“Mirror your partner’s dreams; the relationship will grow.” ~ Unknown.
I was walking down the street the other day and I saw a little girl pretending she was a soldier. She marched along, erect, focused, her arms swaying straight as an arrow and in perfect rhythm, painted with a stoic countenance. She was a soldier indeed! And walking right beside her was her father (I think it was her father), who mirrored her exactly. She marched along, and so did he, walking side by side in unison and intent, with a spirit of playing along.
Mirroring is a great way to practice Yes And and honour the creative contributions of another. It invites what I call the Dance of Yes And where two or more people dance in the spirit of inclusion and creative engagement. As one person mirrors another a sense of validation is felt, building a level of trust that it is ok to be silly and imaginative in physical expression. Our full engagement inspires the dance to continue, and for both parties to look for ways to express through movement, sound and energy now and in the future.
Here then lie the three levels of mirroring:
While mirroring movement and sound is fairly self-explanatory, mirroring energy is more subtle. The energy we have behind our sound and movement points to our level of commitment and desire. When you mirror without energy, your movement and sounds are not a true reflection. They are half-hearted. You are there, but not there. The father’s “Hut, Hut” sounds would be flatter, and his arms may look more like limp noodles than arrows. His mirror would not be a true reflection. Committing to all three levels (without over doing it because that would not be a mirror either) is vital to create a truly inclusive and engaged play experience.
So, the next time a child (or adult) jumps in your face and makes a funny sound and movement, be aware of all three levels when mirroring back. How committed were you to fully playing along in movement, sound and energy? Where did you find yourself in resistance? On what level? Where did you find yourself most engaged? Be curios and notice your desire and commitment to play along. This funny sound and movement offered up by the child is her invitation to play, and by saying Yes And, you say Yes to her playful spirit And to yours!