Dry bushing of the skin has been a Scandinavian ritual for thousands of years. It is recognized not only for its tremendous exfoliating effects but also for the added boost it gives the immune system by helping rid the body of toxins. Through the practice of using a natural-bristle brush to exfoliate, clean the skin and stimulate the lymphatic system, this ancient ritual provides a daily opportunity for personal healing and meditation and results in healthy glowing skin. It is a simple process that can be done as quickly or as meditatively as time and desire allow.
The skin is the largest and most important organ of the body. One square inch of skin contains 9,500 cells, 19 yards of blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, 78 heat sensors, 78 yards of nerves, 19,500 cells at the end of the nerve fibres, and 165 pressure apparatuses for the perception of touch. (The fact that our bodies have over five milion receptors for touch gives us a clue as to the massive role touch plays in overall health.) Aside from sensing hot and cold, stimulating the nervous system, and sustaining the network of arteries and lymph ducts that maintain circulation, the skin protects and provides a barrier for our internal organs. Considering the above, we must become intimately familiar with the knowledge of proper skin care. We must read every inch of our skin every day. The skin more than any other part of the body, literally reels how you feel mentally, emotionally and physically.
So how does one master the technique of dry skin brushing? If we realize we must be master healers of our own bodies, we will take action, and if we perform healing actions continually, they become habits. These habits then become who we are.
Seemingly, unconsciously we eat, drink, bathe, brush our teeth, breathe and perform dozens of other functions without considering technique, outcome or personal benefit. The actions become second nature. We just do it.
Body brushing is one-stop-shopping in the skin care department. Using the following techinique allows ample opportunity to give the body the healing benefit of stimulating touch plus you get a few more goodies along with it.
These benefits include softer, more supple skin that is free of dead cells and toxic build-up and a rosy, healthy glow from the extra circulation and stimulation of the brushing. Your lymphatic system, which is the drainage system for the body tissues and which circulates without the help of the heart, will get an added boost from daily brushing, buffing and rubbing of the skin. Plus, it helps you become familiar and in tune with the parts of your body that you may have been avoiding or are just plain unconscious of.
The “How To” Ritual of Body Brushing
To master the art of body brushing, take as much time as you need to be with your body. The ritual will become a part of who you are. Some days brushing is quick and invigorating. On other days you may light a candle and take your time to slowly massage and stroke every weary limb.
Step 1 – Brush
Using a natural fibre body brush with firm to medium bristles, begin brushing your dry body with your toes and work your way up to your ankles and calves. Brush in a small circular pattern away from your extremities toward your heart. Brush up to your knees, thighs and abdomen. In the more sensitive areas, brush a little lighter or switch to a softer bristle brush.
Pay special attention to the areas of your skin that get dry and scaly – knees, elbows, knuckles and feet are the usual problem areas. Brush vigoriously the cuticles of fingers and toes. Use a fine-bristle brush on the chest, neck and face using gentle circular strokes.
Step 2 – Rinse
Jump into a shower and rinse. The brushing has lifted the dead cells and waste away from the surface of the skin. Now simply let the warm water carry it away. If you dare, give yourself a blast of cold water before jumping out of the shower: this really gets the blood flowing. It helps to flush the eliminative organs after their night’s work and helps regulate the body’s temperature.
Step 3 – Buff
Using a coarse terry towel, begin buffing your body dry starting at your toes and working your way up toward the heart using the same circular motion as the brushing. Again, pay special attention to any part of the body that shows signs of rough or dry skin.
Step 4 – Rub
At this point your body should be tingling and glowing. Pour a small coin’s worth of pure plant oil (such as sesame or almond) into your palm and begin vigorously massaging this into the skin, again using the same toe-to-heart technique. Use your fingertips to work the oil down into the muscles of the arms, legs, abdomen and buttocks. Try to massage the oil into every inch of your skin. This mini, daily self-massage should increase your heart rate and deepen your breathing.