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Special Meditation Instruction

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:59 pm
by clyde
In my years of practice I have read and heard the instructions given for meditation posture many times: how to sit and what to do with the hands, the eyes, the tongue, and, of course, with the spine and the breath. Some years ago I read one instruction in a book that I had not read or heard of before. The book is titled Meditation at Nan Hua (Nan Hua is the name of a South African monastery in the Chinese Ch’an School lineage) and was written by the temple’s teacher Huei Re.

The instruction reads:
7. Smile
Keep a smile on your face. A kindly expression prevents the mind from being hard and cold. An unhappy mind cannot be easily calmed. Therefore smiling reduces stress.
You may wish to try it. I found it beneficial.

Re: Special Meditation Instruction

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:12 pm
by boda
I typically find myself doing this at least once per sit, when my attention is on face or mouth. I do it subtly though and not like a broad smile.

I first heard of this from TNH.

Re: Special Meditation Instruction

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:13 pm
by desert_woodworker
clyde wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:59 pm
The instruction reads:
7. Smile
Keep a smile on your face. A kindly expression prevents the mind from being hard and cold. An unhappy mind cannot be easily calmed. Therefore smiling reduces stress.
Thanks, Clyde. My Ch'an teacher Sheng Yen also introduced this suggestion in his Beginner's Classes.

His words (translated) were to "maintain a 'half-smile' " while sitting. I think that the "maintaining" of it is/was not as important as starting a period of sitting that way. As the period goes on, naturally, everything relaxes, and that should include especially all the 43 muscles of the face ("If the head and neck can relax, then all the body can relax": his words also). But I think those face muscles should not happen to unexpectedly or automatically reverse themselves to form a frown! ;)

--Joe

Buddha_diversity_Myanmar_Mandalay_515.jpg
Burmese statues -- not a frown or a clown in the bunch
Buddha_diversity_Myanmar_Mandalay_515.jpg (51.08 KiB) Viewed 329 times

Re: Special Meditation Instruction

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:53 pm
by jundocohen
There has actually been some research on mirror neuron reactions in the brain. When we feel happy, we smile. However, when the muscles on the face form a smile, the brain also interprets this as "I must be happy" and feels so!

This is not exactly the research (as it refers to seeing a smile on another's face), but it will give you a taste ...

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10 ... 00214/full

I sometimes sit with the facial equanimity and subtle positivity and acceptance of a Buddha's slightly upturned smile.

Image

Gassho, J

Re: Special Meditation Instruction

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:52 am
by jundocohen
Here it is ...
It’s a pretty backwards idea, isn’t it? Happiness is what makes us smile; how can the reverse also be true? The fact is, as Dr. Isha Gupta a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine explains, a smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression,” says Dr. Gupta. “Low levels of dopamine are also associated with depression.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/s ... ncna822591