Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Practice with a smile: A short meditation on being your own best friend.

The Taoist meditation practice known as the Inner Smile is said to activate the energy of compassion within us. It brings a sense of tranquillity and teaches us to be gentle and appreciate every little part of us. 

It is an ideal early morning or bedtime practice. This practice helps to make us conscious of points of resistance in the body and supports our ability to slowly become aware of and release unproductive thought patterns. 

But as with all calming practices it is important to be consistent and persevere. A little practice at a time will do the trick initially. The following is a short meditation based on the Taoist Inner Smile. 
  • The process is simple. Lie or sit in a comfortable symmetrical position. Allow your hands to rest on your knees. Straighten you spine and relax your throat and shoulders. 
  • Place your attention on your breath. Take a few deep breaths and exhale slowly and fully. Stay in tune with your breath throughout the meditation and use it as a way to bring your attention back to your practice. 
  • Find your smile. You may need the memory of a favourite spot or person you like to start you off. Note how your smile spreads across your face, relaxing brow and jaw. Focus on a central point on your forehead... and smile. Bring forward your warmest, most genuine, friendly smile and let it spread on your face.
  • Turn your attention to your body. Move slowly from your head to your neck to your shoulders and arms. Give them a warm friendly smile, taking a little time on each and noting how it feels.
  • If you experience tension or soreness at a particular site try this simple technique. Breathe in and as you exhale send the healing energy of your breath to the part of your body that feels uncomfortable. And smile at it, widely, brightly and lovingly. 
  • Continue giving your attention to the rest of the body including internal organs in this way for several minutes. The deeper you relax into this technique the longer you will be able to sustain practice.
  • Gently bring yourself back into the room. Thank your body for its service to you. It serves throughout your existence on earth. 
  • Keep the Inner Smile close to you throughout the day and return to it when every now and again. This will help to stay grounded and maintain ad sense of safety within. 
You can find a fuller version of the classical practice of the Inner Smile meditation at this link. http://taoism.about.com/od/meditation/ht/inner_smile.htm

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Taoist Master, Mantak Chia.

‘’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.’’

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