The Inner Smile

During last night’s zhan zhuang session I just couldn’t seem to settle. I was feeling tension in my calves and thighs. My mind was wandering around jumping from thought to thought. I stood with eyes open and eyes closed. Nothing seemed to work for me until I remembered a technique one of my taiji/meditation buddy told me about. It’s called the Inner Smile.

What is the Inner Smile?

“In ancient China, the Taoists taught that a constant inner smile, a smile to oneself, insured health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.” -Mantak Chia

— Source: The Inner Smile Meditation Technique

So I gave it a shot. I changed my gaze to be directed just slightly over the tip of my nose. In doing so, I felt the muscles around my eyes relaxed. Then I closed my eyes for a couple of breaths.  Slowly, I raised the corners of my mouth until I felt a slight “Inner Smile”.

It was amazing! The minute I did this, I felt like a rush of energy starting at the corners of my mouth spread through the back of my head then down my whole body. It was like everything was connected. I was able to feel the energy expand to my toes and my fingertips. In this state, I was able to sense how much tension I carried around in my ankles and wrists. As I held the Inner Smile, I melted away the tension.


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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20 Responses to The Inner Smile

  1. lgs says:

    hmm..a teacher at a former school used to claim that the Daoists practiced smiling and required all the TJQ people to smile while doing forms, esp. for demonstrations. Since said teacher is a bit of a Qi Hugger, I always ignored this as ridiculous. However, since you’re bringing it up too, perhaps it’s worth looking into?

  2. wujimon says:

    Hi LGS:
    Do note, it wasn’t like I’m standing there with a huge ear to ear grin on my face πŸ™‚ More like a slight smile, barely noticeable. If you check out some sculptures of the Buddha meditating, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    Also, I must admit I’d be weirded out if I saw ppl doing their form with huge smiles on their faces. I’d think it was some kind of cult or something..

  3. zenmindsword says:

    ever seen a person relaxed while holding a frown on the face? πŸ™‚

  4. Shang Lee says:

    One of the teachings I have gathered is (try) to enjoy the form when doing it. Maybe smiling is a sign of enjoying it? πŸ˜‰

  5. wujimon says:

    Great point, Shang. Over time, when I did chen, I no longer enjoyed the form. I often became fustrated and hit many plateaus in my training, but I tried to persevere, “tried” being the keyword… πŸ˜‰

  6. taiwandeutscher says:

    Inner Smile, that’s the header, isn’t it?
    I see people too much smiling (facial muscle tensions around the mouth?) and also heavily frowning (facial muscle tensions on the forhead?)
    It’s a pity my Chinese training partners never tell me about my facial expressions, but I really believe, it should be an inner attitude, the inner smile, so that the face would be neutral??

  7. Rick Matz says:

    About plateaus – accept them and they dissolve.

  8. zenmindsword says:

    if we accept pain or ache in the thigh will it dissolve?

    and if the pain / ache continues to be present as we play the form can our inner smile or enjoyment still be genuine?

  9. Rick Matz says:

    “if we accept pain or ache in the thigh will it dissolve?

    and if the pain / ache continues to be present as we play the form can our inner smile or enjoyment still be genuine? ”

    Having had the experience of standing in zhan zhuang until I fell down, I’d say the answer is yes.

    You know the saying to do only what you love to do? Well the fact is that we can’t be so selective in our lives. The trick is to learn to love whatever we are doing.

    Accept what comes in your practice.

  10. wujimon says:

    Like you, I went through zhanzhuang the *tough* way. I basically forced myself to do a full 20 mins everytime and when I could do 20 mins somewhat not drenched in sweat, I’d do 40 mins. Over time, the ache and pains in the thighs and shoulder did dissolve.

    Great point about learning to love whatever we are doing! Spoken like a true daoist πŸ™‚

  11. zenmindsword says:

    so wujimon having dissolved the aches and pains would you said that you are then internally relaxed? are you using intention supported structure then? πŸ™‚

  12. “if we accept pain or ache in the thigh will it dissolve?”

    Based on my own experience, I agree with your implication: we can’t expect every discomfort to dissolve. However, we can take some pleasure in the fact that we haven’t made the pain any worse than is necessary (through self-pity and other negative reinforcement).

    “and if the pain / ache continues to be present as we play the form can our inner smile or enjoyment still be genuine?”

    See above. I have a sore back today, but I played the form anyway and I was grateful for the opportunity.

  13. zenmindsword says:

    ha, ha chris, please do not sell yourself short if you genuinely love taiji. if you really look into yang style, i am willing to bet that you will change your mind on this πŸ™‚ and i am not a betting man since i am by training an econometrician

  14. wujimon says:

    I would say that I have a long way to go in becoming internally relaxed. I feel pushing myself thru the pain did a lot in releasing some of the tension in my body built up from years of wushu training. However, a lot of tension still remains that I am slowly working on.

    And no.. I am not fully using intention supported structure, but now that I have a better idea of what this about based on your recent youtube video, I will revisit my own practice and training.

  15. “ha, ha chris, please do not sell yourself short if you genuinely love taiji.”

    It is precisely because of taiji sparring that I have a sore back! πŸ™‚

  16. lesley says:


    Thanks for leaving a comment my yoga blog.

    In my yoga practice I am also seeking a internal peace ( as in a inner smile ). In yoga to have inner peace is to be doing a pose with ease and let your inner bright shines out. When that happens, you can see the energy and the grace of each pose.

    In yoga, we always need to be aware of our body. And we believe that our body is an intelligent entity that would be able to tell us what is too much. Hence to avoid injury, we have to listen to our body constantly!

    Chris, I hope you back gets better soon!

    my 2 cents

  17. zenmindsword says:

    hi chris, that’s why i had to look beyond biomechanics-fact of life – you use your back to try to propel someone much heavier and its recipe for back pain if you make a mistake or over-exert-its a another common taiji ailment πŸ™‚

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