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How the bathroom mirror becomes a great teacher


Jeffrey Bruno

Anna O'Neil - published on 03/09/17

It can help to enrich your mind, deepen your spiritual life, and make your guests do a double-take

You might be neglecting the most important spot in your home, the humble bathroom mirror. How much time do you think you spend in front of that thing? At the very least, you brush your teeth a couple of times a day in front of it. That’s four minutes. If you floss (you do floss, don’t you?) then maybe you’re up to six minutes. If you shave or do your makeup, that could bring your total up to 10 minutes every day.

Ten whole minutes! That’s more than an hour a week, which you probably spend just looking at your own face, which can’t even be that attractive when you’ve got toothpaste foam in your mouth.

See, I’ve just added an hour to your week. It used to have 168 hours, now it has 169. But I have no doubt at all that you use up most of those hours on really necessary things like sleeping and working, and keeping your kids alive, and keeping yourself alive. It’s a rare person who isn’t busier than they’d like to be.

So I doubt you’re going to want to do anything hard with your magical bonus hour. But how about something that enriches your mind, deepens your spiritual life, and, as a bonus, makes your guests do a double-take? You can’t say no. My favorite part is that it takes literally no extra energy. Not any.

The Bathroom Mirror Trick is simple. Your eyes are going to be looking at that thing anyway, so put something in front of them besides your face. Whatever you put up, it’s going to be more interesting than the usual reflection, and your eyes will naturally gravitate there. When I was seven, my ambitious homeschooling mother put the Greek Alphabet up. I still remember it to this day. I’ve used the mirror to memorize prayers, poems, and bible verses. You can’t help but memorize the thing eventually, if it happens to be in front of your eyes for 10 minutes every day.

There’s something about repetition that’s especially powerful. The Catholic Church knows this; it’s one of the reasons why every Mass includes some of the same prayers. Gradually, we are thrown deeper and deeper into the rich and multifaceted meaning of the prayer, in a way we couldn’t be, no matter how long we studied, if we had only seen the prayer once.

There are so many things I’ve always wanted to study, but somehow just never got around to. This silly little life hack is the perfect answer. I love to have a poem up there. Day by day, the poem seems richer and more alive, until I have it in my mind, ready for me to dive back into at a moment’s notice. I can’t tell you how grateful I was for this treasure trove in my mind, the last time I had to have an MRI. If poems aren’t your thing, print out an icon and tape it up. There’s no end to what you can learn by repeatedly looking at one of those. Anything goes–quotes from saints and popes, bible verses (I’ll never forget the Canticle of Zachariah, emblazoned in my mind this way) or even a well placed inspirational meme, if it’s important to you. Your bathroom, your rules.

Right now, my bathroom mirror has a Lenten-themed poem and a quote from a friend: “God is my biggest fan.” It’s serving as a daily reminder to keep up my Lenten resolutions, and that at the same time, God is on my side, rooting for me.

For something that takes no effort at all, it’s paying huge dividends.

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