One of the most powerful ways we can convey our internal state and our intentions to another is through our eyes. Specifically the muscles around our eyes.
When we are comfortable and happy, this relaxes the orbital muscles, which leads us to have 'smiling eyes' or 'soft eyes'.
- Look at yourself in the mirror (or have someone look at you while you do this).
- get your mouth to form a smile but keep your eyes wide and alert looking. Ask yourself (or the person who is looking at you): 'do I look safe and happy? Most likely the answer will be.. not really...
- Now cover up your mouth, and think of someone who makes you really happy, and feel yourself smile. Let your eyes relax as you do this.
Can you tell from your eyes alone that you are genuinely smiling?
Next, look at the emojis on your phone. Which emojis look like they are smiling the most? In my opinion, it's the ones that have 'smiling eyes' in addition to the smile in the mouth.
I find myself choosing those emojis more than the ones with just small dots for their eyes.
According to Stephen Porges, facial features above the nose are how we indicate safety to another person - through a relaxing of the eye muscles and forehead.
Below the nose is more useful for indicating aggression or repulsion - tension in the jaw, snarling of the mouth, or scrunching up the nose in disgust.
As humans, we have become very dependent on using our mouth to communicate.
The most common way we do this once we learn language is to use words.
However, words contain the least amount of information because they are only an attempt to translate vibration from our sensory receptors into coded 'grunting'.
There millions of signals happening between you and the person in front of you that happen way before you come up with something to say.
Words are the last to form. All the stuff that happens before that is signaling our internal state and our intentions with someone.
Our eyes often reveal something more accurate about us in a moment than any words can convey.
A mask covering our mouth may give us an opportunity to rely on our eyes as a form of communication.
This can give us a chance to become more aware of our internal state and intentions with someone before we even speak to them.
Because of how clumsy our words can often be, having this type of self-awareness of the micro-signals we send out with our eyes could help us develop a higher level of what is called 'interoception' - an awareness of the internal signals of our body.
Interoceptive awareness requires sophisticated circuitry involving our prefrontal cortex.
The more we can build up these circuits, the more complex the communication across networks in our brain becomes.
This is very good news for a brain. More communication across multiple, diverse networks means it is evolving its level of intelligence.
Disruptions to our habitual ways of doing things can create space for something new. Perhaps even something more evolved and more sophisticated in its intelligence and complexity.
With all the disruptions to our lives right now, are new, positive things emerging for you that you never would have thought of?
Let me know in the comments on this article.. i'd love to hear about them, and I'd love for others to hear about some of the new ways of being that are emerging from our challenges.
p.s. - I'll be going over these ideas in my upcoming master class - where we create a sense of community for like-minded people who want to be an inspiration to others by exploring the incredible beauty and complexity of the human mind-brain-body system.
p.p.s. - Podcast season 2 is coming! the first episode will be aired in early September! stay tuned..