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

FEEL FREE TO USE OR SHARE THIS ARTICLE. We ask only that you attribute Expat Nest and include the following: Expat Nest ( is a professional online counselling service for expats.

Photo: Pixabay / Pexels