The Buddha Smile: try this simple trick to improve your mood.
I was recently teaching a group about the Buddha smile and I thought I share it with you here as I find it a very useful way to change your mood when you are meditating, feeling awkward or could do with some happy hormones.
Whilst teaching Mindfulness I often notice that during the silent coffee breaks people have frowns on their faces. This can be because of the uncomfortable feelings they experience whilst having to sit, eat and drink tea or coffee in the company of others without speaking. My way to overcome this feeling is to practice the Buddha smile. I also use it when meditating as it can elevate my mood. I know it works because when I do breath meditation, I can feel the breath stronger in my right nostril which means my left side of the prefrontal cortex is in control and it is this side of the brain that is active when we are happy.
I have mentioned before, in other blog posts, the experiment called the Pencil Test. In this experiment they asked subjects to hold a pencil between their teeth so that it forced a smile, pushing their lips back. They tested their brains and hormones levels and found activity in the brain associated with happiness as well as feel good hormones, such as endorphins were present in the body. The Buddha smile is a bit like this, but you won’t need a pencil.
When trying this for the first time it’s best to do it with your eyes closed. Imagine a smile across your face, without actually smiling. Feel the softening of your eyes and the slight curl at the sides of your mouth. As you do this notice the change in your mood and feelings.
When I do this I immediately feel an increase in happiness as well as a kindness towards myself and others. No one will notice it as you are not really smiling but you will find that softness around your eyes will draw people to you. I often find, in a crowd, I’ll be the one asked for directions or the time and when I am out and about people regularly say hello to me. The other thing, which a student pointed out to me, is if you have a ‘resting b*tch face’ then less people will come up to you to ask you to ‘cheer up’ or tell you that ‘it might not happen’. Have fun with it, try it out over the weekend, the only thing you have to lose is your bad mood.
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I hope our paths cross again in future,
Mind Coach, Meditation Instructor (amongst other things)