Smile for Clarity of Mind

"When the lake has no ripples, everything in the lake can be seen. When the water is all churned up, nothing can be seen. The still lake without ripples is an image of our minds at ease, so full of unlimited friendliness for all the junk at the bottom of the lake that we don't need to churn up the waters just to avoid looking at what's there."

Pema Chodron from When Things Fall Apart

There is an easy way to cultivate this "unlimited friendliness". Smile. Try this when when you feel anxious, angry, lonely or other difficult feelings come up. You may find it is hard to stay stuck in the doldrums when your face is beaming.

Did you ever hear the expression for being drunk, "feeling no pain"? Have you ever read the the ecstatic words of the sufi poet Rumi, speaking of connection to the divine as an intoxication? Have you ever had a moment of clarity where everything made sense? It felt like your life was perfect and complete? This unlimited friendliness Pema Chodron tells us about is the elixir that brings on the feeling that we are whole, safe and secure. Greeting whatever unfolds in the next moment with curiosity and openness.

Deep inside we all wish this for ourselves and we know it is possible. Unfortunately, we have all these habits of mind that churn the waters, obscuring things. When we become defensive or angry or woeful inquisitiveness and warmth go out the window.

People take drugs to reach a state of painlessness and safety. This actually works but there is always a price. We can cultivate unlimited friendliness in many ways. Yoga is a good first step. Meditation is wonderful for this. And there are little turns of mind that we can use that also point the way.
Here is an exercise to do when you are feeling anxious and uncomfortable, perhaps angry about something or fearful. Smile. It is hard to dwell in negativity with a smile on your face. If you don't believe me, try it. Next time you have some difficult situation come up step outside your tension and smile. This may help you to greet your problem with friendliness and allow you to understand where your discomfort is coming from giving more options for going forward. When you try this, please come back here and let me know how it went. ;--)

Suggested Reading:
When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times
by Pema Chodron.
The book is available for purchase here on the website: When Things Fall Apart

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