Smile Meditation – Day 3
This week we have been working with a basic premise of mindfulness: paying attention to what is happening right here, right now… without judgement. Why the last segment – without judgement? Judgement is a form of contraction. When we judge, we create stories around what’s happening. We label it, we have opinions about it. This gets in the way. We need to be open-minded if we want to pay attention to what’s happening “in the now.” It’s new after all, so we need a non-resistant mind if we want to take in all that’s available in this present moment. We want to allow for what’s next and then we want to receive it just as it is. That’s mindfulness.
A smile promotes acceptance. It welcomes the current “now” and invites the next one into your experience as well. 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!