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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Buddha's Half-Smile

In most images of the Buddha we see him in a mediation pose with a half-smile. This is a smile of being at peace with yourself, of calmness. In his book The Miracle of Mindfulness, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh gives short some simple exercises you can try out to make use of the half-smile. Here are three of them paraphrased:

1. Put a sign or symbol on your bedroom wall or ceiling that will remind you of the half-smile and which you will see when you wake up. This might be a natural symbol such as a branch or leaf or something completely different such as the actual word "smile" - whatever works to remind you. When you wake up and see the sign/symnbol, breathe in and then out three gentle breaths while giving a half-smile yourself. Follow your breaths as you do this.

2. When you find yourself with a free moment, look at anything (animate or inanimate) in your surroundings that is relatively still so that you can maintain focus on it. Breathe in and then out three gentle breaths while giving a half-smile and oberving that subject/object.

3. When you notice that you are irritate about something, pause and breathe in and then out three gentle breaths while giving a half-smile.

I also sometimes use a similar 3 breaths in and out while maintaining a half-smile when I am finding it difficult to sleep due to thoughts preoccupying my mind.

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