By focusing attention, actively imagining, recalling from memory, and thinking, to put it simply, smiling thoughts. The operational definition of a smiling thought is any word, image, sensation, or combination, that automatically and non conciously generates a smile! 🙂
Speculative answers are yes to both. The default emotional network is the baseline or set point of affect, temperament, or usual feelings. A dependable indicator is the default facial expression, especially around the eyes and mouth. Cultivating positive emotions and sustaining them for extended periods of time may lead to laying new neural tracks that affect the set point if the default emotional network. In turn, the default emotional network may incline to resilience and equanimity.
The no-self! And of course abstract and analytic thinking independent of personal considerations.
One morning, during in bed morning meditation, impersonal thought turned to contemplating the impersonality of the universe. And to the impermanence and end of all created things.
And as it likes to do, somewhere in the not conscious mind a neural net had a thought.
And it popped into this mind that “The price of death is life!”
Still smiling.. !!
In the category of informed speculation based on practice experiences:
There appears to be no sensation in the unconscious mind itself. Literally, doctors can do surgery in the brain without anesthesia because the interior of the brain does not feel sensations. If they touch a neural bundle it can trigger a memory.
Without sensation, there can be no creation of the experience of time in the unconscious mind itself. A stasis chamber in science fiction holds human beings but stops time. It appears that the unconscious acts like a stasis chamber for human memories and perhaps thought streams too
An interesting meditation is to focus attention on the center of the brain where there is no sensation. How? By body scanning for sensations, then withdrawing inwards, focusing inwards, to the ‘space without sensations.’
A corollary is that individual word or image thoughts arising in the space of conscious awareness have no sensations at all–all the sensation connected to the individual thought or image appear to be arising elsewhere in the body, not in the mental space where the conscious mind notices them.
When the attention is completely focused inward on the space without sensations, there is a disconnect from regular bodily and selfing awareness. This could be the physical basis for the experiences reported by many of ‘primordial awareness.’ The stasis chamber of the unconscious mind is physical and therefore the effects produced within it are not permanent, even if they appear to be that way.
There appears to be a ‘buffer’ in the unconscious mind that holds open issues or memories for further conscious processing.
It is very apparent during the waking up process from sleep. A stream of ‘thought and image bundles’ arise without effort, and very distinctly.
After these thought bundles have been processed–either by mindfully observing without intervention or by practice interventions such as the four voices–then the body settles down without effort into an awake and natural restful stillness.
Most of the current content in the buffer is memories or unresolved tasks from the previous day, or recurring issues or tasks.
During the day the buffer can get filled up too. A dependable indicator is muscle tension or restless energy. Always a good signal for the conscious mind to have some more communication with the unconscious!
The internal language pattern is “what is Larry [ or your name or this body] experiencing?” I just used it to identify a pattern I was stuck in and to get ideas for a change. It may work because the language pattern creates some dissociation from the ongoing flow of feeling, while allowing impersonal and analytic thought to continue working. It is important to pause after asking the question, then experience what responses the mind sends up. Often unexpected!