Step #1, Smile Meditation – Day 3 This week we have been working with the basic premise of mindfulness: paying attention to what is happening right here, right now… without judgement. Why the last segment – without judgement? Well, judgment is another way of saying we create stories around what’s happening. We label what’s happening, we have opinions about it. This gets in the way. Judgement is a form of contraction. If we are going for moment to moment awareness, it helps to be open-minded, to support an expansive, non-resistant mind. We want to allow for what’s next and then we want to receive it just as it is.
A smile promotes acceptance. It welcomes the current “now” and invites the next one into your experience without judgement. Seeing a smile, even contemplating a smile, activates your orbitofrontal cortex – the frontal part of the brain that processes sensory rewards and decision making. Smiles make you feel rewarded which leads to a certain quality of openness; they also allow the brain to search for options. That’s why optimistic people are often wearing a smile… they’ve got the “bring it on” vibe going for them.
In unsettling times we may find ourselves ruminating on the past (this can lead to depression) or fretting about the future (this can lead to anxiety). Meditation keeps us in the now and helps free the mind from repetitive patterns of thinking, or at very least, it makes us aware of those patterns. That’s something to smile about!