Two years ago, my daily practice, for two months, was to look in the mirror for a few minutes everyday. I began this practice after reading an article by Elizabeth Gilbert in Yoga Journal (read more background about my previous experience with this meditation here and here).
A few weeks into this practice, I realized I had stopped just looking at me and instead had started seeing me. I began to see the beauty in the curves of my face and how my eyes sometimes seem to smile and the fullness of my lips. I began to see wisdom and truth. My internal self-talk began to soften.
For a few months, I have been thinking about starting this practice again. After a confusing couple of moments while on a trip this summer, moments that brought up that harsher self-talk, I found myself standing in front of a mirror and pausing.
I stood there and looked myself in the eye and felt myself begin to crumble a bit. I was honest with myself about the feelings that had surfaced and could feel that invitation to simply "lose it." In that moment, I took a deep breath, and looking eye to eye with me, I felt an invitation to seek some refuge within this meditation I had spent time with two years ago. So much emotion knocked inside me as I looked at myself, trying to see beauty. I didn't want to give into that internal pull to lose it, as I needed to exit the bathroom at some point in a manner that seemed pulled together. So I stood there watching the shadow of my earring that the light from the skylight was creating…I just watched the shadow on my face and how light seemed to dance around it. I took in that moment and found my breath.
The next day, I found myself standing in front of this mirror again, and I focused on the way my bangs brushed across my forehead. The day after that, I focused on the slight curve of my lips right before a full smile spread across my face. And on and on. For about three weeks now, I have spent a few minutes each day just looking at me…trying to see me again.
Earlier today, I stood eye to eye with me and felt that self-talk soften just a bit.
This reflection mediation has become my practice yet again.
I am trying to see me…to see more than what someone else might see when making assumptions or judgments…to see more than what I see when doing the same. I am looking at the shadows and the light and trying to give myself permission to crack open a bit more.
I am standing eye to eye with me and trying to let the shadows dance their way into the light and shine just a bit.
I am giving myself permission to see beauty.
I am giving myself permission to see me.
(read Elizabeth Gilbert's full article here)
updated in 2011: Self-Portrait Challenge (SPC) was a website and community that encouraged people to take and share self-portraits. I loved this project! However, I am sad to report that it no longer has an active website, so I have removed links that appeared in the posts connected to my participation in this project.