What do the Mona Lisa and Taoist teachings have in common? They both know the benefits of a gentle smile. Positive emotions are reflected in a smile, which in turn helps us relax and feel positive. When we smile to ourselves, we create the inner smile we can carry with us, bringing a state of well being along into our day.
Cultivate a list of what makes you smile. It might be the step of a loved one in the hall, the soft fur of a pet, or the sound of rain on a summer night, the soft sift of snow against the window in winter. Whatever it may be, as you take a moment to picture it, feel the corners of your mouth turn up and your cheeks gently lift. Now notice the easing of your heart and a certain lightness of being. That’s the Inner Smile. You can have that whenever you recall it to mind.
An inner smile can show you the way to gratitude and grace. Your smile reveals the loving-kindness leading to a joyful heart. We can all use a bit of that to spread around. Who knows how you might change someone’s day by sharing a gentle helping of your light?
Inner Smile Meditation
You can also use your Inner Smile mindfully in a meditation to promote your body’s healing and overall well being. Follow these steps to focus on a single area or systematically address each organ area of your body, enhancing qi.
1- Sit comfortably upright on a chair or cushion. Align your head and neck with your spine.
2- Take a deep breath in and breathe out slowly. Match the inhale and exhale to a gentle natural rhythm.
3- Close your eyes or focus downward.
4- Rest the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
5- Empty your mind and focus on the breath.
6- Invite into your mind the loving image that makes you smile.
7- Feel the smile bring its energy to you.
8- Direct your smile to the place in your body where you want the energy to go.
9- Repeat for as long as you like, in the same place or to different sites in turn.
10- Turn the smile to your heart and reinforce the feeling of wellness and lightness of spirit before you open your eyes.
May your day be filled with joy and light.
Photos by Claire Mauro