Is it humanly possible to walk by a mirror and resist not looking at your reflection at least once? It probably is not.
But can you stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself for minutes on end? Some of you might have shrugged just reading this, thinking: “Why would I do that?”, “That’s narcissistic!”, “I don’t want to see my flaws.”
These thoughts are very natural because looking in the mirror is often associated with vanity or self-obsession, partly because we can immediately picture Snow White’s Queen chanting, “Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
However, it is quite the opposite! As confirmed by psychologists and experts, mirror-gazing is a very effective form of meditation to improve mindfulness.
If you do not like looking at yourself because you see your imperfections, this exercise may be a little hard initially, but it is all the more important for you.
Let’s dig into the top 5 questions about mirror-gazing: how to do it, why it is effective, how it increases mindfulness, how it is different from other forms of meditation, and most importantly, why you should do it.
How to do it?
Start by finding an empty and quiet space with a mirror. It’s better if the mirror hangs on a wall or stands in front of you so that you do not have to focus on holding it up.
Make yourself comfortable in a chair or on the ground in front of it and sit in a way that you can make eye contact with yourself. Eye contact is crucial!
Once you are in a perfect position, clear your head, breathe slowly, and look in the mirror. Observe your face, the outlines, features, emotions, and expressions.
If you find yourself dwelling on the flaws, breathe slowly and let the emotion pass. Do not let it take power over you, and if you succeed, you will already have taken a step toward self-love and compassion.
Just 10 minutes a day has proven to increase self-awareness among people. If 10 sounds too much, start with 5 minutes a day. Even if it’s agitating at first, give yourself 2 weeks to ease into the practice because once you start enjoying it, it will be worth your time.
Moreover, you might find yourself a little tense in the beginning. Close your eyes, focus on where the tension is, and then visualize, slowly relaxing your muscles while taking deep breaths and opening your eyes to observe how your posture has changed.
With every thought or passing emotion, observe how your facial features change. Can you see the anger, happiness, calm, or sadness reveal in your expressions? If yes, can you change it?
Observing these subtle changes will help you ground your thoughts and prevent them from wandering.
All this might sound cliché, and you might even read it in the typical meditation-guru style, but mirror-gazing truly is effective. Why? Let’s find out!
Why is it effective?
You might have noticed that when you meet someone in person, you feel closer to them.
Face-to-face contact not only allows you to read a person better, but it also lets you synchronize with their body language and mood. You find yourself closer to the person and who they are in a much better way than you would have if you had met them online.
Mirror gazing works similarly. Looking at your reflection brings you face-to-face with yourself, and scientists have stated that face-to-face interaction is very helpful in understanding yourself and becoming more self-aware.
It’s not just a saying that eyes are windows to the soul; science verifies it. When you look in the mirror for 10 minutes every day, you come closer to how you feel in that very moment, which helps you process any stress or anxiety you may feel that day.
Moreover, it helps you appreciate your beauty, kindness, and qualities.
How does mirror-gazing increase mindfulness?
Purposefully looking in the mirror allows you to achieve a kind and compassionate perspective of yourself. It allows you to lovingly embrace all your physical and emotional traits while also acknowledging any weakness, flaw, or insecurity, pushing you to improve it.
For example, if you have a stammer, practicing in front of the mirror gives you the strength to embrace it and the determination to overcome it.
2) Sense of self
When you spend some time with yourself, you become more acquainted with your personality, thoughts, and feelings. It makes you more self-aware.
For example, on a stressful day, mirror-gazing helps you take a break. The lines on your forehead help you acknowledge that stress and compel you to understand its cause.
How is it different from other forms of meditation?
The biggest difference is that this form of meditation works with your eyes open. Most meditation techniques focus on looking into your soul, moderating your thoughts often with your eyes closed. You focus on how you feel or think.
On the other hand, mirror-gazing asks you to see what’s right in front of you and appreciate it. It is, in a way, more empowering to be able to navigate both your thoughts and your observations at the same time and grasp control over both.
Moreover, you might find it more exciting to come face-to-face with yourself. No need to imagine anything, just grab a chair and sit down for a conversation with yourself.
Why should you do it?
Do you need mirror-gazing?
If you find yourself lost at times, unable to process your feelings or appreciate just how beautiful, brave, and strong you are, or if you feel the slightest bit of insecurity, or even if you simply want to chant the “mirror, mirror on the wall” mantra (we all have secretly done it!), mirror-gazing is right for you.
And if you are mindful and calm, you can gaze into the mirror to improve it even more and maintain the composure you have achieved.
To sum it all up, look into the mirror to come closer to a more mindful, secure, and self-loving version of yourself. This form of meditation will give you a grip on your emotions and make you stronger and more self-aware. And all you need is a mirror and you!