How does this marvelous human body of ours work? It works through our heart. The heart is an alchemical process that transforms our body, mind and emotions into something that is finer and lighter. How do we get this process to happen? The Inner Smile meditation is one of the great heart practices, showing a rare understanding of the real functions of the heart.Like any meditation, right understanding helps practice and practice helps with our right understanding. So practicing the Inner Smile is one thing but understanding it is another. When we start to understand it, we can see that the Inner Smile is not even a practice but a way of being. A way of being profoundly present, and completely unencumbered of our mental and emotional baggage.
The real nature of every living thing is love and openness. It’s our mental and emotional baggage that separates us from each other. When we let this go then we are an intrinsic part of the divine perception of everything…and we smile. We smile not through effort but from the sheer joy of the openness of the heart. The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba wrote, ‘The secret of Aikido is to expel all maliciousness from ones heart, to attune oneself to the movement of the cosmos, and to unite oneself to the universe’(Secret Teachings Of Aikido – Ueshiba). This is the natural way of the heart. When we expel maliciousness from the heart, it circulates love, joy and trust, just as it circulates qi and blood. The secret is allowing our love to come through the clouds of mind and emotion. It’s ridiculous really.
We laugh and smile all day and when we sit and do the inner smile, sometimes it can be difficult. Our mind and our emotional holdings get in the way. Don’t struggle with this – just relax and think of something that really makes you smile – and then let the thought go, feel your breathing and just experience this uninterrupted happiness.
A thousand years ago, in his great text The Mathnawi, the Sufi mystic poet Rumi expressed his unique understanding of the path to oneness. It has nothing to do with your opinions and your philosophies, nothing to do with your struggle to still the mind, nothing to do with your intentions. Only to do with your heart opening to its real nourishment – the food of love.
‘The lover’s food is the love of the bread; no bread need be at hand: no one who is sincere in his love is a slave to existence. Lovers have nothing to do with existence; lovers have the interest without the capital. Without wings they fly around the world; without hands they carry the polo ball off the field. That dervish who caught the scent of Reality used to weave baskets even though his hand had been cut off. Lovers have pitched their tents in nonexistence: they are of one quality and one essence, as nonexistence is.’
Unlike Rumi, for most of us, it’s very difficult to describe the unbridled feeling of freedom and bliss that happens when we open our hearts. Rarely do we read something that permeates us to the core – that elicits the feelings of love in us. The New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield did this beautifully in her short story Bliss. Katherine was one of George Gurdjieff’s students in Paris in the 1920’s. ‘Although Bertha Young was thirty she still had moments like this when she wanted to run instead of walk, to take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a hoop, to throw something up in the air and catch it again, or to stand still and laugh at – nothing – at nothing simply. What can you do if you are thirty and, turning the corner of your own street, you are overcome, suddenly, by a feeling of bliss – absolute bliss! – as though you’d swallowed a bright piece of that late afternoon sun and it burned in your bosom, sending out a little shower of sparks into every particle, into every finger and toe?…’ Katherine Mansfield. Bliss And Other Stories.
The actual practice of the inner smile meditation is based on the Tantric principle, that the mind becomes what it perceives. When we do this, we choose the feeling of love over our opinions. Yes is the opening of the Buddha nature, while no is just a form of self-harm. In the yes state, we live in the inner beauty. This beauty in our lives is not defined by the elegance of our philosophies but by the openness and depth of our hearts. When we let ourselves go into the wilderness of the heart and we don’t have to worry about stilling the nonsense of the ordinary mind – we sing from every part of ourselves. When we practice the inner smile daily and our smile is authentic – spontaneously arising from our love and felt at the very inside of our being – the heart opens and transforms and everything in our life becomes beautiful and profound. The open heart is really the key to perception. The true heart just listens – it is acceptance – the openness to the universe, the pure awareness at the level of feeling. The open heart is part of the perception that we call god, enlightenment or the buddha nature. There is a popular misconception that when we are emotional, our hearts are open. The open heart is not about being emotional but perceiving from the heart centre. When this perception, this openness, is rooted in the physical feeling sense then the heart will be stable and open. If not, then any heart opening will just be emotional as the heart energy is not stable. When our life perception is from the level of the stable emotional consciousness, we begin to feel and experience our life. This is the deeper inner smile practice beyond the opinions of mind. Once we become one with the emotional consciousness, we can directly feel our holding patterns of body, heart and mind. As the Sufi mystic Rumi said, ‘We are not here to love but to find all the things that prevent us from loving.’ When our perception is from the heart, this is possible. We spend our time trying to work out the path of the mystic way, when it is right in front of us. Love is the door – when we let go our emotional baggage, love is the natural direction, the natural essence, of the open heart. The Inner Smile practice helps us with living in the heart instead of struggling in the mind.
One of my favourite texts about the heart is Hakim Sanai’s Hadiqua (The Walled Garden of Truth). I once lent a copy of the Hadiqua, to a monk who returned it in abject indignation. He was appalled by Sanai’s critique of the human condition of mind, by being described as a fool, and as a blind man. When Rumi talked about the Sufi mystic poet Hakim Sanai, he said, ‘Sanai says all the things we are too afraid to say.’ The following lines are from Sanai. ‘Listen truly – and don’t be fooled – This is not for fools: All these different shades become one colour in the jar of unity; the rope becomes slender when reduced to a single strand. Your intellect is just a hotch-potch of guesswork and thought, Limping over the face of the earth; wherever they are, he is not; they are contained within his creation. Man and his reason are just the latest ripening plants in his garden. Whatever you assert about his nature, You are bound to be out of your depth, Like a blind man trying to describe the appearance of his own mother. While reason is still tracking down the secret, you end your quest on the open field of love.’ from The Hadiqua – SanaiSo now I ask you – where do you live? In a beautiful bungalow on the beach in Bali? A swanky modern townhouse in Berlin? The Savoy or the Ritz Carlton hotels? In a lakeside villa in Lake Como or a waterfront apartment in Sydney? None of these places are where we live – these are only places where we park our bodies. Where we really live is in our emotional real estate. If this is stressful, struggling, angry, miserable – then we are living in the equivalent of a broken down tin shed in a slum. You may park your body in a waterfront apartment but if you’re resentful and walking through life with a closed heart, where you really live your life is a slum tenement. When we learn to open the heart it is very different from just laughing from the head. The open heart is the root of compassion, trust, love and courage. When the heart’s open, these are the virtues that it expresses through its own ease of being. You can’t directly learn any of the heart’s virtues, but you can learn to open your heart. If you want to live in a beautiful environment – practice doing the Inner Smile – learn to open your heart.
There’s no better suburb in which to live.
By Kevin Niv Farrow.
Kevin is the Founder and Director of AcuEnergetics® as well as a Master AcuEnergetics® Practitioner and Teacher of AcuEnergetics®. Kevin has practised and studied meditation and the energetic system since 1974. He has taught since 2000 and his published writings, meditation CD’s and teachings have brought him worldwide recognition as a unique and practical meditation teacher and an expert in the field of energy medicine. He currently teaches in Australia, USA, India, Asia and Europe. For more information about Kevin, visit Kevin’s full biography.