Walking-Smile Meditation: A Mindful February

Much of Buddhist mindfulness tradition is used in certain parts of psychotherapy these days. It can and does work–whether there is a placebo effect or not, it is difficult to fully state (especially when you are practicing it yourself. So, I will examine that aspect at the end of the month).

Have you ever noticed that when you start to smile a little– your half smile breaks eventually into a large full smile. There is also a Buddhist practice of a half-smile. Physiologically, it is based on the fact that smiling can boost natural endorphin levels.

The Buddhist tradition also says walking–or mindfully walking can be a good way to center oneself. When combining mindful walking and half-smiling the effects upon most people is irreversible: an up-tick feel-good endorphins. It is also used to center oneself —or grounding oneself in the present moment.

So, lets try to break down the  components

  • Walking Meditation

The technique of walking meditation that I tend to employ in my own life is based on that of the “peace walk” described by Thich Nhat Hanh.

From the website:

( https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-meditate-thich-nhat-hanh-on-walking-meditation/ )

Walking meditation is first and foremost a practice to bring body and mind together peacefully.

Thich Nhat Hanh explores the process:

Walking meditation unites our body and our mind. We combine our breathing with our steps. When we breathe in, we may take two or three steps. When we breathe out, we may take three, four, or five steps. We pay attention to what is comfortable for our body.

While learning to walk mindfully may seem un-natural — one may argue, it can bring a sense of peace and well-being if practiced regularly. Try it…

 

  • The Half-Smile

While smiling, itself, is not necessarily apart of Buddhist tradition, you may notice that pictures and statues depict Buddha with a “half-smile.” Generally speaking, Buddhist tradition preaches serenity–thus the half-smile.

Quite a few psychological studies have shown the positive effects of “half-smiling” — I will cite one:

In the journal, Psychological Science, we can read—- Grin and Bear It
The Influence of Manipulated Facial Expression on the Stress Response
Tara L. Kraft, Sarah D. Pressman

Grin and bear it

While it is just one study, try it some time– when in a stressful situation, try half-smiling and it may reduce your blood pressure….

 

Mindful February-From Buddhism to Mental Health to Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

The concept of mindfulness is a fuzzy one. In 21st century parlance, it has evolved to be any of a number of things– it is used in prayer by Buddhists, as a tool used in psychotherapy, a management paradigm-tool, and finally– a manner to centering  one’s soul

Perhaps, the most accurate way to look for a definition is to look at the source of its the practice. According to the website:

www.dhamma.org/en/vipassana 

The practice of vipassana, is to see the world as it truly is. The origins come from ancient Buddhism.

Borrowing more words from another internet site:

www.vipassanadhura.com

The practice of insight, on the other hand, cultivates wisdom. The student develops systematic mindfulness in order to see the real characteristics of existence: unsatisfactoriness, impermanence, and impersonality. All the activities of daily life can be objects of mindfulness: bodily actions, feelings, thoughts and emotions— even painful ones. Nothing is suppressed.

Where does that leave us?

All too often, we find ourselves in the midst of pain–and when we identify where the pain comes from, it can give us insight. It can gives the means to rid ourselves of the pain, or to learn to accept it.

While this sounds like a lot of whooey to those of who have scientific backgrounds, the technique actually does work if you find yourself in a state dismay and stress. It is successfully used to treat people in prison, people in facing depression, and quite a few maladies.

In psychotherapy, the techniques fall under the practice of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy– a technique pioneered by Marsha Sinetar:

http://www.marshasinetar.com/

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh is an elderly Buddhist priest who is was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize in the 1960s by Martin Luther King Jr. Thich Nhat Hanh was one of the voices calling for peace amidst the war of Vietnam. Although he has not been awarded the Nobel (not yet, at least), he has brought the practice of mindfulness to western culture. Let me borrow a word from his website:

https://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/

 

The energies of mindfulness, concentration and insight can liberate us from our anxiety and worries. We let go of the past and the future, and come in touch with the wonders of the present.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

February is dedicated to Thich Nhat Hanh

I  will be concentrating on this Zen master to help explain how he and his paradigms of mindful peace can change one’s world and our world! He has a lot things to say about how to live peacefully with one’s self. Even in today’s world– we can find a bit of peace and love without the din of greed and war….

1000px-Dharmachakra,_withprint_(en).svg

Mindfulness is just one practice of the eight paths –when taken in perspective with Buddhism.

Source of artwork:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharmachakra#/media/File:Dharmachakra,_withprint_(en).svg

Peace,

John