One does not have to be a genius to see that "health" often is "beauty". When you are healthy, your skin is lustrous, hair shines, nails are strong and there is brightness in your eyes. But when you are sick, your skin might turn dull, pale or yellow, you might start to lose hair, your nails break, you get dark circles under your eyes. Not to mention some severe conditions where you might get swollen all over, drastically lose weight, get muscle atrophy, goitre, all joints deform. You would definitely not call that beautiful. It's not very common to hear things like, "You've got such a lovely beard rash, nice boils and cold sores". According to Chinese medicine, skin is governed by, or has something to do with lungs; hair, bones and teeth with kidneys; eyes, tendons and nails with liver; mouth, muscles and fat tissue with spleen; tongue, blood and senses with heart. That means if someone has premature greying or loss of hair, in Chinese medicine they would treat the kidneys to fix the problem. And it's not rare to see the hair grow back or gain it's original colour, in some cases after years of "baldness" and "greying". Most cases improved due to practising Qigong but also as a result of herbal treatment or acupuncture. The especially good styles are 5 Animals Play or Fragrant Qigong. Even though in some cases it might take years for that to happen.
Apart from main stream Chinese medicine in which all diseases are classified within the system and treated accordingly, there are many simple practical methods in China that can be very useful, both as a healing method as well as a beauty therapy, that do not require any special knowledge of Chinese medicine. Such as doing headstands or handstands daily to treat any problems on the head and face, e.g. loss of hair, grey hair, pimples, wrinkles, sinuses, throat, even sight and hearing problems. Or tea and food therapy, such as Wu Long tea for losing weight, hawthorn for lowering cholesterol, black sesame and black soy bean for grey hair, figs for vitiligo. Or self massage for better skin and hair and to reduce wrinkles, tapping teeth for healthy teeth and gums.
Some techniques that bring excellent results might seem a bit weird, such as the squeezing testicles (for longevity, better sight and hearing, better skin and hair, stronger bones, impotence, insomnia to name a few) or using saliva (to treat both internal and external imbalances) and many other similar techniques. Here, we will introduce the amazing properties of saliva. As you know, saliva is the clear liquid that is produced by the salivary glands that protects our mouth, gums and teeth, assists chewing, swallowing and digestion and can do many other wonders. In Chinese medicine, it is described as a "precious liquid", or "golden fluid" and is known to reinforce Yin (referring to the material aspect of our body, including blood, muscles, bones), stop thirst, extinguish inner heat, nourish the skin, stop itchiness and reduce swelling.
For thousands of years, it's been used in many different ways. Such as to cleanse the body by either fasting a few days in a row or one day every week where the body burns any deposits of food and saliva (that increases during those periods), when swallowed, assists the cleansing process. Normally, during Qigong practice, the secretion of saliva increases significantly, which is a very good sign, so by rinsing the mouth and swallowing it, it can aid in treating and preventing diseases of teeth, gums, throat and inner organs.
Apart from that, it can be externally applied on cuts, burns, insect bites, skin rashes and many other skin conditions. It is better than many disinfectants and antibiotics and it's always readily available. The only thing is, for certain conditions, it needs to be applied many times a day and it has to be given in generous amounts every time. For mosquito bites and similar conditions where the skin is itchy and swollen, it can be rubbed in until it stops being itchy. Among many cases treated by saliva in China, there was an interesting one of a man with severe pimples and boils on his face. His condition neither responded to western (antibiotics) nor Chinese medicine treatments (herbs and acupuncture). In the end, someone suggested he try saliva. After he applied it daily for a couple of months, his face cleared completely, not even leaving any scars. Not a really pretty thing to do, but it was worth the trouble in the end.
In Shao Lin Qigong, after meditation and self massage, it is normal to spit accumulated saliva into the palms and rub it onto the face. If you got the chance to see the Shao Lin monks, you probably noticed how clear and smooth there skin was. And if you have a cat you can see how it's done "properly".
Modern research has confirmed many beneficial properties of saliva: anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, even anti-cancer, plus it aids digestion (due to the enzymes it possesses) and, because it's alkaline, it protects teeth and gums. Researched for millions of years in God's Institute of Beauty and produced in the human body, it's so safe that not only can it be taken orally but can be exchanged with others, activating some of its magical properties.
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