grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

Look Kindly

on May 21, 2014

I go to yoga class Monday and Wednesday mornings.
I go to improve my overall well-being, beginning with my deep need for some kind of effective stress management.
I go, fully aware that I’ll never be pretzel-y enough to master some of the poses.
And, if I’m honest, sometimes I go even when it’s the last thing I want to do.

It’s always a pretty full class and the instructor is a big draw for each of us in attendance.
Her voice is kind, patient, gentle, and encouraging.
The lights are soft.
The music is soothing.
There are mats of various thickness to accommodate various needs and preferences.
There are bands and blocks and balls and straps for the sessions when those props are necessary.
And, there are…
Mirrors.
Lots and lots of mirrors.
Walls of them, actually.

I’m going to be frank.
Mirrors and I have not historically been friends.
I’m one of Those Girls who does her hair and makeup in the morning and then does her best to avoid any and all mirrors the rest of the day.

You can probably imagine, then, how I feel about ‘my spot’ at yoga ending up being the one closest to the wall of mirrors.
(Yes, in case you are wondering, it turns out there are ‘spots’ at yoga class just like there are ‘spots’ at church, school, workplace lunch areas, etc…occupy in a ‘spot’ that’s not ‘yours’ and you upset the Whole Order of the Universe. Laugh if you will, but, admit it, you know exactly what I’m talking about it.)

Being face-to-face with myself while holding poses that look so strong – and easy – in yoga magazines, dvds, and posters has proven harder for me than some of the actual poses themselves.

On good days, when I look at yours truly doing my best to balance in Tree, I see my strong legs, my square shoulders, my natural-hair-color hair, my bright eyes, my full lips and I think, ‘There you are, you Capable, Brave Girl. I see you. And I’m proud of you.’

On fair-to-middlin’ days, as my reflection and I are head-on in Airplane, I see my not-so-dainty-height and I think, ‘Huh. Okay. So you are REALLY TALL. Look how much taller you are than everyone else. But, remember, you’ve always said you like being tall.’

On rough days, though, when I look over my extended right arm while holding Warrior Two, I see my larger-than-I-want-it-to-be rear end and notice I look much thicker from the side than I thought, and I think, ‘Holy cow. Literally. You look like a cow. A very large one. How can the people who say they love you let you leave the house when you look like THIS?’

Harsh, right?
And maybe not totally uncommon?
To have tapes like that playing in one’s head?
Do you hear similar things bouncing around your head sometimes when faced the full-length version of yourself, too?

Take heart, friend.
I’m here to tell you that, as the number of times I’ve rolled out the mat in my spot at yoga has increased, the number of rough days has almost magically decreased.

I do not pretend to know how it happened.
I cannot pinpoint when the tide – and tone of the tapes in my head – turned.
I can only report that, after some time and some exposure to those mirrored walls, I have begun to look kindly.

To see myself with softer eyes.
To notice that offering myself truth and grace brings a gentleness to the set of my jaw that is…dare I say it?…actually attractive.
To whisper more Atta Girls than You Look Horribles to my heart.

This is all no small thing for one who was raised to believe that your appearance is the full measure of your worth…and that, no matter how hard you try, how thin you get, how well you wear your clothes and put on your makeup, it’ll never be Good Enough…you’ll never be Good Enough.

So, beloved, if you have tapes that play whenever you catch a glimpse of your beautiful reflection that try to convince you you’re anything less than a stunning, breath-taking miracle…practice looking kindly.

See yourself with softer eyes.
Offer yourself truth and grace.
Whisper lots and lots of Atta Girls to that tender heart of yours.

And be patient.
Because you’ll have to look OFTEN.
You may not be used to that.
You may be stomach-ache-uncomfortable at the very thought of it.

I’ve come to understand that learning to look kindly at yourself takes time.
I can say without question that it’s time well-spent.
And you’re worth it.

{I say it every week, and that’s because it’s true – I am SO blessed to be able to link up with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee. If you haven’t taken the time to click thru these links, do it today. You’ll be so happy you did!}

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6 responses to “Look Kindly

  1. Anne says:

    This post hit so close to home it’s scary. Thank you for this encouragement today to give myself more grace and atta girls! I have an aversion to mirrors too. I’m going to practice “looking kindly”.

  2. Ruth Packard says:

    Laura, The day before my husband’s first brain surgery, he had to be tested in physical therapy. I looked into the wall of mirror and saw a woman standing there. I thought that was odd because we were the only ones in the room. At that point I realized…I was that woman. Overweight, tired, slumped shoulders.

    And no…I could not do the full length self-portrait map! Too soon after seeing the woman in the mirror.

    Thank you for your inspiring post!

    • LauraK says:

      Ruth! So good to have you stop by! I’ll be thinking of you and cheering you on as you look kindly at that strong, beautiful reflection! xxoo

  3. dukeslee says:

    This is really, really good. Which Laura K is this? Can I find you on Twitter? I must find you… Thanks for linking with us at #TellHisStory.

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