the-mirrors-garance-dore

7 months ago by

OK, so I have psychics, healers and astrologists.

Calm down, it’s fine. I live in Los Angeles and nothing could be more normal. In fact, the opposite is what seems weird here – but I have to warn you because I know if you’re like I was a few years ago, you’ll think “this girl’s gone nuts” and you’ll want to do an intervention.

But you’re probably not like I was a few years ago: we’ve all changed a lot recently and well, um, pass the Palo Santo, please.

If you’re interested, I can explain who, why and how – but today I just want to talk to you about something amazing and mysterious – the way we see ourselves.

My story begins with one of my psychics, who says to me:

In your future, I see big mirrors.

I must have been talking to her about image issues. How to love my body, how to live completely in my body. Things I thought I would have figured out sooner in life, but that continue to live in me, follow me around, and ruin my life sometimes – it’s like nothing will ever fix the problem.

I’ve tried so hard to learn to love myself and have a positive, peaceful view of myself.

Every time I talk to you guys about this, it’s something that resonates with all of us. Our self-image is such a deep, intimate subject, but it’s social at the same time. We are all impacted by a society that does everything it can to make us hate ourselves. Loving yourself is important, and it’s not easy for everyone.

Oh, and besides, spring is here, which means 30 DAYS UNTIL BIKINI TIME!!!

I see you dancing and moving around in front of big mirrors, she said to me.

When I hung up the phone, I thought about it for a second. I was going to have to get back into belly dancing, one of my favorite dances (have you ever tried it? It’s amazing!!!)(AMAZING!).

And then after that, of course, I forgot all about it.

The hardest thing in life isn’t figuring out what you need to do, it’s actually doing it.

Moving your body just to move, not to get toned. Movement as art, she kept going.

I never went to the dance class, and I kept living my life just like before. I was doing a little Pilates, a little yoga here and there. Nothing major.

One day, I went to see one of my therapists (No, yeah I know. There’s a name for what she does, she’s not a shaman or anything (even though my arsenal does also include a shaman) but anyway, let’s just say it’s a very particular work in the line of craniosacral therapy), she’s an absolutely amazing woman. Each time I see her, we talk for three hours, she listens to all my questions and relates them to things that are happening in my body. She helps me unblock fears, energies, knots in my muscles, all that.

We talk a lot about the memories our bodies hold on to and we also talk a little bit about sex.

Which is how one day, she said to me:

Have you ever tried looking at yourself in the mirror when you masturbate?

?

I KNOW.

Me too. SAME reaction as you. Shocked. I turned red. Silence. Like. OK.

I mean.

We know each other, but… Uh. Oooof, is it hot in here? Do you mind if I step out for some air? Me? Uh… hmm, OK. Obviously, being a sensual, sexual person, I do occasionally… well, anyway, you see what I mean.

[I’m a lot less shy around my friends, to whom I strongly recommend the practice, HA!]

But she went on:

It’s very, very powerful how looking at yourself can bring peace, healing and transcendence. Try it, and you’ll realize it’s extremely difficult, but extremely therapeutic.

Mmm..okay. So I went home fully intending NOT TO LISTEN to what she told me. I talked to Chris about it: “No, but do you know what she said to me?” – We giggled like two prepubescent teenagers “he he he.”

A few days later, my sense of duty caught up with me, though. So I tried to move my big mirror into my room and I almost destroyed my toe when it nearly fell on my foot. Ever since that day, the mirror is right in the middle of the hallway and Chris keeps laughing at me.

Long story short, nothing happened that day.

And to this day, I still haven’t had an orgasm while looking myself in the eyes.

————

A few months later, I was walking into a hot yoga class in my neighborhood.

As you know, I’ve always loved yoga. I’ll never managed to put my leg behind my head or post a selfie on Instagram looking weightless with the hashtag #bliss, but it’s not like I don’t dream about it at night.

And mostly, I just adore adore adore yoga.

And ever since I moved to Venice, I’ve tried all the yoga classes possible and imaginable. And, keep in mind, it’s Venice. There are just as many healers and psychics and yoga classes and crystal shops as there are tourists gawking on the boardwalk.

I know, IT’S PARADISE.

So one day I decided to try hot yoga.

In principle, I’m against it. Not for any specific reason – I’m just kind of against all these weird things on principle. My critical French eye is always ready to pop up with a sarcastic, condescending remark, and a “pffff!” with one eyebrow raised.

I mean. I’m against it unless I like it, basically.

Yep, I’m kind of terrible.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you about my first and only Bikram Yoga class in New York where I nearly passed out, not so much because of the heat, but the HORRIBLE wet sock smell – so I got the hell out of there and never returned. Plus I’d seen a documentary about the crazy founder Bikram Choudhury, and wooooo, nothankyou
merci au revoir.

Of course, sometimes I’d run into my friends who were hot yoga fans, and they looked so happy, passionate, fresh, and fit. But even with the promise of looking so wonderful, the image of sweaty socks kept dancing in my mind.

Then one day, after trying out all the yoga classes in Venice without really finding the right one for me, I stopped by Modo Yoga to see if it smelled like sweaty socks.

I hopped on my bike and off I went.

My principles are flexible, okay?

I KNOW, I KNOW – HOLD ON TWO SECONDS, THERE’S A POINT TO THIS POST – I’VE ALMOST REACHED THE POIGNANT PHILOSOPHICAL CONCLUSION TO MY STORY.

During the first class, of course, I thought I might faint. I’ll spare you the description of my dripping body and decomposing face, looking tense as I saw a puddle forming on my neighbor’s mat because yes, men sweat SO much and – sorry, but they’re usually the ones who smell like sweaty socks. Anyway, no judgment: Namaste, Namaste… but gross.

Despite all that, the studio was incredibly clean, and hardly smelled at all. And I really liked it.

I started going more and more often. I bought all the gear (YAY, A REASON TO GO SHOPPING! DISCOUNTS ON YOGA PANTS!!! Wooooo! I finally had an excuse to buy the yoga mat with the dumb print on it I’ve been dreaming about for years!!!) I came out of the class red as a tomato, but happy and ready to buy a 10-dollar green juice from Rainbow Acres, spouting off spiritual quotes on demand, like any self-respecting health nut. The spirit of yoga was in me, basically.

But sorry, I’m getting off topic again.

These classes are funny. Everyone is in their own world. I don’t know if it’s the heat that forces you to really concentrate on your movements, but no one looks at each other, you really spend an hour in your own bubble (of sweat).

And also people barely have anything on. Which I can understand, because of the sweat. The men were in shorts (and that’s all), women in sports bras and shorts. I understand. It’s really HOT.

But what surprised me the most were the big mirrors.

One of the walls in the room was covered in enormous mirrors, and unlike in traditional yoga classes where mirrors are banned because you’re trying to “go inside yourself,” in this one, oddly, you could see yourself.

At first, I didn’t like it at all, you know, principles.

Then I started looking at the mirror to correct my poses. And I slowly got closer to the mirror, moving from the back of the room to the front row.

Of course, in the nearly meditative state you’re in during yoga, looking at your own image can be very disturbing. In fact, at first, I was doing what any woman does in front of a mirror. I was judging myself:

“Ah, I really need to tone this area, and lose a little weight there. Hang on, I need to fix my hair really quick. Oh I need to pull my sports bra down, it’s not on right. Ugh, is that a love handle starting to form right there? What is that, celluli…Aaaahhh!!”

But little by little, with practice, I managed to get into a deeper and more intense state of concentration. Instead of getting lost in my thoughts, I began to observe them.

I could see my body as a whole in the mirror and I could see the judgements coming through my mind. I saw all the filters I applied to my image, all the judgments, all the hate. To the point where I was reducing my entire person to insignificant details.

I could also see that no one was looking at me.

No one cared about my love handle. The judgment was all in me.

As time went on, and I took more classes, I started managing to observe those thoughts and detach myself from them. During some classes, I even practiced seeing myself as beautiful. I almost had to force myself.

Look at the beauty in each movement.

Look at this healthy body.

Look at the incredible balance and determination.

Little by little, I also started wearing less clothing. I stopped wearing shapeless t-shirts and started wearing little sports bras, without thinking too much about the flaws I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. In the mirror, I started to confront my blockages and complexes, trying, with every class, to reprogram all the judgments I’d accumulated over the years.

Little by little, I could feel myself changing.

And then, one day the teacher said:

Look at yourself in the eyes. Really look at yourself, find your gaze in the mirror.

I looked, and when I found it, I felt the same shock as when my healer advised me to watch myself have an orgasm in the mirror. I’d spent weeks in my yoga class looking at myself, my body, my face. In every position and state possible.

But never, never, never had I dared look at myself right in the eyes.

That first contact was incredibly difficult. The first thing that came up was judgment, of course. I’m so red. I look so tired. Wow, I never realized how asymmetrical my face is. And my hair, haha, I look like a crazy person! The way billions of women and men look at themselves in the mirror each morning – like strangers to themselves.

Really look at yourself, repeated the instructor.

OK, OK, wait. Eye to eye with myself. No filter. No judgment. No shame. Just looking through my soul. Ahhh….

I couldn’t hold it for more than a 100th of a second. The intensity of the gaze, of the inner conflict I was feeling, was incredible.

That day, I realized I’d found one of the paths that would lead me to really knowing myself, and really loving myself.

———

But this is a subject I’ll probably always be learning about, and besides, I’m still afraid of mirrors – that’s why I continue, even today, to filter everything through judgment – but now, I’m trying to adjust. I’m trying to replace every critique with a loving word. I’m deprogramming myself, in fact.

It sounds silly, but little by little, it’s working.

Sometimes I even catch my gaze in the mirror and I can see deep down into myself without having to be critical first.

I set up a big mirror in my bathroom. Every day, I see my whole self. I make peace with myself, whether it’s in full awareness or through a little dance, naked and by myself. OK, sometimes Lulu watches out of curiosity – she has no problem with being naked, she knows nothing about judgment or mirrors.

I still haven’t signed up for a dance class, but that’s next on my list.

And as for looking into my own eyes during an orgasm, maybe we’ll get there one day. Maybe one day I’ll manage to ask Chris to help me move the mirror into the bedroom.

____

Maybe one day I’ll be close enough with myself to look at myself the way I look at the people I love.

I see their beauty in their eyes, in their presence. I see magic in their smiles. I have compassion, love and tenderness for them.

And above all, when I look into their eyes, I can see their soul.

41 comments

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  • Sunny Side April, 10 2018, 10:27 / Reply

    Il y a une méditation tibétaine qui consiste à se regarder dans le miroir avec toute la colère possible. Puis lâcher et se regarder avec tout l’amour possible ! Cà détend !!! Quand tu chopes ton regard/jugement pas belle/ mal au foie/tête de grizzli/ fais cet exercice. A la fin tu éclates de rire. Ceci dit l’épreuve du grand miroir est un crash test incontournable ! Il parait qu’Arletty et son amant adoraient se masturber ensemble devant un miroir ! Genre Narcisse pré-pubère s’émoustille la corolle !
    No way !

  • I have gotten that feeling from Pilates. I liked yoga with one instructor, who had classes in her house, in a room with a wall of windows facing the garrigue. But she moved away, and nothing has ever come close. I’m not much for spiritualism–I am practical to a fault–so Pilates was similar to yoga without the chanting part that I didn’t like. And yes, I correct myself in the mirror. I will never be among the beautiful, and I don’t even worry about it. I just focus on being strong and capable (and practical).
    At the same time, we have an inner picture of ourselves, and with age it can be shocking to discover someone else in the mirror. I heard it from my mom, who was always the ugly duckling among her very pretty sisters yet whose pride was hurt by the traces of time on her face. And now, I hear the same thing from many friends, especially those who were great beauties in their youth. Even my Pilates teacher, who is an absolute bombshell.
    It is hard to tell people to get excited about getting old. The wisdom is great, but the aches and loss of abilities less so. I guess the thing is, enjoy yourself while you’re young. You are more beautiful than you realize.

  • Qu’est-ce que c’est bon. Et qu’est-ce que j’ai ri aussi ! Merci =)

  • Merci Garance pour ta générosité ?

  • Thank you for making me smile first thing in the morning! I had a period of doing Bikram yoga and it was awesome. I thought I wouldn’t like the mirrors or the heat…turned out I loved it. I thought I wouldn’t like how the class was the same moves everyday, but it made it easier to go inside myself since I knew what was next. Unfortunately my hometown is very small and the studio closed down. Only the ‘smelly sweaty’ studio remained and it just wasn’t the same. I’m going to have to find a way to get back to it, thanks for the inspiration : )

  • You have expressed my same feelings from hot yoga. I never thought I would love it. I started taking hot yoga at a difficult time in my life when I realized I needed to do something to change it. I was the only one who had the power to change my situation. The heat and the excellent instructors allowed me to realize that I am ok, that I am very strong and there is love. I have changed and am more positive with everyone and most importantly to myself. Hot yoga to me feels like a big, tight hug from some entity (God?) telling me I love you and you will be ok. What could be better than that!

  • Merci

  • Beautiful words. I love Modo West too. And I know exactly what you mean about how all self-consciousness drops away in that space.

  • Oui, il faut apprendre a s’accepter et a s’aimer le plus vite possible parce que ce serait dommage de partir pour l’au-dela en se detestant !
    Quant a se regarder dans un miroir en train de se faire plaisir…….Pour l’instant, j’apprends a me regarder nue sans me critiquer car j’ai largement passe l’age du corps jeune et ferme ! :-)

  • Beautiful commentary on our (mis) perceptions and beauty and self-acceptance, thank you.
    I practice Yoga regularly and have a dedicated practice now for over 20 years.
    Not until last year, when I completed a 108 day Power Yoga challenge for myself, which culminated in a series of 108 Sun Salutations did the meaning of self-love become evident. Sure, I had toned up during my 108 days. Yes, I was a little firmer in some places and thinner in others. Catching sight of myself naked in the mirror on day 109 I had one thought “This is EXACTLY how you are meant to look.” And it was alright. Like, really alright. Since that time I have practiced self acceptance and self love to a new degree. I don’t need to be perfect to appreciate the wonder of my healthy, strong, amazing body. And that’s what I share with my clients, patients and students as well.
    Namaste, (and I mean that ;)
    Sabine

  • Eugénie April, 10 2018, 4:01 / Reply

    Super beau!

  • If you really want to freak yourself out (in a wonderful way) look into your eyes in a mirror and say I love you… and your name. It is sooooo hard to do and so healing. Really. Try it. I guess we have started mirror therapy here at atelierdore.

  • Love the personal stories :) I especially love hearing about the arsenal of therapists and healers! Tell us more! Speaking of bikini bodies, I am reviewing my favorite clean-beauty body acne buster here: https://bit.ly/2JyaGSm

  • YES YES YES, exactly my yoga journey so far… and I love it for that very reason. x

  • J’aimerais tant pouvoir me regarder comme me regarde mon homme quand… justement!
    C’est exactement ce que tu écris, trouver en soi cette bienveillance pour soi, celle qu’on accorde sans jugement à ceux qu’on aime.

  • Xo Xo

  • Super, c’est magnifique comme récit, très vrai et ça m’inspire vraiment. J’avais une fois fait l’exercice de me regarder pendant une heure dans un miroir, complètement nue, c’était très intense aussi au niveau des jugements et de l’acceptation de soi/du corps. L’idée du miroir dans la salle de bain me parait géniale, et pas évidente. Bravo et continue sur ce chemin.

  • Yoga has changed my life. Embracing good health and positive state of mind gratefully. Glad you too are on the bus Garance and thanks for the honest piece of writing.

  • I love the 26+2, 105F yoga. I go after a full day at my office job and I love how anticipating the hot class has changed my habits. No more afternoon coffee runs. No more heavy restaurant lunches. No more desk snacks. In fact, no more food after about 1 pm. More digestive post-lunch walks with colleagues. More water. More showers. More mindfulness in the evenings as I pack up my yoga bag and lunch for the next day.

    The big mirrors remind me of the dance studio. I’m generally comfortable with the image of my sweaty body, but sometimes I’m still self-conscious about my very stubborn belly rolls. Facing my form head-on in the hot room helps me appreciate of what my body can *do* and focus less on what my body *looks like*.

  • Jessica April, 11 2018, 6:50 / Reply

    Garance,

    Sometimes your writing makes me feel understood in a way I didn’t think a “blog” post ever could. This is one of those times. Thank you!

  • Lisa Walker April, 11 2018, 7:46 / Reply

    Hell yeah!

  • If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
    If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
    If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
    If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
    ~Chinese proverb

  • Read ‘The Science Behind The Power Of Giving’:
    Today, scientific research provides compelling data to support the notion that giving one’s time, talents and treasures is a powerful pathway to finding purpose, transcending difficulties, and finding fulfillment and meaning in life.

  • DaveysHouse April, 11 2018, 11:18 / Reply

    Yes! Bienveillance is the best of words. Thank you, Anne :-). Shows up a lot in Henri Bosco’s novels, and it is so powerful. Do you know them, Garance?

    Thank you for your wonderful writing.

  • Adore this post, Garance! I love the randomness and the vulnerability and the message you are giving us with such honesty.??

  • hey from Austria and thanks for all the body-positive content! you change hundredts of thousands of women’s lifes for the better. thank you.

  • omg who DOESN’T look at themselves in the mirror when the masturbate. it’s so freeing. you actually SEE yourself. Try it, you’ll like it. xo

  • Apolline April, 14 2018, 9:25 / Reply

    Dans la même veine, j’avais remarqué à quel point nous les femmes nous avons tendance à remarquer et juger le moindre détail et la moindre variation sur notre visage et notre corps, des cernes plus creusées, une peau moins belle que la veille, des cheveux qui tombent mal, un ventre plus gonflé… là où on se rend vite compte que nous sommes souvent les seules à le notifier et à imaginer que ça importerait notre “beauté” du jour, là où pour autrui et nos proches, les jours se ressemblent et nous ne paraissons jamais bien différentes d’un jour à l’autre !

  • ahahahah 7 years of hot yoga in (on and off!) and I’m only up to the second row. Those mirror moments are super powerful, when I manage not to be looking at my belly. Thanks Garance.

  • Merci merci Garance pour ce texte intime et touchant. Ça parle à beaucoup d’entre-nous -femmes et hommes- j’en suis sûre. Se regarder soi avec l’amour qu’on peut avoir pour les autres, c’est tellement beau!

  • This came just at the right time as I’m on a self exploration and a self love journey right now. Thank you Garance, I have been following your writing for years and the more personal the better it gets. I hope that one day we will be able to look into our souls in the mirror. And we will mate our souls. <3

  • mmmm…what a powerful growth moment…little by little through our own actions, through prompts from our guides (aren’t astrologers the best?!) we continue to find ourselves. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 30 years ~ can’t imagine my life without it. It aligns me, mind, body and spirit and it allows me to love looking at myself in the mirror ~ full on, fully free and without artifice and embrace all that I am. I’ve also found that looking at myself every day allows me to see how I’m doing, keeps me motivated to be healthy, be active, and I notice when things are off ~ a bruise here, a scrape there and I remember to take care of myself. It’s such a loving gesture to ‘take yourself in’ every day. Thank you for sharing your journey with us ~

  • This moved me to tears. Thank you, Garance. Your posts always inspire me, make me think, make me laugh, make me feel known and understood, but this one is the first one that moved me to tears and I’m so grateful. I’ll be thinking about it a lot, I suspect… <3

  • You should read GALA DARLING’s book : Radical self Love!

    She’s an advocate for self love and she’ amazing :)

  • My first thought after reading this post: Just go over to your mirror in the hallway and masturbate! xo

  • J’aime le style. J’aime le contenu. Et je vais m’inscrire à un cours de yoga. Acheter un miroir. Tout ça pour me dire à moi-même: merci, d’être là. Je t’aime bien.
    Merci Garance, pour vos pensées si personnelles. Il faut du courage pour se mettre a nu.

  • ULIANA May, 6 2018, 10:52 / Reply

    Adore you, Garance! Your words, thoughts and giggling remarks are soooooo marvellous! Thanks you for my excellent mood after reading! <3

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