Half-Smile and Serenity
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by Brent Menninger


Please take about 10 minutes to learn and practice half-smile and serenity.  During this time, plan not to be disturbed, so you can relax and listen in a comfortable position.  The purpose of this exercise is to create an environment in which serenity can be cultivated and enhanced using a technique known as half-smile.

Because we live in a stressful turbulent world, we need practical ways to relax and practice serenity throughout the day. The half-smile is a valuable in stressful situations because it is an easy way to IMPROVE the moment.

The muscles in the face communicate to the emotional part of the brain and vice versa. Emotions have a give-and-take relationship with facial muscles.  In fact, a change in your facial expression generates emotional change as a smile or a grimace is experienced as a feeling.  The half-smile expression physiologically stimulates a serene feeling. When you are relaxed, it is easier to feel serene.  Even when you are not relaxed, you can become relaxed by using this serenity and half-smile exercise.

Like the Mona Lisa’s just barely-there smile, the half-smile is a soft, almost imperceptible smile. The half-smile starts with relaxed lips which turn slightly upward and a loose jaw and the eyes are soft and relaxed. Then half-smile spreads to the whole face as your scalp and neck relax and your shoulders drop.  You may wish to close your eyes while you listen to this exercise but this is not necessary to practice half-smile.

In a relaxed state, you are able to hold the word “serenity” in your mind while relevant insights, ideas, and images spring from your unconscious.  It is quite natural for imagery to come to the surface and break into awareness including insights about your personality, ideas about your creative spirit, and healthy images for the future.

It can help to visualize images that evoke serenity, like a picture of the Mona Lisa. Or imagine yourself looking into a full-length mirror with a relaxed confident posture and a half smile.  Visualizing and imagining serenity naturally expresses itself on your face as a half-smile.

The half-smile relaxation response is available to you as you breathe. Inhale as you visualize serenity. As you exhale, express a half-smile.  Inhale the serenity.  Exhale with a half-smile.

Allow yourself to feel calm and tranquil as your mind is quiet and peaceful...relaxed and peaceful. Experience your mind as quiet and still.

Now take a moment to remember and imagine some mental scenes that evoke serenity.

Imagine yourself in a place which makes you feel serene.

In a relaxed state, you are able to hold the word “serenity” in your mind while relevant insights, ideas, and images spring from your unconscious.

A quiet moonlit beach, with waves gently lapping on the shore.

A beautiful garden scene on a spring day with colorful flowers everywhere.

A tranquil place where you have experienced a spiritual relationship with your higher power.

Serenity can so permeate your whole experience, that you are able to identify your self as a genuinely serene person.

Now imagine yourself in circumstances that you would have avoided because they upset you.  While practicing half-smile, you can approach these experiences in your imagination, but not have feelings of upset or irritability.

While you expressing a serene half-smile, imagine interacting with a hostile person.  While experiencing their hostility, you remain calm and centered.

Imagine yourself in a chaotic, pressure packed situation and you need to do many things rapidly but are able to remain serene using your half-smile.

Imagine yourself in a threatening circumstance which would have frightened you …   but instead you replace those feelings with a serene half-smile.

At least in your imagination, you can visualize yourself staying calm and serene.  Synthesizing the old unpleasant circumstance with a calm and serene half-smile creates a brand-new emotional experience.

Commit yourself to remaining serene throughout the day and remind yourself: half-smile is available at any time. You can reward yourself for feeling serene.  Rewarding yourself for expressing a serene half-smile reinforces a positive sense of identity as a person who is confident enough in herself to practice serenity while facing life’s inevitable pain and strong enough to radically accept whatever difficulties life brings.

Practice radiating serenity.

When the exercise is over, use coloring and lettering to make a sign that conveys the quality of serenity for you. Place the serenity sign where you can see it daily.  If possible, place the serenity sign where you can see it when you need it the most.  Whenever you look at the serenity sign recall within yourself the feeling of serenity and evoke it with a half-smile.

Now the reverie has concluded. You arouse feeling renewed, refreshed, and rejuvenated as you rejoin the day.
 

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