People are generally clued in that we hold tension in our neck and shoulders. Zen meditators often suggest being thankful for the zen stick struck lightly over their shoulders to relieve tightness and stay alert. The lesser known region for the accumulation of stress is in the face and the powerful method of using an enlightened smile during meditation can relieve mental tension and evoke equilibrium and joy.
The enlightened smile is the one you see on serene statues and pictures of Buddha meditating, not the laughing one, the meditating one. The relaxation and euphoria released from the simple act of relaxing the face and subtly smirking is remarkable and a secret to a ‘good’ meditation. It is important to relax the body as well as the mind during meditation.
Whilst we can use the zen stick for our shoulders it would be a bit more difficult to relax facial muscles that way, except for the really hardcore. So we can use an enlightened smile to relax our face, settle our minds and activate joy and love. Using the meditation smile melts through egoic tension etched into faces by the constant maintenance of a persona. In other words, by relaxing our face muscles we can drop all masks and allow the face to finally be itself.
The enlightened smile facilitates an even state of mind, a calm equipoise. When we add a tiny smile to this relaxed face we both express and reflect the joy of meditation, the natural bliss that comes from relaxing and letting go.
Meditation should be a joy. Meditation can be a time of peace and tranquillity, a refuge of deep serenity. Alone with ones’ sense of being, without having to fabricate anything or get anywhere and can be incredibly relaxing and enjoyable; allowing the simplicity of being in the moment without effort or striving. This type of meditation deserves to be adorned with an imperceptible smile.
The smile is the sign that everything is okay, everything is all good, even the bad stuff. That’s the power of the enlightened smirk: right in the middle of life and all its complexities you can sit down, relax and smile at it all. In that moment we can touch a peace in ourselves which is always available, despite the situation.
Now, I’m not claiming that all you need to do is smile to solve all your problems. I’m just sharing meditative secrets to help people find peace and happiness. Our body and mind work together intimately, so if you can relax the body and face you will be able to relax the mind and quieten thoughts easier.
First, it may be a case of ‘faking it until you make it’, but eventually when you really do relax and you actually can drop thoughts and find some space in your awareness, you can radiate a warmth and friendliness that comes from an open and relaxed mind. Then your smile will be genuine and it will radiate with the heart and soul you are connecting with during mediation.
Written by Chad Foreman
Chad Foreman has been teaching meditation since 2003 and is determined to bring authentic meditation practices into the lives of millions of people. Chad is a former Buddhist monk and spent 6 years living in a retreat hut studying and practising meditation full time. He is now a fully qualified meditation teacher with the Australian Institute of Meditation and has designed a unique 21 day meditation challenge to guide people gradually from the basics of mindfulness and relaxation to profound states of awareness. Click Here to learn more about the 21 Day Meditation Challenge.