Cultivating a Gentle Smile

December 12, 2011 Caroleeena hoopdanceHoopingPoi

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As part of our hoop practice, it can be helpful to cultivate a gentle smile while hooping. It is more than the antidote for “ugly face”. There are health benefits, community benefits and hoop benefits as well.

When we concentrate, we have a tendency to frown. Frowning locks the jaw and freezes up more than the face — it freezes up the body as well. If you don’t believe it, start waist hooping and then put a frown on your face. Feel how your whole body stiffens up, how your muscles tighten from top to bottom, how much harder it is to hoop and to breathe. Suddenly your suppleness is gone. Your moves become jerky instead of fluid. You start to move like you’ve stepped on an electrical wire.

Now try another experiment. Start waist hooping and put a big goofy grin on your face. Feel how your whole body loosens up and suddenly becomes free and flexible. Feel how your attitude changes and joy returns to your hoop experience. These two things are reason enough to become aware of, and deliberately cultivate, a gentle smile. There are plenty more.

Smiles are healing — to us and to everyone around us.

Smiling promotes relaxation and emotional control. It makes us more attractive. It invites others into our experience. It helps us make friends. And because smiles are contagious, smiling is peace work. Your smile will flow from person to person like a blessing. Smiling changes our mood, makes us feel more hopeful, expands our possibilities. A smile when we’re frustrated changes that emotion into something much more joyful and empowering. It’s the best anti-depressant money can’t buy. Smiling relieves stress. It relaxes the body and allows us to breathe deeper, which also gives us more energy. Smiling literally requires less muscles so it is less work to smile than to frown. That manifests as hoop energy also. Smiling boosts the immune system and lowers blood pressure. It releases endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin. It lifts the face and makes us look younger. It makes us more successful because people want to do business with people who are happy. Smiling helps us stay positive and it makes the world a more positive place. They are a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.

Smiling also pulls us from outside experience into inside experience. It helps us Be Here Now, to be present in this moment, in our body, right now, to exercise control where we can rather than live in our heads. It increases our patience and lowers our inhibitions. It puts us in control of our emotional state rather than putting our emotions in control of us. Smiling makes us more supple and flexible and happy and healthy. It heals us even as it heals the world. It also helps us be better hoopers.

Oh yeah, and it looks a lot prettier than that grimace of concentration otherwise known as “ugly face”.

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” – Mother Teresa (and this goes for smiling at your Self as well.)

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