| by: Anasuya Krishnaswamy |

As I trekked up the mountain with my group to the high lagoon on Apu Salkantay in southern Peru, I kept hearing “relax.” I had wanted to hear profound insights into my journey and the questions I had rolling around in my mind and heart. I just kept hearing “relax, easy-now.”

When I reached the lagoon and looked into the blue-green water, I could see the reflection of the scree and ice slopes from the glaciated ridge across the water. As the wind rippled over the surface the reflection would be lost, and then as the wind settled the image would reappear.

In a world of perception, conception, and preconception, everything around us can serve as a mirror: our interactions with people, the behavior we observe, the animals we come across on a walk, the struggles that we engage in directly or the struggles that grab us when we watch television or read the news.

If we were to ask ourselves directly, what are the beliefs, perceptions, and ways of being that hold us and prevent us from stepping completely into our whole powerful creative selves, we may not be able to articulate them. Perhaps we could do a meditation to quiet our ego mind, and then ask the questions again. Alternatively, when we consider the external world as a mirror for these ways of being in the world, then we have allowed the reflected light to shine on our subconscious, our shadow selves. We have sent out a signal from our energy body, and it is being returned to us for examination.

The metaphor of reflection from a mirror can imply something direct and straightforward. A ray of light that has supposedly traveled in a straight line hits a flat polished mirror and is reflected from the spot of incidence with the same angle that the ray of light struck the mirror. However, mirrors can be concave and convex, not so well polished, and consider the possibility that the material is fully or partially transparent – we then have partial reflection or a lens refracting or bending the light.

What this metaphor means is the following: while the external world can serve as a mirror or lens for our subconscious beliefs, perceptions, and ways of being, we may have to look sideways, up and down, and beyond the surface of the reflection to find what we are looking for, and come to terms with it, so that it does not hold us back from becoming our best whole selves.

For example, if we are obsessed with the details of a war that we disapprove of and have very little control over, and it consumes much of our time and energy; it may be that we are not addressing the struggles in our own lives that we do have a choice about.

Now consider what is really going on with light  – the description from quantum electrodynamics (QED). Light is composed of particles called photons. When light “bounces off” the surface of something, what is really going on? Photons are interacting with electrons in the material, not just on the surface, but throughout. How the photons interact depends on the arrangement of atoms in the material. And photons do not travel solely in straight lines.

All chemistry and therefore biology can be explained by interactions between photons and electrons. As Richard Feynman summarizes in QED, “Photons go from place to place. Electrons go from place to place. An electron absorbs or emits a photon.” There is a probability for each of the ways that these events can happen, a strength or number associated with it. These individual probabilities add up or multiply, canceling the strength or re-enforcing the strength depending on the situation. In these situations photons and electrons can absorb and emit each other and go forward and backward in time.

Let’s come back to our metaphor. If we connect into the heat of the situation – the place with the most draw, or the place where the probabilities add up for us, rather than cancel out – if we look at the places in our lives where we find the most heat or energetic pull – negative and positive – we will be looking into our mirrors, finding out about our lenses, and seeing into our shadows. We may think something is one thing, and when we look more closely, find out it has shifted into something else. And the trajectory may be calling from our past or drawing us to our future.



Richard P. Feynman, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1985).

Debbie Ford, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998).