What Is This Skin We Have?

What Is This Skin We Have?

We have this skin . . . .  All this skin, from head to toe, and people say to me all the time, “it’s the body’s largest organ!”  If you really look into this, it’s truly an amazing fact and can jump-start the journey of exploring the fascinating, multifaceted aspects of the skin on the physiological level. But the skin has many other functions that I’d love to explore. I’ve heard it said that the skin is the demarcation between inner and outer… that what is within the skin is me and what is outside the skin is not me.  Me and not me, me and not me, hmmm… I’m not sure that’s true anymore, as if I’m this separate something. Certainly this perspective must come from a typical western reductionist way of looking at existence, separating everything into individual components.  So I consider; my skin, in one sense, must be a connecting factor, connecting me (or what I think is me) with life, the bigger picture. If seen in this way, all these awe-inspiring insights I’ve had about the skin begin to make sense. Yet, I’m not sure a total understanding of the skin is possible for us at this time, so I’m left with questions. I’m writing a tutorial on holistic skin care so certainly it seems proper that I share my questions with you.                                                                       

Of course there are the known physiological and anatomical aspects of the skin that are taught in biology class, and we’ve all seen those diagrams of the layers of the skin with the epidermis and hair follicles and sebaceous glands and collagen fibers, etc. etc.  But how does one explain that the skin actually eats light, registers the subtle vibrations constantly emitted by the life force of the planet and is influenced in some subtle way by the clear-cutting of the near-by forest?  How does one explain that the entire chemistry of your skin shifts, like cascading rain, every time your lover caresses you or you have a close call in traffic? Can we honestly grasp the fact that relationship counseling appears to be the best way to cure psoriasis? Or that the skin absorbs colors and smells?  How does the skin function as a kind of responsive antenna, an interface attuned to the stories of my self but also to the mysterious music of the spheres?  And why does the skin seem to be an enigmatic, porous bridge between our inner and outer life, an intermediary between emotions and thoughts and their subsequent physical manifestation? And how does it receive and adjust to incalculable inflowing influences, both personal and universal, influences so obscure that we can’t even begin to comprehend them?  

Sure, we can talk about hormones and enzymes and nerve impulses, but does the language of the observable physical aspects of the skin come close to explaining the reality of the skin? And if I did come closer to understanding the multidimensional purposes of the skin, which cannot be separate from the purposes of Gaia herself, how would I now relate to my wrinkles, to sunscreen or to anti-aging marketing that digs at the very core of our acceptance of ourselves as we are? And finally – and this is where Grateful Body comes in – how would I choose my skin care products?

It’s so clear. True skin care should serve the nutrient needs of the skin because all matter participates in this dance of needing sustenance. And being biologically-appropriate, the ‘instinctual intelligence’ of the body will take over and distribute nutrients according to its own needs. Yet this ‘food’ cannot be synthetic or unsuitable because then it couldn’t make your skin healthier and more beautiful! True skin care should be botanical so it is not environmentally persistent; for what I put on my skin, I am putting into the rivers, the soil, into the unborn.  And finally, true skin care should be holistic, because as it harmonizes with the laws of nature and the intelligence of Gaia, I literally feel delighted and supported as I use it.  This is why Grateful Body takes so seriously the issue of ingredient choices.

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