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Self-Healing - Buddha's Smiling Meditation

by liberty forrest(more info)

listed in meditation, originally published in issue 209 - October 2013

Meditation. The very word makes me feel peaceful. Perhaps that’s because meditation has been such a big part of my life, whether teaching it, doing it or recording CDs but I associate the word with a beautiful, deep sense of calm and serenity.

The Smiling Buddha

I remember many years ago misunderstanding meditation entirely, believing that the point of it was to empty the mind. I thought I had to make it blank and not think at all. This seemed ridiculous, not to mention impossible. How could I stop thinking? Without further investigation or learning anything at all about what meditation was (beyond this misconception that I had), I gave it a shot a time or two and of course failed miserably. No matter how hard I tried to keep my brain from generating thoughts, my mind was anything but blank.

It was a long time before I took a more serious look at meditation and began to understand what it was really all about. It is not about turning off one’s thoughts; it is about learning to control them. It is about allowing the mind to be still, not empty or blank. It is about letting thoughts drift in and drift out, without being bothered by them, without thinking.

For example, if you are meant to be concentrating on your awareness of whatever is in your environment during meditation, every time an unrelated thought wanders into your mind, your task is to notice the thought and let it go. If it is about what you should have for dinner, the trick is to let it go and get back to concentrating on what you are noticing. You are not to start going through your mental list of what’s in the fridge or the cupboards and begin making a meal plan.

When you continue to let go of those unrelated and unwanted thoughts and keep bringing your focus back to whatever is in your awareness in that moment, this is called being mindful. Practising this in meditations can help you to live mindfully. That is, living in the present moment and not worrying about past or future ones can dramatically improve your ability to cope with anxieties and stress. Instead of worrying about ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’, you stay in the present and don’t let yourself become bent out of shape about past events you cannot change or future ones that may never occur.

Liberty Forrest Picture

Health Benefits of Meditation

I could write a lot about mindfulness or other meditations, and about various ways you can practise them but the point is this: meditation of any kind is fabulous for mind, body and spirit. People who meditate regularly have been proven to be healthier and live longer than those who do not. For example, meditation reduces blood pressure and decreases the risk of all sorts of ailments including heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS and numerous other degenerative diseases by reducing or eliminating stress. How long ago did we start hearing that stress is the number one Killer in our culture?

Am I suggesting that meditation gets rid of the stressful factors in your life? Of course not. No matter how often or how deeply you meditate, you will still have the grumpy spouse, the miserable boss, the long work hours, a million demands on your time, or whatever else it is that ‘stresses you out’?

Picture

But stress is a perception; it is not an unavoidable part of life. We have stress only if we believe in it. We cannot change certain aspects of our lives, but we can change our responses to them. Meditation can teach you how to do this. The more you practise, the healthier your responses even when you are not in a meditative state.

If we ‘go with the flow’ and accept the circumstances of life, no matter how difficult, we do not feel stressed. But when we react negatively to our circumstances, that is when we feel stressed, which is a major contributor to illness of all kinds because the body is simply not designed to cope with negativity. It begins to break down, first affecting areas of susceptibility, and others weakening in time. The longer the body is exposed to negative energy, the greater the chance of serious, debilitating and life-threatening illness.

However, it has long been proven that the body responds well to positive energy and environments. There is nothing more immediately positive and rewarding than spending a little time in a deep state of meditation, creating your own serene and tranquil environment no matter where you are or what is happening around you.

Easier said than done? Perhaps at first. But the more you practise, the more quickly you will slide into a blissful state of ease and calm, and the more often you’ll want to do it. In their earliest classes, my students usually give me endless excuses as to why they cannot find a few minutes a day to meditate. They’re too rushed in the morning, too tired in the evening, too busy in between.

My answer: we spend time on what matters to us. How much time do you spend watching mindless television, cruising the internet or having inconsequential texting chats? Are your happiness and well-being not worth ten of those minutes?

Once they decide to make it a daily habit, my students soon discover that a day with meditation is far better than one without.

Meditation is free. It’s easy. You can do it anywhere, anytime.

If possible, wear loose, comfortable clothing. Turn off your phones and make sure you won’t be disturbed. Even a few minutes can do wonders and soon you will want more.

Power of Simplicity

The Smiling Meditation

One of the quickest, coolest and most effective meditations is the Smiling Meditation, originally taught by Buddha. It doesn’t get any simpler than this, but it is powerful enough to change your life!

Whether you need a quick pick-me-up on a down day, or you’re having a really bottom-of-the-barrel miserable one, a sure-fire way to feel better is to get comfortable and smile.

Seriously, that’s pretty much it. You don’t even need a lot of time to do it, although it feels so good, you’ll probably find you want more time than you thought.

Check out this cool little trick of the mind/body connection. If you pretend to smile, eventually your brain gets an ‘Oh, I’m happy!’ message and releases those delicious feel-good endorphins that race through your body, doing a little happy dance everywhere they go. 

Here’s what to do: Get comfy. Close your eyes and take a few deep relaxing breaths. Imagine you’re inhaling peace and calm. Feel them flooding into every cell of your body. Perhaps you will see them as colours or sparkles. Whatever works is great.

Exhale your worries, tension, stress. Feel your body relax as you sink into that chair.

When you’re ready, just smile. A little one - not a big, toothy grin. Just think about Buddha’s face, that serene little smile that seems to say ‘All is well and nothing matters.’ Now hold it. If you’re having a bumpy day when you begin this meditation, you’ll probably feel like a liar or a fraud, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach. It can be applied to various aspects of life. It works.

Okay, so you’re sitting there quietly, the corners of your mouth gently upturned, Buddha-style, and perhaps it feels like your face will crack because it’s been a while since you planted a smile on it. Imagine that smile spreading up into your cheeks and they are smiling. Imagine your nose smiling. And although they are closed, your eyes are smiling too.

Even your eyelashes and eyebrows are smiling, and so is your forehead. Take your time; absorb the smiles. No need to rush as you add each new smiley bit. Feel them. Enjoy them.

The smiles move up into your scalp and even your hair is smiling, and so are your ears. Your neck is smiling. Your chest, your back, your shoulder blades, your lungs. Your heart has a huge smile plastered right smack in the middle of it. Perhaps it looks like one of those plastic ‘smile mouths’ with the big red lips and lots of teeth, grinning away like the Cheshire cat.

Your ribs, your stomach, your kidneys, your belly button are smiling. Your hips, joints, knees, toes, every single part of you is smiling. Your appendix (if you still have one) is smiling. Your blood cells are racing through your veins and arteries looking like zillions of happy little smiley face emoticons, just like all the other cells in your body. You are made up of countless beautiful bright smiles!

I dare you to feel miserable by the time you reach this point!

Next time you’re frustrated in a queue, going through a rough patch or just having a bad day, remember: Smile! You’ll be glad you did!

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About liberty forrest

liberty forrest (who uses lower case for a reason) is the author of several books, including The Power and Simplicity of Self-Healing, most of which are of a healing and inspirational nature. She is also an accomplished artist and musician, a numerologist and the creator of several guided meditation and hypnosis CDs that assist people with such issues as emotional healing, stopping smoking and losing weight.

For years, liberty has used her abilities as a psychic and medium to offer comfort, guidance and direction to many, including during frequent appearances on BBC Regional Radio between 2006 and 2011 where she answered questions from listeners. Also during this period, she took to the stage, connecting audience members with loved ones in spirit. In recent years her stage performances have been as a stand-up comic. liberty views this as the perfect way to combine her greatest passion - writing - with two other loves: playing with words, and observing the absurdities of life and human nature.

Growing up in Calgary (Western Canada), liberty later moved to England where currently she resides in an old stone cottage in a pretty little village and may be contacted via freespirit@libertyforrest.com  www.libertyforrest.com  www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/liberty-forrest/

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