I know, I know...meditation again? Really? This is just a recap for the lovely attendees of the Tuesday night Meditation Gathering at Center of Symmetry. Don't worry, one of these days in the near future I will get around to posting about the many and varying philosophies and practices of using our innate creativity to bolster human potential! However, for now, it is meditation once more! (In the meantime, maybe read a little "Courage To Create" by Rollo May with just a dash of Jung's take on "Active Imagination." And if you are feeling frisky, add a dollop of Natalie Rogers on top to satisfy that creative sweet tooth! Oh yeah!)
This past Tuesday I was fortunate enough to have been graced with the presence of open, willing, and curious individuals. Such a dynamic group, that connectivity seemed almost instantaneous. That, my friends, is what magic is in my humble opinion. For those who expressed interest in continuing this particular meditation as a part of your practice, I would love to recap my variation of the Taoist Inner Smile meditation.
The Inner Smile meditation is used to cultivate Jing energy, which is both your passionate, creative energy and your life force energy.
Find a place where you feel comfortable, safe, and calm (if possible). Check in with your posture, and adjust your position so that your spine is straight to allow maximum capacity for breathing. After a round of deep and mindful breaths (becoming aware of the moment of inhalation, where inhalation becomes an exhale, and how the breath moves through your body), imagine a person sitting before you. In you mind's eye, smile to them. Become aware of any physical or mental shifts that occur during your exchange with this person. Imagine a golden light emanating from your smile that reaches out to the person in front of you, and watch as that positive, golden light gently flows through their mind, down their throat, into their heart space, filling their belly, down through their root, into the ground, and circulating back to you. As it flows back to you, envision this compassionate, joyful light creeping in through your toes, dancing up through your legs, filling your root, sauntering up your spine as it illuminates each vertebrae, opening your heart space, flowing into your throat, and expanding inside your mind as it gently flows back through your smile, and out to the other person. Now, try physically smiling to that person. (Don't worry no one's looking.) Try to become aware of any subtle shifts that may be taking place. Repeat the energy exchange that you envisioned in the first exercise. Does anything change within your thoughts? Does physically smiling cause any sensation to arise within your body?
Now, imagine that the person sitting before you is someone you dislike or have negative feelings toward. Take a good long minute, while being mindful of your posture and breath, to examine their face. Look deeply into this person's visage, and in your mind's eye, smile. Are you able to imagine smiling to this person? Again, see a positive, compassionate light emanating from your smile and reaching out to the other person. Envision the same sequence of energetic exchange that you experienced in the first exercise. Positive, compassionate energy flowing from your smile, through the other's body, and circling back through your own body, opening your heart space and illuminating your mind. Next, (yep, you guessed it...) try to physically smile to this person whom causes negative feelings to arise within you. Are you able? Again, repeat the circulation of compassionate energy, and bring your awareness to areas of tension, shifting, or curiosity. Try to look upon this person with intrigue rather than disdain.
The person before you begins to dissipate, as you notice that someone was sitting behind them. You can't quite make out their face, and so look deeper into the features with curiosity and intrigue. You realize that you are looking at a version of yourself, and in your mind's eye...you smile. Releasing your positive, compassionate energy to the person before you. Letting go of any preconceived notions or knowledge we have of this self; just allowing them to be before you. Regard their presence, as the golden light swells within their body and circulates back through the space between you. Repeat that exchange of energy a few times, and then physically smile to your self. Allow the circulation of golden, cleansing light to resume until you feel complete in your process.
Finally, envision your self walking into you, and sit with your self as you tend to your breath. Breathe deep into your belly, and allow a long, slow exhale. Now, physically smile to yourself, no other being present, as you see your positive, compassionate energy flowing from your smile, out into your surroundings, penetrating deep into the earth, circulating back up through your body. Open up your heart space, and illuminate your mind. Bring your awareness to your breath, and come back to the present moment when you feel complete.
I suggest keeping a journal on hand for any insight or sensation that may arise. Also, if you plan to use this activity as a normal part of your practice, it is beneficial to document your transition between meditations. I believe that there are many experiences and emotions that are often skewed when articulated verbally, so I also keep art supplies on hand for any non-verbal communication I wish to document. It is a great enhancement to your journaling experience.
As a mindfulness practice, try smiling more. Bring your awareness to the connection between yourself and that person, and then smile secretly to yourself, and have a wonderful day!