This week we have been working with the basic premise of mindfulness: paying attention to what is happening right here, right now… without judgement. That word again – judgement. Well, we name it because it gets in the way. If we are going for moment to moment awareness, it helps to be open-minded and to support an expansive, non-resistant mind. Judgement is a form of contraction. We want to create space for what’s next and then we want to receive – it just as it is.
A smile supports acceptance. It welcomes the current “now” and invites the next one into our 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.
As we wrap up this first week, I’d like to acknowledge the happenstance of working with the smile while a war ravages lives abroad. Nat King Cole comes to mind – singing, “Smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking.” May the smiles we have generated in earnest be received as an offering of our presence and our capacity to create space for goodness and hope.
May peace prevail on Earth.