Meditation & Health #24 Contents


Inner Radiance on the Face


By Yu Ran, Nary Chea & Caral Goh

Face reading or physiognomy is an ancient Chinese practice of understanding a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state and destiny from their facial features. The outer appearance is likened to a blazing light that transmits messages from the inner self. Face readers regard the face as an open book, a physical-emotional map which can reveal fate.

Inner Radiance

A person may have little physical appeal yet be wealthy, successful and happy, seemingly lit from within. This sparkle is usually expressed through the eyes and even the skin. There is a powerful inner radiance, also referred to as “bright shen” (meaning bright spirit) or “significant shen,” that beams forth naturally.

Can this beauty be bought? Physiognomists subscribe to the following belief: A warm, kind, genuine and goodhearted person, though physically deformed, can have a beautiful face; an average-looking but kind person can become beautiful over time as warmth, sincerity and love are reflected on their face; a gorgeous woman or a handsome man can become unattractive and downright ugly if their thoughts and actions are consistently malicious and unkind.

Good features are determined by the combination of a person’s outward appearance and mannerisms. Chinese physiognomy focuses on the observation of a person’s facial features. The person’s disposition and the radiance level of their complexion are taken into account. The diagnosis is made through observing, querying, and defining. Close observation is most important.

Achieving Balance

Our feelings, especially negative emotions such as fear, anger, worry, grief, and even too much excitement, affect our look in specific ways. These emotions, however, are necessary in life and are beneficial to health when kept in balance. If the undesirable feelings are dominant far too often, our organs and overall health can be harmed. The effect eventually shows up on the face as wrinkles, premature aging, lines, and lack of radiance. Achieving balance is paramount in life, both for physical health and emotional wellness.

Zeng Guofan, a distinguished minister during the Qing dynasty, wrote: “A person relies primarily on his qi (energy) whereby the inner self depends on the level of his ebullience, while the external is apparent in the brilliance of his complexion. The energy of our body is determined by how healthy the blood circulation is. With a good supply of blood to the internal organs, one’s vigor will be robust; if the blood supply is inadequate, the vitality will be weak.”

The hallmark of vitality is strong qi, which is shown through one’s eyes, facial expressions, use of language, movements, breathing, and skin radiance. By observing the glow — or lack thereof — of the skin, we can learn a lot about a person’s inner mind as the skin shows the external manifestation of qi. The facial glow will change with the body’s qi and thus is a dynamic factor that is constantly shifting.

Face Reading

We can take charge of how we present to the world: dressing up to impress others or styling our hair to exude an air of elegance. But we cannot completely change our facial features: the forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin. A surgeon’s scalpel cannot change our inner world; our inmost self will be reflected on our face.

• Window to the Soul

Those who always see the good in others and are high-spirited and full of enthusiasm have clear, bright eyes in which the pupil and sclera are distinct. Their eyes do not wander when looking at things or people; their gaze is focused and present. They are not easily affected by circumstances, even in times of great joy or sadness. Eyes that glisten with compassion speak the language of love; their gaze is gentle and calm.

• Optimistic Attitude

An optimistic and exuberant person has a healthy and ruddy complexion. Full of liveliness, they are energetic and joyful about life. When confronted with challenges or setbacks, they will bravely take them on. Exhibiting calmness and poise when dealing with adversities, they have qualities which win popularity and attract people and circumstances that are in alignment with their positivity.

• Strong Yet Gentle Voice

A person with inner radiance speaks calmly with a strong yet gentle voice that is pleasant to the ears of others. However, people lacking in qi are often inaudible or speak harshly; they are neither able to speak fluently nor capable of expressing their thoughts in an orderly, calm manner.

Inside the Body and Mind

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health theory divides the energy that constitutes human life into two parts. The first part comes from genetic inheritance; it is the basis of human growth and development. The other part is energy from diet and environment, both physical and emotional, which gets absorbed and transformed by the organs. Whichever energy one is lacking, it will affect one’s health.Imbalanced meals and excessive food intake are indicators of a lack of energy and will show on the face. Face reading is an effective way of accessing information about what is happening inside the body and mind.

TCM physicians also make their diagnosis based on facial features and on observing the person’s level of vitality and radiance in the complexion. For example, people with a dull complexion, indifferent expression, and sluggish movements may be suffering from a deficiency of blood in the liver and kidneys; people who often experience shortness of breath may be weak in the lungs and spleen; and those who look pale may be anemic.

TCM’s inferential diagnosis is similar to a physiognomist inferring a person’s fate on the same basis. There is a well-known story of a TCM diagnosis by Bian Que, a renowned physician. He met Qi Huan Gong three times and diagnosed him thrice with an ailment that needed urgent treatment.

As Qi Huan Gong did not feel any physical discomfort at the time, he did not believe the physician. But when he eventually felt pain, it was too late. He had missed the best treatment window and thus could not be healed.

Zeng Guofan once said, “Judge fame and glory by the lofty quality; judge wealth and prosperity by the inner essence.” To blossom in the outer world, one must feel whole and confident. When the natural complexion is bright and full of radiance, good fortune shines forth in his life. A dull complexion signifies a lack of spirit, and is usually indicative of bad fortune.


Radiance From the Inside Out

A healthy body, attractive face, and good fortune in life are inseparable from having a look which depicts high vitality and vigor. The face is very suggestible, and can be altered by managing emotions, adhering to right thought, and eating a balanced diet.

Meditate Regularly

Meditation is a peaceful and effective way to improve our spiritual condition and enhance concentration. The practices are gentle and replenish the body with energy which shows as radiance in the skin and a sparkle in the eyes.

Cultivate Compassion

To live a life filled with positive energy, cultivate compassion. If we have a gentle, loving and kind disposition toward all things in life, the body’s energy channels are largely unobstructed and qi flows smoothly. When we reach out a helping hand, we experience the joy and spiritual elevation of living consciously. The joy of tapping into Universal compassion benefits health and therefore appearance.

Healthy Habits

Staying up late frequently can harm the kidneys and cause listlessness, and a lack of sleep quickly shows on the face. Go to bed early and get up early. People who get sufficient sleep are typically active, dynamic, and have a good memory and immunity. Eat a light diet that is low in sugar. Keep the energy in your body circulating by engaging in 20 minutes of exercise on a daily basis.

Be compassionate and generous, and help others unconditionally. In this way, not only will you bring warmth to others, you will also exude a positive radiant aura of vitality. When you are filled with the energy of compassion, your face exudes a glow that attracts the best of life.


Meditation & Health #24 Contents