From Chapter 3
The Inner Smile Meditation
LOW-GRADE ENERGY OR HIGH-GRADE ENERGY
In Taoism we regard the negative emotions as low-grade energy. Many people operate their lives in anger, sadness, depression, fear, worry, and other kinds of negative energy. These types of energy are bound to cause chronic disease and to steal our major life force. The Inner Smile is the true smile for all parts of the body, including all the organs, glands, and muscles, as well as the nervous system. It wiIl produce a high grade of energy that can heal and eventually be transformed into an even higher grade of energy.
A genuine smile transmits loving energy, which has the power to warm and heal. Just recall a time when you were upset or physically ill and someone, perhaps a stranger, gave you a big smile--and suddenly you felt better. In ancient China, the Taoist masters recognized the power of smiling energy. They practiced an Inner Smile to themselves, which moved chi energy and produced a high grade of chi, and achieved health, happiness, and longevity. Smiling to oneself is like basking in love, and love can repair and rejuvenate.
The Inner Smile directs smiling energy into our organs and glands, which are so vital to life. Ironically, although we often pay a great deal of attention to our outer appearance, very few of us are aware of our inner organs and glands: what they look like, where they’re located, or what their functions are. Worse yet, we are insensitive to the subtle warnings they send us when we mistreat them with poor diets and unhealthy lifestyles. If we’re acquainted with our organs and glands, appreciate what they do, and learn to hear their messages, they will reward us with relaxation and vitality.
The Inner Smile Practice
Smiling Down to the Organs--the Front Line
1. Relax your forehead. You can imagine meeting someone you love
or seeing a beautiful sight. Allow the bliss of that love and beauty
to enter your forehead and expand into a pleasurable glow, soothing
away the tension and strain you may be holding around your
eyes. Feel that smiling energy in your eyes.
2. Allow that smiling energy to flow to the midpoint between your
eyebrows. Let it flow into the nose, then the cheeks. Feel it relaxing
the facial skin, then going deep inside the face muscles; feel it
warming your whole face. Let it flow into the mouth and slightly
lift up the corners of the mouth. Let it flow into the tongue. Float
the tip of the tongue. Then put your tongue up to the roof of the
mouth and leave it there for the rest of the practice; this connects
the two major channels of energy, the Governor and the Functional.
Bring the smiling energy to the jaw. Feel the jaw releasing
the tension that you commonly hold there.
3. Smile into your neck and throat, also common areas of tension.
Although the neck is narrow, it is a major thoroughfare for most
of the systems of the body. Air, food, blood, hormones, and signals
from the nervous system all travel up and down the neck .
When we are stressed, the systems are overworked; the neck
is jammed with activity, and we get a stiff neck. Be like the Taoist
masters and think of your neck as a turtle’s neck--let it sink down
into its shell and let it rest from the burden of holding up your
heavy head. Smile into your neck and feel the energy opening
your throat and melting away the tension.
4. Smile into the front part of your neck, the throat, where the thyroid
and parathyroid glands are. This is the seat of your power to
speak, and when it is stuck, the chi cannot flow. When it is tense
and held back, you cannot express yourself. You will be cowardly
in your interactions and frightened in front of a crowd, and your
communications will break down. Smile down to the thyroid
gland and feel the throat open, like a flower blossom.
5. Let the energy of the smile flow down to the thymus gland, the
seat of fire, the seat of chi, and the seat of healing energy. Smile
down into it, feel it start to soften and moisten. Feel it grow bigger,
like a flower bulb, and gradually blossom. Feel the fragrance
of warm energy and healing chi flow out and down to the heart.
6. Let the smiling energy flow into your heart, which is the size of a
fist and is located a little to the left of the center of the chest. The
heart is the seat of love, the seat of compassion, the seat of honest
respect, and the seat of joy. Feel the heart, like a bulb, gradually
blossom and send the fragrant warmth of chi love, joy, and compassion
radiating throughout all the organs from the pumping of
the heart. Let the smile energy fill your heart with joy. Thank your
heart for its constant and essential work in pumping blood at the
right pressure to circulate throughout your body. Feel it open and
relax as it works more easily.