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I’ve read the pages and activities in “A Charmed Life”. I simply cannot stare at myself naked in a mirror. The thought actually makes me physically ill. What on Earth should I do?
I received this question quite a while ago and filed it away with the intention of eventually putting it in the blog. It references one of the assignments in the Covenpath course in which students are asked to perform a private activity that involves standing in front of a mirror and removing their clothing, followed by a nude meditation and self-observation.*
Naturally, this is not an easy task for many—not just in the Pagan community but it’s something people struggle with throughout our society. Our attitudes toward nudity haven’t always been as friendly as they are today, and it makes sense that the idea of staring at our own stark naked bodies can be a bit terrifying.
I admit that this particular question was difficult for me to answer, as I have always enjoyed personal nudity. I’m at my most comfortable undressed, and I embrace the health benefits of regular nudity. When you factor in the spiritual and protective nature of mirrors—and that I think a home without mirrors feels oppressive—you might understand how I had to become comfortable seeing my own body.
This process, of course, can be a lot tougher for someone who isn’t accustomed to casual nudity. If you’ve lived 60 years of your life, and you’ve never taken even two minutes to gaze at your own uncovered body without judgment, this might seem nearly impossible. So, what’s a witch to do when she has trouble being naked, even when she’s alone?
The best answer I can offer is to take your time and to really try to listen to your spirit. Consider the roots of your discomfort. How are you talking to yourself? When you step out of the shower, do you turn away from the mirror or avoid looking at specific places? Similarly, do you focus on specific areas in a negative light? Why?
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that current body trends have a massive impact on how we view ourselves. The effect of societal pressure to look a certain way can be extremely damaging. How, then, is it possible to free ourselves when everywhere we turn, someone’s telling us we aren’t good enough?
My suggestion would be simply to build up to it. Move slowly, but push yourself forward. Try taking the first half of the activity and modifying it a bit. Plan a few private hours, or at least 30 minutes a day, and start with just removing one thing. Stand in front of your mirror and take off your jacket, your shoes. Watch yourself undress. It sounds strange, but the act of watching yourself remove clothing gives you an awareness and forces you to be present with yourself.
Before bed, watch as you change into your pajamas. Then, take some time to gaze at yourself in your pajamas. During the day, don’t avoid your body. Take a little longer in the bathroom to gaze into your own eyes as you wash your hands. Glance at yourself in reflective surfaces. Many of us already do this, but here’s the key: you cannot and must not judge yourself.
You have to look in the mirror and say, “This is my face. I love my face.” Do the same for your body. You might want to focus on acne or scars, but let those thoughts pass. When negative thoughts arise, repeat the phrases to yourself. Be patient and, over time, you’ll start to feel more comfortable seeing yourself in less and less.
Push yourself to move forward, but be gentle when you can’t. Do the work to understand the root of your fear and to change your attitude towards your own body. You are not just a spirit inside of a shell. Your flesh, your blood, your bones – these all are a part of you. The path we follow is one of healing and growth, and I firmly believe that we cannot be our best selves if we only treat a part of ourselves as sacred.
Keep practicing and you’ll be a skyclad witch in no time!
Remember, I love you and send a thousand blessings,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
How do you deal with body anxiety and discomfort? Let me know in the comments!