Mona Lisa Smile

I’m a nice person. However. It’s difficult to keep my nice-ness engaged in a primary way when drivers of other cars behave reprehensibly – ie, cut in front of me in such a way that requires me to smash on the brakes in order to keep from plowing into the back of their car. SER.I.OUS.LY!!!!

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, wrote a book, The Miracle of Mindfulness. In that book he suggests a simple exercise to support the experience of being mindful – at peace in the world. I experimented with this exercise in high traffic in Houston, Texas – a true testing ground. I figured if I could make it work in that situation, it could work anywhere!

Here’s the exercise. Do you remember Da Vinci’s painting – The Mona Lisa? I have imagined her smile to reflect that she, and only she, knows that she’s pregnant with a long awaited child. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that if you breathe consciously (aware of your breath as it comes in and out of your body) AND mimic the Mona Lisa smile, your physiognomy (facial features) changes your state of being – so you feel calm, peaceful, happy.

It worked. It has enabled me to maintain equanimity in traffic …. and even when witnessing political diatribes. It works when I remember to work it.

Give it a go, see what you think.

2 Responses

  1. Gerard Sexton

    I like this Ann an instant feeling…..I read somewhere also that smiling as you lay your head on the pillow before you go to sleep has the same effect!

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