Years ago Nat King Cole sang a song called “Smile.” According to new research these lyrics may have some scientific value. Here are a few of the lyrics of the song.
“Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s 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, just smile”
SCIENCE OF SMILING
So what happens to our brain when we smile? Here is an example.
You are shopping and you see an old friend you have not seen in a long time. You smile and greet your friend warmly. Inside your head your brain’s neuronal signals travel towards your smiling muscles and moves them to form a smile. But that is not all that is happening. The next thing occurring is that there is a positive signal feedback loop back to your brain. This feedback loop creates a feeling of joy as your smile stimulates the brain’s reward center in a way that chocolate can’t even match. In short, our brain tells us to smile, we smile and the smile muscles tell our brain this is a wonderful feeling and so it continues as long as you keep smiling.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SMILING
Smiling can change your brain through this powerful feed back loop because it gives us the same feeling of euphoria as if we were physically exercising. What is really interesting is that the brain does not know the difference between a fake or real smile. With either type of smile the brain will stimulate the same areas in the brain. The brain also knows how often you smile and what emotional state you are experiencing when you smile.
Smiling is invaluable to you as it reduces stress in your brain, in your mind as well as your body. Your physical and emotional tensions as well as your personal stress patterns are reduced when you mentally shift to positive thoughts of caring, gratitude, and appreciation. These types of thoughts do not create tension; rather they quickly reduce tension in your body. In fact, these thoughts reduce stress all the way down into your cells. Sandra Barrett PhD is a biochemist that shares exciting emerging cell research in her new book, Secrets of your cells.
INTELLIGENCE OF OUR CELLS
Dr. Barrett claims from her research that intelligence or consciousness lives and flows inside the cells. Our cells, she says, knows when you let go of your tension. In the research she found that when you are tense the inner cellular tubules rigidly attach to cell walls. Further, when you mentally let go of tension the cell tubules also let go of their rigidness and their old tight reaction programs. For example, when people who have a disease such as cancer let go of something emotionally big like anger toward their mother these people often go into remission of cancer. When the cells are given the signal to let go of tension they turn on another gene program like peace and healing. If we let go and open up to smiling when we are tense it can affect the cells to release any dis-ease in our lives.
From what I’ve described you can understand how a smile could save your life. When we relax through smiling our cells move into a state of resonance that produces peacefulness. There is no tug on cells or struggle to fix X, Y or Z. The cells are playing the same song and the inner tubules are vibrating all in the same rhythm. The lyrics of Nate King Cole’s song are really true.
SMILING AND MEDITATION
What we can learn from the cells about resonance is how to entrain our minds in meditation by using smiling to enter into a state of deep peacefulness.
Here are three steps to increase the depth of your meditation using smiling.
1. Prepare you body by listening to the first track in my CD
Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain. In this track you are guided to use your intention to direct the brain to relax your body.
2. Once your body is relaxed there may still be thoughts that will arise in your mind. As you become aware of these thoughts ask your brain to release them and then smile. As you smile you will notice the mind and body will relax and quiet even more.
3. Whenever your mind drifts come back to focusing on your smile. Remember the brain cells don’t know the difference between a genuine smile and an intentional smile. Both will bring the relaxation and a deeper state of meditation.
This practice of conscious smiling can be used when you are not sitting in meditation. Make the choice to intentionally smile when you are feeling tense or emotionally down or just having a rough day. Just smile. It could save your life!