Mirror Image by Phillip Starr
In a previous post, The 12 Lessons of Psycho-Cybernetics, I discussed some of the key points of Psycho-Cybernetics. Psycho-Cybernetics was developed by Dr Maxwell Maltz, and is still referenced today by many teachers for strengthening your self-image. These methods focus on changing from the inside-out, starting with ideas and concepts, when practiced daily lead to a shift in how you feel about yourself and life.
Here I’d like to introduce a method that focuses on changing from the outside-in, using the physical body as a starting point. This method is called “Mirror Image” and was developed by Phillip Starr. Phillip Starr has been a practitioner (and teacher) of the Chinese martial arts for over 50 years. He has written several books on martial art principles for developing internal power and more, as listed below. Throughout his many years of teaching martial arts, he observed a shift in mental attitude when helping students with their body alignment. What he noticed was the physical alignment had a vast impact on their behavior and self-image.
This observation led him to developing what he calls “Mirror Image”. The fundamental theory of the Mirror Image Technique is that the mind is influenced by training the body. He points out that the body and mind are wholly united, and benefit from synced training as they work as a single entity. They are not separate from each other. Posture alone can shift our emotional state just as our emotions can impact our posture. Here are some of the key points that he covers in his workshops.
Posture and alignment
Our posture and alignment plays an important role for our vitality, our self-image, and our emotional state of being. It also helps avoid fatigue and dis-ease. It leads to a more confident (natural engaged) walk and mindset. Here are a few key points to practice for yourself, starting with the lower area first. Find a place where you can practice with a short walk for about 6 feet or so. While you are standing, tuck your hips slightly forward as though you are pushing in your navel area. As you do this slightly squeeze your sphincter. This should automatically engage your core. For your upper body, push your ears up from your shoulders which will help align your shoulders and neck. Feel your body as it aligns and notice the difference in how that feels. Then place one hand between your buttocks and push that hand down and forward as you begin to walk. Imagine being pushed from that hand while seeing your self being pulled from your navel. This will help you walk from your center, also known as “one-point” in martial arts, which is located about an inch below your navel. What you’ll notice is that your entire body is engaged and moving as a single unit. When you walk, walk with intent, like you are going beyond what is in front of you. This will help you engage all aspects of your self.
Another component to this is stop looking at your cell phone while walking. This causes your head to tilt forward which impacts your alignment and awareness. In the workshop Phillip Starr has you perform a walking exercise, so he can observe how you walk currently and then he makes adjustments for you to compare. After he helps with your alignment, he has you test the differences in your strength with Qigong exercises, both before and after the adjustments. I highly recommend attending one of his workshops and I hope to get a video of this online, which I’ll later update in this post. If you’re not able to attend a workshop, you can apply these adjustments yourself and you will notice a big difference in how you feel. It only takes some practice for it to become natural. In time, it will feel more fluid and easier on your joints as your body moves together in harmony rather than as separate units.
Another component was multitasking, which he covered from an energetical and awareness perspective. He suggests avoiding (or minimizing) multitasking altogether. In the job force, multitasking is almost essential and I see much potential in that and our abilities. However, it does require more energy and often leads to feeling exhausted by the end of the day. This exhaustion or fatigue, is due to lack of awareness around our intent which dissipates our CHI (QI) or energy. The most important thing to call out with multitasking is that it takes us from presence. Multitasking makes it very difficult to remain present and engaged in what you are doing, thereby causing your energy to drain. The idea here is to maintain an awareness around your energy through intent and centralized focus. Try cutting back on multitasking for a short time and notice the difference in your energy levels. For example, when your driving, focus solely on driving. When your walking, focus solely on your posture and walking. When your talking on the phone focus solely on the conversation and notice how much more present you are. This alone makes a vast difference in our awareness and how the body is engaged.
Another exercise Starr has you do is sitting. When you sit on a chair or couch, do you fall back or do you gradually come down until you rest softly on the chair? How is your head positioned? Does it lean forward past your knees? Most of the time, people will fall back onto the chair with their head falling forward in the opposite direction of their buttocks. This makes it nearly impossible to stop at any point in the sitting process, as the body is falling with little control. By taking more of a gradual approach with your body engaged, you are able to stop yourself at any point in your sitting process before touching the chair. Test it out for yourself. When you sit, come almost straight down as you maintain good posture of your upper body and head. Your head and chest do not come forward past your knees. You might have to adjust your legs slightly so they are shoulder width apart to help with balance. As you sit, you are actually coming straight down over the chair, slow and controlled. This exercise helps you play with how the body moves as a single unit. This helps train your body to maintain center while engaging all aspects of yourself in everything that you do.
Practice these points until they become natural and you’ll notice a big difference in your energy levels throughout your day. Correct yourself as you test it out and be patient with the changes. I highly recommend attending one of his Mirror Image events as he will lead you through an experience of uniting your mind and body and soul.
Until next time,