Intimacy coach Amina Peterson saw her vulva well for the first time, inspired by Betty Dodson’s practice of examining her genitals in the mirror. The experience was reminiscent of Peterson’s early days Vaginal monologues. In the play a character mentions that women can spend years without looking at their vagina. It’s hidden “down there,” it’s hard to see and sometimes hard to deal with. Peterson’s echo was this resistance: We could look, but we couldn’t.
When he thought on a larger scale, he realized that we are not looking at ourselves from above, but often we are not looking at ourselves at all. It was then that she began doing mirror work, the practice of spending time in her body in the mirror, to better appreciate and honor herself.
Today, Peterson guides clients through mirror work as a practice of personal intimacy and the intimacy of the couple. (Practice is underway in the new Netflix series Sex, Love & Goop.)
The value of mirror work
By the hand of Amina Peterson, telling the goop
In our culture, looking at yourself in the mirror with praise and appreciation is considered amazing. There is almost a connotation of being evil or embarrassing. The only version of looking at ourselves that is often considered acceptable is not to look at it, but to make up or do your hair to make your look suitable for other people. If you take it to another level, when you are honoring yourself — seeing the body as a real body, as yours, as valuable, as worthy — is misunderstood.
It was a challenge when I was confronted with the work of the mirror (looking in the mirror and actually seeing yourself). It went against what they had told me all my life how I should see myself and how I should see others. Mirror work takes our beauty out of this space where other people consume it and not for us to realize. This is especially true for women and women.
When I talk to people about their struggles in intimacy, it’s a lot to see. Intimacy is a witness to that. And many of us struggle to be witnesses of others because we don’t even allow ourselves to be witnesses. If I can’t look at myself, how do I let my partner look at me? How do I move into a space where I can experience true intimacy with my partner, who am afraid of my own intimacy? Am I afraid that someone else will see something that I don’t let myself see?
This challenge can prevent us from stepping out of intimate spaces and developing true intimate bonds. Everything remains on the surface. We turn off the lights. We hope that no one notices that we have all these emotions. We want to be loved enough, so if we can move forward with the love we get, that will be enough.
When you start doing mirror work, you get to expand your capacity for love and intimacy. It becomes much more than what we leave to ourselves.
How to do it in the Mirror House
You have to have one thing to do mirror work: a full-length mirror, to see for yourself. The rest is optional, but it will help you get the most out of your practice.
1. Set the space.
Even if only for a short time, this treatise is as important and valuable as cleansing the space physically and energetically. You deserve to take care of yourself and honor yourself in a temple-like environment.
Make sure your space is clean. Put on your clothes and leave, or whatever you need to do.
Clear the place. I like to use smoke to help clean the air. Use what he calls you. Some like incense or resin. Others choose holy yerba, sage, or palo santo. I like to burn sweet incense like cinnamon or ylang-ylang to call it feminine energy, especially if I use something with a very masculine energy at the beginning of the practice, like tobacco or blue sage.
2. Prepare your body.
Ideally, you are able to take a bath or shower before doing the mirror work. There’s a time when they gave you a gift and saved you something special for those delicious soaps or handkerchiefs. Light a candle. Take your time. Spend some time oiling and moisturizing your skin, allowing yourself to enjoy yourself and feel the moment. Then put on the dress — I like people to wear a gown or sarong so they don’t have to struggle with clothes in the next step but have something to cover up until they’re ready — and put it in front of the mirror with the intention of putting it on.
3. Give it in front of the mirror.
Dress in front of the mirror. And then look and see for yourself.
Admit it without judging yourself. Recognize from head to toe. Gray curls, wrinkles, grooves, pink, pink on the cheeks, fullness of the lips, color on the skin. Maybe I’m realizing that one of my areolas is bigger than the other. I do that without judging. I’m watching. You move all over your body that way. Don’t judge, just watch. Usually, when we look in the mirror, we immediately notice that some traits are bad, especially if it is something that has changed, and even more so if it is something that changes as we get older. We notice that it is somewhat or weakly, or that something is not as full as it was before, or that there is a new wrinkle, and that is why we judge ourselves.
Offer yourself some praise and affirmations. It’s powerful to get rid of the idea that something is wrong with what you’re seeing. The first assertion I use is, “I see you.” He says, “I’m your witness. I see myself.” From there, it’s about going with what you feel. When we are not judging, we can get out of the thinking brain and position ourselves in the sense of mind of the body.
Now I can testify to myself and say something nice, praising what I see on my skin, hair, and teeth, such as:
“I’m grateful for these breasts.”
“I’m very grateful for this body that moved me during childbirth.”
“I love my body. My body is strong. “
“This smile is clear and pleasant.”
“I’m not symmetrical, and it’s perfect.”
“I’m here. I deserve it. This is my experience right now, and it’s great.”
4. Practice extension.
This work helps to create a more loving and intimate relationship with yourself. Sometimes I can send a client to this job over and over again because they perform a weekly ritual about that job: picking up their area, taking a beautiful bath or luxury shower, putting up candles and cleaning their space to make the mirror work very intentional as a project. The body wants to rite. And when we begin to work with ourselves, when we find spaces to ritualize self-care, our work of intimacy helps our body remember that this is important to us.
This is an act of self-worship. If you see my titles everywhere, Amina is always Goddess. And I call my clients a goddess and a divine being. It is important for us to worship — ourselves and our partners. We just have to learn how. This practice helps us learn to affirm and appreciate, accept, and love our god.
PICTURES OF THE EDITORS FOR THE WORK RITUAL OF THE INDIVIDUAL MIRROR
“The Martini” Emotional
Soaking in Detox Bath
goop, $ 35
Double layer wrap gown
goop, $ 168
02nd edition – Shiso
goop, $ 72
goop, $ 64
Sanctuary of Thought
goop, $ 35
Fix Body Butter
goop, with a $ 55 / $ 50 subscription
Amina Peterson is a healer, sex doula, and founder of the Atlanta Tantra Institute and her private healing practice, Fearless Giving. Her work focuses on intimacy training, tantric sex education, sacred sex, somatic bodywork, and sexual revolution and activism.