How to Practice Smile Meditation
The mind-body connection is powerful. When our mind is stressed, our body is stressed. We see this in tight shoulders, furrowed brows, achy back and more. However, when we’re mentally calm, we soften our bodies.
Here’s the awesome thing: we can tap into this process to calm our mind by relaxing our body. Soften your body and watch the mind follow suit, slowing and calming its thoughts.
One of the best ways to calm the body and mind simultaneously is to SMILE.
Smiling meditation is taught in several different schools, including Taoist and Buddhist. The practitioner either physically smiles while meditating, or visualizes an inner smile, imagining that they are smiling at themselves, just as they would smile at others.
This mindful smiling practice can be transformative and helpful for relieving tension and suffering. A number of studies have concluded that you become happier when you smile. Taoism teaches that smiling, then directing the smile inwards towards the organs is one way to cultivate health and longevity.
The next time you deal with a challenging emotion or circumstance, relax your face and smile. This communicates to your mind that you’re OK; this invites your mind to mirror your smiling face and calm down.
Some believe that ill health is caused by negative emotions settling into the physical body. Smiling meditation has the potential to remove the cause of illness and help restore wellbeing by cultivating positive emotions.
Put an easy smile on your face for one minute. Relax your facial muscles, then slowly raise the corners of your lips. Intentionally separate your eyebrows to smooth your forehead. Think of someone or something that brings you joy. Notice how you feel.
Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh instructs practitioners to breathe in as they bring awareness to a particular body part, then breathe out as they smile to that body part. By doing this towards different body parts, we can cultivate gratitude and appreciation for the health and happiness we have.
In yoga teacher Shiva Rea’s smiling meditation, she recommends generating a feeling of natural happiness, like an inner smile emanating from the backs of the eyes. The practitioner can visualize the inner smile radiating down the spine and into the brain, eyes, ears, mouth, throat, heart, lungs, stomach, spleen, liver, kidneys, intestines, hips, legs, feet and toes. This practice is said to activate the energy of loving kindness within the practitioner.
Consider practicing a smile meditation at these points in your day:
- At the start of your day, helping set the tone and energizing yourself for the day ahead
- Before you begin a creative task
- When you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions and stress
- At the end of your day, particularly a stressful one
May your smiles bring you much joy!