The Power of Being Seen

What if I said I would break your heart? What if I said I have problems that made me mean? What if I knew I would just rip your mind apart? Would you let me out? ~ Banks, You Should Know Where I'm Coming From

I know how it feels, to not be seen.

To ache, to hunger, to hide in the shadows and long for the light. To be the one working hard for others, and never hearing the gratitude of those same people. I know how it feels to look in the mirror and not recognize the woman staring back at me.

At times, it is easier to let go of the fear and the sadness. Releasing the hunger to be seen and finding some peace in whatever sanctuary my heart can provide. Looking inward, to know hope.

But there is something so utterly profound in being seen. In witnessing, through life and death and rebirth and mystery, being seen for who we are in this moment is priceless. It is a gift to treasure. But we cannot force others to see us. We cannot demand to be witnessed by anyone ...

Except ourselves.

This week's personal ritual exercise isn't easy. It's about showing up to ourselves, exactly where we are, and seeing our hearts and bodies with compassion. Which can be really hard some days, when we feel like we're carrying an extra 20 pounds, or we haven't gotten enough sleep, or our skin is breaking out even though we are no longer teenagers.

You will want to gather the following things: * A mirror {this can be a hand mirror, a bathroom mirror, or a mirror on a wall} * A candle {anything from a tea light to a taper, but in the proper holder and new} * Matches or a lighter

Sit or stand in front of the mirror, facing the glass. Place the candle in front of you, between you and the glass, so that it brings a glow to your face. Look at your reflection in the mirror. Gaze directly into your eyes, and do not be afraid of all you see in them. You may be tired from not enough sleep, or emotional because life is complicated, or furious about something happening in the world. Look into your eyes, and do not hide from yourself.

Let the softness of the candle illuminate your features. Your lines, your curves. The radiance that glows from you, reflected in the glass. Look closer. Find the softness in your heart for the woman looking back at you.

Say, out loud to yourself, "I see you."

Say it again.

Look even deeper into your reflection. Repeat those words.

I see you.

Really feel the truth in these words. Their weight. Their importance. Trust that you are truly seeing yourself, and let go.

You may be surprised by the emotions and experiences that arise for you. Trust them. Know that a full expression of emotions is possible -- and likely -- when we begin to witness ourselves exactly where we are.

When you feel complete, extinguish the candle. If there is anything left, tuck it into a safe place to use the next time you honor yourself with this practice. Move into your day with a little more softness, a little more compassion, and remember: you are seen.