“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy”

Thích Nhất Hạnh

The participants of our Quiet Mind Meditation eCourse are current exploring Mindfulness practices .. it is Day 21 of our 31-Day course.

Mindfulness is an ancient practice that simply requires us to attend non-judgmentally to the NOW .. rather than bouncing around between past, future and fantasy.

Mindfulness = being mindful of the present moment

The magic of mindfulness is that when we truly rest our focus on the present moment .. everything seems to slow down and we begin to ‘see’ what is actually happening around and within us. By deliberately bringing our full attention to what we are doing right in this moment (removing auto pilot).. with no judgement, preference or commentary .. we experience a greater sense of awareness of self, body and mind.

One of the most popular meditation practices that I introduce in class (and on the eCourse) is the Half-Smile Meditation .. a practice that is used to maintain mindfulness.

Smiling is proven to have a positive effect on us. Research on facial expressions and emotions found that if you make the facial expression of a particular emotion – you actually will feel that emotion. A half-smile (even holding a pencil between the teeth to force the edges of your mouth to curl up) has been shown to help stimulate positive emotions. So you can purposefully attract peacefulness just be holding a half-smile .. even when you don’t truly feel like smiling!

Holding a gentle half-smile while you meditate can provide something more concrete to hold our focus. Just rest your lips into a slightly upturned posture .. keeping a relaxed face .. adopting a serene facial expression. And when you get distracted by a thought, memory or dream (as you will) just notice that you have been distracted, notice if you have dropped your half-smile, and when you are ready simply return to the next inhalation and reconnect with your half-smile.

Remember your body communicates with your mind.

The morning half-smile
Try placing a small sign at the end of your bed or on your bedside table so that the word “smile” appears first thing when you open your eyes in the morning. This sign will serve as a reminder and you can then use the moments before getting up to focus on the breath .. inhale .. exhale for three breaths gently while maintaining a half-smile.

The half-smile when irritated
When you find yourself starting to react to something or someone try the half-smile immediately. Inhale and exhale quietly for three breaths .. maintaining that beautiful half-smile both externally and internally.