Smiling For Health & Well-Being By Ric Chamberlin, LMT
Most articles I have found related to smiling have to do with the social or external benefits gained. For example smiling makes you look younger. It also helps you appear confident and draws people to you.
We've heard for years that laughter is the best medicine and humor is beneficial to our health. Many people are aware of laughing clubs springing up around the country. Laughter has been shown to reduce stress, boost immunity, and improve overall health.
Often people tell us to "lighten up" and "don't be so serious". This is usually good advice but sometimes hard to follow.
What most don't know is that simply smiling can produce these effects and more.
In the east the power of smiling for inner health has been recognized for centuries. The ancient Taoists of China believed that the universe was in a constant state of smiling and when individuals smile along with it they are aligned with powerful healing forces. They also discovered that smiling enhances energy flow as well as increasing activity of the Thymus gland leading to creation of more T-cells. They also believed that smiling induced the organs to become softer and more efficient. A frown, on the other hand, was seen as blocking energy channels, increasing negative emotions, increasing blood pressure, and creating other symptoms. Even viewing a picture of a face smiling or frowning can create these positive or negative effects.
Modern research is starting to bear this out. Smiling helps reduce stress and induce relaxation. It improves the immune function. It releases endorphins, the pain reducing, feel-good, hormones. It can even lower blood pressure and improve your mood.
Often times we just don't feel like smiling. If we try it doesn't feel sincere. Though a deeply felt smile is more beneficial even a surface smile triggers the brain to release hormones that make us feel better. Even imagining yourself smiling can trigger this. Our energy follows our thoughts. If we think something then we are doing that, at least on a subtle level.
Try a Smile Close your eyes and focus on your body. Allow it to relax. For any areas that are particularly tense you can focus on them and gently give them permission to let go. Now focus on the corners of your mouth and allow a subtle Mona Lisa like smile. The physical size of the smile is not important, the energy behind it is. Stay with this for one minute. Return to normal and notice. What has changed in your body, in your mood, in your relationship to your surroundings?
Enhance the effect by visualizing something that brings you joy. It could be a scene from nature, a smiling baby, a puppy, or anything that might make you smile. Some time ago when I was incorporating this practice into my life I saw a kitten, small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, that someone had brought to a public place. I realized that this delightful scene was perfect to focus on for enhancing my smiling energy.
With practice you will be able to trigger the response with little effort. When you don't feel you have 60 seconds to spend smile for 5 or 10 seconds. If you are uncomfortable smiling around people then imagine yourself smiling, even for just a few seconds.
The Inner Smile The Taoists of China created an even deeper smiling meditation called The Inner Smile. There are different ways to perform The Inner Smile. Many are very involved with entire books devoted to them. An excellent article can be found at http://www.universal-tao.com/article/the_inner_smile.html. It is fairly detailed and includes a step-by-step method.
A simple method for The Inner Smile, that can still have powerful results, is as follows:
Close our eyes, relax, and allow a subtle smile as described in the previous exercise. Visualize a scene that brings you joy.
Feel the smiling energy in your eyes and also in the point between your eyebrows, often called the 3rd Eye.
Focus on this smiling energy for a while. Acknowledge your gratitude for it.
Direct this smiling energy from your eyes to any place in your body that needs it. For example if you are lacking in joy then direct this smiling energy, or allow it to flow, to the heart. Send the heart love and acceptance. Allow the smiling energy to just be present.
When you feel it is time to move on you can direct the smiling energy to another part of the body or you can end the meditation.
An optional close would be to bring your awareness to your navel for a minute or so before you end.
Whether you learn The Inner Smile or not consider making a smile a part of your day even if just for a few seconds and…
Ric Chamberlin Registered Practitioner - Society of Ortho-Bionomy International ® Licensed Massage Therapist - State of Nebraska The Healing Connection 900 S 74th Plaza, Suite 116, Omaha, NE 68114 402 850 0752