By Michelle Roques O’Neil
The Chinese philosophy of qi and its five cyclical transitions gives you a beautiful and intelligent insight as to how best to care for yourself, both internally and externally. Each organ is associated with a season and when it is most active: autumn’s cycle links to the lungs (oxygen) and large intestine (digestion). Your lungs are essential to the production of qi, a vital life-force that gives structure and vitality to all things. Yes, we are made up of all things, including the stars: this primordial force breathes life to everything in existence – without it we cease to exist.
The transition from autumn to winter signifies the movement away from the ripeness of late summer (the Chinese call this ‘the lost season’). From this moment things begin to slow down; from being fully active, or yang, things start to move inward towards inactivity and the yin of winter. This is a time when ripened fruits are harvested and for us to acknowledge the fruits of our own labour. The sun sits lower in the sky and days become shorter, coaxing us toward slowing down and deeper sleep. Leaves lose moisture and dry as their external life-force ebbs and their physical form is discarded. Autumn’s impulse is that of surrender, leaving behind the active energy of summer and slowly moving toward the silence of winter.
Autumn skincare is all about release and repair, a time to slough away the remnants of your post holiday glow, which has become dry and ready for deep nourishment throughout winter. Gentle exfoliation is an essential way to remove dead, devitalised skin cells (these flatten and collect on the surface of the skin and impede absorption). Using a gentle exfoliant can really improve the receptivity of the skin.
Here are some autumn skincare ideas:
- Orange blossom hydrosol helps to hydrate and tone
- Use almond or oatmeal as a gentle exfoliant
- Manuka honey is a natural humectant used with buttermilk (rich in lactic acid, which will melt dead skin cells), leaving skin wonderfully soft
- A mask of cooling gel of Aloe for sun damaged skin, or rose gel to cool, tone and hydrate
- Geranium and frankincense are great essential oils for repair, blended with Rosehip seed and Argan oils to heal sun-damaged skin
- My most important tip is to encourage you to rejuvenate your inner vitality and glow through breath
Every time you breathe an extraordinary miracle happens: you create qi. The more conscious this process becomes, the greater the quality of this vital energy. You make ask yourself how? Simples! The key word is transition, that moment after the ’in’ breath – this is when your breath becomes qi and with practice this energy can be cultivated and expanded and most of all used to revitalise your physical and inner being.
What happens with regular practice is that vitality flows with greater ease. The effect is profound on many levels – as part of a breathing meditation you affect internal function, washing out blockage, energising the functions of all the vital organs, and the bonus is that the skin itself becomes more vital and glowing.
Michelle is the founder of Therapie by Roques O’Neil, an exceptional collection of aromatherapeutic potions for the body, hair and senses. Read our review of her cult products. We love the Cherish Skin Repair Body Serum, a luxurious blend of Geranium, Patchouli, Neroli, Tangerine and Ylang Ylang.