The Inner Smile Meditation is an amazingly simple and powerful practice that will literally change your body, mind, spirit and life. It is a thousands-year-old, traditional Daoist practice for inner alchemy—to transform low-grade energy into flowing, healing high-grade energy. Low energy, when in excess, stuck, or stagnant, negatively affects our Qi, or life force energy, and may contribute to chronic disease. The inner smile, with its energy of love and joy, can transform energy in the organs, glands, muscles, nervous system, bones—the entire body.
The best way to understand the transformative power of this meditation is to experience it, but there is also a growing amount of scientific information today that helps to explain the many benefits and effectiveness of this ancient practice. We now know, for example, through neuroscientific research, that the act of smiling activates neurotransmitters (chemical signals in the brain) that help to counteract stress.1 A smile also triggers the release of the so-called “feel good” neurotransmitters (dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin), which not only makes us feel good, but also can positively affect heart rate and blood pressure.2 Endorphins are also powerful natural pain relievers, and serotonin is a natural antidepressant. 3,4
The science of psychoneuroimmunology has explained that the physical act of smiling boosts immunity. When we smile the brain assumes all is well and that we’re happy, and happy people live longer. 5,6 If you’ve ever felt uplifted, loved, or relieved when someone smiled at you, you’ve experienced the powerful energy of a smile. A smile can literally change our energy.
In the Inner Smile Meditation practice, we open and activate the heart-mind—the heart centre, which emits electromagnetic energy that changes according to our present emotions. The heart also sends more signals to the brain than visa versa, influencing the brains’ perception, emotional experience, and higher mental processes.7
In the practice, we use our intention and visualization to capture the essence or energy of a smile and bring it into the body. The eyes, including the inner eye we use to visualize, are connected to all the organs and glands by way of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates their actions. With focus we move the inner smile energy through the body and do our transforming with the help of each organ’s natural virtues. We use colour, sensations, and our breath. The result is powerful and, when done regularly, cumulative and evolutionary.
I remember doing an hour-long Inner Smile Meditation one day when something incredible happened. I was working in the lungs and had been for many weeks. To be specific, I was working with grief. All of a sudden, the heart was radiating energy of love and the liver sent up some compassion. Instead of just trying to get rid of my grief and the physical symptoms and blocks it had caused, I realized I needed to acknowledge it with the softness and power of love and compassion. I was amazed at the wisdom of my organs and body, and excited to know that the Inner Smile Meditation could help in such a profound way.
Simple but powerful, this technique is natural, easy to do, and so very, very effective. You get to know your body and its organs and other structures in an entirely new way. A friendly, supportive, and loving way. It is a gentle tool that can do heavy work, melting long frozen fear, softening hard anger, and freeing stuck anxiety. Practice regularly and feel how it transforms you, your day, your health, and your life.
At the Inner Smile Meditation workshop we will take the time to dive deeper into this practice, learn and experience the benefits and techniques, and also try the different, even quick, ways to use it in your every day life. Your take-home booklet will provide more information, resources, and instruction.
- Abel E. and Kruger M. “Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity,” Psychological Science, 2010: 21, 542–544.
- Seaward, Brian Luke. “Managing Stress: Principles and strategies for health and well-being,” Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Massachusetts, 2006.
- Lane, Richard DR, et al. Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), CognitiveNeuroscience of Emotion, 2000: 345-370.
- Karren KJ, et al. “Mind/Body Health: The effect of attitudes, emotions and relationships,” Benjamin Cummings, New York, New York, 20009.
- Beres, A. “Does happiness help healing? Immune response of hospitalized children may change during visits of the Smiling Hospital Foundation’s Artists,” Orvosi Hetilap, 2011.
- Lawrence, E. et al. “Happiness and longevity in the United States,” Social Science & Medicine, 2015: 115-119.
- “The Mysteries of the Heart,” HeartMath®Institute, Boulder Creek, California, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.heartmath.org/resources/infographic/mysteries-of-the-heart/
© Sandra Tonn