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The Smile

Copyright © 2023 Tomás Morales Duran. All Rights Reserved.

Once in the place, sitting in the chosen place, sufficiently removed from sensory stimuli, immersed in calm and security, it is possible to be completely removed from sensory pleasures, removed from vices.

Now is the time to smile.

Smiling is essential for the release of dopamine and serotonin. It works as an initiator or trigger similar to the role of spark plugs in an internal combustion engine. Without a smile, it is impossible to trigger the production process of these three neurotransmitters, and of others that we will not discuss here as they are not relevant.

But the smile we are talking about is not just any smile. It is not the forced grimace of the professional clown. We are talking about the authentic smile.

We will be able to tell a real smile from a fake smile if we learn a little more about how our brain regulates emotion and learns to read exact little details on our face.

The fact that our faces have the ability to transmit emotions is something evolutionary, not cultural, and it is a very useful skill for survival. Showing emotions induces a response in other people. For example, if we express anger, the other person can be scared and thus avoid a fight. If our face expresses sadness, it can be used to receive help from another person.

Some of the traits that serve to express emotions are universal and shared by all human beings and are, therefore, independent of culture. We all smile when we are happy and we all cry when we are sad. What modulates culture is the display or concealment of emotions. In Japan it is impolite to show emotions in public and they suppress their expression. Culture can determine which things make us happy and which make us sad.

There are eighteen different types of smiles depending on the muscles of the face that are mobilized. Each of these smiles has some kind of emotion associated with it and it is not necessarily happiness, as is the case with the ironic smile, for example.

It should be noted that the entire face, and not just the mouth, is what expresses the smile. In a melancholic smile our eyes express sadness while our mouth would express joy. The social smile is a type of smile that is used to fake emotions that are not felt and has different uses, mainly to look good.

The one we are going to deal with is the so-called authentic smile, or Duchenne smile.

Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne (1806 -1875) was a French physician and researcher who did not pursue an academic or hospital career. He was a brilliant cultivator of clinical empiricism who became a key figure in the constitution of modern neurology. Duchenne's written work is quite extensive. It focuses mainly on the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. In his work Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine, ou Analyze électro-physiologique de ses differents modes d'expression, in which he collects the results of the study of facial expressions using galvanic currents, he also shows himself to be an excellent photographer at the service of the investigation. One of his first actions was the founding of the Salpêtrière photography laboratory. Darwin published some of these photographs in his work The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

Duchenne used several volunteers who were insensitive to facial pain by placing different electrodes on each of the facial muscles, which can thus be activated, thus achieving each and every one of the facial expressions that we are capable of.

Duchenne and his electrically induced smile

He found that a smile was generated if the zygomatic muscle located in the cheekbones and to which the corners of the lips are connected to the end of our eyes was stimulated. In this way, by stimulating it, it generates a smile in the individual. However, he verified that the smile that he generated was not the genuine smile, it did not resemble the one that the volunteer produced when a joke was told.

Duchenne verified that there was another muscle that was activated, the orbicularis oculi muscle and the Zygomaticus major that is around the eyes. This muscle has the characteristic that it cannot be consciously controlled.

The smile must arise by itself, without resorting to memories or thoughts. Just smile.Only the best actors can control part of the muscle but not all of it. When this muscle is activated, the eye takes a much more slanted shape: the lower part of the eyelid rises slightly and crow's feet are formed. The actors would be able to form crow's feet but the inner part of the eye is not capable of raising it naturally, they will only rise if they are truly experiencing that feeling of happiness..

Muscles involved in fake smiles and the Duchenne smile

The Duchenne smile, which includes eyes and mouth, is the most original and pure smile. In fact, ten-month-old babies are capable of giving the Duchenne smile only to their mothers. They give the rest of the people a social smile, a simple smile, and it is because the baby learns that smiling produces much more benefits than not doing it.

Fake Fake Duchenne

Fake smiles and Duchenne smile

Here we see examples of false smile and Duchenne smile. The difference is in the lower part of the eyelids, which leads to the more slanting of the eye in the Duchenne smile. This is what distinguishes an authentic smile.

This smile is important because it cannot be simulated. This means that the movement of this muscle is directly linked to the production of three neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin and endorphin. Two of them are necessary to obtain the cocktail of neurotransmitters that will protect us in the state of cerebral anoxia with which the jhāna states are characterized.

It is important to understand that the production of these neurotransmitters and the contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscle are inseparable. That is, if the production of neurotransmitters is induced, the Duchenne smile is induced and vice versa.

This will serve as the basis not only for the exercise itself but also as a control to previously verify the ability to produce these neurotransmitters. There are people who for various reasons, including their own diet or psychological blockages, are unable to smile and those who cannot smile cannot enlighten themselves.

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