Self-image: what is this ‘Self’ of which you talk?

"Mirror, mirror on the stall" - Bang...

Image by Sailing "Footprints: Real to Reel" (Ronn ashore) via Flickr

This is a post about a post about a post. That post is about living without mirrors.

I did that once or twice, when travelling. It feels great and is very freeing. You feel like you look gorgeous all the time. I also found I forgot about race and thought I looked just like everyone around me (Asian in this case… but I am actually white). And then I saw a mirror and realised I had the worse case of acne ever! My hubby had said, ‘I am so proud of you, you have got all these spots and you are totally cool about it’. I shrieked: ‘I have spots?’ and ran for the nearest mirror, in terror. Hah.

Meanwhile, the other day, I was musing about what it must be doing to this generation of kids that is growing up with a camera in their face, mirrors EVERYWHERE, TV, smart-phones, etc. They are aware of what they look like from so early on. Pip (DD’s nickname – making a slow transition to using it on here) has started not only playing ‘photographer’ but posing for photos, too. She is 20 months old. The thing with this heightened awareness of what you look like, from so young is that it must also make you more likely to identify with the body, first and foremost, no?

From a spiritual point of view this is kind of journeying in the ‘wrong’ direction. Okay, it is normal to start off thinking we are the body but most of us realise quickly there is more of import, here. The you might find yourself asking: Am I the body? Am I the mind? Am I the spirit or are am I something beyond even all of these?

I once had a very powerful conversation with a patient in a hospice I used to volunteer at about that. He was a Christian evangelical preacher. I come from an Advaita background. Advaita is a direct-path (or mystic) branch of Hinduism. I am not so into the philosophy of it all, nowadays. Just the practice. Anyway, the point is that this man, this black-power, formerly homeless man with whom on the surface I had nothing in common with bonded very deeply. This one time he confided in me about the pain in his body and his fear of death. For a moment, in the middle of a noisy room, full of people, I asked if he was the body. He said ‘no’. In seconds the conversation went from small talk to real connection. He told me he knew he was not the body, he was not the mind. He was prior to all that…

Perhaps being surrounded by mirrors and images of your physical form will bring these questions on sooner for some… for others it will undoubtedly keep them focussed on the shiny veneer, distracted from looking any deeper. Sad?

The post that sparked this post: The Path Less Taken: A Year Without Mirrors.

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