After one of his teachings, The Dalai Lama was asked “what can we give you?” He beamed at the audience. “That’s easy, “ he said, “Just give me your smiles. It makes me feel good when I see people smile at me. And if you smile at each other that would also be very good. So please give me your smiles.”
I love that!
According to the Inner Smile concept, when we smile, the world smiles back at us. That’s great, but the idea is to begin with ourselves. When we are happy, we make others happy!
How to practice Inner Smile?
When we direct our smile inward, our body feels loved. Smiling triggers the relaxation response within our body, relieving us of stress and tension. Pretty much like cuddling a little child who feels much better after you kiss her pain away!
Here’s a step by step guide to practice Inner smile meditation
- Sit comfortably
- Make sure your back is straight
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and your head balanced, with chin tucked slightly inward. Just like that photographer tells you to when you go click a pic.
- Allow your tongue to touch the roof of your mouth
- Now start the Inner smile by completely relaxing your face, eyes closed
- Relax your jaw muscles, your cheeks, your chin, your lips, your eyes, your ears
- Sense the calm settling over you
- Gently turn the corners of your mouth upward
- Consciously focus on the feeling inside you as you begin to smile
- Let your outer smile connect with your inner smile – you will feel it as it happens
- Eyes still closed, feel your eyes smiling
- From here, shift your awareness to your cheeks, chin, ears and let them smile
- When you have gotten your entire face involved in the Inner smile, move on to your neck.
- Do the same as you did with your face
- Keep progressing lower until every part of your body and inner organs are smiling.
- Enjoy the energy flow
- Sit still for half an hour
Practicing the Inner Smile activates our love, compassion and empathy. When we feel anger, anxiety or depression, we can overcome it quickly when we connect with our inner selves. Our body gets its energy, health and vitality back. We can heal ourselves from ailments by practicing the inner smile. Most of all, it brings inner peace and naturally, happiness.
Some suggestions based on my own experience:
Practice the inner smile when you wake up to set the tone to your day. When you love your own body, you will show love towards others and also be more productive through your day. When this becomes a habit, it will come naturally to you.
Use Inner Smile to disperse negative emotions and stress. You will notice them transforming into positive energy that builds up.
It works even when you don’t feel well or experience pain. Just smile to those parts, connect with them, listen to them until you feel the lightness.
“To meditate well, we have to smile…..a lot. I always say that a smile can be a practice, a kind of yoga practice” – Thich Nhat Hanh
And here is a wonderful quote I absolutely love:
“If you’re not using your smile, you’re like a man with a million dollars in the bank and no check book.”
And that includes everything associated with being able to withdraw your cash!
Where are you on the smile-o-meter?
The ancient Chinese Taoists believed that maintaining a constant inner smile guaranteed health, happiness and longevity. When you love yourself, you become your own best friend. You live in harmony with yourself. You automatically live mindfully.
Here’s a little exercise called the “Smile File” I encouraged my son to do. See if it works for you
- Make a smile file
- Createa smile file in your memory.
- Think about moments that make you laugh
- Think about events that bring you joy
- Try reliving these events and moments
- How do you feel?
- Record these in the smile file.
- You are welcome to imagine just about anything that makes you feel happy. Funny photos, cartoons, jokes, babies laughing, anything works.
- Begin your day with a smile. When you open your eyes, look at the ceiling and imagine the word smile there. Take a quick look into your smile file. Welcome more smiles. Can’t smile? Go ahead and frown. After a while it will become tiring to maintain it and you’ll swing to the other extreme. And smile.
Holding an inner smile keeps us conscious about maintaining a sense of humor and prevents us from being too hard on ourselves. And by the way, I am not saying keep smiling and ignore how you really feel. I am just suggesting that you view everything with friendliness.