Do I Look Fat Today?
Last weekend I had an argument with a mirror. It was mostly one-sided but the mirror did its part. I was staying in a hotel room whose bathroom had one of those backlit makeup mirrors. It thrust itself out of the bathroom wall on its extendable metal arm, magnifying my facial features to horrific proportions. “Look here!” it shouted at me. “See that stray black hair sticking out of your chin? That burst blood vessel in your cheek? All of those zits, everywhere?”
“Excuse me!” I replied, indignant. “Did I ask for your opinion? I do too take care of my body! I eat healthy foods.”
“Look at your stained teeth! Those are dark circles under your eyes. You’ve got wrinkles! Double chin alert!” taunted the mirror.
“What!?” I cried. “How dare you accuse me of being old and ugly!? If I want to drink coffee it’s my decision and you can’t stop me!”
This back-and-forth went on for some time until finally it dawned on me, “Hey, man, the mirror is not making these arguments. This is all on you.” I took a step back as I realized that the mirror, like it or not, can reveal only what is there looking in.
I was suddenly struck by the similarity of that “conversation” with those that take place in my marriage. How often does my partner make a benign observation and I respond defensively? How many times have I approached a situation as though I am being judged and criticized, before anything is said?
Even though the people in a relationship may make judgments about one another, the relationship itself does not. The relationship simply does what it is there to do – to mirror our true Selves back to ourselves. We can choose to look away from the reflection, or to peer more closely within.
The yoga mat is a mirror. On the mat, all of our personal qualities and every situation in our lives come up for reflection. Do we look away? Or, do we breathe in, and breathe out, and say, “Yes, I am ready to see this.” Once the practice of replying, “Yes,” has been established, it becomes easier to do so as we go about our daily lives.
Suddenly every relationship becomes the practice – interactions with parents, siblings, and friends are seen as opportunities to learn about ourselves and grow. Soon the exchange with the bag boy at the grocery store leaves us with food for thought.
As I was leaving the hotel room I stole one last look at that bathroom mirror. I noted how blue my eyes really are, how dark and long my eyelashes. The wrinkles beside my eyes and mouth as I smiled at my Self, reflected. The mirror smiled back.
Allyse Sonnega is a dedicated yogini, educator, mother, vegan, and overall uplifting human being that provides great service to the world through her peaceful thoughts, words, and actions.