The Magic of a Smile
“Learn to smile in the sweet way of a child. A smile from the soul is spiritual relaxation. ~ Emil~ ~
Years ago, while reading a book, I came upon the quote that begins this post. It motivated me to explore smiling as a mindful relaxation technique. Surprisingly, I found a tremendous amount of research on the biological and emotional healing qualities of a smile. It not only activates the release of the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, which help you fight off stress and depression, but it also lifts the mood in the people around you.
Try this short smile experiment. What you learn may surprise you.
Sit quietly in a comfortable chair, breathing consciously for a minute or two. Let your breath bring you fully into your body, fully present for the exercise. When you feel your focus has increased, you are ready to begin. Close your eyes and smile a beautiful Mona Lisa smile. Bring your inner focus to the smile. With your eyes closed and using your imagination, look at your face and enjoy your own smile. Take in the beauty of the smile and how that smile makes you feel inside when you see it.
As you enjoy your own smile, notice what is happening to your neck, shoulders, and along your spine, all the way down your back and into your hips. Notice how the muscles in your face, neck, and shoulders relax with the smile. You may notice some automatic movement occurring as you observe your body. These movements are creating a deeper relaxation and awareness of the power of your smile and of the magic inside your body that creates an automatic, positive biological response.
When you are ready, take a few minutes and write about your smile experience. Describe your feelings and sensations in as much detail as you can – include emotional as well as physical responses.
Were you surprised at how your body responded? Was there a spiritual response?