There are some people who inspire me by something very simple: they seem to easefully maintain a soft and calm expression throughout their day. Even in times of stress, they appear centered and unruffled, as if they were carrying the expression, “This soon shall pass” in their hearts.
I am inspired by the occasional stranger on the subway who centers me because they look so content and impervious to the rush-hour crowds, and the yoga student whose soft smile never waivers as she maneuvers from pose to pose.
Ever since I read the following quote of zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh a year ago, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to gently smile throughout my day. Doing so has been powerfully grounding.
As Thich Nhat Hanh so playfully shares in his small booklet The Long Road Turns to Joy:
“As you make the effort to let go of your worries and anxieties, please smile. It may be just the beginning of a smile, but keep it there on your lips. It is very much like the Buddha’s half smile. As you learn to walk as the Buddha walked, you can smile as he smiled. Why wait until you are completely transformed, completely awakened? You can start by being a part-time Buddha right now!"
“The half smile is the fruit of your awareness that you are here, alive, walking. At the same time, it nurtures more peace and joy within you. A smile refreshes your whole being and strengthens your practice. Don’t be afraid to smile.”
Something so simple can be so strong and potentially transformational.
This week, I invite you to smile more on and off the mat. Feel free to share about your experience here.
(From a vanity point, smiling more, whether subtly or overtly, is an excellent way to prevent frown lines.)