Just as leaves wither and crinkle and fall off a tree, so too does our skin go through an inevitable cycle of ageing. There is the monthly cycle where the dead cells slough off revealing a new skin. There is also our life cycle where we are ageing from the day we are born and the skin starts to show signs of ageing as early as our thirties, or if there is a lot of abuse on the body, it can even start to look tired and old in our twenties.
Wrinkles are an inevitable part of the natural ageing process and there are two types of wrinkles: Static and Dynamic.
Static wrinkles are visible even when your face is at rest and are a result of the natural ageing process where there is a gradual loss of skin elasticity, and a depletion of fat and collagen. Environmental factors and poor lifestyle habits can cause premature ageing.
Dynamic wrinkles develop due to repeated muscle movements, just like when you get a deep crease if you keep folding a piece of paper over and over the same way. When we make facial expressions we move our muscles in response to what we are feeling and so if we feel worried, anxious, angry, concerned or frustrated, we move certain muscles, if we feel joyous, open, buoyant and connected to our love and wisdom, we move other muscles. Someone who has a habit of frowning and scowling will develop frown lines and someone who smiles or laughs a lot will develop smile lines around the mouth and around the eyes.
So, what is it we are seeing when we look at our face in the mirror?
We receive a reflection of the choices we have made, an imprint of our movements.
We not only receive the reflection of our choices and our level of self-care, we may also overlay this with a veil of judgement which is largely conditioned by the consciousness of ageing that affects our attitude to ageing. This judgement distorts the image we perceive, and we do not then receive the pure reflection. For example, smile lines around our eyes are called ‘crows-feet’! Does this encourage you to celebrate them?
You might like to have a look at your own face and notice what you feel. Can you simply observe the reflection or is this overlayed with any judgement?
If you do not like what you see in the mirror, or find it hard to look at the reflection, is it because you are being reminded of the poor choices you have made or perhaps the fact that you have not cared for yourself enough? Or is it that you are simply perceiving any wrinkle as a sign of ageing?
If we accept and celebrate ageing as a natural maturing process we will be more likely to be able to accept and celebrate our wrinkles as character lines and, if we can’t do this we might ask ourselves why and be prepared to look at the choices we have made, particularly our level of self-care and whether we are holding onto any guilt, shame or judgement about such choices.
Sandra N, Australia