Today is Day Two of the Season for Nonviolence , and our focus is on smiling. I have to say, each and every year this practice is more meaningful to me.
As you can see, the quote comes from Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk whose work has so helped to transform my consciousness.
As we look at our peace practices, they apply both to our inner work and to our outer behavior. Smiling is one of my bedrock spiritual practices for both. It easily brings me “home.”
I breathe and smile softly as the beginning of any serious meditation or healing work I do and as an ongoing mindfulness practice. Each time I recall to smile, throughout my day, my body relaxes, my heart opens and I feel joy – or if I am having a rare really hard day, at least the beginnings of joy.
But the smile goes way beyond my inner peace. It goes to my inner relationship with other people.
“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” Abraham Lincoln
Smiling is the technique I have a adopted for overcoming my anger and fear. I smile when I think of someone I have a disagreement with or someone who I have a difficult relationship with – and send them healing smile-energy. I try to see through the disagreement to the light inside every person including them – and my quiet little smile helps me do that.
Sounds corny, I know, but how did Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King and Nelson Mandela, etc., move past marginalization and enmity to bring about such great benefit for many people? They had to somehow overcome their resentment and fears, didn’t they? They preached Love. What if we all sent our “enemies” healing smile-energy as a daily meditation? How much more ready could we be then to actually listen to the person, to try to be-friend (be friendly toward) the person when we have an opportunity?
A smile is a powerful thing – and I haven’t even mentioned smiling at people as you meet them. I’m speaking now purely of inner work. But you can smile when you meet folks too. It makes them feel good, shows them someone SEES them.