It happens to everyone: sooner or later the mirror won’t reflect the image we used to have and love. Wrinkles, sagging skin, shifting weight and grey hair make us aware of time passing and are seen as unfortunate by-products of getting older.
In this youth-obsessed culture, where the more mature a woman gets, the more pressure the outside world forces her to look for every possible means of feeling, looking, and acting as young as possible, growing older is not easy: it’s still considered an inconvenience. How can we make peace with the ageing process without losing ourselves completely?
Well, it’s quite simple: either you rely on some expensive tweaks (but those won’t stop the process) or, even better, you decide to come to terms with the passing of time and learn to accept, embrace and celebrate your body changes.
In the end, ageing doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It’s not about the outward package: ageing well requires cultivating gratitude for your body and whole self and treating it with love and compassion.
Embracing the ageing process
Learning to understand the relationship between how we see ourselves and how our culture teaches us to do that, might help us establish a better relationship with the way we look at our ageing body.
According to Vivian Diller, PhD, a former dancer and professional model, now a psychologist in New York City and author of “Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change and What to Do About It“, the challenges of ageing are ongoing and require solutions that evolve and change as we do.
Every woman in every generation grows up with idealized images of beauty, but rather than being concentrated on slowing down the process, we should learn to deal with our changing looks – she says -. Everyone ages, and as we do, we all meet on the same playing field. Not one of us can change the course of nature, but that doesn’t mean our perspective on this natural process cannot change. Ageing, at all phases of life, means leaving behind one stage to move on to another. Sharing kindness and exhibiting dignity and grace will contribute significantly to feeling beautiful for the rest of your life.
That means that we need to embrace the multidimensional meaning of beauty that begins with Webster’s dictionary definition –a quality that gives pleasure or exalts the mind – and go deeper beneath and ultimately beyond.
Getting used to the Mirror Meditation
Of course, we can’t fight gravity, but there are several ways we can ignite health and positivity by feeding our bodies with gratitude. One of those is practising the so-called “mirror meditation“, a gentle approach to our image and the ultimate in self-care.
Psychologist Tara Well, an associate professor of psychology at Barnard College in New York City, has been researching the effects of a particular practice, in which people focus on their reflection for 10 to 15 minutes in a meditative state while having a positive approach toward themselves, allowing them to see how their own thoughts can affect them through changes in their facial expressions. In being more aware of their feelings, they begin to change their perspective of their face, observing themselves as they might see a close, trusted friend. The outcome is impressive: in eight sessions over 10 days, the individuals reported decreases in stress, depression, and anxiety, and a significant increase in self-compassion levels. Women, in particular, who do this meditation regularly generally report feeling more comfortable with their appearance.
So, next time you look at yourself in a mirror, do your best to be kind and gentle. With love in your eyes, you don’t notice saggy skin or brown spots or added weight, you just see the person you love, right? Now transfer that feeling to your own reflection and see the true beauty that comes with age and looks back at you.
Seeing ageing as a gift
When you see ageing as a gift (which it is, considering the alternative) the inevitable decline happens in a better, bigger context, changing our perspective. As Bill Thomas, physician and founder of the publishing platform ChangingAgeing.org says:
Our culture has conditioned us to focus on our flaws, we naturally concentrate on and worry about the wrinkles, creases, and imperfections we see in the mirror. Although it can seem hard to believe at first, it is within our power to look into a mirror, study what we see there, and acknowledge, without reservation, that we are no longer young – he explains-. We can learn to read the story of our lives as it has been written around our eyes and mouth and across our foreheads and cheeks. We can begin to reinterpret the changes as signs of important signifiers of our unique journey through life.
Even though society tries to shame us for growing old; we should think of it as a rite of passage when our character comes through. The more areas of interest we have that give us a sense of inner fulfilment, the more distance we’ll be able to put between ourselves and the vision of someone who’s falling apart with age.