In the quest for beautiful skin have we missed out on a technique that can both quiet our mind, improve our health, and help our skin? Can you meditate your way to perfect skin?
While the health benefits of meditation are well known – reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, strengthening immunity, and inducing calm – what about the skin benefits?
Celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville writes about the connection between meditation and appearance:
I became convinced about the power of meditation after I witnessed significant changes in the skin of several of my clients who practice it. It really made me aware that I may be able to help someone topically or assist her in altering her diet, but if I can’t help her find a way to stop her brain craziness, she’s simply not going to look her best.
Meditation is a state of deep physical relaxation combined with acute mental alertness, and there are many ways to achieve this state. Almost every religion incorporates meditative practices such as praying and chanting, and you might be able to find one in your belief system. Other purely physiological techniques involve sitting and focusing on something that will hold your attention: a word, an image, your breath, or a visual cue.
(From Complexion Perfection! pages 36-37)
According to the online article Meditating for Better Skin as you practice meditation you reduce your stress levels and help your skin:
Meditation is practiced worldwide as an excellent way to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health. Did you know, however, that meditation can also help improve your appearance?When practiced properly and consistently, meditation is one of the few natural ways to improve the quality and tone of your skin, and even combat any number of skin ailments, ranging from acne to rosacea to premature wrinkling.How stress affects your skinThe body responds to duress by releasing cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol, while necessary in small quantities to help you deal with “fight or flight” situations, is not meant to be sustained at high levels for prolonged periods of time. Continued production of cortisol can result in a variety of negative health issues including fat gain around the visceral organs, blood sugar imbalance, decreased bone density, higher blood pressure and of course, skin problems.Cortisol can result in an increase in oil production, which can lead to acne and acne-related problems.Additionally, when cortisol is released by the body, sugar levels in our bloodstream go up. Increased blood sugar promotes glycation in our skin, which damages collagen. Damage to collagen can lead to more lines and wrinkles.As soon as cortisol is released by the body, sugar levels in the blood increase. We know that sugar spikes are especially bad for diabetics, but increased blood sugar also promotes a process called glycation in our skin which damages the collagen. Collagen is what makes your skin both firm and pliable. The breakdown of collagen leads to fine lines and eventually wrinkles.Cortisol acts to dehydrate the skin by decreasing your skin’s production of hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizer for the skin. And it compromises the skin’s barrier, which allows hydration to evaporate instead of staying in the skin.Another byproduct of stress that works negatively on the skin is adrenaline, which decreases blood flow to your skin and leads to a pale, wan complexion.
Better skin through meditationResearch has shown that meditation is a powerful stress-reliever. When you meditate, you slow your heart rate and produce less cortisol even as your immune functions improve. While difficult to adjust to initially, a consistent practitioner of meditation reaps myriad mental and physical benefits, including reduced stress responses and improved immunity to stress.
Reduction in stress naturally leads to reduction of stress hormones like cortisol, which allows your skin to continue to regenerate normally .
People have found that after consistent meditation, they see fewer lines and wrinkles, improvement in acne, fewer dark circles or bags under the eyes (due in part to improved quality of sleep that comes with meditation), and a healthy glow.
Note: For maximum benefits to your skin, do not shower immediately after meditation. Some studies have suggested that chemicals produced during meditation can be beneficial to the skin. Showering would not only wash off those beneficial chemicals, but also produce a shock to the nervous system, increasing the stress response which is the opposite of the intended goal. If you must shower post-meditation, try to wait at least half an hour to an hour. Ideally, avoid any kind of water exposure or submersion post-meditation.
Sources and Further Reading:
- If you want to learn all about the connection between stress, lifestyle choices, and diet and your skin you must read Dr. Amy Wechsler’s excellent book The Mind-Beauty Connection. Also see my review.
- My post – Stress and Your Skin
- The Health Benefits of Meditation – Skin Inc.
- Meditation Combats Loneliness and May Help to Reduce Inflammation
Image from http://www.organizationalwellness.com