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Thread: Smiling Practice

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Smiling Practice

    Dear all,

    I am starting anew thread to follow up on the smiling practice that Enkyo and I have been sharing. This discussion started in our Global Day of Service thread and I think it is worth its own "topic." I hope we can encourage others to join us in an exploration of smiling and laughing - particularly when we don't feel like it. I'd also like to share a link from the Atlantic magazine regarding laughing practice in Syrian refugee camps.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/ar...ors_picks=true

    Deep bows,
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    Yugen,

    Thank you so much! I will check out the conversation in the thread. I also have a smiling practice- I call it "Smile In Your Liver." I admit I first read about it in Eat, Pray, Love. But it struck me as one of the most profound lessons on her journey- this Balinese teacher told her that her lessons learned in India were good, and her meditations good, but for now to JUST SIT and SMILE. Smile everywhere, even in your liver

    Thank you for sharing that amazing article as well. As a mental health worker, I feel the mental aspects of crises are way overlooked. I think, often, problems in the world blow up to such large proportions that even the people working on the problems forget the largest factor- that we are all HUMAN! And that the problems have real effects on individuals. The Center For Mind Body Medicine is doing amazing work, truly!

    Deep Gassho,
    Seizan

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    I think this will be a wonderful, challenging, and rewarding practice!

    I'm in.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  4. #4
    Sounds interesting and challenging. I'm in, too :-)

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Such a great topic!

    I will take the challenge full on. I'll smile and laugh more and try to record my findings.

    This is a very nice thread. Thank you, Yugen!

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    This is great! I am so grateful to have your support and company in this practice! Please feel free to share ideas, experiences as you go along. I will do so as well.

    Seizan, isn't that article amazing? It encourages me to find a way to smile and laugh, when I'd rather wallow in whatever is bothering me. And my worries are nothing compared to what these refugees are experiencing.

    Let's get something started!!!

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 03-20-2013 at 07:40 PM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  7. #7
    I too am down with this practice. I have had some great experiences with just a smile.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    This is a good idea. I too shall partake in some of the smiling practice. Now let us go forth and smile!
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    "Now let us go forth and smile! "

    What a great benediction! Just thought I would report back..... every morning I stop in at my local coffee shop for my three shots of espresso.... there is a group of eight or so retirees who sit at a long table every Wednesday and Friday morning.... I stop by every time I see them to say hello and chat with them. They are really very nice people. This morning we were talking about the latest snowfall and how tired everyone was of winter.... I smiled and said it's all good - the snow melt will alleviate any groundwater shortages we have and the sunsets right now are beautiful with the snow against the ocean and blue sky. They all nodded their heads.... and then one of them turned to me and said "we all wonder what it is you do... are you a therapist or something?" We laughed.... I just replied that I was a neighbor who came in to share coffee, just like them. I do notice that they read daily inspiration quotes (Christian themed), so I haven't raised my own discipline yet. Just smile....!

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  10. #10
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    > Yugen!

    Gassho,

    Lisa

  11. #11
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I think that smiling practice is implied in Buddhist practice. When sitting or working, I check in with my smile. Is it natural? Is it truly a smile? Is it too much of a smile? It is part of my practice because I think it is a useful habit to appear friendly and approachable, and smiling generally calms the nerves.
    迎 Geika

  12. #12
    This is great! Thanks for sharing Yugen! I really enjoyed the article and your perspective on the snow too. We just had a snow storm here and all I could think about was how tired I am of the snow and cold!

    Gassho
    Kia

  13. #13
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    I have always believed in smiling practice ever since my mum told me I looked angry when I was just letting my face hang! Anyway I once had a card from a friend who said that ' I made her smile even when she didn't want to'. Just do it..it works!
    Keep this one going, as Fugen and Gustav have said.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  14. #14
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heisoku View Post
    I have always believed in smiling practice ever since my mum told me I looked angry when I was just letting my face hang! Anyway I once had a card from a friend who said that ' I made her smile even when she didn't want to'. Just do it..it works!
    Keep this one going, as Fugen and Gustav have said.
    I completely forgot about this smiling "practice" until the Gustav dharma talk reminded me. What's funny is that the week or two I really actively practiced it had a lot of carryover. I smile at people way more than I used to, and more importantly I smile at people I probably would have just grimaced at before (apparently, my natural walking around expression is that of someone about to commit homicide.) Anyway, I think it is time to give it another concerted effort along with the meal gatha that still slips my mind until halfway done eating.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    I'm with you. My default expression, when I'm straight and level, is of a volcano about to erupt. Having shaved my head for ordination hasn't helped either.... every time I walk by the biker bar downtown a path clears for me on the sidewalk now.... I have to make a deliberate effort at smiling. Gustav made an impression on me - the genuineness of his smile was amazing.... so thanks for the momentum Heisoku and Nenkyo.... I am back at this....

    Gassho
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  16. #16
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Great article and seems like a worthwhile practice. I think I brought this up once before, but it seems relevant again so I'll reiterate. When I was taking the truck load of Psychology classes I read about something called the Positive Feedback Hypothesis. Basically, this mean that while our thoughts and emotions can alter behavior, behavior can also later thoughts and emotions. The did several experiments, and it turns out that if you are somber and you smile, your mood will lift. The same goes with posture, when we're sad we tend to walk staring down slightly slouched over. If we keep our eyes up and the shoulders back it serves to brighten the mood as well. The same works in reverse too, if you're feeling happy and you frown, slouch and avert your gaze the mood darkens. Smiling also has the affect of making those around you smile. These days, even when I'm not smiling I seldom frown. The mouth is just placid, always ready to smile when the moment calls for it.

    Gassho, John

  17. #17
    Hi,

    Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh often teaches that one should sit Zazen with a slight "Buddha smile" on one's face, much as one sees on some statues of Buddha ... which can result in a sensation of a Buddha's Joy while meditating ...



    There is actually some scientific behind this, as the brain mirror's the sensation of the muscles in the face. In other words, physically smiling "fools" and triggers the brain to feel that, since there is a smile in the facial muscles, the brain should then be feeling a sensation of happiness, releasing the accompanying chemical signals, etc..

    http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/18/sc...gewanted=print

    I sit so sometimes, and I feel it works!

    I do not emphasize it more for our Zazen at Treeleaf, however, for the simple reason that our Zazen here (I feel) is not in need of tools or tranquilizers to "feel happy" during Zazen. Ours is more a joyful, vibrant equanimity ... a Joy so Joyous that it does not even crave to feel small human "happy happy happy" all the time to be happy!

    In fact, Shikantaza is not about always needing or seeking to "feel happy", peaceful, blissful, etc.. (I might term it a kind of Greater Joy and Happiness about all of life in its richness and many colors, which includes sometimes feeling happy and joyous, sometimes sad, sometimes in between). So, we do not try or need to feel any particular way in our Zazen, and certainly do not run after sensations of peace, happiness, bliss (which we consider like candy ... we cannot eat sweet candy all the time, or get hooked on needed constant "sweetness", but must have a balanced diet which includes the not sweet vegetables!) During Zazen, we let all emotions drift from mind without clinging onto any of them. This is true both during Zazen, and in all of life, when we should not need to feel one way all the time, should take life as it comes in all its richness. To truly be at Peace (Big "P") means a Peace which embraces all of daily life, sometimes peaceful and sometimes not. There is a time for all ... sometimes candy, sometimes vegetables ... sometimes joy, sometimes tears ...

    In fact, Thich Nhat Hanh says that this is the real meaning of a Buddha's smile ... it is rather bitter-sweet ... He writes ...

    When I was a novice, I could not understand why, if the world is filled with suffering, the Buddha has such a beautiful smile. Why isn’t he disturbed by all the suffering? Later I discovered that the Buddha has enough understanding, calm, and strength; that is why the suffering does not overwhelm him. He is able to smile to suffering because he knows how to take care of it and to help transform it. We need to be aware of the suffering, but retain our clarity, calmness, and strength so we can help transform the situation. The ocean of tears cannot drown us if karuna [Compassion] is there. That is why the Buddha’s smile is possible.

    ...

    "Look at the Buddha's smile. It is completely peaceful and compassionate. Does that mean the Buddha does not take your and my suffering seriously? Doesn't the Buddha see my suffering? How can he smile?

    "When you love someone you feel anxious for him or her and want them to be safe and nearby. You cannot simply put your loved ones out of your thoughts. When the Buddha witnesses the endless suffering of living beings, he must feel deep concern. How can he just sit there and smile?

    "But think about it. It is we who sculpt him sitting and smiling, and we do it for a reason. When you stay up all night worrying about your loved one, you are so attached to the phenomenal world that you may not be able to see the true face of reality. A physician who accurately understands her patient's condition does not sit and obsess over a thousand different explanations or anxieties as the patient's family might. The doctor knows that the patient will recover, and so she may smile even while the patient is still sick. Her smile is not unkind; it is simply the smile of one who grasps the situation and does not engage in unnecessary worry.

    "When we begin to see that black mud and white snow are neither ugly nor beautiful, when we can see them without discrimination or duality, then we begin to grasp Great Compassion. In the eyes of Great Compassion, there is neither left nor right, friend nor enemy, close nor far. In the eyes of Great Compassion, there is no separation between subject and object, no separate self. Nothing that can disturb Great Compassion."

    http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index....9,1160,0,0,1,0
    I suppose the Japanese line Zen masters tend to sit more with an expression of Samurai strength and equanimity, beyond life and death!



    Japanese Zen guys know how to smile and laugh too, however (Taigu and my Dharma Grandpa, Rempo Niwa Zenji) ...



    But I do sit in all such ways sometimes, and Thich Nhat Hanh's suggestion does seem to work.

    Gassho with a Smile ... Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-02-2013 at 09:09 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    I just found this picture of TNH meditating, so I guess he is not always so smiley-smiley either




    There are times for smiling, times for stern looks, times for tears ...
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-02-2013 at 03:02 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Hi Jundo,

    I had never considered to smile during zazen - thanks for giving me this new perspective!
    I will certainly give it a try!

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Smiling sometimes comes naturally for me, but haven't tried it while sitting. Such a nice suggestion!

    I shall give it a try today

    Thank you for all the posts on this thread.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  21. #21
    I sometimes smile when I sit. Usually when I realize that I'm having some gaining idea, or something of that ilk. I just smile and keep sitting.
    I am terrible at smiling in everyday life though. My coworkers often ask me "what's wrong?". It's even worse of there is a camera around!
    I too shall try this practice

    Gassho,
    Joe

  22. #22
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    So, yesterday I'm running some errands. I had to get a damaged tire replaced because it couldn't be repaired. I guess I was getting aggravated because it was going to cost way more money than a patch and I became even more aggravated after the first two places I went couldn't help me for various reasons. There was a lot of traffic in town, it was raining, and I had a ton of other things to get done. A bad attitude creeped up on me. I was sitting at a traffic light waiting for the arrow to turn. It was taking forever. Finally, it was about to turn green when two people decided THAT was the best time to cross the road in spite of the big flashing "don't walk." I was about to miss this light cycle because of these "idiots" (as if I've never jay walked.) I begin to get angry. As they walked in front of my car, one of them looked at me right in the eye and I... smiled as big as possible. She smiled back a big smile. The entire day changed. By the time I got to the tire place I was happy as can be. Indeed, they were not spiteful idiots trying to ruin my day. They were just regular people trying to cross a busy road. At the tire place they were training a new guy and he kept messing up. The experienced guy looked at me and said, "I sure am glad you are one of those patient customers!"

    Lesson: A single smile can make stressful, rainy day nice for lots of people.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    So, yesterday I'm running some errands. I had to get a damaged tire replaced because it couldn't be repaired. I guess I was getting aggravated because it was going to cost way more money than a patch and I became even more aggravated after the first two places I went couldn't help me for various reasons. There was a lot of traffic in town, it was raining, and I had a ton of other things to get done. A bad attitude creeped up on me. I was sitting at a traffic light waiting for the arrow to turn. It was taking forever. Finally, it was about to turn green when two people decided THAT was the best time to cross the road in spite of the big flashing "don't walk." I was about to miss this light cycle because of these "idiots" (as if I've never jay walked.) I begin to get angry. As they walked in front of my car, one of them looked at me right in the eye and I... smiled as big as possible. She smiled back a big smile. The entire day changed. By the time I got to the tire place I was happy as can be. Indeed, they were not spiteful idiots trying to ruin my day. They were just regular people trying to cross a busy road. At the tire place they were training a new guy and he kept messing up. The experienced guy looked at me and said, "I sure am glad you are one of those patient customers!"

    Lesson: A single smile can make stressful, rainy day nice for lots of people.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Nengyo - Bravo and thank you! I'm driving to Portland Maine this afternoon - a rare trip to the big city - jaywalkers and all - getting my smile ready.

    Gassho
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  25. #25
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    I don't have any stories to add. I only wanted to say that I believe in this practice and smile frequently. I'm was very happy to hear Gustav talk about it as well. A smile can do wonders for both doer and receiver.

    Yugen - be safe and enjoy your day.

    Gassho,
    Kelly/Jinmei

  26. #26
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KellyRok View Post
    I don't have any stories to add.
    You don't have to. Your picture says it all.

    Nice smile

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

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