When we look at our childhood, often the first memories which come up are about specific intense experiences, naturally. There is emotional intensity involved, joyful or painful. This is one of the reasons why we quite easily do not notice influences, which are not directly associated with emotional intensity, but are more about the background, the foundation of our specific environment we grew up in.
Object relations psychology became aware of the immense need of the child for mirroring. Actually, the newly born baby perceives itself via the meeting with the mother, the father, the world. When it touches the wooden parts of the baby bed it becomes aware aha, this my body, this is my hand. It is the touch of the mother, the sound of the mothers voice which makes the baby become aware of itself. This happens thousands of times a day. Slowly these experiences build up and create something like a self picture, an awareness here I am, here are my borders, and there is the other. The baby becomes aware what the parents, mostly most of all the mother, are mirroring to the baby. In this way, what the parents mirror becomes the world of the baby, what they do not mirror, the baby does not become aware of.
When the baby is born. It is naturally in contact with Essence, the divinity of existence. Just look into the eyes of a newly born baby, you see a sparkle, a shininess, a transparency, which disappears with time. The baby has this contact, but it is not aware about this. The baby needs that essence, the aspects of essence are mirrored back to it, in order to become aware that this contact, this presence of essence is part of it. If this mirroring does not happen, the child slowly forgets about Essence.
As adults we are in a different situation, we have a self picture, an identity which is familiar to us. We “know” this is me. But deep down the need for mirroring is still big. We don´t notice it so much, but we still need the mirroring for our world to stay stable. This becomes very visible when some event, like a separation from a partner, takes away our important sources for mirroring, we get lost, we lose our sense of identity, we have a crisis about our identity. The familiar mirror is gone, and we become very insecure.
Object relations psychology says, that actually we create our sense of self via the interaction with mirroring objects, people, or also activities. It is the interaction, the activity, which creates stimuli which makes us become aware about ourselves. Or to say it in much simpler language: It is you who makes me feel to be myself. When we realize this, it gets clear, that this need of ours wants to be nourished same like the need for food or water. If not our soul starves same like the body without food or water. This is also a very relevant understanding for all parents. What do I mirror in my child? Do I mirror behavior, results, achievements? Or do I mirror being, the soul, the presence of Essence, awareness?
The same applies for our relationships. Just take a moment. What do you mirror to your partner? Do you mirror the soul of your partner, the growth of your partner? Or do you mirror your partner fulfilling your needs? It is quite a subtle background process, but where we give our mirroring has huge consequences.
You can check it yourself by going to the theatre. The play starts, and you see exactly where the lights are shining. The rest disappears from your awareness. It is there as before, but your perception gets fully absorbed by what the lights put into focus. If this takes long enough, you even forget what was there around. Only after the play, when all lights are on again, you see the whole stage.
This mechanism works right after birth when we start to breathe. Our life started almost 10 months before, but only in that moment our breathing starts. The lungs need time to unfold, to open. If the breathing is started suddenly, it is a shock for the baby. People report repeatedly, that they reexperience burning sensations in the lungs, when they meet this moment in breath work. Breathing is natural for the baby, but it is very new in this moment. And whether the baby gets mirroring for the breathing, soft, gentle touch which makes the baby notice the body and the movements of the body makes a huge difference. The touch can follow the movements of the breath, and very gently support it, invite it. In this way the baby becomes aware of the breathing and eventually of the whole regulation process that is connected with breathing.
What happened to many of us in childhood was, that we needed mirroring, and it didn´t happen, or it happened somewhere else than where we needed it, and the outcome were wounds deep in our soul. A certain alienation from our breathing and the body.
If we become aware of what has caused these wounds, acknowledging that there was and is a big need of sensitive recognition, of mirroring, of being seen as a unique, beautiful and precious being, we can start to take responsibility for us. We can see and respect our sensitivity, our needs and our borders. Gradually we become more stable, stronger.
We can acknowledge more, how important others are for us. We appreciate partners and friends more. We develop a sense of value, for us and the others.
Mirroring of the breathing is an essential aspect of how we approach breath work in our training Breath of existence starting again in January 2017.