“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
In the heat of a Hong Kong summer, between bites of lotus root, sticky tofu, and congee, I met Taoist master Daniel Li Ox. Expecting a slight Chinese man with a long, gray beard, mustache, black sweatpants, and black shoes of the Toms® variety, I was surprised to stumble upon a well-built, broad-shouldered, blonde Australian bloke who lives most of his time in Bali. We were both in Hong Kong instructing at a yoga conference when he taught me one of the most potent, simple tools to cultivate immediate joy and stress-relief.
What to do when you’re annoyed, irritated, disappointed, or frustrated with what’s happening in your life? Send “smiling energy.”
This short, sweet practice helps train your mind to immediately switch gears—not only moving into acceptance, but sending Smiling Energy to everyone and everything in your path.
4 Quick Steps to Send Smiling Energy and Lighten Up
The anatomy of our breath is a perfect harmony of YIN and YANG. Slowing down the breath stretches our brainwaves and the space between thoughts to create a more alpha state.
Inhale symbolizes the feminine, receptive current, and the exhale equals the masculine, active energy.
1. Deepen Your Breath
(Try it now: three deep breaths in and out through your nose.)
A mental shape-shift is as easy as focusing on your breath. Deepen your breath, and it naturally calms the nervous system, moving you out of the habitual fight or flight stress response of the sympathetic nervous system and into the relaxation response of the para-sympathetic nervous system.
2. Inhale = Unconditional Acceptance
Now as you inhale, focus on unconditional acceptance.
Breathing in, literally receive the molecules of the present moment. Allow your body to soften and take in this very moment—as it is, right here, right now. Literally receive all of the circumstances, sensations, fragrances, and people of the present moment. Notice how you feel without needing anything to change.
With unconditional acceptance of exactly what is, we surrender our desire to control, understand, or change anything that is happening. Simply, it just is what it is. Imagine a warm, ocean breeze washing through you.
3. Exhale = Unconditional Love
As you exhale, focus on unconditional love.
When we exhale, we send our molecules back out to the moment.
Unconditional means that no matter who or what it is or how they are acting, you send love. Imagine sending a wave of love rippling out in every direction. You not only allow things to be as they are, you practice loving it. Not pretending to love it, but sincerely appreciating and wishing the best for (even if you don’t understand) everything. Flex the muscle of the heart! Silently radiate love to everything and everyone around you.
4. Send Smiling Energy
While radiating unconditional love, send smiling energy. Literally put a smile on you face (you probably feel better already) and send the energy it creates out into the universe.
Every moment of the day, wherever you are, practice permeating smiling energy. Through your bones, your organs, the expression on your face, tone of your voice, and quality of your movement, send a smile.
Added Bonus: this will light you up just as much as (and probably more than) the people and things you are smiling at!
Imagine your breath like liquid light. Envision the warmth and gentle, affirming uplift of a sincere smile. Let your whole body, mind, and heart smile. Then, share it.
Enjoy! And please leave a comment below to let us know what shifts you see in your life from sending smiling energy.
Love (and smiles),
Elevating personal growth as a lifestyle, Ashley Turner, M.A., brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern-day psychotherapist with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit. Ashley is the co-author of Aroma Yoga®: Using Essential Oils in Yoga + Life and creator of four best-selling yoga DVDs. She leads monthly, weekend retreats at Montage in Laguna Beach, CA, as well as retreats and workshops around the globe. For more on her and her events, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
*Photo by entrelec.