Not long ago I finished reading a great book which Ali gave to me. The book is called “The Cave In The Snow”, and it tells the story of a female buddhist monk who lived in a cave for 12 years. There is a chapter in the book called “Is the cave really necessary?”, in this chapter they explore the idea that we all have the opportunity to become enlightened, by living our every day lives in a conscious manner.
There is a little passage from this chapter that I want to share with you. The words are from Yvonne Rand, one of America’s leading Zen teachers. “For instance, there is a great little practice called the half-smile where you slightly lift the corner of your mouth and hold it for three breaths. If you do it six or more times a day within three days it makes a surprising difference to the body and mind. You can do it during any time of waiting, when you are kept on hold on the telephone, at the grocery store, in the airport, at the stop lights…”
I already used this ‘awareness tool’ when teaching yoga, but now this was another way of using it. A few days prior to reading this I had set up a mindfulness bell on my phone (Mindfulness app – it’s a great tool to bring your awareness back to the present moment!), and every time it rings I practice this little meditation. I can tell you by now that something in my awareness really changes when doing it, a sense of calm, that everything is ok suddenly emerges. This is why I think it is worth sharing this idea.
A few days after discovering this simple and lovely practice I found a bit more about it in my mindfulness pocket book. In this book half-smile is called ‘Mona Lisa’ smile, and I found it in the chapter “Carrying Yourself With Confidence”. Here we go!
“Adopt a ‘Mona-Lisa’ smile. A ‘Mona Lisa’ smile is helpful in stressful situations because it is an easy way to be in the moment and create a feeling of calm. The ‘Mona Lisa’ smile is an almost imperceptible smile: you simple relax your jaw and let your mouth turn slightly upward at the ends. It can help to visualize the image of Mona Lisa. Or imagine yourself looking at the mirror with a half-smile. The ‘Mona Lisa’ smile can be used with your breathing. Inhale the calm. Exhale with a half-smile.
I don’t know about you, but this is such a simple but powerful thing to do that it is worth a try. Don’t you think?
Pollyana Caldas Xavier Leaver