INSPIRATION. PASSION. PURPOSE
Here’s Why I’m Obsessed With Gua Sha: How This Traditional Chinese Medicine Massage Technique Has Taken Over My Skincare Routine
By Tanya Riz Tan
As a self-proclaimed skincare freak, I’ve tried every beauty tool I could get my hands on: from cleansing brushes to micro needling rollers and LED light masks (as one skincare fanatic does). But it wasn’t until last year, when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, that prompted me to shift my skincare routine to all clean beauty products and seek out a wellness-focused skincare routine involving Gua Sha, a massage technique rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Do I actually see a difference in my skin? Short answer: So. Much. Yes.
My gateway tool was the jade roller: you’ve probably seen it popping up all over IG. It’s a roller tool made of jade stone that’s designed to be used in light upward strokes on the face (after applying serums and oils). Drawing from East Asian massage techniques, it’s supposed to de-puff, increase collagen production and tighten skin with regular use.
But although using the roller was very relaxing to use (not to mention aesthetically pleasing to photograph for the ‘gram), I felt myself wanting more out of the tool. Since I wasn’t seeing visible results, I actually put the tool aside and completely forgot about it for a bit...until I was prescribed a medication for my autoimmune disease that caused “moon face” (aka facial bloating and swelling). I was desperate for anything to take down the puffiness (as contouring with makeup can only go so far). I turned to my literal skincare “tool box” but couldn’t find a tool that was gave a more intensive facial sculpting experience: my dainty lil’ jade roller just wasn’t cutting it.
I decided to delve deep into researching other facial tools rooted in Eastern techniques. That’s when I discovered Gua Sha, an East Asian massage technique that uses a tool to do long, “scraping” strokes to relieve pain and tension, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. I know what you’re thinking—it sounds like a painful and unpleasant experience—but it’s actually surprisingly super relaxing when used correctly on the face.
Rooted in ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine, Gua Sha is supposed to awaken your stagnant energy (or Qi) and promote circulation and drainage of excess fluids in the face and body. After incorporating it into my nightly skincare ritual over the past year, I can say that I’ve actually seen results: my skin looks brighter (and more glow-y), I have visibly reduced acne breakouts, my cheeks and jawline are more sculpted (almost like natural contouring without the makeup), and best of all—it works wonders for relieving TMJ, headaches, and muscle tension in the face. I even tested it out when I was feeling under the weather and noticed that my skin completely perked up (aka I looked alive again) as a result.
I find that doing it nightly (as part of my skincare ritual) to be an almost meditative-like experience: after cleansing my face, I burn a candle, put on my favourite Spotify playlist and proceed to Gua Sha every inch of my face (because #selfcare). I noticed that not only does my skin benefit but also my mental wellbeing as I notice my stress levels and anxiety melting away as soon as the stone glides across my face. Am I now fully dependent and obsessed with Gua Sha? Definitely. So much so that I recently took a course in New York taught by acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners to master the correct method of doing it. If you’re curious to delve into Gua Sha, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Cleanse and tone your skin first and apply a facial oil
Cleansing and toning your face prior to Gua Sha-ing is key to remove any excess oils and to allow serums and oils to penetrate more effectively with the stone tool (especially if you’re like me and prone to acne breakouts). Using a light facial oil is also essential when using the stone to ensure that the tool glides effortlessly across the face (instead of pulling of the skin which could cause premature aging).
2. Start with the neck first
In order to drain excess fluids from the face, the key is to start on the neck area in gentle upward and downward strokes to promote movement of the fluid away from the face. You can even move further past the collarbone and do the back of your neck and shoulders (where all those keyboard-induced tension knots are).
3. Use a decent amount of pressure to relieve tension
Although the pressure used in facial Gua Sha does not nearly compare to the pressure used for the body (side note: do *not* Google body Gua Sha if you don’t want to be scared off), it does still require a fair bit of gentle pressure. You’ll know you’re on the right track if you can feel the tension in your facial muscles relaxing (especially along the jaw line). The key is to make sure the stone lies somewhat flat against the skin in order to avoid being too abrasive.
4. Use upward strokes for the face
After completing the neck area, do 10 or so slow, upward strokes along jawline using the grooved edge of the tool, ending right in front of the ear. With the same amount of pressure, you can do the same upward strokes right underneath the cheekbone to lift, sculpt, and contour the face.
5. Hit the acupressure points on the face
To get the most out of your Gua Sha ritual, hitting the main acupressure points can work wonders for optimal lymphatic drainage. Derived from traditional acupuncture techniques, gently pressing along these points using your stone tool can help drain the excess fluids containing toxins in the skin in various areas. For example, the points along the brow bone and underneath the eye area are great for de-puffing. Working the point in the middle of the forehead (where your “third eye” is) as well as your temples is also great for reducing tension and headaches.
The beauty about your own Gua Sha ritual is that you can really just feel it out and see what feels good on your skin and go from there. But when in doubt, refer to this v helpful tutorial and you’ll be well on your way.
Words by: Tanya Riz Tan
I Tried a “Higher Self” Reading for the First Time:
Here’s What It Was Like and How It Helped Me Trust My Intuition
Featuring words by guest blogger: Tanya Riz Tan
For the past year, I’ve dipped way into spirituality. It started after a relationship ended, which triggered a (necessary) process of healing through past traumas, and a hyper-focused yearning for personal growth and self-actualization. While I’ve never considered myself to be a “spiritual” person, the concept of spirituality crept up in my life slowly: it started with yoga and meditation (s/o WIPP meditation series for guiding me through it!), then seeking out spiritual books (like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now) and later on manifesting, tarot readings, palo santo, sage burning, and sound bath healing sessions and Qi Gong (cue realization that I’ve gone all out on spirituality). But I think that’s the beauty of having a spiritual practice—you can have your own ritual of self-spirituality and make it about whatever speaks to you, whether it’s drawing from Eastern or Western spiritual practices or just using an app to meditate.
After making meditation a constant habit in my life (part of a morning ritual including gratitude journaling before coffee) I felt connected to myself in a way that I’d never been before: way more in touch with the core of who I was, my values, and more disconnected from the ego (aka the root of all evil in spirituality terms). In short, I felt like I was my higher self, realized. I noticed that the energy in my life shifted as a result of this: the quality of friendships in my life improved, my overall energy increased, I was more grateful, and I felt overall purposeful and passionate.
So after recently attending an event that featured a spiritual coach (who specialized in “higher self readings” and reiki), I decided to try it out. I was beyond curious to see what my message my “higher self” had for me (because what could my “higher self” tell me that I didn’t already know?).
Similar to a tarot reading, she asked me to sit, close my eyes and take deep breaths as she attuned into my energy. I went into the reading with an open mind, not seeking a particular answer to a question or specific guidance. But I was surprised that she was able to read my energy pretty accurately in the first few minutes: picking up that I was a bit anxious and exhausted (a byproduct of staying up late nights working on launching my own startup company), and prone to overthinking (what she described as “almost like you’re in your head a lot and not aware of your surroundings”).
“I also feel like you’re almost tuning emotional things out and afraid to feel again,” she said. She was 100% right. After a relationship ended where I constantly didn’t feel like I was enough, I was afraid to be vulnerable again. “I want you to feel more supported so I’m going to do a bit of reiki if that’s ok?” she said. She placed her hands on my back and told me to take deep breaths again.
“What I want you to do is to tune into your intuition,” she said. “I feel like you’ve been ignoring it recently.” As soon as she said it, I realized that I had been so preoccupied with other things that I even forgot what my “intuition” was supposed to feel like. So I asked her what she meant by this—how was I supposed to know if it was my intuition nudging me in the right direction? She told me to close my eyes again and tune out all the noise that was going on around us from the event.
“Take a deep breath and say the word ‘yes,’” she said. “Now observe how this feels—not in your thoughts but in your body.” I did so and instantly realized that I felt lighter, more open, and at peace when I said the word “yes.” The tightness in my shoulders melted a bit, and the stiffness in my jaw relaxed. She told me to repeat the word “yes” again and fully experience the feeling of it in my body rather than my mind. I took a few deep breaths in this space and opened my eyes.
“Now what I want you to do is say the word ‘no’ out loud and pay attention to what this feels like.” I followed her instructions and was surprised at how different it felt—like a complete 180-degree shift in my body. My neck and shoulders tensed back up again and my body felt more rigid this time. I caught myself wanting to cross my arms and almost involuntarily shake my head—almost as my body’s default response to the word “no.”
“Feel the difference?” she asked. I nodded. I definitely did. She told me that was what my higher self was trying to tell me—to get in touch with what felt right in my body. Even though the reading was meant for me at that moment, I feel like having a disconnection between mind and body is something we can all relate to. Between our responsibilities and filtering out the constant noise—from our social feeds, emails, and conversations—we tend to ignore our intuition and what naturally feels right in our bodies. For me, it brought up the concept of boundaries and self-care: being able to say no when something doesn’t feel right and it being okay to do so. To do what ever is necessary to preserve your mental health, your energy and self-peace.
Since the reading, I’ve been way more mindful of how my body feels in various situations. Making a conscious effort to tune out the noise and unhealthy thought patterns that come up. Asking myself if the space I’m in, the conversations I’m having, and the energy around me feels like a “yes.”
Intuition is a lot less complicated than we think—it’s a simple yes or no feeling. If something feels right at that exact moment and is bettering you as a person, then that is enough reason to do something. In short, visualize yourself as your highest self and show up as her by asking if it’s a “yes.” And if it is, surrender to your instinct and follow it completely.
Words by Tanya Riz Tan
Featuring words by guest blogger: Chris Lowe
Summer is coming, and I’m here to prepare you mentally because you’re about to be bombarded with advertising containing “helpful” tips on how to achieve the perfect “summer body”.
What’s the perfect summer body, you may ask? I have literally no idea.
What I do know however, is that the general consensus is: we believe it doesn’t look like the one we’re in.
Why is that?
Why is it that we never seem to consider our own bodies as the ideal “summer body”?
Well… why would we?
We’ve been taught to seek what we don’t have rather than accepting what we do.
This applies to everything, especially our bodies.
What’s also true is that this belief no longer serves us.
So let’s change it.
How to change it?
We’re going to do that through acceptance.
Now, hear me out, because this is deeper than a blog post telling you to “just love yourself, girl!”.
This is about you challenging your conditioned thoughts, not wasting your time with self loathing actions, making choices that serve you from a place that serves you,
and empowering yourself to change your perception.
Let’s challenge the way we think about our bodies leading into this summer season.
Here are a few reflective questions to help you do that…
Do I actually not like this about my body, or was I taught not to like this about my body?
In what ways would my life change if I decided to accept my body as it is now?
Do I want to change my body from a place of shame and hate or from a place of acceptance and love?
What is one physical action I can do today to help me accept my body?
Are there any parts I CAN accept right now?
I want us to sit with these questions and when we start convincing ourselves that our bodies aren’t summer ready, ask them, because it’s important to challenge our negative thoughts.
Bottom line here is that we don’t necessarily have to connect with the term “summer body” or the idea of working out and living healthier in order to look and feel better.
Rather, if you work towards your body from a place of acceptance, knowing that your current body qualifies, just as much as your future body will, the process of getting there will be all that more enjoyable.
Shot by Chrris Lowe
Toronto is finally warming up and we've fully embraced the spring clean. Now is the time to purge anything that's giving you negative energy in preparation for summer '19.
In true Marie Kondo style, start with what's easy and material
-your home. Does your space inspire you to work towards your personal goals?
-your closet. Does your closet make you feel like your best self, or just overwhelmed?
Make some tough decisions & put yourself first
-the people in your life. What do they add & how do they inspire you?
-your thoughts. We love Kundalini meditation & sound healing.
Most importantly take inventory of how you spend your daily routine. Do your actions bring you joy & fulfillment?
You got this!
The final few weeks of 2018 are here and if you've been awake at all this year then you probably feel like us, somewhere between hella drained & infinitely inspired.
With 3 Mercury Retrogrades in one year and a few other planets taking us for a loop, 2018 has been 12 months of challenging moments - a lot of which have been spiritually testing & all of which have been fostering growth.
As we embark on the final month of the year, it is only fitting to take a moment for yourself to reflect on what has transpired in 2018, for you.
We've shared few questions that the WIPP team have asked ourselves as well as each other which can be used as a guide to your own self-reflection on this past year and hopefully can lead to some inspiring focuses for the new one!
How is your heart?
How do you feel?
Are you currently happy?
Are you mentally and emotionally free? Unbound by past narratives and the ego mind?
Are you comfortable with who you see in the mirror?
PHOTO VIA: @SUBLIMING.JPG
In the face of your most challenging moments, what lessons did you learn of yourself?
What lesson did you learn of others?
In the face of your most fearful moments, what space did you access for a source of strength?
Do you feel more aligned with your path? If so, what changes did you make to get there?
If not, what do you think you need to change?
What are some of the most valuable lessons you've learned in 2018?
How do you feel about the current state of your relationships? Check your circle - are the people around you on the same wavelength?
We'd love to hear if you’re down to share. Hit us up via email firstname.lastname@example.org or send us an IG dm.
It would be beautiful to see the different spaces we all find ourselves in while working towards the best version of ourselves!
Last Week in Review: Canadian Artist on Mental Health
The Art of Chaos
Last week, WIPP Toronto's Social Media star Shana debuted her artwork for The Art Of Chaos - a mini docu-series project which consists of three 3-5min short films, each a standalone piece showcasing a unique Canadian artist with mental illness.
Its passion? Focusing on sparking a conversation on mental healthy while inspiring a community to bravely share their experiences and stories.
We had a chance to catch up with Shana to discuss her artwork and how it felt to be involved in such an important conversation.
On her artwork:
I created this piece for the documentary series called The Art Of Chaos. Its painted with acrylic paint and oil pastel detailing. The vision for this painting is to represent love and support. The two figures are back to back to show that they are solid and are there for each other - it represents a community of support. The head pieces are a reflection of mental health. I wanted to create the piece with cheerful colours to allow the audience to feel happy and hopeful.
On being part of the project:
Being a part of this unique body of work meant a lot to me. The topic at hand is very important to me so of course without hesitation I said yes!
Mental health has been something that I continue to discuss. I was asked to share an experience that effected my personal mental health and how art has helped me cope with the the trauma of sexual assault.
Words of encouragement to support anyone in similar spaces:
I believe that healing always starts with you. You have the power to reach out for help and you have the power to change your life. I also believe that speaking out on your experiences and sharing is a key factor in your journey to healing. This documentary was a way for me to give back to my community and making sure that people felt heard; that they were not alone. There’s always someone out there that can benefit hearing your story.
Take a look at Shana’s work and docu-series on @artofchaosofficial
ART & POETRY
Growth through Pain
The hurt I felt weighed heavy
Like bricks of burdens on my back
The drive to preserver
Is something I thought I lacked
But deep within my soul
A magic was shining through
My being had all the answers
I never thought I knew
See we’re all born with greatness
But many lessons are to know
Never would I think
Pain would be my teacher of growth
Growth: A Choice
I move with the intention of welcoming growth
I know it is in my nature to evolve
And so every day I choose to be mindful
Of the process of which I am involved
I move with the intention of welcoming growth
Even on days where there are growing pains
I meet each obstacle with open arms
Aware of the possibilities of what’s to gain
I move with the intention of welcoming growth
I flow freely in this space
Allowing the universe to guide me
Surrendering to it’s pace
I move with the intention of welcoming growth…