Recovery from pain
Recovering from anything painful can take time. When struck down, we often reach a point when feeling weak seems to stretch out endlessly. Then fears tend to kick in. And the dreadful question comes up if this is ever going to end. This creates anxiety, which of course is not good at all for recovery. The good news is: there is another way. It’s effective and simple. It even feels good.
Giving our own body affectionate attention through sending a smile into it triggers the production of Endorphines. This is the body’s own morphine: feel-good relaxants that stimulate the immune system and reduce physical and emotional pain.
Feeling weak and vulnerable is what we normally dread most – especially in Western cultures that are promoting relentless activity and youthful vitality. It’s possible, however, to accept down-time and willingly surrender into it. In fact, it seems to be the most intelligent approach to gently assist our bodies in the natural process of recovery – however long it takes.
Silent Pleasure Helps Building Strength
One thing that really helps to accept whatever we are currently going through and to re-gain strength is what Asian mediation techniques term the “Inner Smile”. It’s an effective method to silently communicate pleasure, reassurance and rejuvenation to the body. Our physiology is programmed to heal itself. Switching on the Inner Smile helps the body to do that – especially when we feel too weak to do much else.
“If your mind has an affectionate, accepting and encouraging attitude towards your body, your body will feel it,” says Dr. William Bloom, one of Britain’s leading holistic teachers. In his book “The Endorphin Effect”, Bloom points out that the Inner Smile can “immediately take the body out of tension and into a more relaxed Endorphine flow”. According to him, most people can do it easily with minimal practice.
Smiling Eyes Produce a Flow of Endorphines
It is best done with closed eyes, placing both hands on the lower stomach, and thinking of a beautiful memory – for instance a holiday, favorite spot in the world, pet, or an adored person. Feeling this subtle pleasure, we can then switch on a soft, and compassionate smile, let it settle in and sink deep into the body.
Adding a kind twinkle in the eyes sends pleasurable messages directly into the nervous system. A few seconds or minutes is all it takes. Another good thing: nobody needs to notice.
Going through a procedure of an implant that left me feeling meek for weeks and a part of my jaw toothless for months to come, I realized how shy I suddenly felt about smiling in public. Knowing about the many benefits of Endorphines for wellbeing, I started practicing this technique. For the first time in my life, I managed to really accept a state of utter weakness. The recipe: big doses of daily sofa time and smiling at the whole body from within. Try it. It works wonders.
About the author: Ute Devika Meinel is Life Coach, certified trainer of the HeartMath Institute and teacher of Laughter Yoga who facilitates workshops internationally. She was born to German parents in India and lives in Egypt.