Lately, I’ve been practicing how I could subtlety shift my state of mind throughout the day.
Since we are working and living the realm of form almost 90% of the time, and most of that time seems to be strife with “stuff,” the negative build-up starts to mount and soon I start to feel a bit overwhelmed. So here are somethings I do to shift my state of mind:
1) Laugh in your head.
Sometimes I am cracking up, or quitely giggling in my head, when I am walking around, checking mail, looking around, etc. The mind supposedly can only hold one thought at a time, so instead of worry, and constant anxiety, I just laugh in my head for no reason, especially in the morning when everyone is asleep. It can be as soft or as loud as you want in your head. I notice that once I start laughing in my head, my face and my jaw starts to relax a little, and I can feel a subtle smile.
Dr. Mark Stibich from About.com says that Smiling actually produces endorphins, natural pain killers, and seratonin.Smiling is like a drug!
2) Subtle Smiling
Whether I am naturally smiling from the above exercise, or “fake” a subtle smile the body starts to follow. Now, a broad extreme smile is great for stretching the face. Do whatever extreme funny positive facial expressions. When I do it the mind seems to pickup any slight negativity, and lets me know it by bringing up negative thoughts. Keeping it lighthearted, fun, for about 1 minute or longer, when start relax the body, and any anxiety will lessen with it.
Think of a statue of a Buddha. Check out its subtle smile. In a “just sitting” class, I started producing this slight smile and I was suddenly able to breathe better, and as a result I could feel my brain relax, shifting and “expanding.” When I combine that with an awareness of heart and my heart region and chest start to expand, and my lungs start to relax and I am able to breathe deeply. Subtle smiling and bringing awareness to different part of the body seems to expand those areas as well. Imagine what it can do if the awareness is placed on the entire body with smiling!
BTW: Check this article from Scientific American on a study/experiement that suggests that when a person’s Seratonin levels are low, their perception of what is fair is altered. No Fair! My Seratonin Levels are Low!
To me this suggests kind of the Mind-Body loop. Imagine how much help smiling, even just a little, could do!