Can A Smile Change The Way You Meditate?
“A smile makes you master of yourself. That is why the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas are always smiling. When you smile, you realize the wonder of the smile.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Freedom and joy are found when you rest into the whole and flow in harmony with the rhythm of life. My teacher, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma), says that happiness is a choice. In every moment, we have the ability to choose how we perceive what is before us. This is true for our waking life, and also true as we go within during meditation. We can meet whatever may arise with a pleasant, unconstrained attitude.
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Meditating with a smile
Take a few minutes each morning and evening to come to a neutral place, where you can allow yourself just to be. This alone can take practice when you are habituated to doing and wanting life to go your way.
Find a quiet space. Sit on something solid like a bench, chair or floor, with your spine straight, with the intention of just being. Breathe in and out for a few minutes. Simply focus on your breath. Let your body settle into being right here and now, exactly where you are, on your cushion or chair. Allow your spine to take root through your seat, feeling the weight of your body, and your connection to the ground. Feel the crown of your head float, noticing your upward connection to the cosmos. Let your spine feel like a neutral conduit of energy between these two points. Breathe in and out.
When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. When you breathe in, simply say to yourself, “in”. When you breathe out, simply say, “out”. No big effort. No drama. Just one breath at a time, in and out. Should you notice thoughts arise, just acknowledge and welcome them in. Let them be there with you, rather than getting pulled into them. For example, should you notice the thought that your shoulders are tense, smile at the thought as though it just joined you in the living room of your heart. It may take a seat beside you. It may come and then quickly depart.
Either way, it does not matter. You remain, sitting, with a gentle curl at the corners of your mouth, breathing in and out. Breathe in, say “in”. Breathe out, say “out”.
The practice remains the same, whether you welcome tense shoulders or painful thoughts. Make room for it all, without getting entangled in any of it. Rest in your breathing and allow yourself to expand into the now. Practice this as often as you can. Allow room within your being for ease. Feel the way your breath rises and falls without you having to make it happen. Begin to notice how even your thoughts can pass before you, but are not who you are. As you smile at the moment, you welcome it as it is, resting in your true, eternal nature.
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