Integration Through The Alchemy of Inner Mirroring

Integration Through The Alchemy of Inner Mirroring

I appreciate everyone participating in this new format and welcome to everyone coming for the first time.  We are working to keep our regular class schedule going so it will be easier when we return to our training together.

Please share any comments, suggestions or questions.

This difficult time; while we wish it was not going on, is an opportunity to deepen our practice by appreciating what is really important to us and what we can let go of-The Heart of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pgs. 89-90).


In our last on-line class we continued our series on experiencing a deeper, clearer level of mirroring as an act of creation.  We explored more deeply the alchemy of inner mirroring and how that can help us to create a clearer, fuller experience of identity and a correspondingly clearer relationship to the “outside” world.

As we heard in the passage from the Kojiki from our first class in this series, mirroring is a significant part of Shinto mythology.  This particular story is one that O Sensei referred to often-The Secret Teachings of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 146). 

Here is a painting of the moment in the Kojiki when the stone door opened and the Sun Goddess returned light (wisdom) and warmth (compassion) to the world. 

When we think of mirroring we visualize an instantaneous occurrence in which what is in front of the mirror is reflected.  In this series of classes we will work to experience a deeper level of mirroring.  This deeper level will focus on mirroring as an alchemical act resulting in creation.  The creation occurs from the interaction of the mirror and what is being mirrored, resulting in a third newly created sense of beingness and integration. 

The connection that is created during the mirroring process goes through three steps according to O Sensei. 

These are:  generation (ikumusubi); expansion (tarumusubi); and fulfillment (tamatsume-taru).  The degree of creative perfection that occurs is based on the clarity of the mirror.

We will work both on O Sensei’s process and becoming a clearer mirror in this series of classes.   

Our Aikido technique will continue to be shomen-uchi ikkyo.

Let’s bow in and start with misogi breathing and a good full warm-up.

Five Principles for Ki Breathing

Breathing tip of the day

Our tip today on the misogi breathing is to experience how the inhalation and exhalation relate to each other and how that relationship contributes to a fuller center. 

  1. Breathe out with the sound of HA, don’t let your breath just leak out
  2. Breathe out as calmly and quietly as possible
  3. Breathe out the Ki of your head to the Ki of your toes
  4. Breathe in from the tip of your nose until your body is full of air
  5. Calm your mind infinitely smaller at the one point after inhaling  
  1. Let’s begin with a round of practice with the technique.
  • Begin with the practice of shomen-uchi ikkyo.
  • Get feedback on the technique to establish a baseline to use for comparison as the practice progresses.


Integration Through The Alchemy of Inner Mirroring

  1. Let’s continue with the very basic mirroring practice we have been using in previous classes. Focusing on you and

your partner as uke and nage.  One of the most common sayings in the tradition of the Japanese martial arts is your opponent is a mirror of yourself.  This practice is the OUTER focus of mirroring including both you and your partner.  It represents the generation (ikumusubi) or first of the three steps in O Sensei’s process.    

Visualize yourself as being the mirror and your partner being reflected in you the mirror. This mirroring back and forth is similar to what we do with the parts of the I in our forging practice.

What is your experience of mirroring?

  • Go through the technique with this mirroring experience.

How does this experience of mirroring enhance your performance of the technique?

  1. Our practice will now shift the focus from OUTER to INNER mirroring. As a beginning, focus on internal mirroring between the front and back of your body.  You could also use right and left, upper and lower if that is more natural for you. 

Our question here is what does each part of your system-the front and back-contribute to the creative act of mirroring?  We are allowing the two parts to more fully express themselves which creates a better set of “ingredients” to contribute to the whole.

This represents the expansion (tarumusubi) or second of the three steps in O Sensei’s process.  This highlights a fundamental aspect of this practice that the mirror is you.

  • From this experience of an inner mirroring go through the technique with this inner mirroring experience as your base.

How does this experience of inner mirroring enhance your performance of the technique?

  1. From this experience let’s now go to an even deeper level of inner mirroring. This is where the alchemy and the process of mirroring as a creative act really come into play.

Focus on the interaction that is going on as you experience the inner mirroring.  As the two parts of the body continue to mirror each other they begin to integrate and come together in the fullness of their interaction as a new creation.

How does this integration occur?  Your focus on the mirroring experience activates the mountain echo principle from O Sensei bringing in the floating bridge of heaven.  In this case the floating bridge is a part of your system that can relate to both the front and back aspects or any two parts of your system that are mirroring each other. This helps them to integrate into the clearer identity that is the creation resulting from mirroring.    

This new creation is an identity capable of mirroring in a way that transforms both your sense of identity and how you experience the world-The Heart of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 67).

What is your experience of this creative inner mirroring?  How does it enhance your sense of personal identity?       

  • From this experience of an inner mirroring go through the technique with this inner mirroring experience as your base.

How does this experience of inner mirroring enhance your performance of the technique?

  1. Let’s shift our practice back to our partner.

The inner mirroring practice we just completed in addition to giving us a fuller experience of our identity, also will help us to be clearer as we interact with our partner in comparison with our first round of outer mirroring. 

This process of inner mirroring can help us to have a much deeper and fuller connection with our partner. 

It represents the third and final step in O Sensei’s process-fulfillment (tamatsume-taru).

The deeper inner mirroring results in this closer, clearer relationship with our partner, and the world in general. It occurs through the connecting action of the floating bridge which has the ability to relate to both you and your partner as well as whatever outer world experiences you may have.  This is a basic principle of alchemists in all ages and cultures.

How is this second round of OUTER mirroring different than the first one in terms of a connection between you and your partner?

  • Go through the technique with this deeper relationship.

How does this experience enhance your performance of the technique?


This series of classes is focused on a deeper experience of mirroring as a creative act. 

Our goal is to qualitatively enhance our ability to mirror.  The result is to directly experience our deeper self, as the Sun Goddess did, from this creative act of mirroring. 

In this class we worked on a practice of outer mirroring followed by an alchemical process of inner mirroring. 

We followed O Sensei’s three step process of generation (ikumusubi); expansion (tarumusubi); and fulfillment (tamatsume-taru).

We then worked to deepen our practice further by focusing on what each part of our system contributes to the creative act of mirroring.  What do the front and the back each contribute?  We also explored the integrating function of the floating bridge to bring parts of your system together joining our inner experience with our outer interaction with the partner and the world at large.     

 In our next class we will deepen our focus further by exploring mirroring in the hidden and divine dimensions in addition to our current focus on the manifest.     

Feedback and discussion.

Jung on Alchemy Selected and Introduced by Nathan Schwartz-Salant (pgs. 8-9).

Practice before next class

Take a few minutes before a daily life task and set up a mirroring practice of both inner and outer mirroring between you and the task.  Allow the inner mirroring to come to fruition in the creation of a more integrated identity using the mountain echo experience to bring them together.   

See how it enhances your ability to perform the task you selected. 

Finish with misogi breathing and bowing out.