Mirror neurons are a type of brain cell that respond when we see other people’s behaviors and when we behave as we have seen others behave. The mirror neurons respond equally when we perform an action we have witnessed or practiced before and when we witness someone else perform the same action. They were first discovered in the early 1990s, when a team of Italian researchers found individual neurons in the brains of macaque monkeys that fired both when the monkeys grabbed an object and also when the monkeys watched another primate grab the same object. In 2010 these same mirror neurons were found in humans (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982210003271).
This is part of a primal animal instinct which drives herd behaviors. For us humans, they call our herds “tribes”. In other words, when watching an action, our system has mirror neurons which facilitate and often drive us to act the same way. This facilitates “belonging” and assimilating into a tribe. This can also play a part in humans ability to have empathy. This mirror system is ignited when we try to understand and perceive other people’s emotions, behaviors, actions, and sensations. This neural mechanism is involuntary and automatic, and shows that part of us is wired to naturally try to be similar to each other even as society or cultural norms may influence us to view each other as different. The tribal part of this mechanism helps us understand very quickly if people are from “our tribe” or not. By firing our fight and flight responses, this can influence how we perceive and treat those that are not of our tribe.
Just because these mechanisms are involuntary and automatic, does not mean that we have to carry through with the initial involuntary thought, feeling, or reaction. In fact, we can actually retrain these sensory activities to respond differently when we want them to, influencing future involuntary and automatic signals from our nervous system. At Empowered G and Pathwaves, we prefer to learn how to reprogram the nervous system activities that “trigger” us rather than just learning how to cope. Since the mirror neurons and the mirror neuron system are part of our herd instincts which push us into tribal behaviors, transcending them is a big part of living from love and/or a higher level of humanity (some say “living at a higher vibration” - which neurologically is accurate).
It is time for us to rise above our animal instincts and understand that our world has evolved enough that we humans no longer “need” a tribe in order to survive. In fact, it would help us all to consider all humans on the planet as one tribe. It is time to create a sacred tribe where all members work to love and help other members to thrive. Our nervous systems function and our brains react more alike than we think & in ways we are more connected than separate, energetically speaking through our brainwaves. Mirror neurons serve as a reminder that at the root, we are all humans and only interacting with someone much like ourselves.
Co-written by: G. Cole & Melissa Vargas from Pathwaves, Inc.