Relax Your Wrinkles From the Inside Out

The latest research into the mind-body connection is giving the old expression “beauty comes from within” a new meaning. According to today’s anti-aging researchers, meditation and other relaxation techniques can actually slow physical aging by reducing the harmful effects of stress on our bodies and strengthening our immune systems. While it takes time and regular practice to reap the full physiological benefits of a calm mind, you can observe the rejuvenating effects of meditation on your face almost immediately. Tranquility Is Beautiful A serene expression and an exceptionally youthful appearance go hand and hand. If you’ve ever noticed the peaceful yet radiantly alive of an aged Zen Buddhist or a lifetime yoga or tai chi practitioner, you know what I mean. Although the ultimate goals of these practices may be spiritual rather than cosmetic transformation, meditative techniques do in fact help prevent what plastic surgeons call dynamic wrinkling. Dynamic wrinkles are the crow’s-feet, worry lines, and other facial creases caused by repetitive muscle contractions. Unlike Botox, which paralyzes facial muscles, meditation truly relaxes lines and wrinkles by relieving facial tension. Meditating in lotus pose offers mental, spiritual, and physical benefits. Finding Your Own Personal Bliss Eastern meditative traditions can do wonders for your body, mind, and spirit, but their particular rules and requirements can be daunting for Westerners to master. For instance, many Americans and Europeans are too distracted by the physical discomfort of sitting cross-legged on the floor to achieve a state of relaxation—or they may find that lying in corpse pose at the end of yoga class quickly puts them to sleep. To fully benefit from meditation, your inner and outer being needs to find the ideal balance between relaxation and alertness. So if counting your breath or chanting om makes you bored or nervous, you’ll be better served by a more personalized approach to meditation. A simplified form of the biofeedback employed by many clinical psychologists and other therapists is a good choice for some individuals. You can buy tapes that guide you through this process or simply rest in a comfortable position while you visualize a peaceful setting such as a beach or a mountaintop. Every time a distracting thought intrudes, return your attention to this mental image. Visualization techniques offer an alternative path to a harmonious mental state. Smooth Your Wrinkles by Soothing Your Soul My own approach to meditation is even simpler. I put on some beautiful music and allow myself to melt into its rhythmic flow for 20 to 30 minutes each day. The trick is to really concentrate on listening and feeling the music. As thoughts and worries begin to arise, simply observe them as if they were white clouds drifting across the sky and then refocus on the music. I find that learning to avoid dwelling on daily events and preoccupations comes much easier than trying force a busy mind to go blank. This routine can be customized to suit your own tastes. While listening to classical music works best for me, you can choose any type of  “sound environment” that promotes deep relaxation without causing drowsiness. The rhythmic patterns of African drumming, Tibetan Buddhist chants, and certain types of New Age music, for example, are believed to release endorphins and induce a restful mental state. Like any new discipline, meditation takes practice. So if you can’t sit still for ten minutes, don’t get discouraged. Do what you can each day and the process will gradually become easier. Eventually you’ll find that your sessions transport you to another world where time and your everyday cares disappear. When you return from your mental vacation, take a look in the mirror. I guarantee you’ll see a younger, more beautiful face looking back! A calm mind is fundamental to total wellness and lasting natural beauty.Image: federico stevanin /