Our experiences and the people right in front of us offer a mirror to our growth and evolution; when we recognize this, we are open to the lessons that guide us on our journey through life.
What you love about the person in front of you, on some level, you love about yourself. What you don’t like also is a reflection of what you need to work on for yourself that you may not have uncovered yet.
Yoga philosophy tells us that every interaction is an opportunity to listen for the teaching within. That every soul we interact with shares a samskara with us. A samskara is a “blueprint” or connection that we can have with another to experience something together in order to grow and continue on our path. I share a samskara with you just by you reading this article. I share one with my best friend, family and even the people who spent a short time with me on this journey.
If we have a samskara with someone than that person enters our life as if by grand design, at the right time and place, to provide a lesson and play with us until we have learned what we needed. Sometime this play is brutal, trying, and emotional; sometimes inspirational, affirming, and directional. All experiences are lessons and guide us on our journey. At the point when the person leaves our life, our samskara has been fulfilled; though sometimes the person leaving our life is what triggers the last lesson and tremendous growth.
When we do not recognize these mirrors, the message continues to come up over and over bringing the similar issues in front of us disguised in different storylines, aspects, and people until we learn the lesson.
Sometimes these relationships are long marriages, and sometimes its those little reminders from a brief interaction.
How do we recognize these lessons?
Everyone is your mirror. Yoga philosophy tells us that all of our life is a reflection of our past experiences and the coloring we put on the present moment and perspective of what is happening. What you love about the person in front of you, on some level, you love about yourself. What you don’t like also is a reflection of what you need to work on for yourself that you may not have uncovered yet.
Let me give you some examples:
Sarah came to me with this complaint that her friend was being flaky and always playing the victim card and it annoyed her. The first time Sarah brought this up in our discussions, I just took it in. After a few more times it hit me. Having Sarah as a client and knowing her history, I realized that Sarah was also a victim in her past and at the time no one had stood behind her and fought for her justice and respect. She went to therapy on three separate occasions and thought she dealt with her issues and had overcome them. Sarah had lost her voice when it came to claiming her worth from her talents. She always struggled with feeling like what she had to offer was good enough and worth getting paid for. This was a big barrier to her success. I paused in my tracks and asked Sarah if we could have a session where we dug a little deeper into this sense of feeling like the victim to understand and overcome the barriers. After two hours and many tears she started to understand that this was an underlying narrative of her whole life and that she hadn’t overcome thinking that if she stands up for her worth that no one will care. Once she could see how this pattern had been playing out her whole life, she had the knowledge to change the narrative and also gained compassion for her friend and a whole new understanding and value of this mirror.
Mike was frustrated that he seemed to be dating the same type of woman. He would meet someone, and it was great, then she would slowly start to be jealous, pushing him to not be his outgoing and social self in public as to not trigger his girlfriend. Eventually the relationship would not work. But then, he would end up in a similar scenario. He was so frustrated with this and just wanted a woman in his life that let him be himself. Mike was discussing this with a friend one day, the friend turned to Mike and said “Why do you want to date jealous women?”. Mike instantly got very warm and in frustration said that’s exactly what he had been trying to tell him he didn’t want. But his friend continued. “There must be a reason that you pick these women, that you bring them to you. Your ego must want to protect you from something?” Mike stopped and was floored by this question. After some deep thought, realized that his fear was being abandoned and unwanted and so if he was with a jealous woman then that was no likely to happen. Once he was able to see and label the lesson, he was able to move on to more healthy relationships.
For me, taking the time to reflect on the good and the bad for the lessons in these mirrors has been honestly exhausting – and also, so helpful for me in finding peace and compassion. I try to recognize that what I am feeling has more to do with me, my desire not being met, my perspective, and my iron clad attachment to how I wanted things to go, which ultimately causes the pain. Pausing and looking for the lessons brings clarity, humility (embarrassment sometimes – followed by compassion for myself), and a lot of really uncomfortable growth.
But the other side of this grown has a little more richness and opens up space for something greater to fill it.
The yoga sutras tell up that the meaning of life is to experience it and through experience, reach liberation.
Wishing you peace on this crazy journey.