The muscles and fascia of the face are the mechanism that tells our system how we feel about what we experience. From tiny facial movements we create how we feel about “life”.
Try this – Look at something about which you have no “emotional attachment” – Maybe a wall, or curtain – or a box – unless of course you have a box fetish (i’m sure someone does somewhere – you’ll find no judgement here, enjoy those boxes) – When you look at it, smile and pay attention to how you feel. Now stop smiling, “pull” (adopt) a ” straight face” and now see how you feel. I’m guessing it was noticeable. This us a very basic example of how those movements of the face create how we feel “emotionally” – our “mood” – which becomes our behaviours.
Another example of this is the following – And to be clear, i’m not expecting you to be able to keep a straight face the next time you hurt yourself, but if you remember this the next time you do, notice what your face is doing (scrunching up, “wincing” no doubt if you’ve just banged your toe or head or some other part of you has taken a knock) and if you can, bring your attention to “pulling” a straight face (focusing on the top lip helps hugely here, hence the expression “stiff upper lip”). I will wager that it hurts less within moments. This applies to “e-motional” pain too as it”s the same energy being interpreted in a certain way, a way defined by our physical “make up”.
Information comes into the system (the human mindbody – “us”) in many ways – Essentially, in the form of what we will call energy for the purposes of this article – This takes many forms, existing at many different frequencies – our frequency dictating what information we receive and how we interpret it. It is in food, light entering our eyes, “vibes” given off by other people and all around us in “the ether” – It is everywhere.
How we react to this information is where the magic happens. One persons interpretation being different to the next – Your interpretation (potentially, depending on how you “feel”) on one day being different to the next. As we experienced above, with the same information (the wall, or curtain), we felt differently because of the expression that was created with our face. This is because the facial muscles are connected to the nervous system via the facial nerve and trigeminal nerve (and so on), which send huge amounts of information into the system, telling it what to produce chemically (pineal gland, pituitary and so on) and therefore how to feel, allowing us to respond appropriately. If you smiled at the proverbial sabre toothed tiger that we hear so much about when talking about fight or flight, your body would not produce the necessary chemistry to enable you to take off really fast – Maybe your smile would soothe the big cat and there would be no need to run as it purred, making “flight” unnecessary but you get the idea.
So, information comes into the system in many ways – And the face is the major player in turning information received into how we perceive that – After all, your “perception” of anything is affected by how you feel and how you feel is dictated by what we call chemistry (and energy, although these obviously overlap as one is the other, only by a different name and in a particular form) and as we have seen, the face has a huge influence over what chemistry is produced/secreted. So, what we “do” with our face has a huge impact on how we feel about what we experience and therefore, how we think and behave and therefore who we “are”.
All very well you might say but i can’t just change my face, i’m not John Travolta (movie reference for those not aware of the surely Oscar winning Face Off – I missed the Oscars that year so i’m not sure if it won – Come to think of it, i’ve “missed” them every year).
Aha, but you can – Or at least you can change the composition of it, release some of that “tension” (real name restricted movement/energy “block”, that’s for another piece though) – And even better news, tension anywhere within the physical body will affect the face as not only does this restricted movement come with it’s own expression of chemicals from within the muscles (lookup myokines, cytokines etc if you wish to know more), the network of fascia “connecting” the muscles to the nervous system (yes, it’s an overly simplistic description but it suits our purposes here) acts partly like a web and when you pull one part of the web tight, it affects the whole structure – Think if you will of a t shirt – if you grab it around your naval area and start to twist it, you’ll very soon feel it get tight across the shoulders, back etc. So, releasing (excessive) tension from anywhere will have a positive affect on redistribution of optimal tension across the network. There are exercises you can do to work directly with the face and release these (often not visible) restrictions but that’s for another day – for now let’s let the understanding sink in as then all methods and modalities can become effective. Awareness is key.
This could obviously be taken to a very “deep” level, we could discuss all of the factors that affect how our facial muscles are right now, from factors pre-natal, birth, post natal and beyond – And while we might find clues as to what would be particularly helpful exercises for us to do to help specific situations, you will probably find that good old awareness helps to fix most things – Simply bring your awareness to the face (the top lip is again a great starting place but anywhere you are “drawn” to will do – eyes closed at first helps) and watch it start to correct itself.
I wouldn’t feel right after writing that if i didn’t leave you with a couple of “exercises” you can try so here goes:
- Breathing in through the nose, smile as you breathe in and form a pucker/”kiss” as you breath out (still through the nose). Play with this, allow your face to stay in one place if that’s what it feels like doing, switch the smile and pucker for the in and out breaths, have fun with it. Hold the pucker for as long as you can and feel it (naturally) melt.
- Form a pucker and bring the tip of your tongue into that area, as if it were a sweet you were sucking – pretend you are sucking it (start really slowly) and watch what happens to your breathing and how you feel, especially after you allow the face to relax again. Again, be playful, experiment with what feels good to you. These are like facial resets and as with any part of the body, resets are good. There are many more you can do too but you’ll find them soon enough.