The following is a review from yingyanghouse.com.
Your Dog is Your Mirror: the emotional capacity of our dogs and ourselves, by Kevin Behan, New World Library
Review by Judith Poole
Behan’s book first came to my attention when I heard him being interviewed on a PBS station. His premise caught my attention and the more I listened to his interview, the more I felt that he was describing what it’s like to be kinesthetic. This is certainly not a sensitivity exclusive to dogs. However, there does seem to be a spectrum of kinesthetic sensitivity among different people. Further, there is little discussion about the kinesthetic sense, especially compared to the sense of taste, or smell, or touch.
There is a relationship between the kinesthetic sense and empathy which is not quite linear. To me, and I am a highly kinesthetic person, this sense refers to a degree of porousness in the aura, the bio-energetic field that surrounds and interpenetrates the body. An Image that comes to me is that of a cloth covering although that is not an exact analogy. If the weave of the cloth is loose the aura will be more porous. Conversely, a tight weave of the aura results in less information moving through the material.
A highly kinesthetic person easily picks up other people’s emotions from the field. Someone who is less kinesthetic will take in less information on that level.
People can feel empathy even if they aren’t kinesthetic. In my experience, empathy has more to do with identifying with the other person or group and “feeling for them”. These concepts are highly interrelated and so difficult to tease apart. It is possible to modulate one’s empathy be addressing the degree to which one is emotionally enmeshed with the other individual or group. So I would describe empathy as an emotional state while being kinesthetic is a sensory experience.
Based on what Kevin Behan had to say in his interview, I reserved a copy of Your Dog is Your Mirror from the public library. At this point I have only read the preface. Although Kevin is talking about the relationship between a dog and its owner, his description seems to me to be a perfect description of what it’s like to be kinesthetic. People of this sensory type are often described as being very sensitive. In my own experience, it took a lot of curiosity and asking open-ended questions before I discovered that every emotion I felt was not my own. In a group situation, especially with people out of touch with their own emotions, it was as if I were channeling those unidentified emotions through my own being. Once I learned that was what was going on, it began to be easier to tease apart the emotions I was experiencing. It became clearer when I was picking up on other people’s feelings. At the same time I learned that I was most vulnerable to feelings that were a match to unprocessed, buried feelings of my own.
This process is ongoing. After years of feeling varying levels of discomfort and insecurity in group situations to which I also had an affinity, it finally dawned on me that I had been channeling the insecurities of others around me and taking them on as my own. This recent revelation amused me since it followed by a dozen years the book I wrote (More Than Meets the Eye: Energy) about being kinesthetic and what can be done to address the downside of that. The downside of course is confusing the information absorbed with one’s own state. If one experiences an emotion, and asks oneself “Why am I feeling that emotion?” that very question makes one lose the objectivity needed to recognize that the emotion is being generated from the field.
On the other hand, once one recognizes the potential value of information that comes through this kinesthetic sense, that recognition converts sensitivity into a very useful tool. Over time, and with experience, one begins to trust that information. Rather than questioning or doubting oneself, information obtained kinesthetically becomes a useful basis for intuition.
Getting back to Your Dog is Your Mirror, it struck me that, at least in the preface, Behan is creating a primer not simply for dog owners. I’m naturally kinesthetic, so I don’t know. But reading this far arouses my curiosity. Is this a sense that can be developed further by those who don’t experience that level of sensitivity. My hunch is that the more grounded and the more centered in the heart center rather than the head, the more easily one would be open to receiving and processing information on this level.