Oakville Zen Meditation

#462 THE POWER of SMILING: how, when& why

                THE POWER OF  SMILING: when, how, and why 

Most of us are resistant to doing this exercise. We feel it is fake or unnatural to smile w/o a reason. ….and yet it is recommended not only by psychotherapists (Ref 1)  but also described in Zen literature (Ref 2). 

When to smile?

Our face is a proxy of our mood. Usually, our habitual look shows a serious even negative expression caused by tension, upset, stress, worries, boredom, anger, feeling down, etc. 

Examples: lips turned down, teeth clenched, frown lines between the eyebrows. 

You don’t need a mirror to feel the tension on your face. With practice, it is, in fact, quite easy since that tension will expend on your body and mind. 

So, when tension exists for whatever reason, it is time to smile even spontaneously. 

How to smile?

It does not have to be a wide, prolonged smile. A discret one, for 2 or 3 sec. will do the trick….like the Mana Lisa in the painting of DaVinci.

Why smiling is beneficial?

It is interesting to know that 34 muscles are involved while smiling (17 on each side).

Research has proven the value of smiling on a regular basis is beneficial.

In 2009 The Univeristy of Munich demonstrated conclusively from FMRI, blood sampling & psychometric tests that the brain's happiness circuitry is activated when you smile (regardless of your current mood). If you're down or stressed out,  smiling actually prompts your brain to produce feel-good neuropeptides hormones such as oxytocin, serotine, and dopamine ……giving credibility to the adage, "fake it til you make it" when it comes to your state of mind. 

Other studies from Berkeley, Wayne Un. and others did confirm these beneficial findings which can be listed as follow:

   Relief of acute stress.

   Improving mood & well-being.

   Increase resistance to physical pain.

   Reduce blood pressure

   Enhance our immune defense.


   Make you more attractive.

   May prolong life span.


It is important to smile as much as possible because, besides its proven “anti-stress “ effect, it will help us not to consider things too seriously in one way or the other, and, therefore minimize our ongoing up-and-down emotional yo-yo cycles. Smiling acts as a balancing effect, producing some sort of emotional cooling effect when we  are too much “up” or “down” 

Here is a quote from Chinese Zen Master Chen: X century.

“We smile with our hearts. Smiling holds the key to inner peace and harmony. It is not a mere facial expression but a reflection of our true Essence. It conquers our darkest emotions, heals wounds

, and creates a ripple effect of positivity in our life. 

Ref 1: https://www.verywellmind.com/top-reasons-to-smile-every-day-2223755 

       With 11 references.

Ref 2:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJPGJumn56I