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Reenvisioning Facial Gua Sha: A Natural Approach to Beauty

Facial Gua sha can be seen in many ways. In this episode of the Gua sha show Clive gives you the basis of his way. To bring the beauty of the natural world of Chinese medicine into every treatment. He stresses the need for a foundation in what you do and that this can be found to the realm of natural science and a revision of how Chinese medicine is normally viewed. And how if you do this, you can treat with confidence.

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Episode Transcript:

Understanding Facial Gua Sha and Its Connection with Chinese Medicine

Hello and welcome to season 2 Episode 5 of the Gua sha show. And the theme of today’s show is talking a little about how we can change our perspective about Facial Gua sha and how it fits with Chinese medicine. As you all know, if you’ve listened to other shows, or read my books, or watched my videos, or done my courses, I’ve been using Gua sha for over 20 years and I approach Facial Gua sha from a slightly different perspective to most (actually all if I’m honest) and so this is me chewing over some of my ideas with you.

Experiencing Gua sha: A First-Hand Perspective

In my workshops in Sri Lanka, the first thing I would do is get a volunteer from the audience and use Gua sha on their neck. It’s like when you go to a show and when the performer asks for volunteers and suddenly everyone looks at their phones and looks uncomfortable but someone partly raises a hand and comes up. They sit down and the show starts. It’s no good people talking about Gua sha. You’ve got to see it. When you see it, you begin to understand it. Sure enough, the red marks of sha appear every time I do it. I was actually showing people how to treat colds, flu, and Covid 19-type respiratory infections, so I got their attention pretty quickly but I’d do the same for Facial Gua sha.

The Shock and Misunderstanding of Sha

Lots of people react with shock and horror when they see sha. Sha are the red marks which appear on the skin in areas of your body which have tension and obstruction. They often appear on your neck and shoulders when you scrape downwards and often without strong force. And for some, because Facial Gua sha is considered a ‘beauty therapy’, treatment is thought to be only soft, smooth and relaxing. The thought of sha appearing on the skin is so anathema to how they think Gua sha should be, that the very thought of it puts them off.

Oh my god. That’s terrible. I’d never do that to my body.

Wouldn’t you? I think you would if you knew what it was and what it did.

The True Purpose of Facial Gua sha

So let’s ask the question - If you’re using Gua sha to make changes in your face, why on earth would you want a red neck, shoulders, back and so on? Well, the first thing I have to say when talking about this - rather than gentle, light strokes of a tool - is welcome to Gua sha. The clue is in the name. Facial Gua sha. If it was something else, then it would have another name, right? You can’t just call anything which uses a tool on the face, Facial Gua sha. You have to realise that it wasn’t just invented out of thin air but comes from a particular technique and therapeutic result which has a history and development throughout East Asia.

Of course, the last thing we want is for there to be any marks actually on your face. That’s not the place for sha to appear. Sha is restricted to your body only and so the movement of the tool on the face is completely different from the movement of the tool on the head or on the neck or back or chest or arms and legs. Gua sha isn’t one technique but many and you have to choose the appropriate one at the appropriate time. They are all connected, however, in the general principle of what you’re doing. There’s a unifying thing that you’re doing in all Gua sha. It doesn’t matter where I do Gua sha, I have the same treatment goal every time.

It’s not like you’ve got Facial Gua sha on one side and body Gua sha on the other - it’s all the same following the same principles of what happens under your skin. And these principles are connected to the free movement of circulation patterns.

The Principles of Gua sha and Chinese Medicine

People often ask about scraping directions. Should they scrape up or down, away or towards the head or body. If you follow the general principles of Gua sha, there’s never any doubt, the answer is crystal clear. It doesn’t matter which part of the body you are. You’re going to use the natural motions of the body. Sometimes these appear to be going up and sometimes down depending on how you position yourself but the reasoning makes perfect sense because they aren’t just invented or based on dubious anatomical presumptions. They’re based on the 2000 year old foundations of Chinese medicine.

And this is what I want to do with Facial Gua sha. I want to cement it firmly within its historical and cultural background of the development of Gua sha which stems out of East Asia, but I want to go much deeper than you might think. Instead of the standard interpretations of what Chinese medicine is, which is heavily influenced by the events of the 20th century in China and the desire to standardize and simplify the complexity and diversity of Chinese medicine, I want to bring you further back to the ideas of nature-based medicine which believe it or not are actually the cornerstones of Chinese medicine.

Facial Gua sha: A Natural Science Perspective

So I look at Facial Gua sha from the viewpoint of natural science, the observation and understanding of the processes involved in natural phenomena in the world around us. This is what the ancient Chinese did and this is how Gua sha has to be seen in order to both stay true to its roots and to be as effective a tool as it can be to enhance your appearance.

But why is this so strange a concept? To understand your body in terms of the natural world. Not just in terms of your biology class - as in muscle, artery, bones - but in terms of your geography class - with river deltas, forests and flowers. This is something that many people instinctively feel a connection to. If I say that with your facial Gua sha treatment the idea is to foster the blossoming of your internal potential, I’m not using metaphors of a flower, I’m actually saying that the same process that we see in the opening of the petals of a flower, is in your body. It’s the same because we are part of the natural environment, we don’t just live in it, we are it.

The same motions which form the world that you see from your window everyday, formed you and me. And this knowledge is what the ancient Chinese passed on to us. And when you really get what they were trying to say, the elegance of it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. You never really think the same way as you once did again.

The Beauty of Facial Gua sha: A New Lens

And what better to have as your foundations when you do Facial Gua sha than the beauty of these ideas. Indeed, your idea of beauty changes because now you have another lens dripping in the science of the natural world by which you can view beauty both in concept and in practice and which is quite different from the norm.

The Impact of Understanding Gua sha and Chinese Medicine

So in this way, it doesn’t matter how you approach Facial Gua sha - whether you treat the body as well or whether you’re just restricted to the head and neck area as I know some people are - for example some estheticians. If you see Gua sha as Gua sha and Chinese medicine as nature-based, you are setting yourself up with solid foundations and the skills to get results with something really unique and special.


If you're ready to explore the potential of Ecology in Motion™ Gua sha, both personally and professionally, join me on this transformative journey of health and healing at the Komorebi Institute


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