Jun 19, 2014

By Myriam Machado Baker

The scariest thing about FreeFall, for many people, may be looking at themselves naked in a full-length mirror! I decided to explore a few ideas around "Mirroring" and integrate my own process of reflection and experience as a FreeFall student (always a student!) and an Instructor Trainee.

My invitation to you, when reading this article, is to just flow through some concepts that I have found through my studies. Here and there, I will shoot out some questions. Not that they need to be answered. They are just questions. 

And here are my first questions: Are you embarrassed to look at yourself naked? Are you embarrassed if people look at you when you are naked? 

NeuroScience recognizes that all the sensory information we receive comes to us through our 5 senses but, before their actual process in specific areas of the brain, they will be filtered by our beliefs, attitudes, expectations and attachments so that we are not experiencing the "real world" as it is. We are experiencing what our filters (beliefs, attitudes, expectations, conditionings, etc.) allow us to perceive. Therefore, when we look in the "mirror" of our interactions, either with others or within ourselves, we still see through the filters that exist in our conscious and sub-conscious mind. 

Two contemplations come to me about this concept: First, we should not take everything too seriously, because we are not "looking at true reality" anyway.  Second, does that mean that in order to "see clearly" we need to get rid of all our filters? Is that even possible?

Dr. Alexander Lowen's (the Language of the Body) teaches that our body mirrors our character. Thus the body can give clues about emotional disturbances. The body can also give clues about how to heal these disturbances. 

When I breathe into awareness in the mirror exercise, I can experience how certain emotions have become muscle rigidity and inflexibility in my body.

The concept of Consciousness of Separation vs. Individuation is explained in the Principles of Consciousness class and experienced in Breakthrough and FreeFall classes. 

We separate ourselves from our own true nature (which is all goodness) when we hold expectations (that are not met) of self and others. We learn to create defensive patterns and coping mechanisms very, very early in life to avoid feeling pain. But, we will be hurting anyway when we deny what we truly are.  It is very painful to keep trying hard to "fit in" somewhere, somehow, in the world "out there". 

When we deny parts of ourselves, we fragment our being – we split body, we split mind, and we split heart; our whole being trembles and starts to contract in itself. It feels like a war inside. I know. I have been there. The breath and flow of life get limited and stress settles everywhere. We created all these armors and safe walls because we were supposed to be in a safe place, but it feels more like an inner torture chamber! 

And can our body heal inside a torture chamber? Can our mind fly high? Can our heart love when we are in war within our own self? Can our body be happy and healthy? We all know this answer: No, they can't. 

And where does this need to be defensive come from anyway? Why do we want so hard to protect ourselves from each other? Aren't we supposed to all be connected? 

Lynn MacTaggart says: "...what we are 'picking up' from others is exactly what we are sending out to others". In the end, maybe we are protecting ourselves from our own selves.  

    Another aspect we are always concerned about and which adds to the embarrassment of being naked in front of others is the fear of "what are people going to think about us?"

In recent PaRama classes, John Veltheim has been talking about the Precuneus, which is a part of brain, on the superior parietal lobule, hidden between the two cerebral hemispheres, just above the posterior cingulated. The Precuneus is related with episodic memory and mental self-image. And, it has also been linked to the processes involving self-consciousness, such as reflective self-awareness, which rates our own personality traits and compares them to perceived judgments from other people – or what other people think about us.

How much are you afraid of what people think about you? As you contemplate that, right now, your Precuneus is firing up! And how big is your fear of being judged? It will be in direct proportion to how much you judge others.

I have been taking a few FreeFall classes, and it is amazing to me how every time I get in front of the mirror I find out more about my defensive patterns; I find out more about the walls that I, on my own, have built around my body and my heart. 
Each time I get in front of the mirror, I can more honestly make contact with my Self.  With every opportunity in front of the mirror, perhaps my Precuneus is getting a refreshing update!

In the Neuro-Linguistic Programming teachings, mirroring can be the behavior in which one person copies another person usually while in social interaction with them. It may include miming gestures, movements, body language, muscle tensions, expressions, tones, eye movements, breathing, tempo, accent, attitude, choice of words or metaphors, and other aspects of communication. It is often observed among couples or close friends. I can see this happens all the time. 
I can also see some of these concepts in action when we do the "Forgiving" exercise. Miming my parental body language, gestures and expressions in movement helped me to access and process past feelings and emotions imprisoned in my body. No words are necessary!

"When a lion roars in front of a mirror, do you think the mirror roars? Or when the lion is gone and a child comes dancing, the mirror completely forgets about the lion and starts dancing with the child - do you think the mirror dances with the child?"
Osho says, "The mirror does nothing, it simply reflects. Your consciousness is like a mirror. Neither do you come, nor do you go. Things come and go. You become young, you become old; you are alive, you are dead. All these states are simply reflections in an external pool of consciousness. Keeping your mind and heart neutral is the answer for clear reflection."

But what does it really mean to be neutral?  Is it to be empty? Or is it to be full? Is it to get rid of all our cloaks, our filters?  Is it just "doing nothing"?  Just reflecting?  Is that possible? 

In Gestalt therapy, there is no such indifferent, neutral reality. The assimilation of life can only happen in the present moment as it passes into the future. And the experience is never merely rearrangement of the unfinished situations but a configuration, always new, and always different from whatever could even be remembered. 

From Quantum Theory, we borrow the concept of Entanglement. Entanglement supports the idea that relationships are the defining characteristic of everything in our limited concepts of space and time. 
Dean Radin in his book Entangled Minds, says: "Physicists now believe that entanglement between particles exists everywhere, all the time and have recently found shocking evidence that it affects the wider, macrocosmic world that we live in".

British physicist David Boehm observed that entanglement applies even more to consciousness with its constant flow of evanescent thoughts, feelings, urges, desires and impulses. 

James Oschman and cognitive neuroscientists then, bring the concept of the field of mirror neurons: "Mirror neurons are neurons that fire in our brains when we witness an act done by another that requires the same group of neurons." Like when another person reaches for a glass of water, the neurons in our brain that govern that action fire when we witness their action, just as the other persons neurons do when they perform it. 

Mirror neurons track the emotional flow, movement, and even intentions of the person we are with, and replicate this sensed state in our own brain by stirring in our brain the same areas active in the other person.

John T. Cacioppo, Director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, makes a parallel proposal: "(...) the emotional status of our main relationships has a significant impact on our overall pattern of cardiovascular and neuron-endocrine activity. This radically expands the scope of biology and neuroscience from focusing on a single body or brain to looking at the interplay between two at a time. In short, my hostility bumps up your blood pressure and your nurturing love lowers mine. Potentially, we are each other's biological enemies or allies."

Therefore it seems that anatomically (and physiologically) we are wired to entangle with each other. We are naturally wired not only to be reflected in the world outside, as well as to reflect back all the world's beliefs, desires, thoughts, and needs. We are wired to actively interact with the world and with each other. 

As we become more attentive and aware, we might find that the filters/cloaks/masks can be as alive as the whole universe.  No longer a rigid armor, they can change, interchange, reform and transform themselves so that our reflections are always changing in the "universal mirror". 

What if we are both the lion and the mirror, and the child and the dance...? What if all these concepts are only intellectual approaches of one and same aspect of life itself?

In Tantra Shaivism, there is an openness to penetrate this "code" of differences and separations, because it sees the Oneness in the code and it also teaches we are not subject to differences.  Therefore there is no need to defensiveness anymore. 

In Rajanaka Tantra, we truly and happily affirm:
-    I am not you!
-    I am something like you!
-    I am nothing but you!

I personally like this view that embraces all the paradoxes.  There is no problem to be solved. It is not about clearing the cloaks and shining brighter. It is not about not being, or being this or that. It is not about even having a purpose or a meaning. In the Mirror exercise, I simply make contact with my own eyes and love myself again, whatever it is.

And for me, that's the main invitation of the FreeFall class: to open my eyes and to be able to see clearer everything that I am and to fall in love again. 

Life is enlightened as we see it. How much more light would you like to see? That's how much more you will get from Life. 

The mirror and the reflection, the teacher and the student; the observer and the observed; the client and the patient; the lover and the beloved, they are always trading positions and exchanging information in an alive and recursive dance of entanglement. 

The Universe offers infinite reflections out there and within here. How many reflections could you receive and give? How much of Life would you like to experience? 

Sign up for a FreeFall class 
...and find out for yourself. 

Myriam Machado Baker
AdvCBP, BAT, PaRama CBP and FreeFall Trainer

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