This is from a Chapter in the Living in the Light by Shakti Gawain  New World Library.

THE WORLD AS OUR MIRROR

The physical world is our creation: we each create our own version of the world, our particular reality, our unique life experience. Because my life is being created through my channel, I can look at my creation to get feedback; about myself. Just as an artist looks at his latest creation to see what works well and what doesn't, we can look at the ongoing masterwork of our lives to appreciate who we are and to recognize what we still need to learn.

We're creating our lives as we go along; therefore, our experiences and needs give us an instant, ongoing reflection of ourselves. In fact, the external world is like a giant mirror which reflects both our spirits and our forms clearly and accurately. Once we have learned how to look into it and perceive and interpret its reflection, we have a fabulous tool.

The Mirror Process

The mirror process is a technique that can help us see the world as a mirror. Viewed in this way, the external world can teach us about hidden aspects of ourselves that we can't see directly. The process is based on two premises:

1.I assume that everything in my life is my reflection, my creation; there are no accidents or events that are unrelated to me. If I see or feel something, if it has any impact on me, then my being has attracted or created it to show me something. If it didn't mirror some part of myself I wouldn't even be able to see it. All the people in my life are reflections of the various characters and feelings that live inside of me.

2. I try never to put myself down for the reflections I see. I know that nothing is negative. Everything is a gift that brings me to self awareness; after all, I'm here to learn. If I was already perfect I wouldn't be here. Why should I get angry at myself when I see things I've been unconscious of? It would be like a first grader getting frustrated because he wasn't in college yet. I try to maintain a compassionate attitude toward myself and my learning process. To the extent that I can do this, the learning process becomes fun and really quite interesting.

I am learning to view my life as a fascinating and adventurous movie. All the characters in it are parts of me played out on the big screen so that I can clearly see them. Once I see them and recognize their various feelings and voices inside myself, it is easy to choose which characters to keep and expand, and which ones to let go of or transform.

If the movie portrays problems, hassles, or struggles, I know I must check inside to find out where I'm not being true to myself. I also know that when I'm trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.

Problems are Messages

If there are problems in your life, that's the universe trying to get your attention. It's saying, "Hey, there's something you need to be aware of, something that needs to be changed here!" If you pay attention to the small signals, you will learn from them, but if you don't, the problems will intensify until you get the message and start to pay attention. If you accept that every time a problem occurs the universe is showing you something, you will make rapid progress on your journey of self-discovery.

When something "negative" happens, it's tempting to say, "Why does this happen to me? I'm doing the best I can but nothing seems to be going right. I can't understand why I keep having this problem." If you find yourself doing this, try to open up to another way of looking at things. Go inside and say to the universe, "I know you're trying to show me something. help me understand what it is."

After you do this, let go of focusing on it, but stay open to the message that will be coming through. It may come in the form of an inner feeling or awareness, some words from a friend, or something unexpected that happens to you. The message may come through immediately or it may take quite awhile. One of my clients was fired, quite unexpectedly, over two years ago. At first, he was devastated, but after a month of "getting his bearings," he went into business on his own. His business is now doing very well, but it was only a few weeks ago that he finally "got" the message that his firing reflected. As he was talking to a friend about working for other people, he suddenly realized that the firing incident was trying to tell him that he was much better off being in business for himself, rather than working for other people. For him, this realization not only affirmed his present course in life, but it also finally resolved the sense of incompleteness about being fired that had lingered with him since the incident.

Interpreting the Reflection

The trickiest part of using the mirror process is learning how to interpret the reflection you see. Once you do get a message, but you're not quite sure what it is, how do you find out?

It will not help to analyze and think about it with your rational mind. It is far more effective to turn to your inner self, to ask the universe for help. Simply sit quietly, take a few deep breaths, and focus your awareness within-to the wise being within you who is in touch with the wisdom of the universe. Ask this being, either silently or out loud, for guidance or help in understanding the message. As you tune into your gut feeling and get a sense of what feels right in the moment, act on this feeling.

After acting on the feeling, try to be aware of the external and internal feedback from your actions. The external feedback is how well things work. Do things seem to fall into place and work easily? Then you're surely in tune with your inner guidance. If you're struggling to do something that doesn't happen easily, it's a message to let go and check back in to find out what you really want to be doing.

Internal feedback will come to you as feelings. If you feel empowered, more alive, then it's right. The ultimate key is aliveness. The more the universe moves through you, the more alive you feel. Conversely, every time you don't follow your inner guidance you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.

In being true to yourself you will feel more alive, but you may also feel uncomfortable. This is because you are risking change! As you undergo certain changes you may experience intense emotions. Allow these emotions expression; after all, your inner voice has to move through years of accumulated unconsciousness, doubt, and fear. So simply let these feelings come up and flush through you-they are being cleaned out and healed by the light.

External feedback may also mirror these feelings: your doubts and fears will often be reflected in the reactions of those around you. If your friends and family question or judge the changes in you, recognize that they are simply mirroring the doubting, fearful voices in you, such as, "What if I'm doing the wrong thing? Can I really trust this process?"

Respond to such feedback from others in whatever way you feel is appropriate: reassure them, ignore them, argue with them, whatever. The important thing is to recognize that you are really dealing with your inner fears. Affirm that you are learning to trust yourself more and more. You will be amazed to see how others immediately mirror your increasing self-trust and confidence by responding to you with trust and confidence.

Remember:

If you judge and criticize yourself, others will judge and criticize you.

If you hurt yourself, others will hurt you.

If you lie to yourself, others will lie to you.

If you are irresponsible to yourself, others will be irresponsible in relation to you.

If you blame yourself, others will blame you.

If you do violence to yourself emotionally, others will do violence to you emotionally, or even physically.

If you don't listen to your feelings, no one will listen to your feelings.

If you love yourself, others will love you.

If you respect yourself, others will respect you.

If you trust yourself, others will trust you.

If you are honest with yourself, others will be honest with you.

If you are gentle and compassionate with yourself, others will treat you with compassion.

If you appreciate yourself, others will appreciate you.

If you honor yourself, others will honor you.

If you enjoy yourself, others will enjoy you.

Changing Old Patterns

It's very important to realize that you may not be able to change your old patterns overnight. Sometimes things seem to change rapidly, once you've recognized the message, but sometimes it seems like you keep doing the same old thing and getting the same unpleasant results long after you feel you know better. It takes time for the ego to change its habits, so you have to watch the same lousy movie repeat itself a few times.

If you feel your progress is too slow, ask the universe for help, and remind yourself that it will change soon. Change happens not by trying to make yourself change, but by becoming conscious of what's not working. You can then ask your higher self for help in releasing the old and bringing in the new pattern. Remember, the darkest hour is just before the dawn-change often occurs just when you've given up, or when you least expect it.

Using the Mirror Process

In using the world as your mirror, you must deal with the external realities of your life in whatever way you need to handle them. But as soon as possible, before, during, or after you deal with the externals, check inside to find out what is being shown to you.

For example, if someone is angry at you and blames or criticizes you, you may need to say to them, "Stop blaming me. I don't want to hear your judgments and criticisms of me. If you can talk about your own feelings I'll be glad to listen, but if you keep attacking me, I'm going to leave." If they take more responsibility for their feelings (for example, "I felt hurt and angry when you didn't call me yesterday."), then you will probably be able to continue the conversation on a more productive level. If they continue to blame and focus on your "problems," you probably need to support yourself by walking out of the room and refusing to continue the conversation until they stop their attack.

Either way, you have handled the external situation Now, as soon as you get a chance, check inside yourself and ask, "I wonder what this person's anger is mirroring in me?" You may realize that you have been feeling very angry and critical toward yourself lately. Or perhaps you will discover that your inner self is upset because you haven't been paying enough attention to yourself. When other people want more from you, it's usually an indication that you want more from yourself.

A friend of mine discovered that her boyfriend had been seeing another woman and lying to her about it. She was very hurt and angry, to discover his dishonesty. She expressed her feelings and asked him to leave her alone for awhile to sort things out on her own.

When she was alone, she asked herself, "Is there someway I am lying to myself, some way I'm not being totally truthful and honest with myself, that would cause me to attract a dishonest man?" She let go of thinking about it and went to work. By the end of the day she realized she had often felt this man was not fully present with her, was not being real with her. But in the past, she had denied and covered up these feelings because she was afraid to confront him with what she felt and intuitively knew. Thus, she effectively lied to herself and supported him in his deceptions as well.

She realized this was a lesson in learning to trust her feelings more and to have the courage to express and support them. She started to do this more with her boyfriend, and they eventually worked out an honest, communicative relationship. She might also have chosen not to continue the relationship. What matters is that she received the gift from it-learning to trust and express her feelings.

If you are emotionally triggered by something a person does, the two of you are probably mirrors for each other. It may appear that you have opposing viewpoints, but internally you are probably very similar. One of you is acting out one side of the internal conflict, while the other one plays out the other side.

For example, one person may want more commitment in a relationship while the other wants more freedom. They become extremely polarized on this issue and truly believe that they want opposite things. However, if one person suddenly switches their position (the one who wanted commitment suddenly wants freedom) the other person almost always swings to the opposite polarity. The reason for this is that they are attempting to resolve an inner conflict they both have-the desire for closeness and security and the fear of entrapment.

Once people look inside and become more aware of their feelings, they often recognize that they have simply projected their inner conflict onto the outside world so that they could recognize and deal with it. If a person truly and unequivocally wants a committed relationship, he will simply attract another person who wants the same thing. If someone feels completely clear about wanting to explore being with many partners, he simply does it. By using the mirror process, you can recognize what you really feel and learn to be more honest with yourself. Once you recognize an internal conflict, you can ask the universe for help in resolving it and integrating your feelings.

Seeing the world as your mirror also gives you wonderful opportunities to receive positive feedback. Think of everything that you like and enjoy about your life right now. You created these things-they are also your mirrors. Think of the people you know whom you love, enjoy, respect and admire. They are your mirrors. They couldn't even be in your life if they didn't reflect you: you would not be able to recognize their positive qualities if you didn't have similar ones. Think of the people and animals that love you. They are a mirror of how you love yourself. If you have a home that you love, or a particular spot in nature that is very beautiful to you, it is a mirror of your own beauty. When you see beauty anywhere, it's a reflection of yourself.

There are mirrors everywhere. Whoever you have a connection with is a mirror for you, and the deeper the connection, the stronger the mirror. Part of the fun in using the mirror process is discovering who we are through these external reflections. The key is always to go back inside to discover the meaning of the reflection for you. The more you are willing to do that without either rationalizing away what you see or blaming yourself for it, the faster you can move toward reaching your fullest potential.