I’m taking a meditation class right now. Yes, I still take classes. There’s always something new to learn and I find that experiencing the learning process as a student brings fresh insights to me.
In our class practice, we were doing gathas. A gatha is like a mantra but a longer phrase intended to keep the mind in the present moment.* Our gatha included the phrase “I smile. ”
As I heard reactions from the group, the “I smile” statement wasn’t everyone’s favorite but for me…. oh, I loved it. Being in a meditative state, I’m very aware of what’s going on in me, in the present moment. When our teacher said, “I smile” of course, I smiled and there was a shift.
I always thought of a smile as the result of joy. But I realized that a smile creates joy in me. When I smile, sort of on cue, I felt a softening and a lifting of my face and my spirit. My smile made me happy.
Just as a deep breath triggers the body that all is well, that we are safe, I believe for some, the action of smiling triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and repose mode.
Just this morning, I find this article on NPR, “How Microexpressions Can Make Moods Contagious” discussing how we are wired to imitate others in some ways. They mention that research has shown that when “our automatic mimicry of these microexpressions can actually produce the corresponding emotion inside of us.”
I know from experience that when I practice self-compassion, even silently with no expression, that people around me are affected. Self compassion is a great way to defuse anxiety or anger etc. in others.
So, our emotions, even the expression of a small smile, can create an energy and then a response in others. Perhaps this small mental reminder to smile can become a super power for me and maybe you too? Try it!
Thanks to Creative Family Wellness in Stow Ohio for the meditation class that was the seed of this post. Morgan, you’re a wonderful teacher.
*Gathas published by Thich Nhat Hanh- https://beherenownetwork.com/thich-nhat-hanhs-gathas/
Link to NPR article- “How Expressions Can Make Moods Contagious” https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/07/21/743408637/how-microexpressions-can-make-moods-contagious