Taking self portraits of myself has become part of my routine over the last few months. To pose for the camera, to pose just for me, to look at myself. After taking lots of pictures (except in March when I took just one a day), I look at them and often hear that inner voice who just wants to let me know that I am not pretty. Eventually, I find the one photo that I can share with, well the world, but also the photo I can agree on, with myself, to stare at whenever I come to this page.
My journey has been about the work inside. Unpacking the baggage, looking at it to see if there is something to learn, if there are reasons amidst some of the shit. Looking at the moments I am triggered and why, looking at the patterns, and so on, but also to recognize the beauty that is there, that is part of my life. The beauty of the world around me, of the people in my life, of the path I am on, and the beauty inside me. But throughout this, there is this piece of beauty on the outside. The other stuff seems like the hard stuff. But this outside piece, accepting my physical looks, this is a big part of the baggage as well. I have just been so focused on the inner stuff because it is easier, on some level, than…well, than looking at the outside…of me.
As I mentioned on Tuesday’s post, on Monday, when I took this week’s self portraits, I felt something shift as I looked at my face on the computer screen in front of me. There have been moments of this over the past few months, a whisper of self-acceptance. There has been an awakening and a determination to get over my negative body image and “face beauty” issues. But it then it goes back to a whisper, and most of the time, I just forget to listen for it.
In the August issue of Yoga Journal, Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of the "much talked about in blog world" book Eat, Pray, Love – a book I really want to read) writes about finding her own beauty. After realizing she was wrapped up in being self-critical of her looks to the extent it was consuming her, she asked a yogi friend of hers what she should do. The woman recommended she spend time, every day, looking in the mirror until she recognized her own beauty.
A piece of my negative physical image is about my body: Not being thin enough, always being “my biggest friend,” not being able to find clothes sometimes, having clerks give me "that look" when I walk in certain stores. But another piece is wanting to feel pretty. Wanting to be one of the pretty ones. Wanting to see my face as pretty. As Gilbert says, “A person’s face is, you might say, the spokesperson for the soul.” Yes. And I want people to see my soul, but first they see my face. The face that often has multiple chins. The face that looks tired and is gathering wrinkles each day.
As I read about Gilbert’s experience, I began to wonder if I could have a daily meditation where I sit across from myself, all alone, in the quiet, and look at my own face. I could start with one minute…or maybe 30 seconds. And work my way up to a few minutes. Each day. Until I recognize me.
The idea is that you have to accept the shell that carries your soul, before you can let go. Let go of the desire to be the pretty one, of the ego involved, of the past that might hold you a bit too tight. Let go to be free of the way your body image weighs you down when you are trying to fly.
Do you want to join me? We could start with 5 seconds, 45 seconds, 2 minutes. We could do this together. A daily meditation of reflection. A daily meditation to recognize the beauty.