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British Summertime has begun!! 🤷‍♀️ Life as we know it may have stopped, but the world keeps on turning… 🌞

In the spirit of springing forward and upwards... I'm emerging from the first week of lock down / shut down and aim to share some DIY self care tips based in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory to relieve stress over the next few weeks.

Including seasonal living ideas, acupressure points, and any ways this graceful perspective can be utilised in everyday life to bring some EASE + BALANCE to our bodies, psyches and emotions.

Firstly... SMILE!!!

Like the upwards energy of spring - turn up the corners of your mouth and SMILE!!

We smile coz we’re happy and research says it works the other way too. Apparently the effects of a brief smile can last more than 4 mins – getting all those lovely endorphins flowing!

Facial muscle flexion triggers the brain into thinking it’s happy. Also smiling is infectious and in this world of heightened fear and isolation it might just soften the edge of our disconnection if we can smile at the peeps in our households, or people we distantly pass in the street in this weird world we now inhabit 😃😃

In a stressful moment, it’s easier to consciously move the muscles of our faces than try and change our emotions – fake it til you make it – we might look a bit loony but it's worth a shot!! 😬😁

Below are a selection of smile meditations to try while we're cooped up at home. One of the best known ancient Taoist practices is the inner smile meditation in which we smile inwardly to each of the major organ systems in our body - and other variations. When we do this we activate the energy of loving kindness, wake up the five element network and transform negative emotions into positive life force / low-grade (stuck, stagnant) energy into flowing, healing high-grade energy.

We now know, through neuroscientific research, that the act of smiling activates neurotransmitters (chemical signals in the brain) that help to counteract stress, positively affect heart rate and blood pressure, relieve pain and boost the mood.

We are also learning that the physical act of smiling boosts immunity. When we smile the brain assumes all is well and that we’re happy, and studies are showing that happy people live longer.

Smiles evoke a positive response - when we smile at someone they (often) smile back. A traditional idea is that by smiling at the body/organs, the body smiles back and responds in it's natural positive healing state.

If you’ve ever felt uplifted, loved, or relieved when someone smiled at you, you’ve experienced the powerful energy of a smile. A smile can literally change our energy in an instant.

Here are a selection of guided smile meditations, or add a smile to your fave meditation or do the very simple meditation at the end of this post. See which style resonates! :-)

The science one - with William Bloom - a general smile meditation discussion on the scientific effects of a smile. Guided meditation in the next video below.

The guided smile meditation with William Bloom - discussion in video above

The classic one - The Taoist Inner Smile - sending a smile to each organ system

By Taoist Master Mantak Chia

A more general traditional guided inner smile meditation by Qigong Master Lee Holden.

Or try this very simple version;

  • Stand, sit or lie comfortably and evenly

  • Align your posture rooting down and drawing up to create space in the body

  • Relax the body - scan down, notice any tension and see if you can release - face, head, neck, shoulders, arms, torso, hips, legs, feet

  • Bring attention to the breath - don't change it or force it - that creates tension in the body - by bringing attention to it it'll naturally slow down 

  • Bring a soft smile to your face - you can think of a person/pet/place that you love

  • Allow the corners of your mouth to gently lift and feel/imagine the smile radiating upwards like sunshine to your third eye

  • Stay here a moment - bringing clarity, love and kindness

  • Feel it flowing back into your brain, flowing down the spinal cord and radiating outwards throughout the entire body

  • Bringing a smile of positivity, lightness and balance to all the systems of your body 

  • Breathe with this as long you like, glowing brighter and softening with each breath 

  • Slowly come back to the room, wriggle and stretch and keep smiling 

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