Inner Peace, Outer Glow: Inner Smile Meditation for Health

When we extend love and kindness, which can be as simple as smiling, we not only help others feel loved and cared for, we feel a sense of inner peace and contentment as well. This article explore the benefits of the ancient Taoist technique of inner smile meditation.
Amy Pattee Colvin is a meditation teacher and author.
inner smile meditation
Amy Pattee Colvin is a meditation teacher and author.

Insight Timer teacher Amy Patte Colvin explains the ancient Taoist practice of inner smile meditation.

Have you ever felt the warmth of a smile, not just on your lips but deep within your soul? Smile meditation offers a path to experiencing this deeply rooted warmth. This article explores the benefits of the ancient Taoist technique of inner smile meditation.

Key takeaways

  • Smile meditation, rooted in ancient Taoist principles, uses the simple act of smiling to promote internal harmony, peace, and wellness, focusing healing energy on internal organs and the mind.
  • The practice involves visualization techniques and conscious breathing to spread the smile’s positive energy throughout the body, emphasizing the power of smile triggers like joyful memories or feelings of gratitude.
  • Consistent practice, ranging from a few minutes to over 20 minutes, is crucial for stress relief and cultivating deep inner peace, demonstrating the significant impact of facial expressions on emotional and energetic balance.
  • Benefits of regular smile meditation include reduced stress hormones, improved mental and physical health, enhanced relaxation, and a positive outlook on life, making it an effective tool for managing chronic pain and transforming negative energies into positive ones.

What is smile meditation?

Smile meditation is a profound yet straightforward technique that leverages the power of a smile to foster internal harmony, peace, and wellness. Originating from ancient Taoist principles, it emphasizes the transformative impact of smiling not only outwardly but inwardly at oneself. 

This practice involves consciously directing a smile’s healing energy towards oneself, especially focusing on internal organs and the center of your head, thereby promoting a sense of well-being and inner peace.

How do you do the inner smile meditation?

  1. Inner smile meditation begins with finding a comfortable seated position and taking a few deep breaths to center yourself. 
  2. Gently smile, and with each breath, visualize this smile permeating through the center of your head, spreading its positive energy throughout your body. 
  3. Direct this energy to areas that may need healing or comfort, focusing on cultivating a loving and grateful relationship with your internal organs. 

Visualization plays a crucial role in this practice, as it helps intensify the meditation’s healing effects.

Try it now with this 4.9-star guided inner smile meditation from self-healing specialist, Edwin Tan.

Happy woman sitting in grass with sunny smile

What smile triggers would you use for smiling meditation?

To help the smiling to come naturally for you, many people use joyful triggers unique to them. For smiling meditation, common triggers may be:

  • memories of joyful moments
  • the thought of loved ones
  • simply the sensation of gratitude

Imagining a scenario that brings happiness or even picturing a serene and inviting landscape can serve as effective triggers. The key is to find a personal trigger that effortlessly brings a genuine smile to your face, enhancing the meditation’s effectiveness.

How long should a smile meditation session last for effective stress relief?

Something is better than nothing. A smile meditation session can be as short as a few minutes or extend up to 20 minutes or more. 

For beginners, starting with shorter durations and gradually increasing the time as comfort with the practice grows is advisable. Consistency is more important than duration for effective stress relief and cultivating a deep sense of inner peace.

How to smile instead of frowning

Our days are woven with moments of joy and challenges, each demanding a piece of our emotional and energetic reserves. Finding equilibrium amidst life’s demands can sometimes feel daunting. The practice of smile meditation offers a simple yet profound solution: the conscious choice to find smiles inside rather than succumbing to the weight of a frown.

Try this: let a gentle smile grace your face, even just for a minute. Relax the tension in your face, lift the corners of your lips slightly, and ease your brows. Think of a moment or a person that sparks joy within you. Feel the shift within as you do this.

Now, contrast this by allowing a frown to form—notice the change in your energy and emotions. It’s a powerful demonstration of how our facial expressions can mirror and affect our internal state, impacting our body down to our very organs.

Through inner smile meditation, we’re invited to regularly check in with ourselves and to choose the uplift of a smile over the weight of a frown. This practice isn’t just about finding joy in the moment. It’s about cultivating a deep reservoir of balance and well-being that nourishes us from the inside out. So, let’s embrace and practice smiling meditation, not as an occasional technique but as a way of being, where every smile is a step toward a more joyful, balanced self.

Read more: Life is full of both joys and sorrows. It may not feel all that balanced between the two, in part because of the relentless influence of our negativity bias. Mark Bertin reminds us how to practice joy and gratitude in difficult and stressful times.


Young woman hugging self with self-love

What are the benefits of practicing smile meditation regularly?

From the wisdom of ancient Taoist sages—founding fathers of Chinese medicine—comes a simple truth: 

The act of smiling, more than a mere expression of joy, harbors a profound healing power. 

Taoists believe in the incredible ability of a smile to transmit energy, not only outward to those around us but inwardly, fostering self-healing. When we radiate a genuine smile, it opens our heart chakra and stimulates warmth deep within us. 

Learn more: 

This cherished wisdom gave birth to the practice of smiling meditation, a technique that anchors us in the present and channels a surge of healing energy, enhancing both our physical and mental well-being while nurturing a heart of compassion.

Smiles harmonize the body and mind—the science of smiles 

Modern research echoes these ancient teachings, revealing that smiling can significantly reduce stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. Science shows that by practicing smiling, you’re essentially encouraging hormonal states that:

  • balance blood pressure
  • enhance breathing
  • speed up healing
  • stabilize mood
  • diminish pain
  • relax muscles into your life

On the flip side, frowning does just the opposite, ramping up stress and its accompanying hormones, which often taxes the body and mind.

Read more: Overcome the common habit of focusing on the negative over the positive with these exercises for negativity bias.

Smile meditation improves overall well-being and reduces stress

Smile meditation can enhance well-being by:

  • fostering a positive outlook
  • reducing stress hormones
  • enhancing the body’s resilience to daily pressures

Research in Psychological Science shows that the practice encourages a state of relaxation, promotes healing energy throughout the body, and contributes to a stronger, more vibrant state of mental health. 

Meditation techniques can help manage chronic pain

Beginners and advanced practitioners can use smile meditation techniques to manage chronic pain by:

  • focusing the mind on positive imagery
  • keying into physical sensations 
  • diverting attention from pain 

Additionally, some early research actually shows that regular meditation can change the way the brain processes pain, improving the experience of it. This practice can help to alleviate discomfort by promoting relaxation and reducing stress, which are often exacerbators of pain symptoms. Incorporating visualization can further enhance these benefits, making it a valuable tool for pain management.

Explore some of our resources for pain management

Smiling stimulates healing energies

The Taoists had it right all along: maintaining a consistent inner smile is the secret to a life filled with health, happiness, and longevity. By finding smiles inside through smiling meditation, you forge a friendship with your inner self, a bond that keeps you feeling grounded and peaceful, no matter the chaos of the outside world. This inner harmony is a wellspring of contentment, placing it at the top of the list of practices for cultivating internal peace.

Life, with its inevitable stress, often stirs up a storm of negative emotions—fear, anger, sadness, worry, and impatience, to name a few. These emotions, if left unchecked, can erode our health and deplete our vital life force, or qi. Smiling meditation offers a beacon of hope and is a top method to transform these negative energies into positive vibes, illustrating its unparalleled value in maintaining emotional and physical well-being.

Read more: In Hindu, Ayurvedic, Hatha Yoga, and Tantric Yoga traditions, this life force is called prana. Learn about what prana is and how to feel it.

By engaging in this practice, you’re encouraged to forge a loving connection with your body’s unsung heroes—your organs. Expressing gratitude and care for these faithful servants enriches your health and nurtures emotional balance. Through the act of smiling inwardly, you channel love and healing energy directly to your organs, dissolving any negativity and fostering recovery. The more you practice, the deeper your understanding grows of the intricate dance between your emotional energies and your physical being.

Smiling meditation isn’t just a practice; it’s a way of life. It teaches us to find smiles inside, to carry the light of inner joy through dark times, and to spread that light to every cell of our being. So, let us practice smiling, and in doing so, discover the boundless well of health and peace waiting within.

Get more from your inner smile meditation with qigong

Try qigong practices with inner smile meditation techniques to manage chronic pain by harnessing the gentle, flowing movements of qigong to enhance physical harmony and direct healing energy within. Qigong is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training.

By practicing qigong, individuals engage in a mindful movement that fosters deep relaxation and stress relief, creating an optimal state for the inner smile meditation’s healing energy to flourish. 

This combination allows one to smile inwardly at different parts of the body, including areas of pain, where the qigong-enhanced flow of qi can be directed for pain relief. Engaging in qigong regularly not only improves physical strength and flexibility but also deepens the connection to the body’s internal landscape, making the practice of inner smile meditation more profound and effective in managing chronic pain. Through qigong, beginners can learn to cultivate a serene mind-body connection, channeling their focus and energy towards alleviating discomfort and enhancing overall well-being.

A traditional inner smile meditation practice

Below is a variation of the traditional inner smile practice, which helps you direct the energy of a smile into any part of your body.

You can either read through the instructions and meditate on your own or listen to Amy’s guided audio version of the inner smile meditation, in which you’ll practice internalizing the smile and then directing the essence of the inner smile to various organs.


  1. Inner Smile Meditation Amy Pattee Colvin 8:27

1. Sit at the front edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes, and feel connected to the earth through your feet. Your spine is straight yet relaxed, and your tailbone extends to the ground with the crown of your head reaching up into the sky.

If it is helpful, stretch your neck from side to side or roll your shoulders before you get settled.

2. Smile gently. Let your lips feel full and smooth as they spread to the side and lift just slightly. This smile requires nothing extreme; instead, it is just the kind of thing that relaxes your entire face and head.

Breathe fully, deeply, and slowly. While wearing this smile, consciously relax other areas of the body that may be holding tension.

3. Bring your attention to the space between your eyebrows. Visualize energy settling there like a warm, shallow pool. Imagine settling into that pool, feeling comfortable and warm. Slowly let your awareness sink deeper into the center of your head, as if you were in a cozy and comfortable cave.

Then, imagine a smiling face in front of you—it could be your face or that of a loved one. Don’t put too much effort into picking just the right face; you can choose another one the next time you practice this meditation.

4. Draw the smile and the joyful energy it portrays into this space in the center of your head. Let your forehead relax. Let your face and body relax. Feel the warm and joyous essence of this smile begin to cascade through your entire body. If you’d like, visualize the smile surrounded by warm golden light. This light warms you on the inside as a smile moves through your body.

5. Visualize this smiling, warm energy moving throughout your entire body. It comforts and heals your muscles, joints, and internal organs. Take your time. Visualize each organ being soothed by this smiling, warm energy.

6. After you have spent time connecting with and smiling at your organs and muscles, notice the sensations in your body. Perhaps you feel energized, content, and warm. Allow the smile to drift where it wants, or direct it to any place you’re feeling discomfort.

7. Continue visualizing the warm and golden essence of that smile within your body. Bring your awareness back to any place you may have missed or any place you’d like to linger, and let it flow over and through your organs and soft tissue. Imagine this warm, smiling energy spreading throughout your entire body.

8. When you’re ready to bring the meditation to a close, anchor this feeling of peace and contentment into your body by placing your hands over your heart. Take several deep breaths and simply relax. Release any visualizations or thoughts, and simply be without thinking or doing.

Maintain a balance between effort and relaxation. If you notice a sensation of stress or exertion, relax, take a few deep breaths, and then return to the practice. If your mind wanders, know that this is human and totally okay. Gently and kindly bring your awareness back to your breath, body, and smile.

Take this smiling energy with you throughout your day. Observe your levels of internal awareness and calm as stress and anxiety ebb and flow during daily life.

Inner smile meditation is a simple practice that you can use at any time. No matter where you are, if you find yourself sliding into a negative mindset or feeling physical discomfort, imagine the smiling energy in front of you again and draw that energy into your body.

Explore more free guided Taoist meditations.


Frequently Asked Questions about inner smile meditation

Whether you’re curious about the foundations of this ancient technique, seeking advice on enhancing your meditation routine, or exploring the musical dimensions of meditation, this section aims to enlighten and guide both novices and seasoned practitioners alike.

What is the inner smile theory?

The inner smile theory revolves around the concept that smiling inwardly at oneself can stimulate a healing energy that promotes emotional and physical well-being. This Taoist practice encourages directing love and gratitude towards the body’s internal organs, fostering health and longevity.

How can you find the best meditation app for healing?

To find the best meditation app prioritize features that resonate with your healing process, including:

  • guided smile meditations
  • positive affirmations
  • stress management tools. 

Explore the app’s functionality to see if it includes full video sessions or audio-only options that open in a new window for convenience. Also, look for apps that allow you to live in the present moment with mindfulness exercises.

A diverse playlist of meditations, including those available as podcasts, can enrich your practice. Checking if the meditation app allows you to easily incorporate meditation into your daily routine. Reading reviews, experimenting with free versions, and verifying the presence of reputable meditation teachers in the app’s content are crucial steps in selecting an app that aligns with your recovery journey. This comprehensive approach ensures that the app not only meets your immediate needs but also supports your long-term well-being.

What are some best practices and tips for visualization and meditation beginners?

For beginners, starting with short, guided sessions can help develop focus and comfort with visualization techniques. Creating a calm environment, focusing on the breath, and gently guiding the mind back when it wanders are essential practices. Regularity and patience are key to deepening the meditation experience.



Cross, M. P., Acevedo, A. M., Leger, K. A., & Pressman, S. D. (2022). How and Why Could Smiling Influence Physical Health? A Conceptual Review. Health Psychology Review, 17(2), 1–53.

Kraft, T. L., & Pressman, S. D. (2012). Grin and Bear It. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1372–1378.

Nascimento, S. S., Oliveira, L. R., & DeSantana, J. M. (2018). Correlations between brain changes and pain management after cognitive and meditative therapies: A systematic review of neuroimaging studies. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 39, 137–145.

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