Is there any benefit in choosing to smile,
even when we do not feel joy?
Smiling is a spiritual practice
that has profound, practical implications, applications and long-term benefits.
For instance, there are over three hundred muscles in the human face.
When we are angry or fearful, those muscles contract,
creating inner tension —
similar to overwinding the string on a musical instrument.
Holding prolonged tension in these muscles
habitually creates chronic energetic and physical constriction,
which over time
into an experience of agglutination (or 'stuckness'), stagnation and hardness —
trapping these strong, negatively-charged emotions —
becoming more compressed —
more dense —
like water condensing into ice.
Slackening the tension
releases the trapped emotions —
unwinds the knots.
We can choose to smile and even laugh,
despite our experience of life —
despite any strong physical sensations
and insurgent emotions we may be experiencing,
through the power of awareness
and mindful, intentional practice.
By tuning the breath
to become more balanced and harmonious,
bringing the body, breath, heart, mind and spirit into coherence —
using our awareness, attention, and intention —
to unify and harmonize the totality of our Be-ing —
cultivating thoughts, images, emotions and sensations
that give rise to appreciation, gratitude, peace, joy, wonder, and/or compassion —
then practicing both an inner and outer smile —
and with continued practice,
we can become quite adept
at dissolving and transforming
all that is stuck and stagnant —
the emotional permafrost —
the rigidity —