Parked at the red light, I looked out my driver’s window at the passenger seated in the car to my left. An older woman. I only ever saw her profile and just for a few seconds. But those seconds changed my life. Permeating from her, nearly palpably, was her serenity, her composure. She was not beaming. She was not laughing. She was exuding happiness with a slight, obviously habitual yet genuine smile. In those seconds I observed, she was still. Yet she moved me. I decided right then and there that more important than anything else in my life, I wanted to exude that same air of gratitude, that all is right in my world (no matter how fractious the temporary moment might seem). I wanted to change the world, even silently and while waiting at a red light… with my smile.
When I gazed on the elderly woman sitting still in the car, smiling, *I* felt better. Because of my “mirror neurons,” looking at her and sub-consciously seeing the light radiating from her elicited activation in the reward system in my own brain, squirting out within ME sweet doses of dopamine and serotonin. Seeing HER in a peaceful, happy state created happiness in me, causing ME to smile and radiate out that same happy state to others… and on and on.
Smiling has three major functions:
* it neutralizes and reverses negative emotions (below 200 on the Human Consciousness Scale),
* it creates positive feeling which heals the physical body, uplifts further the emotions, and tunes the thought antennae to a higher frequency, and
* it bonds people together socially.
Few have yet realized the life changing, even world changing, answer that lies right under our noses: The smile. The sincere, gentle, lit-from-within smile. Yet, a true smile is not only right under our noses, but the truest, most genuine smiles are signaled from right above our noses, in the eyes.
Yes, smiling is not just done with the lips. Even more important than an upturned mouth is what you do with your eyes. Indeed, the “eyes are the window to the soul” and are more reliable in their expression of the inner world. Often people put on the smile (like their shoes or jacket) when they go out in public. Human smiling, is just “something you do” when you’re out with others. Yet, often, smiling does not reflect one’s true ‘friendly’ feelings. Think of politicians and children posing for photographers. How often are lips in the “smiling” position while F.A.K.E. is written all over the face?
Intriguingly, you do not have to learn to smile. We are preprogrammed to smile. We respond to good feeling through certain subtle muscle contractions upon our face known as the smile. Even children born blind, who never see anybody smile, show the same kinds of smiles under the same situations as sighted people.
Primates also have two gestures which resemble the human smile. With lips stretched back, teeth showing and apart, they show the aggressor face. With lips more relaxed and teeth together, they show the submissive face.
Though dogs wag their tails, cats purr, primates show capacity to respond to situations with a rudimentary smile, only humans can smile just because; through self-will, to affect (change) their own life and even outward into the world around them.
Yet, though children inherently smile, and even gently giggle, society has often taught them to be fake. Contrived feelings go hand-in-hand with counterfeit gestures. Loud and boisterous laughter is NOT inherent in our make up and does NOT indicate high emotional maturity, though it might be socially bonding for those who are insecure and seek validation from others.
Like most everything else that we have learned through a fallen social network, we must unlearn and then relearn how to make something as simple as a genuine smile.
Leonardo da Vinci was mentored by an Advanced Being who interacted with him as a “vagabond” he referred to as “Honore.” Honore’s purpose in these interactions was to give da Vinci “hints of inspiration” and direct his thoughts and actions without affecting his free will. This was done so that Da Vinci would give the world what he did to assist mankind’s further development. One important gift da Vinci left us was the encoded secrets to advancing one’s consciousness he painted into the enigmatic “Mona Lisa.”
Notice the soft eyes. The closed, gently upturned mouth. The calmness. The poise. The Mona Lisa was intended to assist each one of us as we were prepared to internalize those same qualities. This is a true, humane smile. With no teeth showing, there is no sign of predation. Only acceptance and validation, for herself, first, and for all viewers as well.
The Taoist practice called the “Inner Smile” is intended to assist an individual in similar ways as contemplating upon the Mona Lisa. Simply, its intention is to guide the individual to smile inwardly to each of the major organs of our body, activating within us the energy of loving-kindness, and waking up the higher capacities of the body. Either sitting comfortably and tall, or lying relaxed yet straight and long, with the tongue gently resting on the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth, one smiles gently (how we might smile… mostly to ourselves… if we had just gotten a joke that someone told us several days ago). This smile relaxes our entire face and head, and brings good, warm feeling and acceptance inside.
With sincere desire and practice, one can take this “Inner Smile” throughout the day, no matter one’s experiences. It is essential to remember to maintain the quality of a gentle, genuine smile… infused with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion… into each relationship and activity within one’s day. As one then becomes aware of tightness or stress within any part of the body OR outward within a relationship or even into a world issue, they can take a couple deep breaths and then project that smile of loving kindness and compassion into whatever situation of which they become aware. As this empowered peaceful energy is far more powerful than any frustration, anger, fear, or judgment, the “Inner Smile” can literally cleanse, dissipate, and heal the former injury, regardless of the level.
This gentle, genuine Smile is one of the most simple yet empowering even FREE choices one can make, for self and all others.
As I have written much about, our nervous system has three hierarchical defense systems. Animals rely either solely or primarily upon the more archaic, lower two systems often referred to as the “fight-or-flight”, or “freeze,” but humans have the neural inheritance to go way beyond. With the more advanced nervous system provided by the ventral vagus nerve (the “Love Nerve”), we now have available a far more adaptive means for responding to threat.
Sometimes referred to as the Social Engagement System, the vagal nerve is the tenth cranial nerve that runs from the brainstem and wanders (“vagus” means “the wanderer”) throughout all the organs and glands of the body, relaying messages and gathering information which it sends back and forth to the brain. Eighty percent of the communication takes place from the inner organs to the brain in the skull, while only twenty percent travels south, from the brain to the inner organs. In social settings, it is this “Love Nerve” that detects subtle cues from others’ voices and facial expressions to establish that it’s okay to put the brakes on a fight-or-flight response; the setting is safe, we have support. With this “Love Nerve” available to mammals (including humans), sociality is an option, blocking cortisol and releasing hormones and neurotransmitters that put the body into a state of relaxation, regeneration… and connection.
Yet, humans have the capacity to go way beyond mammals, even the primates that can be taught to create a “smile” look with their muscles. We can consciously CHOOSE to smile. And, when we do, we give our selves… and all others we come in contact with… a “shot” of happiness, as our neural transmitters respond with their release of feel-good chemicals. Because of humans’ enhanced mirror neurons continually gauging the micro-movements of the “others'” facial features, we have the ability to subconsciously respond to a smile with those exact same features. As we do, the nervous system determines that since we are utilizing the muscles we are (a genuine smile with relaxed eyes), that we are safe. Within this perceived-as-safe environment, we relax and serotonin floods our system. We give our self a happiness shot. For free.
Making pleasing facial expressions isn’t just about placating others’ tender egos. The vagus activates through feedback it receives from the muscles of the face, head, ear, and throat. In order for our vagal brake to function, our face needs to be relaxed, comfortable, and easily moved. During a healthy exchange, mirror neurons enable us to feel what another feels by simulating it within our own body. Cues like rhythmic voice and positive facial affect create a positive feedback loop, and through a process called neuroception, the body literally thinks, “I’m smiling, so I must be safe,” and the positive visceral response of the SES (social engagement system) is activated.
Yet, as natural as a human smile is intended to be, nature, for some of us, appears to have been trumped by habits that have programmed in and established new instinctual patterns. Have you ever given your smile only to have the other someone not smile back at you? If so, your own nervous system may have gone through a moment of decision-making: how do I respond to their unexpected non-response? For some people, what follows is that their vagal break goes offline and their primitive stress reactions kick in. They may wonder if they’ve done something wrong, marvel at the other’s rudeness, withdraw, or those with low levels of emotional control might even choose to engage in “fight-back” response. The inner bar-tender then floods the system with a shot of cortisol.
There is even a term, “resting bitch face,” (RBF) for those in our society who have re-trained their nervous system and facial muscles with narrowed eyes and hardened and unmoving facial features. Accordingly, micro-expressions of contempt are exhibited in the face. RBF describes a facial expression conveying a particular mix of irritation, judgment, or boredom. One journalist wrote of her own face: “Essentially, someone displaying RBF might not be the kind of person you’d be inclined to ask for directions.” Without the “Love Nerve” engaged and habitually operating, we lose tone in muscles of the middle ear and throat which leads to poor voice intonation (monotone), and a flat, unresponsive, mean-looking appearance. This reduces our ability to connect with others and experience positive emotions.
Those with RBF suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and relationship dramas. Why? Because those are the neural transmitters they are sending throughout their system. Often, these ignorant souls feel victimized, unaware of what they are doing to them self… and sending out to others. Sufferers themselves, so used to their inner emotional state, often don’t realize that they even are feeling contemptuous and withholding. Ignorant or not, that is the diet of which they are partaking. They wonder why their face looks unapproachable, why people judge them, thinking that they are judging them. It is my hope that this post can help many reclaim the JOY of their original birth-right and overcome ignorance and faulty-programming with the “Truth that shall set them free.”
In 2016, researchers studied the phenomenon using software that detects micro-emotions and found neutral faces identified as having RBF showed four times more contempt than other, genuinely neutral, faces. This showed as a subtle raising of lip corners and tightening around the eyes, which researchers concluded must similarly be registered by the brain.
Some people complain: “I don’t mean to look mean, that’s just how my face is!” But, a hapless victim they are not. Merely ignorant. Our eyes, where true smiles begin, are the windows to our souls. A RBF is a learned and programmed-in indication of one’s inner terrain that lacks the “fruit of the spirit” that the person feeds them self… and others… as they “radiate” out their inner dis-harmony. RBF is a current feature of social anxiety and is reinforced by people’s inner self-talk and recrimination as they compare them self to their perceptions of “beautiful” and “successful” and “happy” others as portrayed on social media and by Hollywood.
Over time, wrinkles accrue within faces that have set mental patterns. Without elasticity of the mind, the muscles of the face likewise become hardened. “Use it or you’ll lose it” also applies to one’s spiritual antenna: the hair. When one relies upon other mortal’s advice instead of extending out (as an antenna does) into the “ethers” for intelligence, the hair follicles close to dis-allow pigment. Thus, we have the accepted look of old-age: “wrinkles and gray hair.” Yet, this is not our natural birth-right! Intended to maintain our childlike innocence, mankind has repeatedly been encouraged to bring back into his essence a “broken (opened) heart and a contrite spirit.” When one’s mind is open and plastic as a pure little child (“contrite spirit”) and our heart is opened and receptive, our facial features are free to exhibit each micro-movement of feeling that is spontaneously flowing within our happy self.
Yet, within an unsafe environment, it is often in our best interest to become what has been termed “gray rock.” This signifies the shut down of facial features to not give positive or negative feedback to the one who is exhibiting behavior which we perceive as threatening. Within this unsafe environment, a lack of eye contact and minimal facial expression gives one the greatest chance to survive unharmed until one is able to “flight”… leave safely. In neurologic terms, this is the ventral vagus releasing its break and allowing the dorsal vagus to put us in a state of immobilization. This is part of the body’s defense system that is intended for protection and for short-term use. After the threatening individual has gone, or we have been able to proceed into our sympathetic nervous system and leave (“flight”), it is intended that the ventral vagus (“Love Nerve”) resume its primary position and re-establish feelings and facial responses of peace and safety.
In our present culture that has become addicted more to cortisol and adrenaline than opioids, many today have become STUCK with this RBF, contributing on a continual basis, in most social exchanges, the sense of trauma, depression, and anxiety. Incredibly, large sums of money, time, and pain, are even exchanged for perpetually stuck faces through Botox treatments.
Believing that they need to adopt hardened “macho” characteristics, many women have decided to adopt the hardened facial demeanor along with the suit. Often called the “game face,” they believe that it shows people that they’re serious, business-like. Yet, having lost the “truth” of who they Actually Are, they have also lost the grace of childhood. And it is these two traits, being “full of grace and truth” that “Jesus” exemplified and that each of us must re-learn. Regardless of what the tender and instinctual smile costs us in the business world, becoming meek and approachable re-engages our Love Nerve and binds us as a human family.
Like any muscle, the SES can be toned. Developing a graceful and spontaneously relaxed and moving face may actually change one’s world by eliciting positive emotions and favorable reaction from others. In fact, psychiatrist Bessel Van De Kolk suggests that the best treatment for many depressed or anxious people is acting classes, for this reason. Anything that exercises the head, throat, or ears will increase vagal tone. Pranayama yoga, OM chanting, and playing wind or rhythmic instruments are great regular activities.
During meditation, practice relaxing the eyes and mouth. Imagine showering warm sparkling light up from your heart, through your eyes and out towards those who might particularly need a feeling of being loved and validated. Imagine looking at your self, at your face. Can you see any tenseness? With micro-movements, shift your facial muscles, your eyes, your mouth. Practice gently gliding your jaw forwards and backward, slowly increasing the fluidity of your movement. With Self Love, can you find a face that conveys to you ultimate Self-Acceptance? Doesn’t that feel so good?
In this linked post, I share a personal experience where excruciating physical pain was overcome by smiling: http://loveistheanswer.info/pain-and-the-power-of-smiling/
After being a witness to this experience, my oldest daughter later attempted to apply the principle and confided to me that “it didn’t work for her.” One of my pre-schooler’s parents, a woman named Dawn, also experienced the same thing. Knowing that I am no more worthy of being healed than any other, especially these two beautiful and sincere women, I pondered about this situation. What was the missing variable in their experiences? I have come to believe that it was the principle of “when two or more are gathered together in my name.” In other words, in my experience in overcoming great pain with smiles and laughter, I had Alyssa’s and Krystal’s help as well as their precious and positive energy. Without their added influence it is possible that I could not have fully abated the pain and healed my body. As I have written much about lately, we need each other… fully engaged and within our L.O.V.E. (level of vibrational excellence)!
Although many are attempting to buy beauty with money, we each have the value of our inner happiness and its outward indicator, the smile. “You can buy anything in this world with money.” Some do it that way. The rich and famous are HUGELY attractive, or at least it seems. Yet, no matter how they try to disguise the results… even from themselves… money, and “this world,” offer no long-term benefit. Yet, as we REVERSE OUR LENS and concern our self with bringing into the world more JOY, more kindness, more humanity… we BECOME more attractive! Paradoxical, but true. Like a magnet, people gravitate towards those who assist, and validate them.
A friend of mine, Angela, would not be considered beautiful by the world’s standards. Yet, when she interacts with others, particularly on the dance floor… Angela has all the eyes upon her. She is alive. she is magnetic. She is deeply self-aware without being self-centered. She throws her head back, her smile encompasses her bright face, and she forgets her self while being fully aware of her experience. She has tapped into the power of her inner essence and, like a pure little child, she is reveling in the pleasure of being alive.
THIS is the magnetic quality that each of us have when we apply the same formula:
LOVE your Self, like a pure little child, deeply and completely. Respect and adore and embrace every bit of your Self. Live fully in the pleasure of each experience, accepting every nuance with enthusiastic gratitude. As you do, you will love all others likewise, lifting spirits, binding up broken hearts, alleviating burdens… just by being in your presence.
As a young girl, I knew almost nothing about one of my neighbors. Yet, this unseen man always put a smile on my face when I heard him working in his backyard. By whistling.
When I’d be outside weeding, riding my bike, or whatever… when I’d hear happy whistling floating across the way, I smiled, I relaxed, I knew the world was good. I felt happy. Though I never saw his physical smile, never even met him, the happy tunes that came from within his heart and through his teeth changed My world. And perhaps many others.
Perhaps one will have to take this “on faith,” but I truly believe that the future we are stepping in to is one filled with happiness, where smiles abound… on each and every face. And so, I would ask each of us to: Step into the version of yourself that already has everything that you want. The one who exists in this future. Merge with her. Become her. Ask yourself daily; What is that version of me thinking? What are her daily habits? What is she doing, listening to? Who is she surrounding herself with?
Not just the future, but the past, though it might be consciously forgotten, can assist.
Reflect upon the first thing that YOU ever saw… a *SMILE*… a wondrous… beautiful… validating… accepting… *SMILE.* You had just come into existence, your very first ever human existence. Your *MOTHER* smiled at you. Love. Precious, delight-filled Love.
And all your world was right. It was only after *She* had finished your foundational experiences, and left you on your own… that you felt emptiness, lack… and fear entered in.
You frowned. Crinkled your brow. Held your breath. Doubted yourself.
Ever since then… in each subsequent life… you have sought *Her.*
You have looked for *Her,* in every other set of eyes you have ever seen. You have sought that same validation. Rightness. Goodness.
You will find *Her* again.
She is waiting for you to find that same validation. Rightness. Goodness. Within your Self.
On your own. Just because you Can. And Are.
The more smiles You give, the closer you get to *Her.*
The more you learn to Love your Self. The more you bridge the gap.
As you look… deeply… into all the “other” eyes you see… you will find glimpses of *Her.* You can smile into Them. Validate Them. Silently tell Them that They are Right. They are Good. Treat Them as if *She* were the one treating Them.
And make all the world Right once more.
Go forth and smile!
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile when your heart is breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
In my pursuit of Real Truth, I have given up everything. Crawling through the “eye of the needle,” I have learned the *mysteries* and am now giving my life to assist YOU to dis-cover Who *YOU* really are, along with your unique gift to offer humanity. As you learn to seek (in the right place and with purified intent), you WILL find treasures of lasting value, along with every promised reward. Together, we will establish a society of humane beings and live life ALIVE, on PURPOSE, and with a sociality unequaled… because we will each BE and view each other as equally and profoundly DIVINE! Please… catch this Hope and Vision and join with me.