[Audio] Instantly Increase Your Happiness With This Easy Zen Technique

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

“If I could smile from the heart, then I wouldn’t be so !@#$%& depressed!”

I didn’t say it out loud, but I thought it really loud.

I had traveled thousands of miles to learn from a world-renowned qigong master, and I was desperate to feel better.  

“Smile from the heart!” he said in his strange, Chinese-Malaysia accent.

This wasn’t just advice. He was teaching us a Zen meditation technique.

The other students seemed to get it. But I was depressed, and I didn’t.

In fact, I fought back the urge to let out a cynical laugh. Instead, I kept my cynical thinking to myself (see above).

Later in the workshop, I told the master that I was having trouble with the smiling heart thingamabob, and asked him if he had any advice.

He told me not to worry, not to intellectualize, and to just “smile from the heart”.

In other words, just do it.

For years, I tried to “just do it”. But it didn’t really work for me. I struggled for a long time.

In retrospect, having taught the same technique to hundreds of depressives, I know that it is natural for us to struggle more than non-depressives.

But I also know that this technique is critical — for depressive and non-depressives alike.

It’s like a key that turns on the ignition of your energetic healing system. It’s also the key to leading a happier life.

So yeah — it’s rather important.

Students are always telling me how Smiling from the Heart changes everything. Honestly, it may be the most powerful thing that I teach (and I teach some pretty powerful stuff!). The longer I practice, the more I realize that Smiling from the Heart is probably the secret to life, the universe, and everything.

Here’s what a student recently told me about Smiling from the Heart:

“I think learning how to smile from the heart is the thing that changed my life. Experiencing it legitimized qigong for me. Someone can argue all day long about these arts being woo-woo or whatever, but experiencing smiling from the heart — no one could ever touch that with any kind of argument. That’s genuine spiritual stuff, and no one could ever convince me otherwise.” Melissa Coast

This article is my sincere attempt to help you to “get” what the student is talking about.

I’ll do my absolute best to give you a more complete answer than “just do it” so that you don’t waste years like I did. (I’ll also answer your questions below.)

Try It Now

It’s easier to help you understand this technique if you have an experience of it.

Do you have 4 minutes? Yes, of course you do!

Close your door, turn off your phone, and follow this free 4-minute meditation right now:

If you absolutely can’t do it now, then at the very least least schedule a time to do it.  If you don’t put it on your schedule, then it won’t happen.  Schedule it now!

If you listened to the audio, then you heard me saying following:

“Smiiiiile from the Heaaaaart!”

I was practically singing the words as I said them, right?

And that’s because I was smiling from the heart as I spoke!

The Flower Sermon

See, it gets confusing because the description of the technique and the name of it are the same. Really, the name of the technique is about as good as it gets when it comes to describing the technique with words.

When students ask me to explain Smiling from the Heart, I always think of the following story:

In roughly 500BC, the Buddha gave what would later be called the “Flower Sermon”.  Hundreds of disciples sat in front of him, ready for another of the Buddha’s powerful sermons.  But this time, he didn’t say a word.  Instead, he just held up a beautiful flower and smiled.

Of all the disciples there that day, only one, Mahakasyapa, grasped the sermon.  The rest were puzzled and confused. But Mahakasyapa smiled.

Seeing his reaction, the Buddha said: “I possess the true Cosmic eye, the marvelous mind of stillness, the true form of the formless, the subtle technique that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures.  This I entrust to Mahakasyapa.”

Stop Intellectualizing!

Except for Mahakasyapa, all of the Buddha’s disciples were busy intellectualizing.

Is the flower symbolic? What does it mean? Is the Buddha referring to the different petals of his teachings? Has he gone crazy?

But Mahakasyapa’s mind was clear. Because his mind was so clear, because he wasn’t stuck in what we call the Monkey Mind, it was natural for him to smile when the Buddha held up the flower.

I mean, flowers are beautiful! It’s actually weird NOT to smile.

Here’s a photo that I took on our ranch in Florida:


The Origins of Zen

The Zen tradition started roughly 1000 years after the death of the Buddha. Bodhidharma, the 1st patriarch of Zen, summed up his teachings as follows:

  • Not recorded in language or words.
  • Transmission beyond the tradition.
  • Directly pointing at the mind.
  • Entering enlightenment in an instant.

Not coincidentally, all of Bodhidharma’s teachings also apply to Smiling from the Heart:

  • Smiling from the Heart is difficult to describe (or record) in language or words.
  • Smiling from the Heart requires a transmission to really get it (like the audio above).
  • Smiling from the Heart points directly at the Zen Mind (and skips over the Monkey Mind).
  • When you Smile from the Heart, you feel it in an instant.

From Heart to Heart

During his Flower Sermon, the Buddha was doing more than just holding up a flower.  He was projecting energy and information.  There was a broadcast on that day 2500 years ago —  a transmission that Mahakasyapa received, and the others missed.

The Buddha’s disciples blocked themselves that day. Like the Buddha’s disciples, many modern students struggle with Smiling from the Heart. If you are busy worrying about how to do it, or if you giggle thinking that it’s silly, or if you wonder whether the smile should be on the face or not — then you’ll miss what we call the heart-to-heart transmission.

Why?  Because thoughts and worries will block the flow of qi (or energy). Until you let go of your thoughts and worries, until you are able to stay in the Zen Mind, you’ll continue to be baffled by Smiling from the Heart.

11 Reasons to Stick With It

Look I understand that it can be hard to understand Smiling from the Heart. I’ve been there.

I’ve done my best to explain in words something that can’t really be explained in words.  But it may not be enough.  Some of you are probably still scratching your heads.  And that’s fine — as long as you persevere!

So until you get it, until you are able to grasp Smiling from the Heart beyond words, maybe I can inspire you to just keep on trucking.  Here are 11 things that you can look forward to once you get the hang of Smiling from the Heart:

  1. It gives you an instant shot of happiness, no matter what else is happening in your life.
  2. It is the real secret to healing with qigong, tai chi, and meditation.
  3. It boosts oxytocin levels and lowers blood pressure.
  4. It activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).
  5. It’s the ultimate, all-purpose spice for life.  Everything is better when you Smile from the Heart (including food and sex).
  6. It instantly creates more inner peace.
  7. It’s the ultimate tool for creating more focus.
  8. It’s great for creating healthier relationships.
  9. It’s a powerful stress-buster.
  10. It’s an effective way for athletes to get into the “zone”.
  11. It feels awesome!

When you finally get it, when you suddenly realize how life-changing this one technique can be, then please contact me and say, “You were totally right!”

Or if you already recognize the awesome power of Smiling from the Heart, then go ahead and leave a comment below so that you can inspire others.

 Note: This article was original published in 2012, but was completely revised and updated in 2016. 

Mindfully yours,
Sifu Anthony

I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world to use qigong for their own stubborn health issues. I teach online courses, and also lead in-person retreats and workshops.

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20 Responses to [Audio] Instantly Increase Your Happiness With This Easy Zen Technique

  1. Melissa December 27, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Since learning Smiling from the Heart, and practicing it regularly, I’ve found that it sneaks up on me sometimes. I’ll be doing something really mundane like loading the dishwasher, and out of nowhere my heart smiles on its own. I think of them as sudden attacks of joy and peace. 🙂 They are like the exact opposite of a panic attack, and they are awesome!

    • Sifu Anthony December 27, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      “Sudden attacks of joy and peace.” I love it!

  2. Damian Kissey December 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    🙂 from the Heart : The Key to more then just a happy demeanour !

    Sifu Anthony Korahais , You are totally right !

  3. Matt December 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Great post, thank you Sipak.
    Smiling from the heart,

  4. Mark Blohm December 31, 2012 at 3:44 am #

    Dear Sihing,

    This article is great beyond words : )

    You are a great teacher!

    Smiling From the Heart : )

  5. Sharon Wyman-Rogers January 1, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    When I’m Smiling from the Heart, everything is right!

  6. Kian January 2, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    Hi, great website, thank you for the info. Open heart meditation is a meditation especially for smiling from the heart. There are open heart groups now in many cities around the world. I have only been practicing 4 months but have already had so many beautiful experiences of feeling the love and connecting with true source, the creator. One bit of advice I will give is physically smile to your heart while meditating, just keep smiling and you will feel your heart to begin to open. It also helps to touch your heart energy centre with a few fingers, located in middle of your chest at armpit height. Much info in the form of books and websites on this very special practice. “key to life” I think so too 🙂

  7. M. (Portugal) January 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    «Has he gone crazy?» – I laughed from the heart 🙂

    Kinda difficult to my Western mind, but I’m catching this philosophy little by little. And Sifu Anthony is a great teacher, that makes learning a great experience.

  8. Megan January 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Thank you, I was feeling really down today when I read this article. as I read it I began to smile from the heart and It really helped, the sun also appeared to be shining just a little brighter.

  9. Stephen April 25, 2013 at 11:31 pm #


    Another thing I noticed, and maybe you already eluded to, is that Smiling from the Heart puts you into an instant Qigong state of mind!

  10. David April 30, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Great article! I know I’m a little late to this article but I have a question. It may sound fairly weird but I haven’t got a better way to describe it. Whenever I smile from the heart, I feel as though I am full of bubbles of tinglyness that are floating up my body and getting stuck under the top of my skull. Do you know what I’m talking about and, if so, can you tell me more about this? I don’t know if it’s good, bad, irrelevant, or what.

  11. Frank April 26, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    I’ve gotten.the smile from the heart…and I can do that when I’m “in the moment”, but, for example, a day like today is difficult. Waited 2 hours for an oral Surgeon appointment and had to leave due to another upcoming appointment, totally different waiting a morning…wife calls telling me she has no clue when she’ll be home tonight…..did qigong…released some physical stress…but I’m still awfully cranky right now….and my heart doesn’t feel.like smiling… 🙁

  12. Luis April 26, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    Thanks a lot for this Sifu… I have noticed that sometimes during intense periods of practice the emotions can get out of control and you end up having a hard time while cleaning emotionally, this technique is wonderful to balance things … the truth is that although it is extremely difficult at first achieving it , it is worth insisting , in my case, Two years later, sometimes ( rarely ) even flowers for itself 🙂 who knows in a few years …

  13. Vera August 12, 2016 at 12:10 am #

    In the beginning ,when I heard you say it I said to myself what is this?then I tried to imagine it, then I tried seeing it, then I tried looking at a flower. All this in my mind. And now after a few weeks it is there and so soothing….. It really empties my mind ….

  14. Dominic Kwan (Dee) August 28, 2016 at 10:26 am #

    Awesome, Sifu. I’d like to smile all the way to enlightenment. You have a great voice too.

  15. Debora Giarrusso October 1, 2016 at 2:46 am #

    Hard to say in words, hard to say in English (I’m italian) … I started to cry and laugh together, and a joy without no reason invaded me. Thank you so much

  16. Cynthia L Cortez April 6, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

    If you are trying to relate to how you might feel, think of it this way. It is the way a woman feels inside when she first finds out she is going to have a baby, or the way a man feels when he holds his newborn child for the first time, or the way you feel and your pet feels when you give hugs, or the happiness you feel when you perform an act of kindness that brings a smile to someone who was struggling, or…, I think you get the jest of it.

    But the key is to feel this way all over internally each and every day, like the beauty of nature living within and the sun glowing inside and the rays flowing out of all the poures from your head to your toes. It is all about feeling the sensation of joy and beauty and not using visualization. This is the true Zen. : )

    For those who are struggling to understand “smiling from the heart,” I hope this helps.

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