Your skin is like a mirror.
Not only is it your largest organ, but it’s also the only organ that separates and connects your external and internal realities at the same time. In a way, it’s a boundary and an invitation between your two worlds. It plays a vital role in sensory perception, regulating body temperature, and protecting muscles, bones and internal organs from outside infection and disease.
Madison Madden, founder of Livewise Ayurveda and I sat down to uncover some of those little-known facts about your skin and somatic expressions.
What digestive functions is your skin responsible for?
Madison: It’s both an absorbent and eliminative organ. Because it’s porous, it absorbs anything and everything you put on it. At the same time, it’s home to over 4 million sweat glands, which acts as one of the body’s main detoxifying agents.
Bhrajaka pitta, in the Ayurvedic lexicon, is the metabolic force that metabolizes substances on the skin to be distributed to the rest of the body. It’s also responsible for the brightness and luster of the skin from the inside out. Glowing skin is a sign of proper metabolism of food and perceptions.
Just like you can experience indigestion in your GI tract from stress, toxicity, overeating, eating incompatible foods, and various other factors, the metabolism of your skin functions very similarly. A pimple, for instance, is essentially indigestion expressing itself through the skin.
Your skin is also home to more than 1,000 species of bacteria. When balanced, the microorganisms keep the skin and corresponding systems healthy and protected. When imbalanced, just like the gut, they can wreak havoc.
Why do somatic expressions happen on your skin?
Madison: Since it’s the sheath that both separates and connects your internal and external realities, you’ll often see a connection between chronic skin conditions and dissonance between how someone feels on the inside and how they feel out in the world.
Your skin perceives both pain and pleasure. It has at least 5 different types of receptors that respond to pain and touch. Some connect directly to the brain, and others connect to the muscles, which send signals through the spinal cord. It is our body’s gate guard that perceives safety or danger.
Your skin is like a mirror. It connects and separates your internal and external worlds at the same time. Somatic expressions on your skin can signal a disconnect between these 2 worlds. #wellness #ayurveda Click To Tweet
How may your skin express your mind and soul?
Madison: In chronic skin conditions, for example eczema or psoriasis, there’s typically a connection to how you hold personal boundaries, how well you let go of what no longer serves you, and how toxic your environment is—both physically and emotionally. The expression of boundaries (or lack thereof) through your skin is a big one, especially when you know you should stand your ground but you don’t.
Stress and anxiety can lead to breakouts and aggravate other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Physically, when you feel stressed, your sympathetic nervous system releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol causes increased oil production in your skin, causing you to break out.
Boils may be connected to emotions boiling to the surface, especially the hot/fiery emotions like anger and frustration. This energy, rather than being held inside, is looking to take expression.
Hypersensitivity often relates to reactivity to the environment expressed through the skin. Fast-acting, spontaneous rashes often go hand in hand with an upheaval of emotional expression that needs to come out, almost like an outburst.
Itchy skin often means a feeling of wanting to break out of the mold, trying to clear something out, letting ama (toxins) out. It’s a sign that what’s going on on the inside is not matching what’s going on on the outside, and it needs to get out.
Healthy skin is a result of healthy metabolism as well as a content mind. Problems with the skin are often messengers that are urging you to make an important shift in your mind, body and life.
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Image by Anna Nekrashevich, Pexels
Disclaimer: the purpose of this blog is to educate and give you a different perspective on skin and its connection to you as a physical, emotional and spiritual being.