Alicia Keys Just Shared the Naked Body-Love Ritual She Does Every Morning
Each morning, the singer spends seven minutes looking at her body in the mirror from a place of acceptance.
Alicia Keys has never shied away from sharing her self-love journey with her followers. The 15-time Grammy award winner has been candid about battling self-esteem issues for years. Back in 2016, she embarked on a makeup-free journey in which she worked on embracing her natural beauty and inspired others to do the same. She even launched her own skin-care line, Keys Soulcare, with the mindset that beauty isn't only about nourishing your skin but also your spirit.
As if you needed another reason to love the body-positive icon, the singer just gave an intimate look into how she works on improving her body image on the daily - and it's something you'll definitely want to try for yourself. In an Instagram video shared on Monday, Keys shared that an important part of her morning ritual: looking at her naked body in the mirror for an extended period of time in an effort to appreciate and accept every inch of herself.
"This is going to blow your mind," she wrote in the caption. "Are you ready to try something that makes u totally uncomfortable? My 💜 @therealswizzz always says life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So, I'm inviting ya'll to try this with me. Tell me how you feel after."
In the video, 40-year-old Keys walks her followers through the ritual step-by-step. "Look at yourself in the mirror, preferably be naked, for at least seven minutes, to build your way up to eleven minutes of completely looking [at] and taking in you," she says while looking into a mirror wearing nothing but a bra, high-waisted underwear, and a towel wrapped around her head.
"Take in you. Take in those knees. Take in those thighs. Take in that belly. Take in those breasts. Take in this face, those shoulders, these hands - everything," she continues.
Turns out, this practice, otherwise known as "mirror exposure" or "mirror acceptance," is very similar to a method used by behavioral therapists to help people develop a more unbiased approach to their bodies, according to Terri Bacow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York City. (Related: This Naked Self-Care Ritual Helped Me Embrace My New Body)
"Mirror exposure or mirror acceptance involves looking at yourself in the mirror and describing your face or body in entirely neutral terms," Bacow tells Shape. "It's where you consider the form or function of your body rather than aesthetics, because you often can't be a reliable judge of your own beauty if you are overly critical."
The idea is to describe your body in the most factual and descriptive terms while being objective, adds Bacow. "For example, 'I have X color skin, my eyes are blue, my hair is X color, it is X length, my face is oval-shaped,'" she says. "Not, 'I am so ugly.'" (Related: I Finally Shifted My Negative Self-Talk, But the Journey Wasn't Pretty)
Unlike this behavioral therapy approach, Keys's ritual also involves some positive self-talk. For instance, as part of her practice, the singer says she listens to the song, "I Am the Light of the Soul," by Gurudass Kaur. "It says, 'I'm the light of the soul. I am bountiful, beautiful, I am blessed,'" said Keys. "You listen to these words and look at yourself in the mirror. Your reflection. No judgment. Try your best not to judge."
That being said, Keys knows first-hand how difficult not judging yourself can be. "It's so hard," she admitted. "So much comes up. It's pretty powerful."
Most people are guilty of self-judgment, especially when it comes to their bodies. "We tend to view our bodies in a critical fashion. We notice every flaw and criticize it," says Bacow. "It's very similar to entering a garden and only seeing/noticing the weeds or looking over an essay with a red pen and highlighting every mistake. When you criticize your body and only notice what you dislike about it, you get a very biased and inaccurate view of your body versus seeing the big picture."
That's why it's much healthier to use mindfulness and acceptance strategies, which involve observing and describing the body using neutral terms. "It is a very present-moment strategy, which is what Alicia was doing," says Bacow. (Also try: 12 Things You Can Do to Feel Good In Your Body Right Now)
Keys ends the clip by asking her followers to try the ritual daily for 21 days to see how they feel afterward. "I know it's going to affect you in a powerful, positive, acceptance-filled way," she shares. "Praise your body, love on you."
If you're new to mirror acceptance or a morning ritual in general, doing so for seven minutes a day for 21 days might feel overwhelming. Bacow recommends starting with two or three minutes. "The max I would advise is five minutes. A good morning ritual like this one needs to be realistic and flexible." (Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care When You Have None)
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you're struggling with body image, a ritual like this might feel overwhelming, uncomfortable, and emotional - but Bacow says it's worth it nonetheless.
"The only way to manage discomfort is to be willing to experience it repeatedly," she says. "It's only then that you get a habituation effect, which forces you to get used to the discomfort before it eventually subsides."
"I tell all my clients: 'If the worst thing that happens is that you may be uncomfortable, that's okay,'" adds Bacow. "Discomfort is at worst unpleasant, and almost always temporary."
As Keys mentions in her post: "There [are] so many crazy triggers we have about our bodies and our physical appearance. Loving yourself as you are is a journey! So, so important!! Fill yourself up and #PraiseYourBody."