Recently I reviewed some of the wonderful DVDs that David LaLuzerne of Green Earth Herbs' HerbTV made of several teachers at our 2008 East West Herb Course seminar. On one of these videos, I was the featured lecturer.
Now I've never really watched myself before, except on some very old home movies. I mean, who wants to watch themselves anyway? But I have to say, I found it fascinating.
Luckily, I had my critical eye (the "Why did I wear that?" kind of critical eye) turned off and instead, fell into an "other person's perspective" mode. What I learned from doing this was quite eye-opening.
I had no idea I swallowed so much nor that I shifted my legs or talked with my hands (in slow motion -- I looked like I was dancing, which I liked). I could also observe my facial color, body movements, speech patterns and so on. All in all, I found it a great way to determine my TCM Five Element constitution AND note what possible element imbalances I might have been experiencing.
I do this all the time -- observe other people -- and not only in a clinical setting, but also on the street, in movies, at the grocery store ... you get the idea. But I had never been able to so thoroughly and objectively observe myself. Looking in the mirror is just not the same (nor is talking to yourself in the mirror); one is just too engaged in the process to stand back and observe.
So here's a fun summer project for you: set up a video camera, or the video tool on your still camera or cell phone, and video yourself. You can plan to talk about something specific, such as a synopsis of your life, teaching how to use something or sharing a recent experience, or you can ad lib. Whatever you do, however, don't write it down; instead, let it be spontaneous.
Then play it back and simply observe. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Are you sharp, meandering, funny, dull? What's the tone of your voice like, your carriage, features, body posture, movement and other traits? Take it all in, not in a critical way, but to gain an understanding of the elements and their combinations expressing through you (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood). Then let it be a useful teaching tool to bring your health back into balance.
And if you're brave, take it to the next step: at the end of the day think back to all of your encounters and "trade positions" mentally. That way you can view yourself through the eyes of each person with whom you spoke. Now THAT is truly eye-opening and quite a life teaching, too!
For a review of traditional Chinese Five Element theory, click here and here.