Do you smile with your heart? What I learnt in Bali - Expat Nest e-counselling

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Do you smile with your heart? What I learnt in Bali

In the summer of 2014, I went on a solo voyage to Bali. The trip was challenging, but it was also the most spiritually fulfilling I have ever taken. Coming from Europe, this was such a different place… a whole new world to discover. People were warm and kind, and smiley almost all the time! I found myself wondering how they maintained this constant joy and peacefulness within (and in the face of extreme poverty in some cases). This is my story…

“Do you smile with your heart?” a Balinese healer asked me.

“Well, I think I smile genuinely…” I replied. But with my heart? I wondered. Perhaps I was missing something.

The power of smiling…

The healer explained that many Balinese pray every day and smile with each cell of their body – and above all with their hearts! But how? The answer lies in the practice of smiling when they see the sun rise, when they smell a flower, when they eat with family, when meditating, when hugging, and simply when breathing and feeling the greatness of their existence. This was hard for me to grasp in the beginning of my stay. It even crossed my mind that all this smiling wouldn’t work in my European life – it might get awkward and people would wonder what was going on with me.

I started practising their secret, which was simply to enjoy the little things, those things that perhaps I’d been taking for granted, or wasn’t paying much attention to in my busy lifestyle. But I was impatient! I wanted to master this practice and see results immediately.

“You need to be patient,” I was told, “and simply indulge what you are feeling.”

Three days before I was due to leave Bali, I was told that I had done it. My yoga and meditation companions had observed me smiling with my heart! It was a kind, genuine smile that I could feel in my whole body. This was a moment of both joy and liberation for me.

I love the idea that smiling with all your heart (and into the other organs, as they believe in Bali) is used as a healing and meditation practice… as a simple way to calm and bring health to the soul.

Feel your heart fill up with the joy, kindness and compassion of a genuine smile!

Are you inspired to smile with your heart? What meditative practices do you use? Is spiritual meditation an important part of your culture?

Feel free to add your thoughts below and/or share this article with a friend. And do subscribe to our TOP EXPAT TIPS if you haven’t already!

Ps. Bali was full of gifts for the soul! Keep an eye out for another lesson I learnt while there: the power of “Not yet”…


© Vivian Chiona

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  1. Renata says:

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring experience! Your trip sounds dreamy. Your comment about worrying that all that smiling wouldn’t go down well in Europe reminds me of a very special quality here in South Africa. Many Xhosa, Zulu and other South Africans are completely unselfconscious about singing aloud, even when they’re alone or just walking down the street. And nobody looks twice! It’s beautiful. I’d love to sing aloud as and when I feel like it, but it has often crossed my mind that people would think me weird (even though I’m South African too, I’m of English-Italian descent, and not expected to burst spontaneously into song!)

    1. Daer Renata,
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. What an interesting comment on singing aloud in South Africa; I didn’t know this!
      I would suggest you doing what/how you feel like! Who defines ‘weird’ at the end of the day? 😉
      Thank you so much for your comment

  2. th says:

    Such a fascinating account of other cultures! How others see the smallest, purest things and feel joy and spread happiness. I agree that we should smile more and maybe that way we can begin to feel positive about the things that even upset us. Why drag ourselves down when we can lift ourselves up! Of course, this takes time. I certainly haven’t got close to mastering such a task but we too often focus on negatives and we could improve our lives so much more if we focused on small things that make us happy.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Thomas! Indeed way to go!
      Kind regards,

  3. Lili says:

    Dear Vivian,
    I recognize myself in your self-described impatience to see immediate results of staying in the moment. It is proof of a “busy mindset”, so often glorified in Western countries – however, finding joy in the little things of life cannot be approached with a checklist!
    After having volunteered in Sri Lanka past summer, I believe I have more insight on my own “busy mindset”. I am improving on it by stopping to smell some flowers, or staying in a sunny spot for a few minutes to close my eyes, whenever I can.

    1. Hi Lili
      I’m so glad this article resonated with you. I recall that Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way”, talks about “paying attention” as the first and most basic step towards creating and creativity. It seems you are doing that, especially after your Sri Lankan experience. Thanks too for reminding me to stand quietly in a sunny spot!
      All the best

  4. Gisele says:

    Hi Vivian,

    I loved to hear about your experience. I dream about some time for me like that. Could you share more information about it? It was a meditation retreat or something like that? I’d love to hear more.

    1. Vivian Chiona says:

      Hi Gisele
      Thank you for your message. Yes, indeed it was a dream trip for me and I very much enjoyed it! It wasn’t a meditation retreat but a trip I organized for myself, making a point to include activities like this. If you’d like to know more or have specific questions, feel free to pop me an email. It’d be my pleasure to give you some insights to help plan your dream trip.
      Best wishes

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