Mirror Neurons are best explained in example form.
Have you ever looked at a person who was yawning, and then yawed yourself? Have you ever witnessed a person crying and began crying too? Have you ever heard a person vomit, and then vomit yourself? Have you ever looked at a person and witnessed their happiness and felt happiness for yourself? You have experienced mirror neurons activating in your pre-frontal cortex.
This phenomenon that occurs in empathy is created neurologically by mirror neurons. Before humans acted intelligently, we acted as primates. The primal defense system using mirror neurons is the same for humans as it is for animals. Mirror neurons are neurons that mirror action of another based on perception. A dog with his hackles raised is telling you they are uncomfortable, which for some people may create a mirror neuron of standing in a defensive body posture. If we apply this to human relationships, we can see this pattern everywhere and mirror neurons are the key to understanding social interaction.
“Mirror neurons represent a distinctive class of neurons that discharge both when an individual executes a motor act and when he observes another individual performing the same or a similar motor act. These neurons were first discovered in monkey’s brain. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex, and the inferior parietal cortex [Figure 1].” (Acharya, 2012)
I highly recommend you read this study to know more. Today I want to talk about the mirror part of the mirror neurons.
If we understand that mirror neurons not only are produced in reaction, but also activated in the same way through our own actions, it’s sort of like tossing out a net and seeing if your is stronger than someone else’s, which leads to conflict if your focus is on distrust and any learned behavior from previous paradigms. This sounds like testing boundaries for reactions. Infants develop mirror neurons about 12 months of age and use the social cues to gauge how their environment reacts. As adults, we become very intelligent and secure the ability to rationalize. This can create an imbalance.
Body language plays a large part in social interactions and mirrors within our environment. In my current employment I am assisting in the end of life. The fear, the pain, the nostalgia and the depression becomes my fear of death, pain, missing loved ones and regrets. I am mirroring her pain in life, which makes work very stressful. My solution is what I perceive as mindful mirroring. She stoops, I stoop. I stand tall, she stands tall. I breathe deep, one thing at a time, and action. She does the same. I am responsible for leading. I see the same mirror in my relationship at home with my husband and daughter. In order to lead, I must understand what I am projecting in my body language as well as in my actions. These actions are unconscious, which leads to the opening of the universe and asking yourself “what other stupid shit have you been doing unconsciously?” If I know, I can see and be mindful.
Death is a funny thing. We die to make room for the next generation. We die out of control, we do not get to pick and choose when and where in a natural death. Death tells us when it is our time, and the end of our life, which is relatively short in comparison to our environment, is over and we have no answers on what is to come so we can control it. The lack of control produces fear. I read somewhere that Religion was invented to assist humans in coping with the psychological fear of death. The beauty in this is that if it does help, you will believe in it and be freed, no matter your choice in religion or appreciation of life.
As a caregiver for a dynamic woman who is on her last hike up the mountain, I can say I have been fortunate to experience the journey by her side. Even when she wakes me up at 3 am to ask me to pull up one of her socks, that hasn’t actually fallen down. She is asking for a new mirror, she is asking me to lead through social attachment from me, a stranger as of last year, to her, a woman who is the mentor to me. I guide her, she guides me. This equal mirror provides the healing for us both.
Oh mirror neurons, look what we have stirred up now.
Within this process of awareness over the last few days, I have come to my purpose in life. I cannot summarize it yet, but I can tell you it has a few parts that correlate with this blog.
The main points are need based. We need people. We need our people. We need social attachment.
We currently live detached, disengaged, and isolated, overwhelmed and anxious.
Social attachment and relation cures the loneliness of suffering by attaching, engaging and practicing healthy isolated self-care balanced with social needs being met.
In order to heal others, we must be healed. This is a continual cycle throughout each life span of beginning, middle, end. We will cycle between happiness and suffering, but we can effectively reduce our suffering into small manageable portions that we can maneuver through. Once we learn the process, we become the teacher, the mentor. The mentor shows how they healed, engages in validation of being heard (the release of suffering)and tells the story. The reader takes over and relates and wants the same outcome of less suffering. The reader is now also a part of the story. The reader relates and is inspired to suffer less, becoming the mentored. They learn, they mentor others.
The mentor begins maintenance healing, a healthy process of grieving in memorializing of the loss. The mentor learns of inspired stories from the truthful release of their story original story.
This perpetual mirroring of each other does not need to be defense inspired. We make a difference in each of our stages of the trauma suffering cycle and the maintenance healing cycle.
Ultimately, we build on top of these ideas of lessening suffering through truth, building trust and social attachment and feeding our focus the positive outcome that begins in the middle of the eye.
We are building together. I see the purpose.
More on this very soon. My head space is full and I wrote 37 handwritten pages of working this purpose out. I think I have it.
Acharya, S., & Shukla, S. (2012). Mirror neurons: Enigma of the metaphysical modular brain. Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, 3(2), 118–124. http://doi.org/10I .4103/0976-9668.101878