Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Breathe In, Calm...Breathe Out, Smile

I recently started reading Peace is Every Step, written by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and Nobel Peace Prize winner.  The book gives simple suggestions for living fully in the present moment; it's subtitled "The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life."  He talks about how to find peace in doing the dishes, answering the telephone, and driving your car.

I have specifically been working with the breathing technique he offers at the very beginning of the book.  I shared this with my Balancing Flow yoga class tonight (thanks Jenna & John for your support!) and I'd like to share it with you as well.  Hanh recommends that as we inhale we say to ourselves, "Breathing in, I calm my body," and as we exhale we say, "Breathing out, I smile."  It doesn't have to be a big toothy grin, perhaps the corners of your eyes wrinkle or just the tips of your mouth turn upward in a sort of Mona Lisa smile.

He goes on to discuss the importance and effects of smiling:
If a child smiles, if an adult smiles, that is very important.  If in our daily lives we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it.  If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile.  Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy.  The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.
He's right.  Studies have proven that smiling, or just seeing a person (or baby) smile, can change our body chemistry.  I challenged my yoga students to smile with their exhales, even while they were all knotted up in garudasana.  After class, they looked quite relaxed--this breathing technique worked for them.  So now you've got a tested recipe for mindfulness, a way to help you stay tuned in to the present moment. 

What makes you smile?

1 comment:

  1. My children make me smile. Life makes me smile. A smile is contagious, especially one that lights up your face. A smile that carries to your eyes and dimples in your cheeks.

    Love you & Trav