Have you ever seen how horrible you look when you’re frowning? Several years ago, while shopping in Kohl’s, I noticed a young couple walking toward me. As they passed, I heard the guy say something like, “Whoa, did you see her face?” as if he’d just spotted a possessed Linda Blair from The Exorcist.
I knew he was talking about me, and made a split-second decision to freeze my expression. Don’t move a muscle, I told myself. I turned to one of the jewelry department mirrors, and–yikes! Think Maleficent, only without the horns. I didn’t think I could possibly look as bad as I did that day–angry and mean–and that was many frown lines ago.
Recently, while in the parking lot of the Scarsdale A&P, I caught myself scowling up a storm in the rear view mirror. To calm my nerves and soothe my face, I thought of how I’d feel if I ran into one of my yoga students while shopping and they saw me looking so hostile. Just thinking about my students brightened my face with a natural, honest smile. Sure enough, I ran into several people I knew at the store, including one of my students, and thankfully did not send them running from the produce section in terror.
We all go a bit mad sometimes, and frowning, grimacing, and the like (personally, I’m rather fond of seething) are natural reactions to our emotion. Denying anger isn’t healthy, but neither is letting the effects of anger linger–whether they etch lines on our face or help trigger illness in the body.
Is your smile eluding you these days? Do you feel grouchier than Frau Farbissina? If so, try this exercise to brighten your mood and your face.
Meditation on a Smile
Sit quietly and let your hands be still. Close your eyes. Think of someone who you like to smile at. Someone who, if you ran into her on the street, you’d want to greet with a joyful expression, even if you were in a bad mood.
Are you smiling? Maybe a little?
Notice the effect of your smile on the shape of your mouth. Your lips might feel softer, or tingly. They may part slightly, the teeth separating.
Observe how the smile makes your cheeks feel. Allow all tension in the face to release.
Perhaps you’ll sense the effect of the softening on your forehead. A little smoother there, maybe?
One of my students told me she could feel the smile in her eyes. Can you?
Imagine how your belly would feel if it were smiling…
Bring the smile to your heart–how does that feel?
Can you allow your lungs to smile? Your brain?
Thank of a place in your body that could use a little extra love, and send your smile there. Ahhh . . .
During the course of a busy day, it’s easy for some of us to get lost in our worries. If this sounds familiar, pause, especially while running routine errands, and take a few minutes to steer your thoughts to a smile. Not only will your troubles feel a bit lighter, you’ll also be less likely to scare the neighbors.