“Peace begins with a smile” – Mother Theresa
The ancient Taoists, who were the founding fathers of Chinese medicine, understood the healing nature of a smile. In fact, they developed a meditation practice whereby you hold a smile on your face and direct that energy inwards to your internal organs. It’s one of my favorite meditations because it is so gentle. I like to practice this mediation outside in the summer with the sun on my face but really it’s a wonderful easy healing mediation to do any time you find yourself with a few spare minutes.
The instructions are simple.
- Sit comfortably either in a chair or on a mat. Try to make your spine as straight as possible and keep your neck and throat relaxed.
- Take one or two deep breaths that fill your abdomen and on each exhale let go of any thoughts about the past or the future.
- Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth near your teeth
- Smile gently as if you have a delicious secret or a private joke. This isn’t a broad grin but more of an enigmatic Mona Lisa type smile.
- Bring your energy to the space between your eyebrows (it’s called yin tang in Chinese medicine) and allow the smile to rest there. As you continue to smile the energy will expand feel as if it is moving back towards the center of your head.
- Now take this energy and direct it in turn to each of your internal organs giving special attention to any area of your body that needs healing
- Spend about 5 minutes slowly breathing the smiling energy into each organ
- Finally, direct your smiling energy to a point about 2″ below your navel (this is called the dan tien in Chinese medicine)
- To end – release your smile (or keep it if it feels good), release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
You may find that some organs are particularly stubborn. Some seem to refuse to receive the smiling energy and feel surprisingly tense and tight. In Chinese medicine, according to the five-element system each organ has an emotion that corresponds to it and so sometimes it’s worth exploring that emotion if you find one of your organs to be particularly unreceptive.
- Both the liver and gall bladder are associated with anger so smiling into these organs can dissolve anger and resentment. If your liver feels tense when you smile into it you may want to think about whether you need to forgive someone or let go of resentment.
- The stomach and spleen are associated with worry. Smiling into your stomach can bring you back to your center and dissolve anxiety. If you find this hard you may want to work on staying present and not getting too far ahead of yourself and worrying about the future.
- The kidneys and bladder are associated with fear. Smiling into your kidneys can help you release fear and stress. If you find this hard it may be worth thinking about what is stopping you from feeling safe and secure.
- The lungs and large intestines are associated with grief. Smiling into your lungs can help to relieve sadness or depression.
- The heart and small intestines are associated with joy or the lack of it. Smiling into your hear can fill you with compassion. If you find this hard you may want to think about any hatred that you are hanging on to and could now release.
Modern science echos the Taoist’s theories by finding that a smile lowers the stress hormones cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenaline and produces hormones which stabilize blood pressure, relax muscles, improve respiration and increase your sense of well being whilst giving you the energy a boost.
So give this deceptively simple mediation a try. There is both ancient and modern wisdom that says it works.