I have been taking yoga classes at the YMCA in my tiny town, which is a different experience for me because it's a gym atmosphere and mostly fitness based (which is not really my aim). One wall in the room is made up of solid mirrors, and our mats face it, so it's impossible to not look at yourself while practicing. You look at yourself in the mirror to see your alignment, check your form and maybe even sneak a peek at the other yoginis in the room ("am I doing this right?" "do I look like everyone else?"). But I find this detrimental to my practice. Because I'm staring at my postures in the mirror and focusing so much on my external appearance, my internal looker becomes quiet and I stop feeling the poses. I stop listening to my body and how each muscle feels. How alignment feels. What my body is needing in each posture. And this is the opposite of what yoga is all about.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately and noticing that it translates to other areas of my life too. This focusing on "how it looks" or external appearances. And not listening to how it feels to me on the inside. My inner voice is dimmed by too often looking outward for confirmation or checking alignment.
My brother comes to mind as I write this... His wife, my sister-in-law Alison lost her battle with cancer one year ago today. And this year has brought difficulty and grief, but also hope and growth. And Tom did more than survive it. He thrived. He rebuilt and created a new life and found new joy. And new love. And while that's been a little hard to understand for some, I find it inspiring and admirable that he followed his open heart, not letting outward appearance or peer influence determine what he should (or should not) do.
That is huge. And I've been asking myself more questions about what I am choosing in my life. What mirrors am I holding up? Am I being too concerned with how certain things in my life look instead of listening to my heart? What is not serving me anymore but I cling to out of habit or perceived peer pressure? What do I need to let go of or change, but don't out of fear?
My head spins with this as I sit and watch what comes up in my own mirror.