The Buddha, in all his great wisdom, taught the smiling meditation many long years ago. It’s a beautiful, simple one to do anywhere, anytime and it’s especially good during those times when Life throws a bit too much in your direction all at once.
I’m happy to say that I don’t usually get wound up when things like that happen. I’ve learned that it just makes them feel worse. Instead, I use the smiling meditation to come back to a point of balance. That’s a much better place from which to make decisions and handle difficult situations.
I would highly recommend doing the smiling meditation every day for a few minutes just because it’s so enjoyable. And also, the more you do it, the easier you’ll be able to slide into it when things get a bit bumpy, saving yourself loads of grief and upset.
You can even do it if you’re standing in a long queue or sitting at your desk feeling overwhelmed and no one will notice. How cool is that?
Here’s how it goes: Close your eyes, take a deep breath and hold it just for a few seconds at the top before exhaling slowly while letting go of any noticeable tension in your body. Then plant a little smile on your lips. It doesn’t have to be a big, toothy grin. Just a gentle little smile, like the one you see on Buddha statues much of the time.
You might not be feeling at all smiley, but that’s okay, do it anyway because that’s the point of this meditation.
Think about that little Buddha smile on your face and concentrate on it spreading up into your cheeks so they’re smiling too.
Think about the corners of your eyes turning up into a little smiling position. Imagine your eyebrows, scalp, ears and even your hair smiling. In moments, you will begin to feel more peaceful, relaxed, centered and refocused. The more often you practice this meditation, the quicker and better it will work for you.
Continue with the smiling meditation, imagining that warm, happy feeling moving down into your chest, your abdomen, your arms, legs, hands and feet. Focus on every part of yourself smiling, your heart, lungs and other organs. See your blood cells as millions of smiling little happy faces running through your body.
As a hypnotist, I am constantly amazed at the power of the mind, and the mind-body connection is nothing short of astonishing. And the smiling meditation is a perfect example of this.
There is a proven biochemical reaction that occurs when you smile. Evidence has shown that when you hold even a fake smile for a short time, it alters your chemistry in the same way as a real smile would do, and your body actually thinks you’re happy. The brain releases all kinds of “feel-good” hormones, such as dopamine and seratonin, into your bloodstreams and before long, you feel better and the smile is real. Smiling has been proven to elevate moods, reduce stress, and it might even help heart health, too.
Science has also proven that depression weakens the immune system and happiness strengthens it. So the “fake it till you make it” approach can quite literally improve your health. In fact, happiness has been linked to longer life. Andrew Steptoe, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at University College London in the UK, was the lead author of the study. Results indicated that, “Older people were up to 35% less likely to die during the five-year study if they reported feeling happy, excited, and content on a typical day. And this was true even though the researchers took factors such as chronic health problems, depression, and financial security out of the equation.”
Imagine that! You can reduce stress, and improve your mood, your health and your overall quality and quantity of life by merely plastering on a fake smile for a few minutes on a regular basis.
Now that’s something to smile about!