the face is the window of the soul

The Window of the Soul

April 17, 2023

You know those mornings when you just want to celebrate life, put on some loud music and open up your windows, so anyone walking down the street will hear the songs that light up your moment. Whatever you are feeling there is just the right song to express your mood. Whatever you are feeling your face express what is going on within. Just as the surface of water ripples as the wind brushes over it and great ocean currents move it from below, our faces are the point that our inner and outer worlds meet.

A photo captures a moment, rather than stopping the music imagine that pressing pause continued the sound of the moment leaving a single note hanging in the air. That single expression is a micro expression. But a song is collection of individual notes that together make phrases, mixed with words and melody, and those parts in turn make up the structure of verse, chorus and bridge. Music is infused with rhythm, repeatable enough for even the untrained to recognise it yet random too to pleasantly surprise you. 

Life is like that there are micro moments, there are patterns, phases, phrases and rythms. It is a typical modern misunderstanding to think time is linear, nature moves in cylces. Life’s experiences and our inner emotions are process rising and falling like the waves in water or sound waves of music.

Micro expressions ripple across the face within a fraction of a second, if you are observant there you may catch a glimpse of a person's true emotions. Then there are moods or background emotional states that may last for hours, days or weeks. 

Remember what your parents used to say, "don't make faces, if the wind changes your face will stay like that”. Well over time it does. 

laughter lines

We are like an open book, if you know the language, the lines of our faces can be read. Emotions are habits, like grooves in the mind or valleys carved by millennia of rainfall as the water follows its path to the sea. You are probably already familiar with laughter lines (at the corners of the eyes), sadness lines (around the mouth) and frown lines from concentration (between the eyebrows).

But did you know that when the nervous system is in flight and flight mode, and a person is feeling anxious, worried or stressed the bottom half of the face is paralyzed and the eyebrows are raised and the brow is tensed up. If you draw an imaginary line on the face that  connects the vertical middle of each eye and crosses the bridge of the nose - then above the line you will see patterns of stress and below you will see the expressions of human connection.

the raised eyebrows of worry

By advancing so much we’ve left a lot behind, we pay a great human cost to amass fortune and so called material “wellbeing”. I do believe there is a balance to be had, where I live in Spain I see a country that is more or less developed, but people still have time for each other and three generations of a family often live under one roof. 

Human relationships are the thread that life is woven from. Spending time with other people and losing ourselves in conversation is actually where we find ourselves as we speak ourselves into existence. 

How can we set aside time each day to honestly and openly connect? 

What difference would that make to your life today?

The anatomy of human emotion is modeled by PolyVagal Theory. It gives us a rich understanding of how emotion is linked to the functioning of the Autonomic Nervous System. As the nervous system switches from fight and flight to rest and digest modes there is a sweet stop in between primed for SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT. 

cranial nerves v and vii connect to the vagus nerve

The vagus nerve is linked to the Cranial Nerves that innervate the region of the face from the eyes down to the chin. Next time you're having a heart to heart remember it is also a face to face; and as we soften ourselves on the inside to let someone else in - the way in is to climb through the window of the soul.

Understanding our emotional anatomy is a big part of #personaldevelopment because it brings self-knowledge. #mindfulness is not just about meditation, we can and should practice in all streams of moments throughout the day to remember to feel into our bodies and stay rooted in body awareness or bodyfulness.  

Recognising our habits and embracing them for what makes us the person we are is the basis of the paradox of transformation. We can't simply think ourselves into being a different person, but we can accept ourselves fully, release resistance, soften ourselves and out of the tenderness begin to grow, again.

Photo by Jaclyn Moy, Metin Ozer, Glen Hodson, Donald Teel on Unsplash Cranial Nerve Diagram © Kate White ppncenter. com

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