Have you ever noticed that when you have a frustrating day you come home feeling wasted? Have you ever noticed that when you’re having fun or when you meet a dear old friend you haven’t seen a while, you have lots of energy, even if you didn’t sleep well the night before?
Our emotions have a powerful impact on our physical bodies. Studies have proven that not only do we have more energy when we are experiencing positive emotions, but our immune systems are being stimulated as well.We also produce more growth hormone, which can reverse the aging process.
So how do we keep the positive emotions and let go of the negative ones? Not by suppressing the negatives and pretending to be happy. Our bodies know the difference. People who suppress negative emotions raise their risk of cancer, ulcers and many other physical problems. The key is in our attitude towards life. When we practice gratitude and compassion on a regular basis, we learn to let go of the attachments that lead to anger, resentment, and fear. Anger and fear will come up in our lives, at appropriate times, but we let go of them right away.
If, several times a day, you express gratitude for everything in your life, you will soon notice how great your life really is, and the things that used to bother you don’t so much any more. And when you practice compassionate action, you begin to notice that people only do hurtful things when they themselves are hurting. So instead of reacting with anger or fear, you want to help them.
Until we have perfected the practices of gratitude and compassion, we need to learn ways to diffuse the unhealthy energy in our bodies that negative emotions bring. One of my favorite practices is a Chinese qi gong meditation called the Inner Smile. Here are instructions for a very simple version of it:
Get seated in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take a few long, slow, deep breaths, pausing for a moment at the end of each inhale and exhale. After a few breaths, allow your breathing to return to its natural rhythm, and gently pay attention to it moving in and out.
Now imagine the face of someone you love smiling at you. Feel the warmth of their smile, and feel yourself reflecting that smile back to them. Now find a place in your body that needs some healing energy. As you inhale, feel like you are breathing into that area of your body, and follow the breath with your smile. As you inhale, feel the smile penetrating the area and as you exhale, allow all tension to melt away.
Be aware of yourself as the smiler and the one being smiled at. You can alternate if that is most comfortable for you. When you have finished, imagine that area in your body glowing with golden light. You can do this practice for two or three minutes several times a day.
As the songs says, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”