I have been reading a book by the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step, The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life to my yoga students while they rest at the end of class. I love this book for the simple ways he shows us how to be mindful in each moment of our day. One of these ways is to smile every morning when you wake from sleep. I can hear the moaning and groaning now, given that most people won’t even say a word before their first cup of coffee; but after that first sip, well maybe a smile.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.” That first smile can set the shape and tone of your whole day, but how do you inspire a feeling of joy with a groggy head and morning breath? Posting a reminder to smile on your alarm clock, bathroom mirror or from a dream catcher over your bed might help.
When I sit up in bed each morning, my two pups leap out of their dog bed and immediately stretch into the highly respected yoga pose Downward Facing Dog, which they follow with Upward Facing Dog, then they give a good shake and look up into my smiling face. Those two poses were aptly named, and they are excellent for lengthening the spine and aligning the back, hips and shoulders.
Following Seamus and Maya’s lead I now swing my legs over the side of the bed and there on the rug stretch my body up from the hips and forward to open my lungs, all the while smiling and happy to be alive. To be honest, there are a few kinks and stuck places that need some mindfulness as I pretend to imitate my canine companions; and no, I don’t give a shake to my tail and bound down the stairs to be let out. I prefer to stretch more slowly, because it feels so good afterwards, and then make my way downstairs to the teakettle.
“Our smile will bring happiness to us and to those around us. Even if we spend a lot of money on gifts for everyone in our family, nothing we buy could give them as much happiness as the gift of our awareness, our smile. And this precious gift costs nothing.”
While I was writing this a friend called to say that his blood test results had come back much improved now that he was following a specific cancer healing way of eating. He related how his family at one time opposed his choice of treatment, and now seeing his consistent progress have begun to make changes in their own lives and diet. “I wake up every morning with a smile, Delia, knowing I am alive, and feeling at peace with myself. It can’t help but reflect onto everyone around me.” Amen to that, brother.