Many years ago, I learned to use what Thich Nhat Hanh calls mouth-yoga. Just consciously smile, relax your facial muscles, and all of a sudden you feel lighter, happy, even though nothing else has changed. When I first experienced this, it was a wonder. But that lightness only lasts a minute or so till I’m distracted from doing mouth-yoga and my serious repose returns.
More recently, I discovered that when, following a teaching, I opened up my heart to embrace all aspects of my being and experience, nothing offended, all internal and external struggle ceased, and I knew that I had everything I needed within myself to be at peace and happy. And I smiled naturally. (See my post, “The Heart’s Embrace.”) That smile lasted for a longer period, perhaps as much as an hour or two.
Another technique I’ve found to achieve this is to bring my mind home to my heart during the day by chanting, usually “om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum.” And when I have returned home, I am free to experience joy and I smile. (See my post, “Meditation - Coming Home, Releasing, and Being at Peace.”) But that too is not a permanent state.
At one point it bothered me a bit that I couldn’t maintain this blissful state through more of the day. But then, I was aware that, not being enlightened, how could I possibly expect to be in such a state throughout the day? Expectations are just a trap.
But that is all prelude to the topic of this post. Recently when I was meditating, pictures of me smiling, of myself as a toddler smiling, of babies smiling floated before me. And I suddenly understood something.
Why does virtually everyone react so positively to a smiling baby? The common statement made is, “Isn’t he cute?” or something to that effect. But that doesn’t even begin to address what makes us smile when we see a baby smiling.
When we see a baby smiling, the baby opens up a window for us to a forgotten past. A time when we too experienced unadulterated joy, not brought about by anything in particular, just because our heart was joyful. I knew then that we smile because the baby is a light unto us. It allows us for a split second to forget all the stuff that we are worried about, that consumes our mind, and just be present and feel the baby’s joy reflected in ourselves.
That was why I instantly experienced happiness when I practiced mouth-yoga. Just feeling myself smile opened up a window and I was a light unto myself.
And I realized that the same was true of the awareness I had a few months ago that I had the power to be happy or suffer by letting the loving-kindness that was in my heart flow outward to myself and all things. (See my post, “Change Your Life by Changing the Direction of Its Energy Flow.”)
I understood now that that flow of positive energy from my heart did more than create a force-field that protected me and thus allowed me to experience joy and happiness. It did more than offer others joy by saying in my mind, “hello.” That energy, and the smile that showed on my face, opened up a window to my heart and was a light unto myself and to all others.
And so I have added to my intents the following, “My intent is to open up the well-spring of loving kindness in my heart and let it flow out to myself and others, and be a light unto myself and others.” (For more on opening up the well-spring of loving kindness in your heart, see my book, The Self in No Self, p132.)