No, I don’t mean to check your hair or to see if you have anything between your teeth. I mean, really look at your self in the mirror. But first---stop, close your eyes, take a deep breath in and then exhale. Think of your best friend or a loving family member. See their face in your mind’s eye looking at you with warmth, friendliness, kindness—even tenderness. See them smiling at you with affection and admiration. See them gazing at you with respect.
Now, open your eyes in front of the mirror and look at yourself. Warmly gaze at yourself in the way your friend or family member looks at you. Smile at yourself with the affection and tenderness she or he does. Cup your cheeks with your palms the way they would when showing you love and compassion.
See yourself as they do. Keep looking and gently breathe.
Now, say aloud to yourself (whisper if you prefer) “You are a good person. You are loved. You are of value. You matter.” Add whatever else your friend might say to you.
Notice any feelings arising inside of you. Perhaps you feel some softening inside, some leaning in, some connection between you and the face you see in the mirror. Perhaps you feel uncomfortable. That’s okay.
Keep gazing for a full minute if you can. It may feel like a long time. That’s normal. We aren’t used to looking at ourselves with this lovingkindness. You might even feel undeserving. Just notice whatever you feel. Before you stop gazing, reach out and gently touch the image of your face in the mirror with your fingertips. You might notice a small giggle bubbling up inside.
If you are interested in exploring the power of this practice called “mirror work,” check out Louise Hay’s book “Mirror Work, 21 Days to Heal Your Life.”
Why do this? Cultivating kindness towards the world starts with ourselves. It needs to flow in to ourselves in order to flow out toward others.
If we want to be able to see others with kind and loving eyes, we need to first see ourselves that way.