Mirror Gazing Meditation. What you can learn by looking in the mirror
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Spending too much time looking in the mirror can often been seen as self-centred or vain. However, with the right perspective, a mirror can be an incredible learning tool.
A lot of us take for granted what we see when we look in the mirror. We do it automatically without contemplation.
We may not pay attention to our body language, the way we sit or to the relaxed expression on our faces, but it’s a habit worth cultivating.
These habits can affect our interactions with others and have an impact on how people view us both positively and negatively.
Mirror Gazing is a way of being present and mindful of how we feel, think and act.
It will help us become more proactive in changing our habitual ways of dealing with ourselves to become a more positive influence on others.
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What is Mirror Gazing Meditation
Mirror gazing meditation is a form of meditation that requires you to look into the mirror and focus on your reflection to gain insights into your own opinion and judgments of yourself.
Mindfully looking in the mirror is an intimate practice that requires you to focus on yourself rather than your own thoughts. The practice will help you reflect on how you view yourself to generate kindness and improve your way of being in the world.
Mirror gazing meditation helps us evaluate our mind’s inner workings and can help create a more peaceful, loving relationship with ourselves.
When we are looking in the mirror openly and without judgment, we discover some interesting aspects of our being.
We can observe how we respond when someone criticizes us, how our own negative opinions of ourselves are unfounded and most importantly, how to be kind and forgiving about our own perceived shortcomings.
How to Practice Mirror Gazing Meditation
Mirror gazing meditation does not utilize visualization or imagery, but instead utilizes the image in the mirror to study your own inner workings.
- First, create a space infront of a mirror where you’ll be able to meditate for the duration of time you choose. You can either sit or stand in any posture that feels comfortable and natural , you may also include some quiet music.
- Make eye contact with your reflection, soften your gaze. Try not to focus on anything in the room beyond the mirror.
- Become aware of your breath in the present moment. Notice how your chest expands and contracts as the air enters and leaves your lungs.
- Move your awareness into your physical body, back, arms, legs and hands. Feel the sensation of your joints and your skin. Focus on the temperature of your body; maybe it’s warm or cool. Feel yourself in this moment, this place, right here and now.
- Bring your attention to your eyes whilst trying to remain focused on your breath. Notice how your breathing changes when focus on different areas of your face.
- Observe your facial expression. Does it seem harsh or gentle? How does your inner voice react to your face? Are you inclined to judge or be kind to yourself?
- Contemplate your reflection. Allow your vision to go where it wants, explore your features with curiosity and become aware of details you dont normally pay attention too.
- Look at yourself with kindness. Allow any negative thought about yourself to pass and return your attention to your reflection. It can be hard to be kind to ourselves, especially when we’ve become so used to being critical. However, even if our word of kindness feels insincere and forced, you’d be surprised to see how quickly a few positive words can affect our sense of wellbeing.
What Kind of Meditation is Mirror Gazing
Mirror gazing meditation incorporates three different types of meditation technique—mindfulness, contemplation and loving-kindness.
The obvious difference between Mirror Gazing and a traditional mindfulness practice is that your attention is spent looking in the mirror rather than looking inwardly. We also incorporate ‘Contemplation’ to allow our focus to go wherever it wants naturally, without judgement.
We then need to try and incorperate ‘Loving Kindness’ into our practice as we try to replace our instinctively critical and negative opinions of ourselves with ones of acceptance and kindness.
Mindfulness is the process of being fully present in the activity at hand, without judgement, in a setting where one can be open to experience and accepting of sensory input.
Contemplation meditation is a type of open awareness meditation, or the process of being present in one’s own mind and thoughts. It can be very beneficial for the practitioner because it teaches one how to control and direct their thoughts.
Loving-kindness meditation is the act of expressing love and kindness to either yourself or other people.
This technique increases one’s feelings of empathy, compassion, joy, equanimity, contentment, and gratitude.
What are the Benefits of Looking in the Mirror to Meditate.
Mirror gazing can help you experience self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and emotional stability.
We can all fall victim to viewing ourselves over critically. However, who doesn’t have their flaws? By looking at ourselves with the intentions love and kindness, we can begin to view ourselves in a more positive light. The same way we view our good friends and loved ones.
When you are looking in the mirror, you will be able to see the whole spectrum of emotions that we each possess.
You’ll notice how we have calm emotions and angry ones, these emotions may not always be pleasant to look at but are unavoidable.
But when we make a conscious effort to look at ourselves with love and kindness, we can begin to bring an end to thoughts that lead us down the path of self-loathing and self-criticism.
When you have less of these thoughts, you’ll naturally have more of positive emotions surrounding yourself.
Secondly, mirror gazing will help you develop a more positive outlook on life. When you focus on yourself with love and kindness your mood will be lifted as well.
These are both necessary for effective living. When you can see that everyone else carries the same emotions that we do, it won’t be so bad if someone judges you or points out something undesirable about your behavior or appearance.
Other Ways to Positively Use Your Mirror.
In ‘The Gift – 12 Lessons to Save You Life’, a book about encouraging us to change our destructive behaviours, written by Edith Egder, a celebrated therapist and Holocaust survivor, we’re given another invaluable self-reflection practice.
“What you pay attention to grows stronger. Spend a day listening to your self-talk. Is it full of “I should,” “I shouldn’t”, and “yes, but”? Do you tell yourself, ” It’s my fault,” or “I don’t deserve it,” or “It could have been worse”?
Replace these messages of guilt or shame with a daily practice of kind and loving self-talk. As soon as you wake up in the morning, go to the mirror and look at yourself with loving eyes. Say, “I’m powerful. I’m kind. I’m a person of strength.” Then kiss yourself on the back of each hand. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Say ‘I love you.'”
- Mirror Gazing is a meditation technique that uses your own reflection and your reaction to it as its focus.
- To practice mirror gazing meditation, all your need is some quiet time and a mirror.
- Mirror gazing meditation uses three different forms of meditation – mindfulness, contemplation and loving-kindness.
Mirror gazing meditation can help you identify your instictive reactions to your self and help you shift them in a positive direction.
- Edith Egder discusses using the mirror to promote wellness in her book The Gift – 12 Lessons to Save You Life.
MindEasy founder & meditation teacher
Griff Williams is an accredited meditation teacher and founder of MindEasy. He spent 12 years working as a London firefighter before changing paths to pursue building MindEasy. He received his diploma in meditation teaching from The British School of Meditation.