What is Mirror Meditation?
Mirror Spiritus embraces our fascination with reflection as an innate understanding of its true potential and seeks to eradicate superstition and raise awareness of the significance of the mirror: in cultural traditions, as a symbol in literature and art, and most importantly, as a sacred tool for divine communion.
While mirrors have been influential symbols throughout time, they are also powerful doorways that can help us move beyond habitual perception and the amalgam of beliefs, fears, and judgments that form our limited and mistaken sense of self.
When we meditate with the mirror and step beyond the surface and through this doorway, we face the Unknown of ourselves, beyond the identity to which we have clung for safety, moving out of mental and emotional stagnation into a world of possibility.
Mirror gazing, as it has been called, or mirror meditation goes back at least as far as the myth of Narcissus who adored his own image reflected in a pool of water. Of course, the thrust of that story is how very vain and self-absorbed Narcissus was. Whether this is the true point of the story we’ll perhaps debate at another time. But in mirror meditation, the point is using one’s own reflection not as a means of deluding one’s self with a surface image, but as a means of knowing the true self beyond the image.
Mirror meditation has existed in numerous forms in numerous traditions for a very long time. It is nothing new or unique to any one group, religion, or people. Most importantly, it is neither witchcraft, nor new age (e.g.: scrying), nor anything of which to be frightened as so much popular culture would have us believe (e.g.: Oculus). It is quite simply a way of working with the reflection of light.
Spiritual teacher Osho taught a technique for mirror meditation in Dynamics of Meditation. His method encouraged a private practice in a darkened room, a candle by the side of the mirror by which one sat. He suggested a 45 minute session in which the practitioner simply stared into his or her own eyes trying not to blink:
Even if tears come,
let them come but persist in not blinking.
And go on staring constantly into your eyes.
Do not change the stare.
Indeed it is very common that the practitioner will feel the arising of emotions during the practice. And over time, one comes to recognize that one’s own eyes change as well.
Osho went on to talk about the common phenomenon that occurs with this practice…that of transfiguration…in which the face in the mirror begins to change and reveal the many faces of ourselves. It can be disconcerting at first, because these essences that appear are very real and often quite unfamiliar, from other places, worlds and times. But they are merely aspects of the self:
These masks are yours!
Sometimes even a face
that belongs to your past life may come in.
He goes on to discuss yet another phenomenon that occurs…when one’s own reflection disappears altogether:
Suddenly there is no face in the mirror.
The mirror is vacant.
You are staring into emptiness.
There is no face at all.
One might also have the experience of not being able to distinguish which is real…the reflection in the mirror or the physical self staring into it. These are the kinds of experiences one has when doing mirror meditation, but they are not the point. The point is, of course, to move beyond all phenomena…to let the emotions, faces, and even the emptiness go. As Osho said:
This is the moment!
Close your eyes,
and encounter the unknown.
Quoting Osho, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Dynamics of Meditation, Bombay, India, 1972, page 273
I was first introduced to mirror meditation in my Toltec shamanism work. Gazing both with the mirror and into the eyes of others, was a powerful practice on the path towards my own healing. The basic mirror meditation techniques I share I learned and then developed as a result of practicing with the mirror myself and in working with clients over many years. The mirror has proven itself time and again as a powerful ally to those brave enough to engage with it. It helps us gain insight about ourselves and to embrace the deepest truths we carry within, helping us to cultivate a healthy self-respect, inner strength, and, ultimately, an abiding self-love.