Mirror Mirror (Oh Shit, It’s the Wall!)

One thing I absolutely love about my Yoga studio is the huge room they have for practice. This is where most of the classes are held, though they do have a smaller room for the less attended, more specialty classes. But the big room! so pretty,  so much room to spread out and have space, except in those few wildly popular classes that I usually don’t go to anyway. The perfect room for the art of doing your own practice.

I race early to class each day so I am assured of getting near a wall. I need the wall because of my balance, or lack there-of. As I get stronger in many of my poses, my lack of balance continues to surprise me. I’ve made peace with it for the most part. I’m not young, I have leg issues, whatever. But damn! I wish I could settle into a comfortable tree pose, or the bliss of a graceful ardha chandrasana (half moon pose).  Thank god for the wall as I steady myself, do the best I can and laugh.

Yoga. Acceptance. Starting where I am.

In Teacher Training we are using the small room. There’s plenty of space for us all, it’s a perfect place  for the teachers  to see and help us in our poses and for participating in  meditation or a lecture. Lots of wall space in there too. The only problem?  One wall is entirely made of mirrors.

Did I mention that the big room has no mirrors?  Even though I have to stand at the wall,  I don’t have to look at myself, be distracted by my own image. And that is very helpful. In the small room I  spend a lot of time  attempting to avoid myself, or at least the way I look. It’s impossible.

I’m at the age where I can be out having a great time, feeling  like I  look good and suddenly I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, or  window and I’m stopped by: what? WHO is THAT?  There is a disconnect in my brain between my chronological and physical age and perception of myself. I feel 35-40 and that is decidedly not the truth. It’s disconcerting to say the least, and sometimes? frankly horrifying.

People my age are OLLLDDD!!!  I never understood what those old folks would say, how they didn’t FEEL old , how in their minds they were young and vibrant. I go to rock concerts, am up on contemporary movies and literature. I don’t listen to the classic rock station, nor have I suddenly established and affinity for the Big Band era, or worse, Rod Stewart, Sting, or Paul McCartney singing standards (WTF!).  I date, but not lately. I don’t WANT to date those old men that ask me out! Why are they attracted to me? Of course, at the same time I lament the fact that men my age only seem to want 40 year olds. Insane.

I find myself having these thoughts more often than I would like.  WHAT happened? really?  Wait,  I’m how old?  what? I just walked upstairs in my apartment and got a little disoriented.  Stairs? apartment?   I had a house….

Confusion reigns.

So now I’m in Yoga all weekend, looking at myself in that huge, wall sized mirror (unless I am leaning on it for support, which, frankly just makes it all the sadder). Ok,  it’s a great learning tool. I can see my body  as well as others in the poses, watch the adjustments being made. It’s helpful.   But too often I find myself looking at ME, allowing that to take me out of my practice and the work.  I’ll be sitting studying anatomy or philosophy and  a sidelong glimpse of myself takes me aback. WHO is that?  whose body is that, whose boney, droopy shape is that? Where did that plump, happy girl go, with the good skin?

The happy girl?  I’m happy, certainly content with life as it is. I love Yoga and this experience I am having. I’m busy and involved in many different things. Life is pretty good right now and yet I’m still judging myself, looking at the outside, ego involved. “Release me from the bondage of Self”, a favorite and constant prayer.

I’m aging but  vital and pretty hot if I do say so myself, particularly if you add “for her age”. But I don’t want to add that useless measurement of who I am and what I stand for at this point in my life. I have so many other things to point to as measures of who I am; my friends, my grief work, yoga, blogging, and so much more! None of which have to do with my age or appearance. Facing myself in the mirror is hard, but can also be liberating. I can see a strong body holding a difficult asana with grace and proper alignment. A look of joy on my face as I understand a confusing spiritual concept.  Me sitting amidst others, working toward a goal.

Part of my spiritual work in this practice is self acceptance,  allowing myself to be at ease with my limitations and to revel in what I can do. To allow that person in the mirror, to look objectively and not take her personally, not let her to ruin my day or my practice. I’m sure  others in the group have their own struggles.  There are different body types, abilities and ages in the group. It’s certainly easier to be all “yogic”, detached and spiritual when I’m not looking the corporeal realities in the face. But those realities are there in the amount of time I can sit without back support, remember often repeated anatomy and Sanskrit terms,  and hold those balancing poses. Reality. Now.

I admit to wishing I didn’t have to see those things reflected back at me through the mirror. I  wish we were practicing in the big, open room, the room that more resembles my heart and the expansion that yoga allows it, my mind and the blowing of it that this practice is affording it. But then where would be the lessons, those deep ones I am to learn? That self acceptance, that loving myself, that loss of ego, that quieting of the mind.  Yogas Citta Vritti Narohda is a Sanskrit term that means “restraint of the modifications of the mind” . One of these modifications is memory, and not modifying it keeps me from being fully present. Am I not there, remembering a me that is not ME? (Oh I know, this training is getting intense!).

Be here now. Attah. Start where we are. This practice is so much more than the physical, it’s a mental and spiritual practice that is taking me to places I don’t necessarily want to go but it’s what I signed up for. It’s my deepest fears, and maybe my greatest joy. I don’t, can’t know. Perhaps a calm acceptance will occur through this reflection of self to self, the realities vs. the stories I tell myself. Maybe I will learn to love  and accept that woman in the mirror, her years and her droops. I know I am learning to love me, my own self, who I am.

 

This song has been rolling though my head the last few days. It makes perfect sense to me….but damn, it’s classic rock. Sigh.

 

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12 Comments

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  1. It seems like every couple of years or so I get shocked by my reflection in the mirror, then as soon as I get used to it, it changes again and have to get used to it all over. I love how you say that facing yourself in the mirror is hard but that it can be liberating. I get that. My reflection is so much more that it appears. 🙂

  2. Oh Michele,
    This was so awesome! I had a whole reply typed and then my droopy sleeves swiped over the mouse and erased it all! AUGGGH!! Probably just the universe’s sign that I was rambling.

    “Be here now. Attah. Start where we are” What a great application beyond yoga, right? Your words can apply to relationships, situations, future adventures and dealing with the past.
    I went to a new class last night and felt immediately intimidated by the chatty drone of the room as well as the size (about 20). I’m used to the quiet 5:30 sleepy silent friends that I usually engage with. That said, the instructor (new to me) reigned everybody in and I found a happy corner to hide in – physically shrinking and trying to be small. Then she said, “You don’t have to be perfect. Start where you are.” And I did…I even watched myself do it in the wall-sized mirror. xoxo

  3. I’m twenty-six, love classic rock, and really dislike doing yoga in mirrored studios.

    Most things are just the things they are and don’t say much about who we are at all.

    • i love classic rock too…i know you know i was trying to make a point.
      maybe not so much as to how others see me but as to how i judge myself…
      it’s exhausting to live at tis kind of attention all the time, especially when you don’t realize to what extent you do it.
      i’m grateful for the lessons i am learning.

  4. I have used the mirror in the yoga studio this year as part of my journey of self acceptance. I struggle with body image and a year ago could not look myself in the eye.
    I often put myself right at the front, at the mirror as that way I avoid looking at others and focus on me.
    It has been really hard, but really good. I am much more comfortable with my body than ever. It’s definitely not picture perfect, but at 43 I am much fitter than most.
    I much prefer the vision of myself I have in my head now. Sometimes I see myself and realize I look more awkward than I like, but I feel good. And that’s what matters.

    • i have a feeling a lot is going to change over the next few weeks…
      i’m trying to stay current now, little by little.
      i FEEL good too, and that is amazing, i have no judgement about that.
      what a ride
      (and omg, the amount of homework! I really need to get back to it! Was it like that for you?)

  5. So I saw your post yesterday and saved it to read today. This morning while laying in bed I was thinking about the title. It was really catchy and definitely got my interest, though I realized I remembered it wrong. I thought it was Mirror, Mirror (It’s a Wall!). I censored the Oh Shit part for some reason, though it looks like you’re moving past that part too. Not censoring, but moving past the negative thought patterns that come with a reflection. (how assaulting a full wall mirror can be!) Maybe there’s a reason they put the teachers in this small, mirrored room? Aside from practical reasons, I mean. I have only ever taken yoga in a mirrored room. I like that I can see what I look like in a pose. It helps remind me to straighten up or soften or whatever. I did not care for how I looked, though (the hair, the hips, the face, etc). I think I started blurring out the parts I didn’t like, which strikes me now as very sad.

    • Love this kristen…I am moving past the “oh shit”, and writing the post helped so much to clear it all up for me.
      I intend to work on the not “blurring out” parts i don’t like, the idea that is sad really strikes me as true. i find this whole thing such an adventure and such a shake-up to how i view and think of myself..
      I forsee a post, however entitled “I HIT the wall”…there is so much homework involved! But I am trying to get out one blog a week, mainly as a gauge for how this is working me. As you can see, my ideas can change from the start to the finish of the post, just as the internalizing of the work takes some time.

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. My yoga studio, thankfully, does not have mirrors. If it did, my reflection would be “old lady doing yoga.” It’s how you feel inside that’s important, I think. It better be, because you can’t do much about the getting old part!

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