From ancient Qigong masters to self-help guru Louise Hay, the subtle yet profound power of smiling is becoming well known. It can even be a predictor of how long you'll live! Ron Gutman, in his entertaining TED Talk, reports on a variety of scientific studies that discuss the power of smiling.
For example, by examining photos of students in an old yearbook, researchers were able to predict, just by the caliber of a person’s smile, how fulfilling and long lasting their marriages would be, their overall well-being, and how inspiring they were to others.
As a child, we smile about 400 times per day. By the time we’re adults, we’re lucky if we smile 20 times per day.
Yet according to Qigong master Mantak Chia, the Inner Smile could be considered the foundation of one’s health. Chia states: “A constant inner smile, a smile to oneself, insures health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself."
With the Inner Smile practice, we use a Mona Lisa like smile as we smile into our organs: our heart, lungs, spleen, liver, and kidneys. When I was first introduced to this practice, I definitely resisted it. It felt silly, superficial, and worthless. Yet over time, I began to feel my resistance soften and my organs respond. Yes, our organs definitely know when we are smiling into them! I also began to feel a subtle shift in how I related to myself.
Here’s the best part for you chocolate lovers! One smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2000 bars of chocolate. Those same researchers found that smiling is as stimulating as receiving $25,000!
The Inner Smile doesn’t mean that I sugarcoat everything in my life. It means that no matter what comes my way, I meet it, as Qigong Master Michael Winn states, “with an open heart and learn to unconditionally accept every aspect of my body, mind, and spirit”, a process that can ultimately lead to deep spiritual realization.
Here’s a little experiment for you to try. Stand up with your shoulders hunched forward and your legs dragging a bit. Look up, raise your eyebrows, smile and say: “I’m so depressed.” You’ll find that your body doesn’t believe you, that’s how powerful a smile is.
So the next time you’re feeling down, and your frown is beginning to feel like a permanent fixture on your forehead, try the Inner Smile. Try meeting yourself right where you are, unconditionally accepting yourself. The Inner Smile might just profoundly change your life! Plus, it’s free and completely available to you!
I have taken to heart the practice of the Inner Smile and strive to be my own best friend. And if the subtle practice of the Inner Smile is a pathway to living in harmony with one’s self, what could be better? As Mindfulness Master Thich Nhat Hang says, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”