Over the last 5 years I have been working on a book about what I do, and specifically about Dien Chan Facial Reflexology. Initially the goal was to integrate all that I've learnt and also to offer a simple guide to self-care massage for my clients. I had been slowly but steadily progressing with this when the pandemic started, and the downtime this provided helped me finish the book. The original goal was also expanded out to broader ambitions, it took on a life of its own!
The book is currently titled "Original Face: A New Look at Health & Healing", and is scheduled to be published by Inner Traditions in 2022. The title refers back to an old Zen koan: what was the original face you had before you were born? This raises the question of identity, authenticity, family, and also notions of 'non-duality'. This is a broad theme that runs through the book, and has been a running spiritual impulse in my life. However, the framework of the book lays out a more tangible investigation into the nature of emotions, from both the Western and Eastern perspective, the idea and history of stress and trauma, and provides self-care practices that draw from Dien Chan Facial Reflexology, Qigong, and meditation.
In this light, the book has been a way to integrate all the teachings I've learnt from Chinese Medicine, Dien Chan, Daoism and Buddhism, Tai Chi and Qigong, meditation, and also from more contemporary understandings of neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology, and the field of trauma healing. I believe the book traces a fascinating connection between the modern understanding of the social nervous system, as described by Polyvagal Theory and similar practices, with the ancient healing practices of the East, such as Jin Dan (the Way of the Golden Elixir, otherwise known as internal alchemy).
As if this wasn't ambitious enough, I could not resist bringing my passion for the more esoteric aspects of mythology, embodiment, religion, and spirituality. This is because there are many connections between what indigenous cultures call 'spirit possession' or 'trance possession', and the common experience of dissociation that is so prevalent in traumatic history and our culture at large. At the crux of this are contrasting beliefs about the 'mind-body' connection, and more fundamentally, our beliefs surrounding consciousness and materialism.
The ideas I explore around this topic are greatly influenced by such thinkers as Bernardo Kastrup, Iain McGilchrist, John Vervaeke, Ivan Illich, John Moriarty and Henry Corbin. They are also more practically informed by my personal time spent learning with the mythologist Martin Shaw, the embodiment specialist Philip Shepherd, the polymath healer Martín Prechtel, the Tai Chi teachers Sifu Yeung Ma Lee and Murray Douglas, and the meditation and qigong teachers Burgs and Michael Lomax.
This book therefore brings together so much of my learning and exploration from the last 20 years. The illustrated self-care practices, which draw from Dien Chan self-massage, meditation and qigong, are primarily designed to sooth and calm the mind and nervous system, allowing for a deeper sense of safety and rest within our body. There are also practices which help counter-act the effects of stress, trauma, and dissociation, and more broadly offer an effective preventative measure against poor health and disease. Lastly, the final chapters of the book explore the transformative and spiritual aspects of self-massage, which specifically look to clear and refresh our senses and shift our living perception towards a more holistic, relational, and renewing interaction with the world. This is akin to Moriarty's 'Silver Branch Perception'; I describe it as an 'orientation towards beauty'.
With luck, the book will be out for print by late Summer 2022, I cannot wait to share it with you! To keep up to date with the book and learn more about it I will be posting more regularly via my IG account: www.instagram.com/alexscrimgeour/