‘The Inner Smile’

In the text spoken here, there is a pause after each passage, to give you the opportunity to better absorb what has been said. If the pause is too short, pause the audio player for a moment, and turn it back on when you're done.
The exercise
22'36"  [download]
You have just awoken of your own accord - the coming day is still far off. Notice how you are lying, whether on your back or on your side (on your back is better), and choose the most comfortable position that will enable you to lie still for a long time. If you lie on your side, make sure it is the right side, with your right leg extended and the left leg slightly pulled up and lying relaxed next to the other leg. Place your foot on your right leg or in front of it.

Now calmly trace your entire body, focusing your attention particularly on those areas that are often tensed. Invite them to become soft and to stretch pleasantly as though you were lying on a beach, bathed in gentle sunshine, on warm sand; a solitary bird flying overhead, the even murmur of the sea taking all your thoughts and ideas out to the receding horizon, to the end of the world and far beyond.

You are now making the world's oldest journey, inward, back in time to where it all began when you arrived on this earth, not knowing anything but wanting to become acquainted with as much as you could, as much as you wished, in your own time.
You have closed your eyes in order not to be distracted by the things of the present moment that are connected with what is behind you.

In order to ensure that the circuit of energy remains unbroken, in the organ exercise as well as with the circulation, it is necessary to rest the tip of your tongue very lightly against the roof of your mouth, making contact without exerting any pressure. If you exert too much pressure, you can easily block the energy. You will experience for yourself which of the three positions is best for you.
If you wear dentures during the day, rest your tongue on the soft section at the back of the palate.

Seriousness causes you to pull the corners of your mouth downward. This is tension. Smile softly, this will relax not only your mouth but your entire body as well.
For this reason Taoists call the organ exercise 'The Inner Smile'.

Lingering gently behind your eyes, which are now full and heavy, go to your heart and feel it beating, basking in the warm attention that you are giving it now, perhaps for the first time in your life.

Stay at your heart for as long as it is enjoyable and for as long as your heart bids you to, then bring your attention to your lungs and explore them from inside out; above, below, in front, behind and at the side. Try to increase their surface area by inhaling slowly and deeply, and to feel if you reach every part and whether everything is soft and friendly. As you exhale, let everything go again except for your attention, which can increase even further in relaxation and supply expanding energy. Here, also, stay for as long as you find pleasant and your lungs require the attention.

Once you have exercised for a while - and sometimes even the first time you exercise - you will feel your shoulders come alive, as if they want to fall outwards and sideways, whereupon energy can also flow through your arms. In time this will happen naturally, without any effort on your part.

It is also possible that while you are focused on the energy in your head, you also feel energy flowing in your hands and feet. Focus your attention on this briefly and proceed with the exercise.

Now move your attention to your spleen and above all your liver. Remember that your liver needs sufficient energy to destroy and remove harmful substances from your body, while your spleen warns you when you are over-exerting yourself. This is something that you have perhaps never really been mindful of before, and are now redressing with a prolonged flow of energy.

Your solar plexus, which your emotions so often drawn upon, also needs your friendly attention and would like to bask in the energy you supply in order to function better.

Now go to your kidneys and adrenal glands, those small essential organs that regulate and, if necessary, adjust our water balance. They need your love and attention very much. The adrenal glands produce adrenaline, which makes you fight or flee and promotes decisiveness. Stay there as long as you feel necessary and thank them before moving on to the pancreas.

As it is close by, focus your attention also on the gall bladder along with the pancreas and permeate them both with renewing energy.

Then return to your eyes. Because the flow of energy has increased while you have been exercising, feel how much warmer and heavier they are now than they were at the beginning. In order to feel this energy in your eyes more intensely, collect the energy first in your left eye, 5-5, then in your right eye 5-5. Take this increased energy through your nasal passages to the roof of your mouth and from the tip of your tongue to the esophagus, heightening the feeling by swallowing some saliva.

Travel slowly through the esophagus to the stomach where so much important work is done for the digestion and food absorption.
From the stomach travel slowly and attentively through the many convolutions of your small intestine until you find the passage to the large intestine at the very base of the pelvis and to the right. This takes you upward to the horizontal passage leading right where the large intestine makes its descent to the rectum and anus. This entire length requires extra attention, as a lot of energy is needed to penetrate the thick
concentration of waste products. In time, if you do this every day, your bowel movements will become regular and easy.
Now go to the bladder and make it soft and elastic so that it can cope better with your tendency to forget to urinate when you should. But resolve to watch out for the signal to empty your bladder.

From the bladder go to the organs that are so very important, the genitals. Make them perceptible by contracting and releasing the muscles there. Because our most important energy is particularized in this area, (see text), it is good to prolong the flow of energy in these organs, and to go on only after you have the feeling that they are all replete with energy.

Now go along the front of your body, moving eventually through the tongue, roof of the mouth and nose, and returning to the eyes. From there, spiral to the back of your head, passing through the important glands responsible for our internal secretions, the pineal, pituitary and thalamus glands.
Give a lot of attention to this. Travel several times from your eyes to the back of your head until you feel that you have visited everywhere sufficiently.

Now, travel slowly and attentively down your spinal column to your coccyx. This must be done slowly so that you are able to visit properly all the centers along this path. It is advisable, therefore, to do this several times.
Afterwards travel to the perineum centre, and from there along the back of the knee, the heel and soles of your feet to the toes - particularly your big toe - making a loop over the big toe to the top of your foot. Travel upward over the shin and kneecap, back to the perineum centre, and carry on upwards through your back until, having reached your crown centre, you feel throughout your entire head right up to the crown of the skull the energy that has straightened your spine. Follow this path also a number of times, going from the perineum centre upward.

As you travel upwards, each time you reach the level of your heart centre you must go to your shoulders and make the loop through the arms and hands (see text). You won't succeed right away, but eventually it will come naturally.

From the crown centre, go by way of the crown of the skull and the centre between your eyebrows down to the eyes where you now feel how the energy is. Then travel to the nasal passages and roof of your mouth and, by way of the tip of your tongue, to your breastbone where you will find on the upper rear side your thymus, which regulates regeneration (staying young). Proceed downward by way of the heart centre, the solar plexus, the navel centre and the genital centre to the perineum centre, the back of the knees, and so forth ...

Altogether, you do this major circulation through the torso and legs three times.
When you eventually return to your eyes after the third major circulation, travel in the same way downward, but when you arrive at the perineum centre, go to your coccyx and through your spinal column again upward until you have returned to the eyes. This small circuit, only through the torso, is done also three times.

When you have returned to the eyes again, go downward to the navel centre where you are going to collect the energy[2], 7-7. Once you have done this, draw the collected energy inwards into the middle of the base centre. The middle of the base centre lies on a line extending from the upper part of the pubic bone down to the spine. When you are lying on your back it is about 2.5 cm above the vertebral column.
Draw the energy inwards until you feel that it is enough.

End of exercise
The first few times, you will find that you have to press the pause button on the recorder to make sure you do properly each part of the exercise.
Once you have done it a few months, the exercise will be so embedded in your body's consciousness that you will be able to do it without the CD.
Then it will be a more powerful experience since you do not have the distraction of having to listen to the recording.
Once you have it, you can repeat the exercise during the day, doing it several times if you so wish.
In addition to the beneficial effects on your body, the quality of your consciousness also changes, without this being your goal, and perhaps precisely because this is not your goal (the wu-wei of Taoism).

'Instructions for Tao-zen meditation' provides a detailed explanation of the accompanying exercise.
In the booklet Maarten Houtman further considers the question of where meditation begins, and how you can create the conditions that can lead to a  real experience.
The supplied CD also contains instructions for 'sitting'. To order at Etalage
[2] The spiraling collection of energy always goes first from the center to the circumference (e.g. 5 times), and then rotating in the other direction from the circumference back to the center (again 5 times). 


< back to 'Instructions for Tao-zen meditation'