I am your mirror image...
This is what I say as a dance teacher facing the class or a private student, to make it easier for them to follow the steps and moves. I lift my left hand and say, “Lift your right hand,” because I’m facing them and want them to pretend they are looking in a mirror.
Like Harpo Marx, dancing with himself and his harp, all you have to do is pretend that the arm across from you is your arm; the elbow on the other side is your elbow. You don’t have to think about what to do!
But it often occurs to me that I am also trying to mirror what they feel as well as what they see. When I have a dancer who is elderly and depressed, I am trying to make her into my mirror image, as I portray younger and upbeat. I want her, looking into my face and body, to represent what it could be like if they would mirror me.
One of my private students, a woman who has suffered with chronic depression for decades, said to me today that she felt too awful to do class and instead, invited me to sit and talk. Which we did for an hour. Each time she discussed her impatience with the medical system, with the tests and inconclusive results and the fact that her heart is, one day, simply going to stop, I tried to add in an element that might uplift her. I said, you know that acupuncture, in addition to Western medical treatment for heart disease, has been shown to increase blood flow? You know that directed breathing, as we do in yoga, actually alleviates stress and makes you feel more in control?
She nods, she knows these things because I have told her before, but deep down, she just doesn’t care. She is sick of being 80 and sick; she is annoyed with healthcare providers who send her to other healthcare providers because they are not “specialists” in her realm. It’s just a dance of insensitivity, to see her shoved from one doctor to another. As she says, “I want no extraordinary measures.”
What is the mirror, then? Is it some place to see what you are thinking you might be , or is it really the opposite image of what you might like to be?