Do you ever struggle to look at yourself in the mirror? If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your body, get annoyed when looking in the mirror, or simply avoid mirrors altogether, I have a somewhat surprising suggestion: try looking at yourself in the mirror more! Today, I’d like to introduce you to an exercise that will help improve your self-acceptance – the mirror meditation exercise. The goal of this exercise is to look in the mirror for a long time, but of course, not to criticise yourself, but rather to accept yourself a little better and to (re)learn to love your own body.

 

 

Mirror meditation exercise

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

 

 

Are You Dissatisfied with Your Body?

 

Dissatisfaction with body image is a common issue, affecting many people regardless of gender identity. While research suggests it might be more pronounced in women, it’s certainly not exclusive to them. It’s not surprising when you consider the (still) valid standards in magazines and on television. While there may be nice initiatives by individual companies, including advertising with “atypical” models or “real women,” unfortunately, little has changed in the fundamental problem and societal expectations.

 

 

My Worst Critic…

 

It’s often not the feedback from our environment that is decisive. Instead, we have internalised the expectations of what we should look like to such an extent that we tend to be our own worst critics.

What about you? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you notice all the things that should be different or better? The wrinkles that bother you? The double chin that wasn’t there a few years ago? The sagging belly? The thighs that are too thick? When you look in the mirror, check your makeup or clothing, what do you think? Do you criticise yourself? Do you prefer to look away immediately? Or, to put it another way: when was the last time you smiled at yourself in the mirror? Were you happy with your reflection? Did you feel comfortable?

 

 

Mirror Meditation Exercise

 

Mirror meditations are a simple yet highly effective way to help change your perspective of yourself and to improve your self-acceptance.

Find a comfortable sitting position for the exercise. Sit cross-legged on a cushion or, if that’s uncomfortable for you, on a chair with both feet firmly on the ground. Place a mirror in a way that allows you to comfortably look yourself in the eyes. Set a timer (preferably a quiet and pleasant one!) for 5 minutes. That’s it. 

Now, look at yourself in the mirror for 5 minutes (with regular practice, you can increase this to 10 minutes) and try to breathe evenly.

Observe yourself! What thoughts are going through your head? Try to perceive them and let them pass by like leaves on a river. Observe your breath. Is it short and tense? Then try to breathe slower and calmer. What does your gaze look like? Hard and cold? Try to relax your gaze and focus on your breathing if necessary to calm yourself down. Let go. Whatever criticism and negative thoughts arise, let them go without evaluation and criticism. 

It’s perfectly natural for all sorts of thoughts and feelings to arise in this exercise, and that’s okay. Allow this and observe whatever happens. Relax your body again and observe yourself. Do your thoughts and feelings change over the course of the 5 (or 10) minutes? What else do you notice?

Repeat this exercise regularly and observe how your perspective and thoughts change over time! If you want to take it a step further, try repeating it without wearing any makeup, in less flattering clothes, or even completely without clothes. 

 

 

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How do you feel when you look in the mirror? Have you tried the mirror meditation? I look forward to your comments! To receive more tips and exercises for your mental health directly in your inbox, sign up now for my monthly newsletter!

 

 

Mirror Meditation - An Exercise in Self-Acceptance

Photo: Dollar Gill, Unsplash

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