Measuring Tool #3 - A Wide-Open Face - Empty Soul Smile?

Excerpt from Chapter 2 - Measuring Spirituality

For four decades, I have been noticing people as they grow and change psychologically. Significant therapy or growth experiences always result in a major reduction in body tension, as evidenced by a relaxed open face and a more flowing body.

In his autobiography, Carl Jung (1973 update) speaks of a conversation with Mountain Lake, a Pueblo chief in New Mexico in the 1920s. During their conversation, Mountain Lake remarked, "See how cruel the whites look. Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think they are mad." When Jung asked why Mountain Lake believed the whites to be mad, he replied, "They say they think with their heads." Jung was surprised by this and replied, "Why of course. What do you think with?" Mountain Lake pointed to his heart.

What is the face that Mountain Lake saw, that few have ever noticed? It is the face of tension, of stress and of inner pain. A few New Age teachers have noticed how wide open small children's faces are and how different their smiles are from that of most adults. But, I don't see those teachers showing wide-openness in their own faces (nor did photos of Jung). Instead, most usually have a somewhat pinched look, an intense expression, or a controlled careful smile.

The one New Age exception that I have noticed is the current Dalai Lama, who does have the wide-open face that I associate with lack of inner tension and pain. His laughing face seems genuinely merry, as if he really knew from experience what "rolling on the floor laughing" means. Thus, he seems to be more in alignment with his soul than most. If you do not "do belly laughter," the chance your face is wide-open is about nil. Belly laughing does not guarantee such a face, but it does show the level of ability to surrender emotional control that is indicative of adults with a wide-open face. Closed-off faces are a worldwide adult phenomenon, with few exceptions.

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© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze

 

This Chapter
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Excerpt from Be Your Own Therapist: "This reasoning leads to, "If I can change how I think, I can change my emotions." Does this mean I can get rid of my discomforts, my anger, my angst, my depression, my sadness, etc. just by thinking differently? Therapists who concentrate on changing your thinking processes would say 'Yes!'."