Some people say that the highest form of meditation is smiling meditation.
And we all know the effects of a smile from a loved one or from a stranger we pass by.
It makes us feel good – also when we smile back or initiate a smile ourselves, whether we think about it consciously or not.
Modern psychology has shown smiling as having very positive effects. It sends messages to the brain that everything is okay and assists us to feel better.
But here is a secret. You can also smile to yourself so to speak and get the same effect.
When we meditate, we will sometimes struggle as the mind wanders. And it will. This is how our mind works, and it is not our fault.
So, we can get annoyed, deflated or frustrated with our practice and scold ourselves.
This is where the half buddha smile comes into the picture. Some also call it the gentle half smile.
You have most likely seen various buddhas sitting in different positions, either in pictures or in real life statues. Maybe you even have a buddha on your shelf at home or in your garden.
The buddhas usually have this little happy, peaceful and subtle smile. They have come to peace with themselves and the world, so they can only smile.
Holding a half-smile has been shown to help us stimulate positive emotions, which then leads to peacefulness even when we do not feel like smiling.
When you do the half buddha smile during meditation (or smile in general), it relaxes the muscles in your face and sends a signal to your nervous system to relax.
This will help bring your concentration back and you will feel more relaxed. You just have to try it to feel the effect on your body and mind.
Of course, you know how to smile, but I will give you some directions anyway!
Relax your face, neck and shoulders. Turn the corners of your mouth slightly upward, relax the lips and loosen the jaw. Keep the eyes soft and relaxed.
You will then feel the half-smile spreading to your whole face, with the scalp and neck relaxing and the shoulders dropping.
The beauty of the half buddha smile is that it is always with you.
Use it if you are late, driving your car and feeling nervous.
Use it when you stand in a long line at the post office feeling impatient.
Use it during the night if you wake up and cannot go back to sleep.
Use it when you are sitting in front of your computer and the emails are piling up making you feel stressed.
Simply smile like a buddha and you will feel the benefits.