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