MINDFULLY SMILING - A FREE EXERCISE FROM PAULI
Who wouldn’t want to smile - in this picture I am celebrating my engagement to Kajal Kaj with our seven amazing children, friends and family on 17th August 2019. It was a beautiful day, and yet in true British summer time fashion - it had rained relentlessly for about three weeks leading up to the event!
I refused to panic during the lead up, despite the weather. Instead, I put all my effort into positive thinking, visualisation and practicing the laws of attraction.
Cometh the day and upon waking early I was overjoyed to see the sun shining and remaining so, as we gathered to celebrate the coming together of two cultures, two families, friends, two very different upbringings and two very different people. It felt as if we were being blessed by all our gods and it was one of the best days of my life.
But bloody hell… six months on and we’re on lockdown!
How are you feeling right now? Are you finding it difficult to smile?
Smiling in the face of adversity has always helped me. Whatever my mood, I pride myself on being able to muster a genuine smile. It is a long-held belief that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, so do your face a favour and smile, because a frown is going to tire your face, make you look older and miserable - and the impact a smile has on others can be immeasurably up-lifting.
Who knows how we will look back on this extraordinary period in our lifetime, but one thing I have noticed when out and about, there is a lack of smiling going on.
As a result I am eating more and worse…. I am flicking through my social media like a millennial. I never thought I’d get into that sort of state of mind!
Thank goodness for humour and the ‘joke mongers’ who relentlessly find ideas to amuse us. The only thing cheering most of us up at the moment are these hilarious jokes, cartoons and clips going viral (excuse the pun) on social media.
THE MINDFUL PRACTICE OF SMILING
The simple practice of smiling can actually trigger joy in the mind and body, helping relieve some of this pain by first accepting. If you are struggling to feel happy and smiling through gritted teeth, I have a little trick up my sleeve that can help you.
TRY THIS SIMPLE EXERCISE - triggering joy in the mind and body:
Mindfulness practice is about feeling how you feel. For example. instead of avoiding, covering up or shoving down pain or anxiety, you accept it with care and attention.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sit in pain and anxierty, doing nothing!
The simple practice of smiling can actually trigger joy in the mind and body, helping relieve some of this pain. Ok - let's assume that you are finding it difficult to smile right now.
TUNE INTO HOW IT FEELS TO SMILE In this exercise, you will mindfully tune in to how it feels to bring a gentle smile across the face.
STEP ONE - sitting and breathing
Allow the eyes to close, and find a comfortable sitting posture.
If you are able to, keep the spine straight to invite energy and alertness into the mind and body.
Continue this for two minutes as you settle.
At this stage, your mind may be wondering and your inner voice trying to distract you.
For about two minutes - focus on your breathing by taking a few deep breaths. Focus on the sound and how it feels to breathe. Fill your lungs as deeply as possible and as you let the air out, keep pushing - get as much air out as possible.
Do this a few times, but stop if you feel dizzy.
To get in the right frame of mind, I focus on saying (in my head) ‘Breathe in POSITIVITY’…’Breathe out NEGATIVITY or ANXIETY’. I find this a really quick and easy technique to settle myself if I am feeling either of these emotions.
STEP TWO - focus on your abdomen
Begin by bringing your attention to the sensations of the body breathing.
Start with the abdomen, tuning in to the rising and falling.
Let the body breathe itself; you don’t need to breathe in any certain way.
Continue this for two minutes.
STEP THREE - focus on your chest
Move your attention to the chest.
Feel the expansion and contraction here as the body continues to breathe.
When you notice that the mind has wandered, simply bring the chest back into your awareness.
Allow two more minutes to pass.
STEP FOUR - focus on your nostrils
Now move your attention up to the nostrils.
You may feel the breath at the tip or base of the nose or on the upper lip.
Pay attention to the subtle sensation of breathing here.
STEP FIVE - focus on your face
Open your awareness up slightly to scan the face.
From the forehead down to the chin, notice what you can physically feel.
Tune in to the eyes, the mouth, the jaw, the cheeks, and anything else that grabs your attention.
STEP SIX - SMILE
Finally, allow yourself to softly smile.
You may try thinking of something that brings you joy as a form of encouragement.
As you smile, notice how the face and the breath feel.
Tune in to any changes in the breath, the muscles in the face, and any feelings that arise.
You may try letting the smile go and bringing it back several times, tuning in each time to the experience in the body as you do so.
When you complete the practice and allow the eyes to open, sustain the smile for a moment.
Let the smile fade slowly on its own
Notice how you feel. Wonderful? Kind of amused? Uplifted?
If your mind quickly starts to wonder at this stage, bring your attention back to your breathing and notice how your face feels, how you chest and stomach feels and how smiling has made you feel.
END the exercise.
I hope that little session of mindfulness has made it easier for you to smile. If it has - then give your smile as a gift to a complete stranger try this:
Mindfully Pauli - BONUS EXERCISE - SMILING AT A RANDOM STRANGER - BRIGHTEN THEIR DAY, AND YOURS!
One of my favourite things to do is smile at a random stranger! It’s infectious. Even the most grumpy of faces will find it difficult to not return your smile. Notice their face as it transforms away from the issues occupying their mind and notice how it reacts to your random act of smiling.
In this exercise, I ask that you to go forth and share your smile with someone! Seriously, do it. It doesn’t matter who it is.
Notice how you feel having spread your beautiful smile to a random stranger. I
You have now passed the test and graduated to LEVEL TWO Mindful Smiling.
Give yourself a little smile to congratulate yourself!
With Love - Pauli
If you tried this exercise, please let me know how you got on. If you think this post would be useful to someone you care about, please share!Welcome to your blog post. Use this space to connect with your readers and potential customers in a way that’s current and interesting. Think of it as an ongoing conversation where you can share updates about business, trends, news, and more.