Smiling Meditation

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Smiling Meditation Mean?

Smiling meditation is a kind of meditation that is taught in several different schools, including Taoist and Buddhist schools. In smiling meditation, the practitioner either physically smiles while meditating, or visualises an inner smile, imagining that they are smiling gently at themselves in the way they would normally smile at others.

This mindful smiling practice is considered potentially transformative, and may be particularly helpful for relieving tension and suffering. Taoism teaches that smiling, then directing the smile inwards towards the organs is one way to cultivate health and longevity.


Yogapedia Explains Smiling Meditation

In the form of smiling meditation taught by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, he instructs practitioners to breathe in as they bring awareness to a particular body part, then breathe out as they smile to that body part. By doing this towards different body parts, they can cultivate gratitude and appreciation for the health and happiness they hold within themselves.

In yoga teacher Shiva Rea’s smiling meditation, which is inspired by the Taoist practice, she recommends generating a feeling of natural happiness, like an inner smile emanating from the backs of the eyes. The practitioner can then visualise the inner smile radiating down the spine and into the heart, lungs, stomach, spleen, liver, kidneys, intestines, genitals, and out into the legs and feet. This permeation of the inner smile can form the whole practice, or be used to begin a longer period of meditative absorption. It is said to activate the energy of loving kindness within the practitioner.

Some believe that ill health is caused by negative emotions settling in the physical body. Thus, the smiling meditation has the potential to remove the cause of illness and restore wellbeing.

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