Please note: This is Part 2 to a story… click here for Part 1: The Shift Leader
…this is where the Shift occurred… from the Mirror, I could see Reflections of Me.
The Mirror is a tool and most people avoid really looking at their own reflection. It’s easier to blame, avoid responsibility and point fingers. This practice is for you, who like me, want to break painful patterns in our lives, who want to change for the better, live more authentically, love ourselves, and others in a pure way, heal our pain, and cultivate relationships of truth, depth and connection with others. The Mirror takes courage and humility. Be gentle with yourself in its Reflections.
To be clear, the Shift Leader and I, did not have a conversation about my lengthy process to understand she how was a Mirror for me or what the Mirror concept was about in the first place. In fact, the only interaction was on the day of the incident and it lasted only 3-minutes. There was no need to talk to her about it or “process” as almost all of this was my internal work to do. The Reflecting. Now obviously, she could have been nicer to me. She could have told me the truth. She could have told me that she threw my things in the Lost and Found, but she didn’t. Maybe she assumed I knew the result of leaving my belongings overnight and where to look. Who knows… it does not matter. Right and Wrong really is NOT the point. The point IS about looking and taking personal responsibility. We don’t have to assign blame, or like or approve of anyone’s behavior. What matters is the understanding that we can ultimately only and change ourselves. That is…. if we are willing to look and become AWARE of the areas that need change. That’s where The Mirror can be helpful.
When we own our behavioral choices, we have an opportunity for truth and change. What I am proposing is the investigation; to use the other person as a Mirror for self reflection and examination. The Mirror reflects an image, an impression, it could be energy, or an expression or body language. This all informs you and is communicated in the other person’s (the mirror’s) words, behavior or reaction.
We can all get mixed up in the soup, our stuff with their stuff. None of us have completely clean and clear mirrors. We have a history, a patterning from our youth, our family our culture, etcetera. This ‘mixing’ does not devalue what is true in the other’s Reflection of you. What is true is for your to determine. There is always something for you to receive, gain or to look at. The Reflection is what may be useful if you care to LOOK, give consideration and tease out what is yours.
The Reflection is a tool to know yourself more deeply. Self-awareness, investigation and self-discovery are all in your hands!
During my time at the retreat center, I got plenty of practice in interpersonal relationships, often very close ones. You see, when you live, work and play in close proximity with 100 people, in a short amount of time you have lots of daily interactions and it’s as if these shared experiences have you living your life in Fast-Forward! It can be quite stimulating, educational, fun, dynamic, dramatic and even overwhelming. Add that we were living on the fire island (Hawaii) just 10 miles from where the lava enters the ocean, and you can be sure that ‘things came up.’ Just like the lava flow, all these encounters bring lots of ‘stuff’ to the surface… deeper unknown behaviors, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, assumptions that are lurking in the dark corners of the unconsciousness. It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is the muck on your mirror. The muck is anything that obscures a clear reflection of who you really are and hinders you seeing any situation or person clearly. Cleaning your mirror is ‘the work’ and is where you can start. The Mirror’s Reflection (your interactions with others) helps shine light on the dark, hidden, shadow areas of you that may need love, attention or even correction. This is when that courage and humility piece comes in… be brave and take a look.
The Other is your Mirror, their Response is your opportunity to see yourself in the Reflection.
Now, let’s talk about familiarity. Strangers vs. Longer Term Relationships… The Mirror is anyone not you. It can be your spouse, lover, friend, coworker, or just a guy you bump into on the street. They don’t have to know you to reflect you. It’s actually easier to see yourself through the brief reflection of a stranger and that initial encounter with you. In just the briefest of moments there is opportunity for instant and honest feedback. It’s instant and honest because there is no history. Watch these new instant reflections as they are also a good barometer for who you are in that moment. You’ve heard the phrase, “you only have one opportunity to make a first impression.” The Mirror can show you the energy of that first impression and what you may have been transmitting in that moment.
With longer term relationships there is more opportunity to work on our deeper ‘stuff.’ Knowing that we have this tool helps us to be aware that this ‘stuff’ gets bounced back and forth and can get mixed up together. It takes more work, but if you don’t dismiss the information you’ll realized the ground is fertile to experience real growth and develop richer deeper relationships with those that are closest to you.
New or old relationships are good reflections, but each of us must do our work to tease out what is ours from the muck that gets more muddled together. One key point is that everyone has muck on their mirrors too. The have their own patterns, feelings, history, triggers, traumas, joys, memory, cultural and societal behaviors… stuff that clouds a clear reflection. It’s just like when the fog builds up on a bathroom mirror when you take a shower…You must wipe it off to see yourself clearly. This is the same for everyone. We all need to wipe off our mirrors. Finding value in all the reflections, new or old, is just part of this classroom we call life.
Other people are a mirror, and their reaction, response, or reflection becomes the ‘teaching moment’ or an opportunity to see and know myself better.
So, what’s in it for you? Why should you do this work? It won’t always feel good… all this is a valid question. Most choose to stay in the blame game. For me, if I see and clean my own muck off my mirror, then I can work on not allowing it to get mixed up with others. This simplify’s my life. I have the opportunity to be aware of myself, change my behavior or perception, and by that improve the quality and clarity of what I transmit into the world. This relieves much grief and turbulence I may unconsciously have caused. I then can be in relationship with more clarity and truly witness the other in a more pure, real and compassionate way. This lays the ground for deeper more real relationships with friends, family and significant other.
It’s a humbling practice, yet I find it dissolves much of the baggage I have carried from the past and who wants to carry around those bags anyway? When you let go of assigning blame, their is opportunity for more self-compassion, understanding of who you are right now, and ultimately change. The triggers can still be there, but you will know they are yours and now have the power to look and not react.
Our interactions and the reflections are all sign posts on our life journeys. They are indicators of what you may or may not be transmitting out into the World. What we put out into the World ultimately creates our World. So, with this tool, it is just another way to be mindful, look inside, check ourselves, grow and be responsible.
May I gently encourage you to pay attention to the reflections, but more so, listen deeply to your own wisdom and knowing of what your Soul is seeking to learn or teach you. By doing this, you will become your own trusted guide, you will begin to consciously explore, observe and navigate the experiences and interactions of your daily life with more clarity, grace, self-compassion, understanding and ease. Ultimately, Spirit will begin to guide you. Allow whatever comes to be deeply considered, especially if it doesn’t feel good. Just take the opportunity to roll it around in your consciousness. Just inquire… just by looking, change will begin to occur and nothing need be forced. You also might be surprised at your insights and revelations.
To know oneself clearly removes much of the misunderstandings, assumptions and ultimately the illusion of separation. It brings peace. Observation and practice is how we learn, so go gently with yourself and others. This is how we clean our own mirrors. The cleaner your mirror, the easier it is to see the Truth of your Being. The cleaner your mirror, the more you will actually see the Other for who they actually are, without your own stuff and muck obscuring your perception.
Think of it as Cosmic Windex…
My quest is for Clarity… I choose humility and to use my Cosmic Windex to clean my mirror, to have clear perception, and provide a clear compassionate reflection of others to the best of my ability.
Care to join me? If so, I’ve included a practice exercise for you below.
Before you begin, I encourage you to get a pen and paper so you can write and see your answers. This way you may further delve into the reflections and investigations I am attempting to cultivate here for you. Do your best to be the observer and stay out of the emotional charge so you can be more impartial.
(1) Spend a few minutes just sitting silently, center yourself and listen to your own breath. When you are ready, try to bring a particular incident or interaction into view. Write down what you did not like. Where might you be able to point your finger at the wrongdoings? Where do you place the blame? What would you complain about if you were retelling the story to a friend? How did you feel?
(2) Now, in this same experiment… Can you now look at your own reflection in the situation and see the aspects of YOU and your behavior you didn’t like? What might you do differently or better? Where are you blaming the other person, where you might have played a part in co-creating the misunderstanding? Just look, go slow, write, it takes courage and humility to go there. Just remember, this isn’t about the other person, or being right, this is about you freeing yourself from old behaviors, perceptions, projections and ultimately becoming a better, happier, more whole, less affected you.
(3) Now go a little deeper, with your eyes closed can you see their reactions, facial expressions, body language and behavior? Write down what you see. Can you recall how they felt, (fearful, angry, hurt, betrayed, offended, etc…)? Keep writing. Can you hear and feel their words, their pain, their emotions? Please write this down. Can you see any aspect in their behavior or reaction to you, where you also feel the similar? Is there something that is the same as what is happening within you? Go slow, and don’t rush this. Write it all out. You may need to walk away and come back to this exercise numerous times if there is a big charge around it. Just keep reflecting and writing. What truth is hear for you?
(4) If you found yourself getting lost in the story or charge, and even if you didn’t… I propose you come back and revisit this writing and keep writing to clear the energy of the charge. I promise you with humility if you go slow and keep breathing as the charge releases you will find more clarity. This is the cleaning. Remember, your focus is not on proving anything, but to look inward at yourself, your journey, the areas you want to improve, let go of, unwind and find more freedom. You may find a critical voice or internal resistance here. Beating yourself up is something else that you can clear and let go of. Be forgiving with yourself. Try infusing this area with deep self-empathy and self-compassion. This exercise may take time, give yourself that, go slow, go gently, let go.
What is the true reflection of you? Did you find any truth in their? Was there anything to clean? If so, be encouraged. This is where you are empowered. You have the power to change, do your own internal housekeeping and clean your own mirror. The cleaner the mirror, the more clarity you will have about yourself and your perception of others.
Please let me know your reflections. Thank you.
by Melinda D. Alexander