There is pair of blue jays that built a nest in the eave above our office front window. The nest is nestled into a trumpet vine that has entwined itself with the gutter and the side of the building. They are quite beautiful birds, if not a little abrupt and rambunctious. Unfortunately, both of the parents have taken to sparring with their reflections in the front window. Multiple times each day the sound of their beaks thumping the glass resonates throughout the clinic. We try to shoo them away, but they inevitably return to wrestle with their reflections in the glass. 

Like our office “mascots” I am amazed at how often I beat my head against my reflection, ready to go to battle with something that isn’t really there. Though I can look through the window to the other side, I too often get stuck believing that the image I see in the window is real. So I push and I wrestle, trying to chase away phantoms of my imagination. I turn my back on the beautiful world that lives all around me. So much of our time can be lost in this struggle: On the belief that life is something to be fought; that it is a problem to be solved. We get caught up and miss the forest thru the trees, or as the case may be, the view thru the reflection. Of course the opposite may also be true. We can fall for the illusion that the sky is in the window. Like a mirage in the desert, we can fly headfirst into the window that we can’t see, as we going chasing the sky. It is one of the most heart wrenching sounds when a bird impacts a window in flight. How often do we go chasing reflections with the assumptions that they lead us to true happiness and peace, only to come crashing into the limitations of false promises? The jays are demonstrating the nature of aversion and of desire.

The work of being human is really about orientation. Are we facing the right direction? If we spend our time pounding against life as it is reflected back at us, assuming that all of our problems exist outside of ourselves, or in our pasts and imagined futures, we are essentially fighting our own reflections. If we go chasing after things that we desire without discerning their true value, is like flying headfirst into a window that is masquerading as the expansive sky.

When we turn our focus inward, we see that most reflections are tricks of the mind. That we believe the stories of our thoughts, emotions and sensations. We take them as so completely true that we become the stories. This leads to suffering and illness of the body and mind, as we turn away from our true nature. If when instead commit to practices that turn us away from the reflections in the window and towards the open, expansive sky, we discover peace. Meditation and acupuncture are wonderful tools to turn us away from the reflections window, and the restrictive belief that we are the stories of our minds.