Sacred Mysteries

Meditation—The Mirror

by Sharron Rose

"Our body is the tree of Perfect Wisdom
And our mind is a bright mirror.
At all times diligently wipe them.
So that they will be free of dust."

      —Shen-hsui, senior monk of the fifth Chinese Patriarch Hung-jen.


All of our experiences, whether positive or negative, have been encoded in our bodies. How we walk, the positions and postures we display, both physically and psychologically, the tones in our voices, the expressions on our faces, have all been shaped by the dominant forces of our modern society. We are conditioned by our parents, teachers, religious and political leaders, and increasingly the media. This process of shaping, molding, or conditioning is called imprinting. Imprinting is the dark secret that lies hidden in the recesses of the human spirit. It is both the driving force of history and the seed of our destruction. Who we are and how we are molded is one of the most important factors in shaping our lives.

It can be painful to become aware of these issues because they give us an understanding of how little of our essential selves are really manifested in our day to day lives. Stripping ourselves free of our masks and shedding our imprints may be the final act of maturity for us as human beings. Observing ourselves with true clarity, breaking free of the charade of our manipulated lives and re-orienting ourselves towards the sacred amidst the present day media dominated culture may be the only path to any kind of true fulfillment. If we are not true first to ourselves and then to our larger families and communities than what are we really?

To begin to understand the depth and power of societal imprinting, let's investigate the act of looking at yourself in the mirror. First you look in the mirror to examine your face and body. You look the way society has taught you to look. In doing so, you begin to realize that you have been taught to look for imperfections first, to look for the negative and the superficial, that you are looking to see if your outward appearance conforms to some particular concept of beauty that has been imprinted upon you by parents, society and the media.

As you look, you begin to realize that you are looking at yourself through someone else's eyes, eyes that are basically not your own, eyes that are judging. Rather than seeing from an inner peaceful place of clarity, your perception of yourself may be guided by the opinion of a father who didn't want his little girl to grow up, who told you that your full womanly hips really demonstrated that you were too fat. Or a teenage friend jealous of your small breasts telling you that you looked like a boy. Or a racial imprint that your nose is too wide, skin is too dark; eyes are too slanty, hair too straight. Or that you are too short, or too tall, or just too much. As you awaken to this knowledge, you will begin to discover that you have been taught to constantly scrutinize yourself, to see first what our outward focused, materially oriented society considers as defects rather than look for and realize the untarnished spiritual essence within that has always been there, clear pure and radiant from the beginning.

After observing these supposed imperfections, you will notice that you begin to rationalize to yourself about them, seeking ways in which you can overcome them, ways to cover them up such as make up. Why do you apply those layers of foundation and powder and concealer and rouge to your face to mask its natural look? Make up is just one of a plethora of a products created by today's mass media marketing machine to perpetuate a low self-image and artificial need for their products. How often are we told that the outer form reflects the inner light? That true beauty comes from inner balance and radiant health? How often are we told that acne will disappear or hair will become lustrous, through relaxation, appropriate diet and cleansing? Instead we are sold products that cover these things up, products that increase our stress and actually exacerbate the problem. Since the art of adornment has always been one of the sacred feminine arts, there are a plethora of natural herbs, plants, flowers, fruits and oils as well as healing and cleansing techniques handed down through the ages, which have been used to dramatize and enhance our true appearance. Have you ever wondered why are these are difficult to discover?

Then you look may look in the mirror and begin going through your personal vocabulary of expressions - expressions generally geared to placate yourself and effect those around you. These can include expressions that you have used to seduce and manipulate or hopefully expressions that bring you and those around you joy and pleasure. However, due to the manner in which we have been molded to conform to societies view of "proper behavior", most of our true feelings and responses are hidden behind superficial masks. How often have you seen despondent, defeated women with phony smiles on their faces? Smiles that are hiding their pain and depression?

After becoming aware of these habitual ways in which you have related to seeing yourself the mirror, try looking beyond the superficial masks that you have created in order to exist and survive in this strange society. Take off the masks, open yourself, and become vulnerable. Look deep within your eyes to discover your real essence, your inner light, and your true divinity. What you will notice is that when you open yourself to see beyond the superficial, when you open yourself to feeling, your whole face becomes beautiful. Yes, you may see pain or sadness or anger but these feelings are beautiful because they are real, they come from within, and they are true expressions of life.

Look beyond those seeming imperfections deep into your own eyes, the windows of your soul. Look even deeper, beyond the pain and sadness, the desire and longing and see yourself as for the first time. Open your mind, open your heart, open your senses. Wipe clean the mirror of you mind. Wipe away all of the negative thoughts concerning the body and it's processes. All of those puritanical voices that have been impressed upon you by a society that suppresses the fundamental human experience of joy, bliss and deep satisfaction. That see the body as a dark, vulgar, profane, receptacle that must be denied, repressed and sacrificed.

Recognize and release these thoughts. Acknowledge that they no longer serve you and begin to experience your body as the sacred gift and blessing it truly is. Alter your perception to see and feel your body as a holy chalice, an extraordinary medium through which divinity comes to know itself. Open your senses to experience the body as incredible merging into form of unseen fields and forces that lie in and through and all around you. Bathe yourself in the subtle ocean of the senses. See the beauty and compassion and wisdom that radiates from within. . .

As your face and body begin to truly reflect your inner experience, you will begin to emanate a true beauty. When this happens, not only will your own light expand, but you will be able to more clearly perceive the light in those around you. As you begin to shine with luminous light of your inner divinity, you will discover that people will be drawn towards you, magnetized by this clear, radiant life energy. Your vitality and health will improve as layer upon layer of unconstructive programming and emotional manipulation rises up into your mindstream to be examined and released. The veils of darkness and negativity will lift and your ability to see others and assist them along their own spiritual journey will increase.

Remember, the physical is the key to the metaphysical, your own personal medium for transformation and illumination. As you reorient yourself to see from this perspective, you will begin to acknowledge your body, to listen to it and care for it. You will experience a heightened sensitivity, sensitivity not only to yourself but to the world around you as well. Your moments of joy and inner contentment will increase as you wake up and align yourself to your true calling as a woman and a human being.