The Inner Smile

Meditation Technique


Dan Landrum

"In ancient China, the Taoists taught that a constant inner smile, a smile to oneself, insured health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself." -Mantak Chia

This informal technigue is simple and easy to remember. Initially, begin by relaxing yourself. When calm and centered, bring your awareness to the very center, inside your head.

Visualize, looking out from the center of your head and see the inside of the 'mask' of your face. Starting with the inside of your forehead, simply notice the broad, screen-like surface where , now blank, clairvoyant visions might play out.

Next, direct your attention downward, witnessing the inside of your eyeballs, eye sockets and the muscles and skin around the eyes. The eyelids are closed. There is nothing to see 'out there'. Simply witness these marvelous 'windows to the other world' with the shades drawn. See the inside of the eyes and feel. Feel your eyes as they are in their neutral, relaxed state.

Next, direct your attention downward, witnessing the inside of your nostrils. Take a moment to observe the ebb & flow of life as it passes through this forward-reaching vent. Simply witness the inhale and exhale as it is.

Next, direct your attention downward, witnessing the inside of the mouth and lips. Notice the mouth is relaxed, teeth slightly separated, the tongue lightly pressing the roof of the palate against the back of the upper teeth. See the inside of the lips and feel. Feel your lips as they are in their neutral, relaxed state.

Finally, direct your attention downward, witnessing your jaw and chin. See and feel the muscles, skin and bone from the tip of your chin to the hinge of the jaw, as they are in their neutral, relaxed state.

Pulling back your focus, witness the whole of the inside of the mask of your face, as it is in its neutral, relaxed state.

Again return your attention to your lips, to the corners of your mouth. Notice the feeling of the corners of your mouth as they are in their neutral, relaxed state. Now, ever so slightly, raise the corners of the mouth until you feel the 'inner smile'. Perhaps imperceptable by an outside observer, you are lifting the corners of your mouth, ever so mindfully, until you feel a distinct shift in energy, a warm sense of well-being.

Allow the corners of your mouth to remain in this uplifting position and turn your attention to the inside of your eyes. First, notice them as they are in their neutral, relaxed state. Then, ever so slightly, raise the corners of the eyes until you feel the 'inner smile' feeling here also. The corners of the eyes and mouth should now feel like one unit radiating a distinct, warm sense of well-being. This feeling is The Inner Smile.

As an informal practice, whenever it occurs to you, periodically come back and witness the neutral inner mask of your face throughout the day. Bring your attention back to feeling the inner corners of your mouth and eyes as they are in any given moment. Then choose to reset The Inner Smile.

As a formal practice, the energy of The Inner Smile can be consciously directed downward into the heart, the belly, the liver, the stomach and other digestive organs; to the bones, blood, nervous system ... to the whole of the body ... in directed flows through particular parts of the body or as a global radiating whole. You can apply these flows intuitively while sitting quietly, or if you prefer more formal directions see "The Inner Smile" chapter in Mantak Chia's book "Awaken Healing Energy through the Tao".

'Half smiling' mindfulness exercises by Thich Nhat Hahn

Half-smile when you first wake up in the morning

Hang a branch, any other sign, or even the word "smile" on the ceiling or wall so that you see it right away when you open your eyes. This sign will serve as your reminder. Use these seconds before you get out of bed to take hold of your breath. Inhale and exhale three breaths gently while maintaining the half smile. Follow your breaths.

Half-smile during your free moments

Anywhere you find yourself sitting or standing, half-smile. Look at a child, a leaf, a painting on the wall, anything which is relatively still, and smile. Inhale and exhale quietly three times. Maintain the half smile and consider the spot of your attention as your own true nature.

Half-smile while listening to music

Listen to a piece of music for two or three minutes. Pay attention to the words, music, rhythm, and sentiments. Smile while watching your inhalations and exhalations.

Half-smile when irritated

When you realize you're irritated, half-smile at once. Inhale and exhale quietly, maintaining the half smile for three breaths.

Posted with Dan Landrums's permission

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